The Promise of Paradox

The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life By Parker J. Palmer, with an introduction by Henri Nouwen San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008 Review by Carl McColmanParker Palmer's first book almost didn't happen. As he explains in the new introduction to The Promise of Paradox (first published in 1980 by Ave Maria Press and now reissued in a gorgeous hardcover edition by Jossey-Bass), he didn't imagine himself as capable of writing an entire book, but when an editor … [Read more...]

God is love (and the Eskimo words for snow)

There's a popular urban legend that the Eskimo have many words for snow. It's kind of like saying "Europeans have many words for water" — there is more than one language among the Inuit, and even within one language, often various words are employed to describe similar phenomena: think of the English words river, rain and ocean, for example. The urban legend persists, though, because it asks an interesting cultural question: how do languages evolve to parse out distinctions in meaning? The Urban … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The way of the cross is often misunderstood as masochistic, especially in an age so desperately in search of pleasure. But the suffering of which Jesus spoke is not the suffering that unwell people create for themselves. Instead, it is the suffering already present in the world, which we can either identify with or ignore. If pain were not real, if it were not the lot of so many, the way of the cross would be pathological. But in our world — with its millions of hungry, homeless, and hopeless p … [Read more...]

An Undivided Life

An Undivided Life: Seeking Wholeness in Ourselves, Our Work & Our World By Parker J. Palmer (interviewed by Tami Simon) Boulder: Sounds True, 2009 Review by Carl McColmanParker Palmer is a wise and gentle teacher, and his books — such as The Active Life and The Promise of Paradox — are hailed as important works of contemporary spirituality. Ostensibly a Quaker yet clearly transcending any kind of sectarian narrowness, Palmer brings the deep contemplative ethos of the Society of Friends to h … [Read more...]