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Brennan Manning (1934–2013)

Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel

43 Works 9,556 Members 100 Reviews 23 Favorited

About the Author

Brennan Manning was a writer and speaks who led spiritual retreats for people of all ages and backgrounds. He was the author of more than ten books, including Abba's Child. Ruthless Trust. The Ragamuffin Gospel, and Posers, Fakers, and Wannabes. He went home to be with his Abba in April 2013. This show more edition has been updated and refreshed by his frequent collaborator. John Blase show less
Disambiguation Notice:

Richard Francis Xavier Manning

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Works by Brennan Manning

The Ragamuffin Gospel (1990) 3,992 copies
The Signature of Jesus (1988) 640 copies
The Furious Longing of God (2009) 440 copies
Above All (2003) 152 copies
The Rabbi's Heartbeat (2003) 109 copies
The Journey of the Prodigal (2002) 25 copies
The Gentle Revolutionaries (1970) 19 copies
Convite à loucura (2007) 3 copies
Bettler an Gottes Tür (2001) 1 copy


biography (37) Brennan Manning (49) Catholic (20) Christian (192) Christian living (629) Christianity (267) contemplative (19) Devotional (59) Discipleship (78) ebook (23) faith (100) God (49) God's love (27) Gospel (44) Grace (190) identity (23) inspiration (23) inspirational (65) intimacy (19) Jesus (64) Jesus Christ (22) Kindle (62) love (47) Manning (48) memoir (18) non-fiction (177) own (20) ragamuffin (18) read (40) religion (163) self-esteem (22) spiritual (24) Spiritual Formation (84) Spiritual Growth (65) spiritual life (40) spirituality (255) Theology (168) to-read (195) trust (27) unread (22)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Manning, Richard Francis Xavier
Date of death
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Places of residence
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Disambiguation notice
Richard Francis Xavier Manning



This book was difficult to get through, especially the first half. I'll present the bad first:

In the beginning, one of the biggest problems I came across was Scripture being taken out of context/misapplied based on no more than a hunch... for example, Manning states that in the story where the disciples are trying to shoo away the children that want to see Jesus, Jesus "silenced the 12 with a withering glance," even though the actual Scripture passage (Mark 10:13-16) never mentions a withering glance, but does include his verbal "Don't stop the children from coming to me," etc.

He also seemed to read way more into Jesus' words for us to "become like little children" than I think is wise, as he seemed to be promoting lazy, reckless behavior, rather than the wisdom presented all throughout the Bible.

There was very little Scripture in this book, overall. Most of it consisted of stories/jokes which seemed to be included more for shock value or sentiment than for relevancy.

Manning blasted, over and over again, those individuals who don't live the way that he thinks Christians should - which is to say, the way Manning lives. There was no nuance, no understanding that we all have vastly different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and therefore don't all reflect God's character in exactly the same way.

And this last thing is obviously just personal preference, but Manning used a lot of "big" words - I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I am a lifelong reader, and I came across several words in this book that even I didn't recognize. Therefore, I don't think this book is very lay-person accessible. (I found it ironic that at the very end, Manning states, "Long prayers and big words do not suit ragamuffins." [p 226])

For all the bad, though, the overarching message that grace is truly a gift from God, one that we can never earn or deserve, is a true one.

A quote I liked:

"The gospel of grace... proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned - our degree and our salary, our home and garden... - all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer.... My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it." (p 26-27)
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RachelRachelRachel | 39 other reviews | Nov 21, 2023 |
Once I began reading it I put other books aside. Who doesn't love a good writer who weaves the work of others -- Dostoevsky, Dillard, Kung, Flannery O'Connor, Burghardt, et al -- into his personal story presenting a joyful, really good news, approach to faith? There's something winsome about a priest who leaves the priesthood to marry and also writes about his journey as a recovering alcoholic.

Best of all, here is a Christina writer who doesn't eschew the faith journey of other traditions. There is no pretense of hierarchy of belief here.

"Compassionate love is the axis of the Christian moral revolution and the only sign ever given by Jesus by which a disciple could be recognized."

"...gentleness toward ourselves constitutes the core of our gentleness with others. ...the way of gentleness brings healing to ourselves and gentleness toward ourselves brings gentleness to others...Solidarity...frees the one who receives compassion and liberates the one who gives it in the conscious awareness "I am the other.""

"Christianity is not primarily a moral code but a grace laden mystery; it is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands."

Happily, I snagged this copy at a library book sale so felt no qualms wielding my pencil as I read.
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rebwaring | 39 other reviews | Aug 14, 2023 |
I met Brannan Manning first in his book [b:The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out|173526|The Ragamuffin Gospel Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out|Brennan Manning|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1266488592s/173526.jpg|863196] that was published in 1990. I wonder if he'd reconsider some of the ideas he put forth in The Lion and the Lamb -- published in 1987, because I found myself confused as a reader.

Many ideas echoed the joyful voice of Ragamuffin Gospel, but more than once I felt bounced from a delightful, wild and trusting and "reckless" confidence in the love of God into a self-conscious, self-evaluation of my life of faith. Am I the 30%, 60% or 100% believer Manning profiles in his reading of the parable of the sower? (148-149) I always thought these numbers were about the amazing outcomes possible because of the work of the Spirit. And there's a distinct difference between 30% and 30 times...

I could not resonate with the notion that, according to Manning and the French poet Paul Claudel, "Since the incarnation, Jesus has only one desire: to recommence the human life he lilved. That's why he wants additional human natures, people who'll let him start over again." (77) Really? One incarnation was not sufficient? Perhaps the context -- an argument for the the value of suffering -- is what made me squirm. What about the yoke that is easy and the burden that is light? On a side note, I'm reading this in tandem with [b:When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times|687278|When Things Fall Apart Heart Advice for Difficult Times|Pema Chödrön|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320553046s/687278.jpg|2464740]. I'm curious about her non-theist thoughts on suffering...

Manning's uneven approach left me on guard and ready to argue when I'd hoped to engage and be challenged toward renewed faith and hope.

Manning does weave wonderful quotes through each chapter.
p 108 "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very act of existance becomes an act of rebellion." Albert Camus

p 116 "Not fearless and tearless, not unscarred and unshaken. Quite the contrary: you are a wounded healer, dreadfully vulnerable." Henry Nouwen

Manning himself writes with clarity and beauty...
p 132 "One of the most shocking contradictions in Christian living is the intense dislike many disciples of Jesus have for themselves. ...They are fed up with themselves, sick of their mediocrity, disgusted by their own inconsistency, bored by their own monotony. ...Through experiencing the relentless tenderness of Jesus, we learn first to be gentle with ourselves. ...It is simply not possible to know the Christ of the Gospels unless we alter our atttude toward ourselves and takes sides with Him, against our own self-evaluation. ... Would you like to know at this moment how Jesus feels about you? ...if you love yourself intensely and freely, then your feelings about yourself correspond perfectly to the sentiments of Jesus."
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rebwaring | 1 other review | Aug 14, 2023 |



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