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

ISBN: 978-0-7879-9696-3
192 pages
April 2008, Jossey-Bass
The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life (0787996963) cover image


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.
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Table of Contents


Introduction to the 1980 Edition (Henri J. M. Nouwen).

Introduction to the 2008 Edition (Parker J. Palmer).

I In the Belly of a Paradox.

II The Stations of the Cross.

III Paradoxes of Community.

IV A Place Called Community.

V A World of Scarcity, a Gospel of Abundance.

VI The Conversion of Knowledge.


The Author.

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Author Information

Parker J. Palmer, a highly respected writer, teacher, and activist, is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His work speaks deeply to people in many walks of life, including education, medicine, religion, law, philanthropy, politics, and social change. Author of seven books, including the bestsellers The Courage to Teach (now in its tenth anniversary edition), Let Your Life Speak, and A Hidden Wholeness, his writing has been recognized with ten honorary doctorates and a number of national awards. Named one of the "most influential senior leaders" in higher education, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
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"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
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