Booksiging by Jon Sweeney of Phyllis Tickle: A Life 

When religious scholar Phyllis Tickle's cancer diagnosis was made public, a friend of Jon Sweeney, author of Phyllis Tickle: A Life, asked if he was going to write her biography. "It didn't occur to me," says Sweeney. In fact, he thought Tickle, who passed away in 2015, would poo-poo the idea. But she didn't. Sweeney came to see writing the book as a way to spend quality time with his longtime friend and colleague.

Tickle was an author, poet, book publisher, and lay theologian with vast influence. After she founded St. Luke's Press, she then became the founding religion editor at Publisher's Weekly and wrote several books, The Divine Hours and The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, among them.

click to enlarge Phyllis Tickle
  • Phyllis Tickle

A couple things surprised Sweeney while he was working on the book. First, Tickle's marriage to Sam Tickle, a prominent doctor, was a difficult one, Sweeney says. The couple had seven children and lived on a farm in Lucy, Tennessee. Sweeney delves into Sam's sexuality.

Second was the depth of Tickle's spirituality. Sweeney refers to it as mysticism. He points to her embracing of speaking in tongues as an example.

Through the book, Sweeney is still spending time with his dear friend.

"She was a cheerleader, a poet, a friend, supporter, and a real figure of historical importance [in spiritual studies]," says Sweeney.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


The Latest

News Blog

Tennessee Early Vote Turnout "Smashes" Record

News Blog

Virus Cases Rise by 2,000 in One Week

Letter From The Editor

Be Best!

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Introduction

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Arts & Entertainment

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Food & Drink

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Goods & Services

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Media & Personalities

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Nightlife

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Wellness


More by Susan Ellis

© 1996-2020

Contemporary Media
65 Union, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation