July 19, 2007 at 2:35 pm 2 comments

A few months ago I was on a steady diet of Brennan Manning, but of late I haven’t been reading much of anything of substance, least of all Brennan.  Yesterday I realized I missed him and so picked up a new to me book and began to remember why I like him so much.  If you have never read any of Manning let me try and convince you to start. 

There are many places to begin but perhaps the most efficient place would be his little book The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, a condensed version of his finest book (my opinion of course) Abba’s Child.  Most of Manning’s books are gathered around a consistent theme of the unrelenting love of the Father for His kids and how gracious that love is.  His own experiences of self-hatred and self-doubt, having been arrested by the love of his Abba, have rendered Manning almost evangelistic in his conviction that God’s love and grace are the cure for every fear, every loss, every broken place, every shame, every feeling of hopelessness, every addiction, every insecurity, every need, every want…  Surely you found yourself somewhere in there.

Many start with the The Ragamuffin Gospel and that is certainly a great place to begin.  One of my favorites is Ruthless Trust and I recently enjoyed The Importance of Being Foolish.  When I wrote A Restoration Story: Parts 1-5, I quoted Brennan Manning with regularity for his journey has become, in many ways, my own.  The reality that many, if not most of us, live with self-hatred and a nagging conviction that the Father really could not love us, if He really knew us, is both proven and undone in Manning’s writings. 

The book I picked up yesterday, A Glimpse of Jesus: The Stranger to Self-Hatred, is Manning at his best.  I don’t know how old he is, perhaps in his 80’s, and who knows how many more books he will write, but this book burns with the fire of his conviction that most of us just don’t understand how much the Father loves us and so we live our lives with very little of the potential and possibility He intends us to have.

One quote from my last nights reading.  In a chapter titled Healing Through Meal Sharing, Manning writes: What enormous potential for healing lies within the worshipping community!  If what was said earlier is true-that we can experience the compassion and unconditional acceptance of Jesus Christ only when we feel valued and cherished by others-then it is the church family itself that effects the healing of self-hatred for divorced folks, drunks, scalawags and social misfits burdened with emotional and mental disorders.  The quality of a Christian’s presence in the assembly-his relationship not only to God but to his brothers and sisters-is what Paul meant by “recognizing the Body”.  The Christian’s warmth and congeniality, non-judgmental attitude, and welcoming love may well be the catalyst allowing the healing power of Jesus to become operative in the life of an alienated, forlorn brother or sister.  This winsome wedding of worship and life ritualizes Jesus’ table-fellowships with sinners and brings healing and wholeness to the entire community. (A Glimpse of Jesus p.65)

The thing so compelling about Manning is his unrelenting conviction that Faith communities are to be places of healing and safety for all, not places of judgment, punishment, legalism or exclusion. He has deep affection for the church but only when it is a place where all feel welcome regardless of their ragamuffin status or baggage.  When I lose hope for the church, reading Manning makes me want to try again.

He is a prolific writer and an even more prolific reader.  To read a Manning book is to come to know other writers of substance like Hans Kung, G.K. Chesterton, Blaise Pascal, Lewis Smedes, Edward Schillebeeckx, Bernard Bush and many, many others.  I become a much better reader, writer and believer because I encounter so many people of faith when I read Brennan.

Manning can be biting in his critique of modern Christianity but he is an avowed lover of Jesus, a deeply convicted man related to His Church and has a huge passion for encouraging what is right in the Gospel and dismantling what is bogus about much passed off as the Gospel today.

The last couple of paragraphs in A Glimpse of Jesus is vintage Brennan Manning: Jesus is God for me, not because of the exalted titles bestowed on him by later ages, but because he’s the Compassionate One-compassionate not because He is the Son of God, but Son of God because he’s compassionate in a way that eludes human comprehension and possibility. Lastly, let me share one thing that I have learned during the forty-seven years of my ragged journey: if you call Jesus Goodness, he will be good to you; if you call him Love, he will be loving to you; but if you call him Compassion, he will know that you know.


Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Friendship, Holy Spirit, Institutional church, Jesus, Revelation, Supernatural, The Father, Thoughts.

A loss for words. Chasing the dream.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  July 21, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Brennan is a manifestation of God’s, Abba’s, love for his children. Throughout history Abba has sent his messengers to give heart to those who will listen. Once you get over the visualization of the ’70’s Pop group, you will find yourself uttering Abba, Abba, all day long. Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was, is at this moment and will be for all time. Daddy we love You, Daddy we trust You, Daddy we want to go with You.

    Phillipians 4:4-7

  • 2. Lyndon  |  July 19, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    My top favorites are also Abba’s Child, Ragamuffin’s Gospel, and Rabbi’s Heartbeat. I also recently read A Glimpse of Jesus and share your sentiments. I understand how he helps you to try again. His books have often been the only link I’ve kept at times to the church. It’s a beautiful picture of what can be.

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