ENIMAGE1350390340111Palmer, Parker J. To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. 1st HarperCollins pbk ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

The Author

Parker J. Palmer (born 1939 in Chicago, Illinois) is an author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change.

Parker-PalmerPalmer served for fifteen years as Senior Associate of the now defunct American Association of Higher Education. He is the founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal, which oversees the “Courage to Teach” program for K-12 educators across the country and parallel programs for people in other professions, including medicine, law, ministry and philanthropy.[1]

His Purpose for the Book

“In this book I hope to contribute to ‘wholesight’ from another angle of vision, one found at the heart of my spiritual tradition. The mind’s vision excludes the heart, but the heart’s vision can include the mind. I believe that my spiritual tradition offers a viewpoint from which the two eyes can see—single, steady, and whole.

In this secular age, with religion on the wrong side of the fact-fantasy divide, it may seem odd to turn to spirituality for a new way of knowing. I do so because I am ultimately concerned not only with knowledge but with truth. Most academic disciplines have largely abandoned truth in favor of facts and reasons; spirituality is the one discipline I know still committed to compassing truth in the round. Perhaps this book will interest people for whom truth is an intellectual issue. I hope even more that it will speak to people for whom truth is the fabric of daily life.”[2]

Selected Quotes

The sin, the error, is not our hunger for knowledge, –and the way back to Paradise is not via intentional ignorance (despite some latter-day Christian claims). Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden because of the kind of knowledge they reached for–a knowledge that distrusted and excluded God. Their drive to know arose not from love but from curiosity and control, from the desire to possess powers belonging to God alone. They failed to honor the fact that God knew them first, knew them in their limits as well as their potentials. In their refusal to know as they were known, they reached for a kind of knowledge that always leads to death.[3]


Parker Palmer says that prayer is “the practice of relatedness…prayer is our capacity to enter into that vast community of life in which self and other, human and nonhuman, visible and invisible, are intricately intertwined…in prayer, I no longer set myself apart from others and the world, manipulating them to suit my needs. Instead, I reach for relationship, allow myself to feel the tugging of mutuality and accountability, take my place in community by knowing the transcendent center that connects it all…In prayer, I begin to realize that I not only know but am known.” (11)

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker_Palmer (accessed August 26, 2013)

[2] Parker J. Palmer, To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey, 1st HarperCollins pbk ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), xii.

[3] Ibid.,  25.

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