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.



  1. Caroline Gillespie, Church of the Good Shepherd, Federal Way1:16 pm, March 02, 2009

    In our Ash Wednesday service, and 1st Lent sermon, we were reminded that little stays the same. The palms from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration, and the triumph they signified, have now been turned to ashes, reminding us that we will one day return to the dust from whence we came. Yet they also signify entry into a time to hold hope, as we prepare ourselves spiritually, and open ourselves more fully to God’s will in our lives.

    Thus, it seems particularly apropos that we are reading a book that invites us to cease resisting what God is manifesting in this era of change in Christianity. At the least, it seems to invite us to curiosity, at best it encourages us to participate as co-creators. The very framing of this era as The Great Emergence, rather than Post-Christendom (as I’ve often heard it referred to) moves me to view it with more hope.

    As to “The Cable of Meaning”… that took about three readings for me to “get.” What I am taking away is that we are facing a unique opportunity to intentionally reexamine, in broad community, what beliefs and praxis best serve Christ’s mission in light of the unique challenges of this day and time. Which leads me to a passage that particularly caught my attention… “…we are storing more and more of our “selves” outside of ourselves and thereby creating a dependency that is, at the very least, unsettling. Dependency on machines, in other words, is part of the Great Emergence…” (pg. 15). And yet, I am grateful that this machine I type on provides the opportunity to connect with others who I would never have the opportunity to connect with otherwise. I look forward to "hearing" from all of you.

  2. Great comment!! Hopeful and thoughtful! Thanks!