For some troubled souls who find grace, life changes dramatically. Forever. For others, the path winds, meanders, doubles back. Lacking the polished perfection of the obviously reformed, these pilgrims are, like Manning, “hardly a poster child for anything . . . anything, that is, but grace.”
“It’s okay not to be okay.” That’s the message Brennan Manning communicated as a priest and speaker and writer over the course of more than 40 years. His book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, launched the public part of his career. He was in high demand and helped countless people who needed to hear of the grace of a loving God. Behind the public persona, the private Brennan struggled. This book is his story — one with themes of an abusive childhood, alcoholism, divorce, deceit, and still more alcoholism. He writes the book “for the younger and elder prodigals who’ve come to their senses again and again, and again, and again. It is for those who strain at pious piffle because they’ve been swallowed by Mercy itself.”
The light in Manning’s story shines through. He succinctly tells of the afternoon when, as a young seminary student, he suddenly understood Scripture. Weeping uncontrollably, he “was battered by wave after wave of the theology of delight, that God not only loves me but also likes me.”
Readers may not “like” Manning. He makes no attempt to portray himself as an appealing person. Yet Manning connects readers with God because he clearly is weak, and what else can he (and we who may appear more “holy” but really aren’t) do except throw himself on the mercy of God? Manning’s mission is to spread God’s love. He has often been confused, imperfect, secretive, scared, rejected, a failure. He has always been loved by his creator.
If you’re in a place in life where “pious piffle” just isn’t cutting it, grab this book and think on the truths in it. Grace to you!
I love this video of Manning today along with bits of him speaking in his energetic earlier years.