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

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

Parker Palmer, Jossey-Bass

Parker Palmer is an American Quaker mystic/educator. Usually a genial/gentle soul who tries to find language to “build bridges and not walls”, this time in the introduction to the 2008 edition of his first book he writes caustically about those Christians who send to eternal damnation others who do not use the same words as they do to describe who God is for them.

Parker writes out of two key “realities”: the “paradox” of living in community and his healing from three bouts of severe clinical depression.

Is there something we can practise and believe?

In terms of practice, in an excellent chapter on wealth and scarcity, Palmer writes about the paradox of those “seeking life” losing it, and those who lose life finding it. “True abundance comes not to those set on securing wealth but to those who are willing to share apparent scarcity in a way that creates more than enough.”

And belief: At the end of his book Palmer affirms “God’s incarnation in Jesus … God’s word become flesh. If the incarnation — the mystery of being both human and divine — means anything, it means that the ‘mind of Christ’ is a mind that mortals can take on. The scandal of the Christian profession is that God took on mortality in order that mortals could take on God’s life.”

A book worth discussing in adult study groups!

Rowland Croucher

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