Christian Writer Phyllis Tickle Dies at 81

Carrie Dedrick | Updated: Sep 23, 2015

Christian Writer Phyllis Tickle Dies at 81

Christian writer Phyllis Tickle died Tuesday (September 23) after a battle with lung cancer. She was 81 years old. 

Tickle is acclaimed for founding the religion section of Publishers Weekly. According to Tickle’s website, she began her career as a college professor before entering the writing and publishing business. Tickle wrote over three dozen books, in addition to numerous articles and essays. 

Christian theologian and friend of Tickle Rev. Tony Jones said Tickle was known for her generosity in publishing. 

“She was for most of us the most generous person we'd ever known. She was so generous with her time. She dispensed wisdom about the publishing industry freely to any young author like me. She said yes to every speaking gig. She blurbed every book,” Jones told the Huffington Post

In May, Religion News Service writer David Gibson spoke to Tickle about her stage IV cancer diagnosis. 

She said, “I could almost embrace this, that, OK, now I know what it’s probably going to be, and probably how much time there is. So you can clean up some of the mess you’ve made and tie up some of the loose ends. Am I grateful for this? Not exactly. But I’m not unhappy about it. And that’s very difficult for people to understand.”

A lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal Church, Tickle preached about emergency Christianity, or Christianity in the postmodern world, instead of worrying about the decline of Christianity as other theologians did. 

She told Gibson, “Christianity is reconfiguring. It’s almost going through another adolescence. And it’s going to come out a better, more mature adult. There’s no question about that.”

Publication date: September 23, 2015

Christian Writer Phyllis Tickle Dies at 81