It has been over twenty years since the publication of The Ragamuffin Gospel, a book many claim as the shattering of God's grace into their lives. Since that time, Brennan Manning has been dazzingly faithful in preaching and writing variations on that singular theme, Yes, Abba is very fond of you!
But today the crowds are gone and the lights are dim, the patches on his knees have faded. If he ever was a ragamuffin, truly it is now. In this his final book, Brennan roves back his past, honoring the lives of the people closest to him, family and friends who've known the saint and the sinner, the boy and the man. Far from some chronological timeline, these memories are witness to the truth of life by one who has lived it.
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Narrative makes the world go round.
I heard Manning speak at a Franciscan youth conference in the mid 1970s-- His message and delivery were technically brilliant, but completely undone by his obvious hung-over state; he was completely inauthentic to my then young ears at a time when I was looking for excuses to turn away from faith. A dozen years later I came across his small but powerful, "Jesus, Stranger to Self Hatred." Out of about 3000 books encountered in my life, it has to be in my top ten for its effect on me.
In many ways I disagree with Manning's theology, he repeated himself in too many books, and his prose can be pompously ragamuffin too -- but he communicates his utter confidence in the unconditional love of God so strongly that none of that matters. Maurice England narrates the memoir well, but I wish Manning could have spoken this, his final book. For me "All Is Grace" serves as closure to that despised performance I witnessed 40 years ago. God writes straight on many hearts through the crooked lines of Manning's life. This four hours is well worth listening, as the man who has described himself as "shipwrecked at the stable" sketches some of those lines.
This book is refreshing because it shares the life of a man who has the courage and vulnerability to take off all religious masks and embrace his humanity while also sharing his heart's desire to know God and the grace that works powerfully in his life.
The reading of this story was wonderful. But the author's message is that God loves us as we are and NOT just as we should be. So then why doesnt God show each if us that love? Why would any of us have to settle for taking anybody else's word for it? The author might believe that he connected better to God than most but if that were so, than God wouldn't love us as we are. Manning seems to believe that he is entitled to God's special care since he was brutally abused by his mother. But many abused children's prayers for help go unanswered as his mother's did when she was a child, (evinced in his dream). The impact of abuse by his mother was more lasting than the author seem to grasp. He seems to have a low tolerance/ high discomfort around women. I understand he has a huge following but that doesn't change the fact that God does love all of us the same.
His cadence and tone was like warm water poured over my face.
Sadness. False hope.
I feel sorry for his exwife and stepchildren. They never had a chance with Manning. And I read that he saw to it that they were well taken care of financially. What about his neglect of them emotionally though? Doesn't he understand what he preaches? Money will take care of them? In light of what he values in his relationship with Jesus ( intimacy), how does he justify neglecting vows to family?
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