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

The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life [Kindle Edition]

Parker J. Palmer

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Product Description


"Palmer argues that the promise of paradox rests on a single overriding principle: accepting paradox with humility. That is the mortar that binds the very diverse pieces of this book together. And it is that very idea that makes the book worth reading." – Congregations , 2009

Product Description

First published in 1980—and reissued here with a feisty new introductory essay—The Promise of Paradox launched Parker J. Palmer’s career as an author and his ongoing exploration of the contradictions that vex and enrich our lives. In this probing and heartfelt book, the distinguished writer, teacher, and activist examines some of the challenging questions at the core of Christian spirituality. How do we live with the apparent opposition between good and evil, scarcity and abundance, individuality and community, death and new life? We can hold them as paradoxes, not “either/ors,” allowing them to open our minds and hearts to new ways of seeing and being.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 530 KB
  • Print Length: 194 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0787996963
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (22 Feb 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015DWM3E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #583,111 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 6 July 2008
By William Dahl - Published on
Congratulations (AGAIN...) to Jossey-Bass for a really smart strategic move --- originally published in 1980, Jossey-Bass (John-Wiley & Sons) purchased the rights, including the Introduction by Henri Nouwen and Voila!!! --- Like I said, another strategic masterpiece by Jossey-Bass.

I needed to read this book. As an avowed Christian, I benefit from the struggles of others who claim the name of Christ regarding their preferred faith flavor. As Palmer says in his introduction to this volume, " I find it hard to name my beliefs using traditional Christian language because that vocabulary has been taken hostage by theological terrorists and tortured beyond recognition." (p. xxi).

Palmer's treatise is truly captured early on in this volume when he writes, "Perhaps contradictions are not impediments to the spiritual life but an integral part of it. Through them we may learn that the power power for life comes from God, not from us." (p.2).

For Palmer, "The paradox that we can win only by forgetting about winning is Christianity 101." (p. 23).

This book must be savored like when a chef provides you with a teaspoon of warm broth to contemplate the care with which it has been created...with your eyes shut...slowly...allowing your soul to digest the essence of the delicacy you are savoring.

An incredibly powerful treatise...filled with life-lessons pertinent for today and tomorrow. Well, I guess that how truth actually endures.

Buy this book!!!
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Promise of paradox 15 April 2004
By S. J Parker - Published on
This is Parker Palmer's first book. A stunning approach to the central themes of Christian spirituality and introduces a new religious writer of major stature. This book, deeply rooted in the spiritual teaching of Thomas Merton, will have its greatest appeal for those wayfarers whose souls are thirsting for the fresh, living waters of quality spiritual writing.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful perspective on the Christian faith 5 Sep 2008
By W. Boyd - Published on
It is a joy to re-read this book after experiencing Palmer's journey through the years. I found the book to be just as engaging today as it was when it was first written. I found the new preface to be one of the best articulations of an authentic and well lived faith that I have ever read. He honors not only his faith, but the faith of all traditions, by demanding that it speak beyond the confines of religious communities and our "inside" language. His work for years, and now his faithful words, embody what the Christian faith has known as "incarnational" theology - the word made flesh. I appreciate this wonderful contribution to the ongoing conversation between faith and the public square.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging Book With Some Paradoxical...Quirks 1 Sep 2012
By Timothy Buchanan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I bought this book on a whim at a second-hand book store before a three-day spiritual retreat I went on by myself. I read the book over the three days, and overall I found myself very encouraged by it! I really appreciated the invitation to step into the fray of a life of paradox. I especially loved Palmer's use of the cross as symbolic of the tensions we face between Heaven and Earth (the vertical beam of the cross) and the pull we feel between paradoxical human ideologies (the horizontal beam). Having spent the past few years feeling as if I'm living in a paradox of faith, this book reminded me that I am not alone, and that I am not worse for the wear, but that I am in good company and I am, perhaps, right where God wants me.

Palmer's commentary on community was also encouraging as community is something that I have found myself missing, despite my attempts to discover it (a paradox that Palmer addresses quite nicely). Every subject Palmer touches on in this book is examined with the grace and hope that I only wish could be found in every book written by an author who identifies as a Christian.

The book would have been perfect if not for Palmer's "Introduction to the 2008 Edition". The Introduction is essentially a 25 page criticism of the book itself. After 30 years, I would suspect that the author would have some self-critical advice to his younger self. But ultimately, the criticism found in the Introduction treads well into the territory of attack on Conservative Evangelicalism, (complete with a two page poorly veiled tirade against George W. Bush, although Palmer leaves the vivid image nameless.)

There is a place for healthy criticism from within the Body of Christ. But the introduction to a book that has little to do with such issues, I contend, is not the place. Being someone who identifies as an Evangelical, I was sad to discover that the introduction to the book caused me to feel...unwelcome. It was as if Palmer was saying, "This book is for everyone from every creed, race, background, and faith tradition...EXCEPT YOU!" As far as Evangelicals go, I'm probably on the more "liberal" edge of things. But Palmer made me feel like a bigoted hate-monger because I happen to hold certain convictions that he does not. He goes so far as to say that certain Conservative Christians are, "...making things hellish right now, and what I wish is that they would get a life." What I wish is that I had purchased the first pressing of the book; the one without the scathing and unfriendly introduction.

Perhaps this is the paradox for me: that I loved this book and the ideas it represented, but I feel as if were I to meet Palmer today, he would be angry at me for making things "hellish" and that he would have nothing nice to say to me. Perhaps I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt, but his introduction led me to believe that he had a bone to pick with Conservative Christians, and his burning desire to speak on the issue just happened to coincide with the opportunity to write a retrospective introduction to this book.

My advice: read this book. Cherish it and live it. It is beautiful. But skip the introduction. There's not much there that I think you would benefit from. But if you do read the introduction, and if, like me, you are made to feel unwelcome, I encourage you to extend to Palmer the same grace that has been extended to us through Christ. Grace extended to all, regardless of the fact that none are deserving. This, perhaps, is the ultimate paradox.

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who've given up on the word "Christian" but wish they didn't have to 14 Mar 2009
By D. R. Miller - Published on
It is unfortunate what's happened to the word Christian. Frothing nutcases have usurped it in the name of intolerance and bad theology. And, oh yeah, that whole inquisition thing too, and all those wars. Things humans seem to fall into. But if you have a sense that at its core, the term Christian could actually mean something very significant, that it can connote a very deep and liberating approach to life, read this book. As a meditation on the ideas of the contemplative monk and writer Thomas Merton, as well as poet R.M. Rilke, and his own original insights into paradox, community, and education, Parker Palmer brings it together in a synthesis that is not only profound, but perhaps even more timely now than it was when he first wrote it in 1980. There's a reason the publishers decided to re-release this book right now. Read it.
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