Eugene Cho

video interview with phyllis tickle

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I had the joy of  having a great chat with Phyllis Tickle recently and she was gracious enough to shoot this video interview with me. Phyllis’ recent book, The Great Emergence, is making the waves amongst many people and it’s also on my ‘To Read’ list for 2009.  She is one sharp amazing lady and I don’t want to spread rumors but I’m pretty sure she’s on steroids too…just like Scot McKnight.  :)

Whether you agree with her premise of ‘The Great Emergence,’ I think it’s pretty obvious that one thing is inevitable:  CHANGE.  

Change happens and and will always happen and according to many, we’re in the midst of a historic change.  But lest we get think too much of ourselves in the ‘Church,’ this historic change isn’t just within christendom but one that encompasses the larger world. 

Here’s the interview with Phyllis and her bio from her website:

PHYLLIS TICKLE, founding editor of the Religion Department of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in sources like USA TODAY, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, NY TIMES, as well as in electronic media like PBS, NPR, THE HALLMARK CHANNEL, etc., Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subject.

In addition to lectures and numerous essays, articles, and interviews, Tickle is the author of over two dozen books in religion and spirituality, most notably the Divine Hours series of manuals for observing fixed-hour prayer: The Divine Hours – Prayers for Summertime, The Divine Hours – Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime, The Divine Hours – Prayers for Springtime, Eastertide – Prayers for Lent Through Easter from The Divine Hours, and Christmastide – Prayers for Advent through Epiphany from The Divine Hours (Doubleday); The Night Offices from The Divine Hours, and The Pocket Edition of The Divine Hours (Oxford University Press); and This is What I Pray Today- The Divine Hours- Prayers for Children (Dutton).

Tickle, who was with PUBLISHERS WEEKLY until her retirement in 2004, began her career as a college teacher and, for almost ten years, served as academic dean to the Memphis College of Art before entering full time into writing and publishing. In September 1996 she received the Mays Award, one of the book industry’s most prestigious awards for lifetime achievement in writing and publishing, and specifically in recognition of her work in gaining mainstream media coverage of religion publishing. In 2004, she received the honorary degreee of Doctor of Humane Letters from the Berkeley School of Divinity at Yale University, also in recognition of her work. In 2007, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Christy Awards “In gratitude for a lifetime as an advocate for fiction written to the glory of God.”

Tickle is currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral. A founding member of The Canterbury Roundtable, she serves now, as she has in the past, on a number of advisory and corporate boards. A lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal Church, she is the mother of seven children and, with her physician-husband, makes her home on a small farm in Lucy, Tennessee.

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, emerging church, Jesus, ministry, pastors, religion, ,

12 Responses

  1. chad m says:

    dude, how do you score these interviews?! you the man. glad you were able to have this chat and post this interview. i think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “whether you agree with the Great Emergence or not, one thing is certain, CHANGE.”

    without getting you into trouble, what do you think of the ideas Tickle was sharing at midwinter about the red letter bible and conflation of the gospels into one representing the words of Christ? [that’s obviously my paraphrase] i know there were lots of folks who either misunderstood Tickle, or were angry about what she said that night…i was just a bit confused myself! the message i heard and agreed with was: change is coming, how will we respond? is that fair?

  2. Charles Lee says:

    Love her work and thoughts…some of my friends call her tickle me phyllis:) so appreciate her perspective. I heard her speak in Sacramento last year…loved it.

  3. Randall says:

    I love the bit about “the beloved community.” And I’m surprised and encouraged by the part where Tickle talked about Lutherans and Anglicans and other denominations merging.

    We really do need to recognize that all churches who call Jesus lord are a part of the Body of Christ. The church down the road is not our competition, they are a part of our family.

  4. Ric Wild says:

    Phyllis is great. I got to meet her at an east coast conference gathering back in November.

  5. Mark Powell says:

    thanks for sharing this. what an important word she is sharing with the church.

  6. eugenecho says:

    @chad m: honestly, i didn’t think her presentation was as sharp as it could be. she seemed a little scattered and to her defense, maybe it’s because she was trying to cover 2000 years of history in 1 hour.

    jason and leah were w/ us and we had a great 90 minute conversation and brought up some of those questions. i think what was lost in her large group chat was that she believes authority resides and remains in the Scriptures. but nevertheless, it begs the question of how we read, interpret, and apply the scriptures.

  7. chad m says:

    thanks for the response Eugene. i wish i could have had more open conversation with folks after her message. i was a bit overwhelmed/confused afterwards. i have heard nothing but good things about Tickle from those who have read her works and interacted with her, so that’s where my confusion lies. thanks for your response!

  8. […] As my readers know, I’m working through my list of books I want to read this year and his new book, The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership in a Third Culture Church,is on that list.  I had a chance to sit down with him and ask about leadership, his understanding of social entrepreneurship, ministry and of course, the idea of “Third Culture’ and The Monkey and the Fish.’  You may also be interested in checking out my recent video interviews with Scot McKnight and Phyllis Tickle. […]

  9. I missed this when you posted it, but have just watched the interview. Thanks! I finished “The Great Emergence” a couple of days ago so I really enjoyed hearing her thoughts. (Most of which I recognize from the book, but it was still cool to hear them straight from her.)

  10. d says:

    this book sounds like a must read. but i’m confused as to why this Great Emergence would be “completely neutral”, void of “like and dislike”. how are we then to interpret the actions of Luther?

  11. Scott M. says:

    Phyllis Tickle is anything but amazing. She is (quite simply) a heretic. She preached at Rob Bell’s church (Mars Hill) and claims the Holy Spirit has “feminine qualities”.

    She also reads from a Bible with a very strange translation.

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
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She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

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Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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