I’ve spent much of the day reading Phyllis Tickle’s latest book, Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters, in preparation for a book discussion that I plan to attend later this week. Although I’ve heard the term, this is my first real introduction to Emergence Christianity, and Tickle does a beautiful job of explaining the cultural and historical forces that led to this form of Christianity, the characteristics that belong to this group, and the variations that can be seen within the movement—and it’s all done in easy-to-read, nontechnical language.
It’s a great book, and I’m learning a lot. But reading it has also been an uncanny experience.
It’s uncanny because as she’s traced so many of the influences on this movement, the streams of thought that have led to it, and the characteristics that are common to Emergence Christians, I am reading echoes of my own journey. This is a faith journey that has felt so solo, so outside the “accepted” norms of Christianity in so many ways, and yet here (completely unbeknownst to me) is a movement that has been going on for decades that has been following a similar journey.
It’s both exciting and unsettling to find out that I am not as alone as I thought I was. It’s as if I’ve been part of the crowd for years while being blind to their company.
On a practical level, this discovery really doesn’t change all that much for me. I am still wrestling with all of the same questions about God and Christianity and faith that I was prior to today. I still struggle with the decision of whether I feel a need to formally join a church. I still must discern for myself what I believe and what practices best sustain and demonstrate that belief.
On the other hand, I now have a whole list of resources to read to learn more about what others on similar journeys are believing, doing, and choosing. I have new language and a new framework in which to express my own questions and struggles. That is a huge step forward in and of itself.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this in coming days and weeks as I participate in the book discussion group and have the opportunity to read and think more extensively about this. For tonight, I’m just feeling grateful (and a bit unnerved) to discover that I’m not as alone as I thought I was. I’ve somehow managed to wind up in the middle of latest movement within Christianity without knowing it.
Wow! That’s been about all I’ve managed to say to myself all day. Just wow.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.