Saturday, 28 February 2009

’The Great Emergence’ Schedule and first discussion

Well, I may barely make it but I did promise you a schedule and the kick off of our discussion. Actually, the author Phyllis Tickle did that pretty darn good herself last night. I know many of you have embarked on a schedule of your own, one that fits your context and community. I urge you to stay right with that. I offer this for those who would like to join in the discussion on the blog and anyone who wishes to be essentially reading at the same pace I am. Those on Facebook may certainly meet me there as well, although the blog will be the primary discussion point and where I hope we can center the discussion so that all that want to be, can be part of it, and can benefit from the responses.

So, here is my proposed schedule:

March 1-7- Part I intro and Chapters 1 and 2, essentially pages 1-40.

March 8-14- Part II intro and Chapter 3, pages 41-62

March 15-21- Chapters 4 and 5, pages 63-118

March 22-28- Part III intro and Chapter 8, pages 119-144

March 29-April 4- Chapter 7 and end discussion, pages 145-163

April 5-11- Holy Week and April 12th Easter!


For this week, Part I Intro and Chapters 1 and 2.


Of course Part 1 sets the case that Tickle wishes to make, that every 500 years the Church has a rummage sale, and we are living in the midst of such a time today. It would be interesting in our discussions to see where you are with that. Do you agree? Do you see it as she does? This quote from the bottom of page 26, and then top of 27 really intrigues me.

"When Christians despair of the upheavals and re-formations that have been the history of our faith-when the faithful resist, as so many do just now, the presence of another time of reconfiguration with its inevitable pain-we all would do well to remember that, not only are we in the hinge of a five-hundred year period, but we are also the direct product of one. We need, as well, to gauge our pain against the patterns and gains of each of the previous hinge times through which we have already passed. It is especially important to remember that no standing form of organized Christian faith has ever been destroyed by one of our semi-millennial eruptions. Instead, each simply has lost hegemony or pride of place to the new and not-yet-organized from that was birthing."

That one paragraph is packed with so much.

Finally, "The Cable of Meaning." What do you think?

I look forward to our discussions!



Friday, 27 February 2009

A Message to Olympia from Phyllis Tickle

Dear Ones,

Well, Lent is upon us and so our study and discussion now begins. I have been so moved by the response. Churches, communities, across this diocese are taking up the challenge to read and discuss this book together. This will happen in many different ways. I have heard of groups meeting weekly in parishes across the diocese. Many are primed to follow along and comment on the blog. Tomorrow, I plan to put out my first musings and a question or two, but more than anything I simply hope you will engage one another in this journey. The discussion alone will be priceless.

I asked my friend Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence, if she herself might kick us off. She readily and joyfully agreed, and sent the following to all of you!! I am so very grateful to her for taking the time and she is very excited to see what might come from our discussion.

From Phyllis "Seen through the long lens of history, ours may be the most exhilarating century of the last twenty in which to be alive and Christian, in no small part because we live for the first time as thinking and believing people in an information age. For the first time in our two thousand years of existence, we can know—we do know—across all the barriers and borders of time and culture what is happening to us as Church in the aggregate and as individual believers in particular. But like a good knife, that blessing cuts two ways.

That is, we would indeed be foolish not to take great comfort from the exposure of patterns and currents that are not of our making. We would likewise be foolish to not take enormous hope from the demonstrable evidence that our forebears have always survived and grown as a result of similar periods of upheaval. We would be more than foolish, however, to not understand that such a perspective, since it has been given us now, carries with it the holy obligation to participate in this time of re-configuration and re-formation in a prayerful and humble way. We know, but we also will be asked some day how we have used our knowing. For that reason, my heart and my prayers join you and yours in Olympia this Lent as you assume the work of considering the Great Emergence we are living in and which we also are fashioning, even as it fashions us.

And there is one last thing, which I am sure you know, but which I can not leave you without saying: A diocese is most blessed when its bishop chooses to become its shepherd in so direct and open a way as the one that you and he are pursuing together this Lent. May what you discover together inform not only Olympia, but all of us who are Church in this time of monumental change.


Phyllis Tickle"


Thanks to Phyllis and to all of you, blessings, and may you experience a Holy Lent.


Saturday, 21 February 2009

Lent is Just Around the Corner!



