The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life

paradox palmer

This is the first of three books I’ve read by this author, Parker J. Palmer.

The other two are:

  1. A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
  2. The Courage to Teach: Exploring The Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life

I feel shame as I set out here to write down what my first reaction to Parker Palmer was. My reaction, as I now see it, was one of FEAR. Anxiety would be a milder way of putting it, but that would be an effort on my part to lessen my shame.

I should qualify this by saying that I spent the majority of my life NOT reading anything but the bible, and maybe three or four other books. That was from an anxiety that my mind would stolen from me. That I’d be carried away by some strange philosophy that was hostile to God. I imagined that those who had differing views from those of the Bible were actively hostile toward God. They numbered amoung the enemies of God. Counterfeiters! Heathens! But what ultimately lay under that was and is that ever so unattractive attribute of us Christians, and for now I’ll call it being Judgmental.

I now welcome emotion of any kind when I read. Anger and Fear, as well as Joy and Sorrow. Because that means the book is worth reading. That means I’m going to grow! And what I’ve learned over the last 10+ years is that God, by his Holy Spirit, keeps me close. He guards my mind, and I’m able to get to know these authors and the topics they cover. Then, perhaps most importantly, when I find myself talking to someone who has the same views as that author, I’m able to ACT rather than react. I’m able to accept that person calmly, having already weighed in my heart and mind the philosophy they’re talking over with me. I’m able to get to know that person as they are in that moment. I’m able to persist in my HOPE that I will leave the changing of people’s hearts to God alone, including MY OWN HEART.