Friday, January 25, 2013

The Great Emergence

Sorry for the holiday break. It's been a busy two months. Nevertheless, I am back - and fresh off a retreat with lots of ideas and thoughts to share. One of the real benefits of the retreat is solitude. I leave my cell phone behind and try to break out of a dependence on time. I was able to read an entire book - The Great Emergence, by Phyllis Tickle - and I wanted to give a brief review.

I know I'm half a decade behind at this point, but The Great Emergence really is a profound and important book for our time. Tickle examines the current cultural/political/religious shift towards post-modernism, particularly the religious aspects, from a historical and sociological perspective. Her perspective and approach are more clinical and scientific, providing a breath of fresh air from the emergent evangelists. There is little discussion of doctrine or specific beliefs, but more an analysis and breakdown of how we believe, how belief itself changes over time, and how these changes relate to the larger world.

I found the book simple to understand and yet profound in its depth. There's a lot of mine and ponder. Perhaps her most important contribution, however, is the provision of a nomenclature for the shift. Tickle gives precise descriptions to otherwise nebulous conversations and provides an overview of a process in which so may of us find ourselves stuck in the midst. I've often had trouble orienting my own thoughts in regards to others and to religion itself because of my necessary biases and limited perspective. Tickle gives us a way to speak about what's happening around us and a firm foundation from which to speak with each other.

It's a book that anyone who finds faith important should read.

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