We will soon be in the midst of Lent. It is a season that invites us to "hold" Christianity a bit closer, to mine it for its depths, to move into realms of it that we have not visited before. Lent is often described as a time to give things up. In the past few years I have resisted focusing on that as much, while focusing more on taking on something you have neglected over the last year. Maybe better than that is the idea of "holy adjustment." Lent is a time to get the balance back, to assess with an open heart, mind, and soul the reality of what the living of our lives truly reveals to us, and to those around us. One idea is to essentially do both, to give up, not what most people do, something bad for you anyway, but perhaps something actually good! I'll give you an example. A few years ago I was inspired by a writer who loved reading books, spent lots of times doing it, who made the decision to give up reading books for Lent. Her journey and struggle was instructive. I had another couple in my former parish who decided to stop using a calendar or watches during Lent. They loved it, but many of their friends and co-workers did not! That reaction points out what we expect. About four years ago I decided to drive the speed limit, everywhere, for the whole of Lent. Just about drove me and those around me crazy. Many sentiments were shared with me by fellow drivers during that Lent, for following the law! I learned patience and forgiveness.

Lent is a time, like no other, where we are reminded that Christianity is not something that can be dabbled in. There seems to be more and more the quest for a spiritual smorgasbord. We want to look at spirituality like a buffet, taking what we want, leaving what we don't. I see some good in that, but also some that is not so good. I was struck by a friend of mine who was delving deeply into First Nations spirituality when one of the guides she had sought out became a bit frustrated and told her, "you have a spirituality, you should learn it, for all of the good and not so good you can find from it." Christianity, as quite frankly most faith traditions, especially the most adhered to, are not something to be dabbled in but something instead to give over your life too. It is a way of life, not a part of your life.

We will be soon sharing our book study together, studying The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle. I have heard from so many who will be joining us for this. I will be launching this the first week of Lent after Ash Wednesday, letting you "get into" Lent a bit first. The best way for us to stay in contact on this is to use this blog. Perhaps this can be a way for us to look more deeply at our faith, where we have come from, and where we might be going. I wish for you a holy, blessed Lent, and the giving up or something, or the taking up of something that is just "off balance" enough to help you see balance again. I pray for you a depth that takes you deeper, less dabbling, more living! I will be working on it, and praying for it too.




Greg Rickel

Monday, 9 February 2009

I Did It!

I bought a snow shovel today. I guess I am home!

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Great Emergence: Let’s Talk

Dear Ones,


If you read the Episcopal Voice produced by the Diocese of Olympia, this post will look remarkably similar to my column in the most recent February edition. I offer it here to invite into the proposed discussion anyone who might like to enjoy it here. I received a great idea from my colleague the Rev. Hollis Williams. He suggested that I select a book that we might all read and discuss together. He called it the "Bishop's Book for Lent." I actually used to report the books I was reading, when in the parish, and people seemed to like that. I have not done that here and suspect you may not be all that interested anyway, however, I like this idea from Hollis and would like to give it a try. I like this as it will provide a way for us to have some discussion around the book and perhaps the issue the book addresses. I am thinking we might use my blog as a way to hold the discussion. Some of you have also found me on Facebook and we might chat about it there too.

So, I am willing to give this a try, see how it goes, and maybe we will hit on something here, a way for us to center a discussion. The book I would propose it The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle. I had a chance to read a draft of this book and to discuss it in person with the author before it was published. It has been published and I found it to be very compelling and thought provoking. The basic premise she takes comes from Bishop Mark Dyer who said to understand Christian history you have to understand that about every 500 years or so, the Church has a rummage sale. Tickle's premise is that such a seminal time is being experienced right now.


This article will come out the first week in February. Ash Wednesday is February 25th, so, should you decide to join this experiment you will have time to acquire the book and begin reading it before we enter Lent. What I will try to do is to provoke some discussion, perhaps even parcel out chapters over Lent so we might be able to "read it" together. This is a book you should be able to find at all the usual places. I hope to alert our Episcopal bookstores of this plan so they can stock up a bit as well. If you want to take a sneak preview there is one available at On this website you can view a three minute video introduction hosted by Tickle as well as other information about the book. Tickle will be the Clergy Conference speaker in 2010 and hopefully be present in other venues with us then too.


Let's see how it goes!




Greg Rickel