Parker J. Palmer’s Ethics of Hospitality

Parker J. Palmer's Ethics of Hospitality

CHIU Shung Ming

Given that Hong Kong is in a state of political uncertainty, with continuing discord in the post-Occupy era, the citizens inevitably live in a fragmented society filled with alienation and conflicts. The problem of fragmentation makes us disconnect from others, or even easily treat others as our enemies. The author attempts to call attention to the need of constructing a theological ethics of hospitality in a convincing way by introducing Parker J. Palmer's thought, because he is regarded as one of the most promising theologians, who makes a notable contribution on this area.

Three concepts are very significant throughout Palmer's books. They are wholeness, connection, and paradox, and thus we cannot understand his ethics of apart from them. Therefore, the author will explain the relationship between these concepts in the first part of this paper.

Fear of strangeness is natural in our common experience. Maybe we need to protect ourselves and, furthermore, having a sense of security is our basic need. However, if we refuse to meet strangers and only live in our private and lonely world, both our individual life and the society cannot grow in connection and wholeness. In Christian faith we understand that our identity is not to be found only in our differences from others, but in our common humanity, because all of us are made in the image of God and thus we are related as brothers and sisters in our God, the Father. We are created as social beings, so we need to learn to receive the others (including strangers and enemies) in our public life. According to Palmer, public life is the necessary condition of politics, especially for democracy. Moreover, the heart plays a significant role in public life and democratic politics. The heart of democracy is a heart imbued with love, with readiness to receive strangers and live together with them.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.

Related Posts