Dennis Deery

A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer

May 29, 2005

Parker Palmer is an educator, speaker and researcher who has spent most of his adult life thinking about community. His latest work begins with a discussion of the necessity of individuals living lives of integrity, of being true to your inner self. He contends (and I agree) that there is a price to be paid for living a divided life, a life without integrity of purpose. Community wholeness, Parker points out, can only come after the wholeness and happiness of individuals.

The second part of the book explores ways that communities of people can support individuals. Drawing from his years of living in Quaker communities, Palmer explains the creation of “circles of trust”, discussion circles that can help individuals to explore their inner self. Members of these circles do not offer advice to one another, but rather serve the role of probing questioners, helping to guide each individual to their own decisions. While we all probably have a best friend who plays that role for us, the Quaker and other communities in which Palmer has lived offer a more formal process.

I’d highly recommend all of Palmer’s books. He’s an insightful thinker and a talented author. Reading one of his books is like sitting down for a one-on-one chat with someone who’s given a lot more thought to life than you have. Click here to see a list of Palmer’s on Amazon.

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