Friday, April 30, 2010

Book - "The Great Emergence" (Phyllis Tickle)

TITLE: The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith)
AUTHOR: Phyllis Tickle
PUBLISHED: Baker Books, 2008.
The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith)

This review has been posted on I have entitled it as "Strong Looking Back, Weak Looking Forward." This book is especially helpful for those who wants to make sense of what is happening to the church (ie a shrinking church!) in the West right now. In fact, Church leaders will benefit from the insights in this book.

Phyllis Tickle is a prolific writer. This latest book does not disappoint. She has an amazing ability to weave nearly 1500 years of history into one book. The title of the book is compelling and very inviting to many observers of the Christian scene nowadays. The premise is simple. If we want to look ahead, we need to look back and learn from our past. Otherwise, we risk repeating past mistakes.

Tickle brings the reader through a fascinating journey into the early centuries; from papal domination to the Protestant Reformation; from the first Schism to the next; from Reformation to Renaissance. She did not stop at religion. With skill, she harnesses amazing scientific insights from Einstein, Jung, etc; philosophy from Hegel, Marx, and others; technology like automobile, the computer, the Internet and many others, to carefully remind us that any religious institution like the Church is never immune from these factors. What I enjoy most is the way she identifies the changing nuclear family, gently comparing and contrasting the traditional grandma image in the early 20th Century to the modern working couple family structure in the late 20th Century. She shows a keen understanding of women roles in society. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about her comprehensiveness with regards to the male gender.

Throughout the book, she poses an important point: Who/What is the authority during each era? Indeed, the Great Emergence is not exactly in terms of what shape Christianity or the Church is going to become. It is actually upon what kinds of authority does the world at large recognizes during each period. While she has a very clear sense of what kinds of authority exist per historical era, this mood fizzles out in the final part of the book. In fact, I think the weakest part of the book is in Part III, the strongest in Part II. I will commend her book with regards to learning from the past (Part I and II), but will hesitate to recommend her prescriptions for the future (Part III).

Rating: 3 stars of 5.


No comments:

Latest Posts