Phyllis Tickle has had a significant impact on the religious landscape in America over her 50-year career. As a college dean, a publishing gadfly, and an advocate of the church’s emergence, she has garnered a loyal following in the tens of thousands. Among those she’s influenced are influential church leaders themselves, including Diana Butler-Bass, Brian McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Peter Rollins, Doug Pagitt, Jon M. Sweeney, Jana Reiss, Lauren F. Winner, and others. In this volume, they reflect of Phyllis’s influence, and on the challenge that Phyllis’s work poses the future church.
"This powerful tribute provides a fascinating glimpse into the effect one singular woman of faith has had on how the Body of Christ understands its history, its purpose, and its prayer." —Nadia Bolz-Weber, pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints and author of Pastrix
"This engaging book fails wondrously at being a boring academic restatement of the ’Tickle Theology’. Phyllis and her work are inseparable, Both burst on the scene here through talk of poetry and prayer, talismans and tornados, midwives and mysticism. Above all, what pulses through these pages is the unquenchable spirit of Phyllis herself, one of the great prophets of our time. Her spirit and Holy Spirit—a great combination!" —Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology and author of Transforming Christian Theology
"Phyllis Tickle, as described by her many friends, helps us to be brave and of good courage in unsettled times. This was a book I could not put down." —The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC
Several of the essays fall into the category of primarily personal reminiscence. All the essays are worth reading, in part because they fill in the backstory of Emergence Christianity and of Tickle; you don't get one without the other. Jon Sweeney leads off with an account of Phyllis Tickle's work as founding editor for religion at Publishers Weekly in the days when we bought books at bookstores. She "saw how books have the power to carry religion and spirituality where churches and synagogues, priests, pastors, rabbis and imams never could," which eventually got her into the work of making her own original contributions to the field. Ryan Bolger considers the possibilities of an Evangelical Emergence in which the "evangelical marks of conversion, activism, Bible, and the cross" meet "emergent practices of deinstitutionalization, pluralization, social progressivism, and innovation." The Wild Goose Festival is one of the those meeting places- a festival of which Tickle is a founding elder. Brian McLaren asks whether Emergence Christianity has reached the point of being a movement, or whether conversation and network are still the more apt descriptors, and gives us a preview of his work on a theology of movements, institutions, and communities.
In the afterword, Diana Butler Bass offers some lines from Thomas Merton's Advice to Young Prophets:
America needs these fatal friends
Of God and country, to grovel in mystical ashes,
Pretty big prophets whose words don't burn,
Fighting the strenuous imago all day long.
Whatever else we are blessed to hear form Phyllis Tickle, what we have are words that won't burn away, because they push and pull us ever deeper into God's dreams for us as Christians, as churches, and as evangelists of the Spirit.
Margaret D'Anieri, Englewood Review of Books