Parker Palmer is someone I often turn to for spiritual guidance. He’s a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. I’ve been reading his writing a lot lately (his wisdom about talking across ideological lines was the subject of my September 2016 Afterthought).
Now, a couple of months into the Trump administration, Parker wrestles with his feelings “…when it comes to this president and his staff who keep insisting that the emperor has new clothes, then blame and ban journalists for not telling the world how good he looks in them.” This is how his most recent post on the On Being blog begins:
I’m a Quaker. I stand in a religious tradition that asks me to live by such values as community, equality, simplicity, and non-violence. As a result, I frequently find myself in deep oatmeal — especially when it comes to politics, where I seem to have an anger management problem. Not long ago, a friend with whom I’d been having a heated political argument gave me a black t-shirt that says “One Mean Quaker.”
Does anger have a role to play in the life of someone who aspires to non-violence?
Parker goes on with much to ponder as he differs with the view that anger is “a spiritual flaw to be eliminated.” I’m examining my anger, too, so I’m spending some time with Parker’s words and hope you will, too. If you find commonality with what he has to say (or even if you don’t), you might want to read more of his weekly On Being columns.
I’ll end with Parker’s closing thought:
Spirituality and anger (and humor) are not necessarily at odds. Or so it seems to “One Mean Quaker” as I continue to stumble through life — well aware that, before too long, I’m likely to find myself in deep oatmeal again.
*“Afterthoughts” are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, maybe even bumper stickers.