Prayer of gratitude to celebrate and mourn Phyllis Tickle, publishing visionary

I owe my professional livelihood to Phyllis Tickle. Had she not established the religion department of Publishers Weekly, I would not have had a dozen years of supporting myself through writing about the publishing of religion books. Phyllis’ comprehensive vision accommodated not just a segment of the publishing industry, but a team of professional observers, of which I was privileged to be a member.

More personally, she wrote the introduction to my first book, The God of Second Chances. In it she called me an investigator of hope. I would like that on my tombstone. Phyllis treated words like gems — precious, beautiful, and precisely faceted. She also had an admirable and large collection of them, so that she had just the right words always at the ready. She generously wrote introductions and endorsements for dozens of grateful colleagues. This, in addition to having the discipline of a writing machine, turning out her own provocative and far-sighted work that was especially visionary in the later part of her amazingly productive career.

Now she goes before us, to a place where all the books are about heaven. After she and Sam catch up, she may turn her energy to forming a Divine Words imprint. Here on earth she has sown a bountiful crop in the field of publishing. We benefit from the harvest. May we honor her memory and remember her well-chosen words and broad insight. Hard as it is to imagine her not writing, may she rest in peace.


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