Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review: The Great Emergence

The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why
Phyllis Tickle
Baker Books (2008)
Hardcover: 172 pps., $17.99

I'm beginning to think I'm the last person to read The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle. Granted, I was busy writing about the Jewish roots of Christian worship and had to recuperate from studying the emergence of Christianity from Judaism. (Still recuperating, thankyouverymuch.)

Did I really need to read about subsequent family feuds? Did I have the energy to read about the ruptures within Christianity that occur predictably every 500 years? Did I really want to read about current fractures and factions among Christians? Not really.

But then, lively conversations on Twitter about the "emergent church" piqued my interest; Tom Roberts, an editor for the National Catholic Reporter began writing a series called, "In Search of the Emerging Church," and a permanent deacon pal of mine attended The Emergent Church Conference in New Mexico. I also noticed -- how could I not -- the increase in ecumenical and intra-communion "friendly fire" during Lent and Easter this year.

Turns out, The Great Emergence provides a rich framework for explaining why all this is happening and happening now. Tickle provides just enough content about defining events, discoveries, and inventions during the twentieth century to make a case for it being "the century of emergence." And thanks be to God, she does this in a blessedly clear, fresh, and readable way.

The Great Emergence is, in fact, so much easier to read than many of the reviews written about it, I'm going to skip adding to that pile of words. Instead, I will simply urge you to read this book if you're at all interested in learning more about how Christianity has been built, dismantled, and rebuilt over the centuries, including and especially during ours.


  1. Hey wait! **I** haven't read it. So now I will be the last person. :)

  2. Heh... it's true. When I first read it I was going "Wow.. that was it! it hardly touched the issues!" And then I realized it was the Emergence 101 book.. the one I recommend to everyone rather than trying to explain what it actually is. :)

  3. I have not read it either- it is on my summer list, those blessed two months that I am not in grad school!


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