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.
- How Autobiographies Should Be
I'm not much of an autobiography kind of guy, but when it's Brennan Manning, I plan on reading it. This book is awesome. There's a few experiences he shares in it that especially stick with me and you can learn from it all. If you're looking for a good autobiography, read this one.
Heart-wrenching. Brennan Manning's talks and books shaped my life, and it was hard to hear how he would drink himself into oblivion after I heard him speak. It is worth the pain, though, to be real about the God we serve and how He would entrust such gifts to such fallen broken people. To be reminded that He does the same for me, even though my sins are different. All is grace. This book will unravel all your religious notions or leave you more religious and self righteous than ever. I hope the former. All is grace!
Maurice England was amazing. It seemed as if he were crying as Brennan would at a few appropriate times in the book. It wasn't disruptive, but added to the expressive nature of Brennan's words. Very well done!
- Honest and sincere
'In honest and sincere tones, Maurice England narrates the equally honest and sincere memoir of Father Brennan Manning.' 2012 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
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- Transparency and hope from a poor-in-spirit brother
All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir
by Brennan Manning (Audiobook)
Disturbed. That’s the best word I know to describe how I felt after finishing this book—but not for the reasons one might think. I was disturbed in a good way (more about that later). Having read much of Brennan Manning’s work over the years, I was looking forward to hearing his story in his own words. I wanted to know the missing pieces, to understand better how the ragamuffin came to be such a wounded healer. I had gathered parts of Manning’s story from his books and messages. However, hearing the earthy descriptions of some of his setbacks surprised me—but then again they didn’t.
Manning has had an unusual life compared to some, full of diverse experiences in Europe and the United States (military service, joining a Franciscan order, campus ministry, leaving the priesthood, marriage, becoming a prolific author and speaker). However, his struggles are the struggles of every man who is not afraid to admit his humanity and need for God’s grace. Just substitute the names and details of your own heartaches, failings, and fractured relationships. However, he’s also been blessed to have dedicated, grace-giving friends who have lavished him with love along the way, a reflection of God’s heart.
Throughout the book, I found myself hitting two buttons over and over—the thirty-second rewind and the stop—to meditate on a profound thought or reflect on how something Manning wrote informed an aspect of my own life.
Manning wanted to be brutally honest in sharing his story, though he admitted he purposely chose to leave some things out. Nevertheless, what he did share about his upbringing, the lack of a close relationship with his mother (he does know the freedom of forgiveness regarding this issue), leaving the priesthood, a marriage that ended in divorce, and his life-long struggle with alcoholism was revealing. As the apt title infers, that someone who wrestled so throughout his life could write books that brought healing to so many (The Ragmuffin Gospel, Abba’s Child, and more) is evidence of the grace of God in his life—and through Brennan Manning, to us.
In his old age, he has three words to answer the question of how someone who wrote the books he did could repeatedly lapse into alcoholism. “These things happen.” He responds to critics who say he preaches a cheap grace, saying “not so,” that his message is a “banana peel” to the orthodox.
The narrator, did an excellent job—his style was conversational, his inflections were appropriate. His speaking cadence was neither too fast nor too slow (as in some audiobooks). In short, I felt as though I was sitting in a large comfy chair in a cozy room by a fireplace, listening to Brennan Manning share from his heart.
So how did this book “disturb” me? It reminded me of what I know but need to remember every day—that the Savior came to bind up the broken-hearted, offering His yoke to those with heavy burdens, that we bring nothing to Him except our brokenness—and that is really where it starts for those who are truly poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).
If you haven’t read any of Brennan Manning’s books, read them and then read this one— or read this one first and then marvel at the wisdom that only a broken man can dispense.*****
A complimentary copy of the book was provided by the publisher, christianaudio.
- Loved As You Are
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café (http://jacobscafe.blogspot.com/2011/10/loved-as-you-are-christianaudio.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+JacobsCafe+%28Jacob%27s+Caf%C3%A9%29).
Brennan Manning has long emphasized the importance of grace and God's unconditional love. His speaking and books have touched thousands, if not millions. While I have heard wonderful things about him, I realized I have never actually read any of his works. So my first direct encounter with Manning was through his memoir, All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir.
This book is an exemplar of the power of grace through all circumstances and actions. I was not aware of Manning's history and controversy, although the fact that he has kept and grown in his faith through it all makes me respect him even more so. I think his mantra that God loves us as we are, not as we should be is profound, simple, complex, and deeply meaningful. This reminder can remove shame, which inhibits change, and moves us toward openness and freedom to love God and accept love from God.
An element that particularly stood out over the course of this book was the clear way human relationships affect our relationship with God. The psychological community interested in spirituality have described this in terms of God image. However, Manning's experience with his mother, father, grandparents, siblings, church, and wife vividly demonstrate the power of how we may trust God more or less based on our ability to trust other. And even more so, how much we are willing to believe God loves us because others have or have not loved us.
While only God can love perfectly, this is an important reminder to consistently engage in loving acts and love people as they are. This helps them see the face of God, which is the ultimate evangelism. Manning has done just that for innumerable people.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
- Grace at Christ's Expense
This book is a very honest memoir of Brennan Manning. I was not aware of this man before reading this book. Brennan had a difficult childhood and seemed to run from his difficulties throughout his life.
Manning changed his life and vocation many times over his life and always seemed to be running from something. He suffered from alcoholism and was never able to overcome this problem in his life. I couldn’t help but wonder why he was unable to do so with all of his involvement with the church and his relationship with Christ.
The book reminds me a bit of the Old Testament difficulties of the Israelites as they continued a never ending cycle of fall, repentance and fall again. Manning seemed to be in the same type of hopeless life cycle as he recounts in this book.
At times, I wasn’t sure why I was continuing to listen as his pain seemed hopeless.
It wasn’t until the very end that it hit me. Although my life has not had the extreme highs and lows of Brennan’s life, I have gone through ups and downs, sin and forgiveness over and over again. Sometimes I have also wondered how God could love me.
All Is Grace showed me clearly that no matter what the current state of my life, ALL is grace. God will always be with us during the good and bad! Truly more than we deserve.
I received this audio book free from http://christianaudio.com Reviewers Program in exchange for posting a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
- Wonderful Memoir
I really don’t know where to start as this is a tremendous memoir by an amazing man. I have thoroughly enjoyed this audio and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys memoirs/biographies. As Brennan himself says he is a survivor and is very honest about his life. It is upsetting at times but very inspirational throughout.
I identified with his Irish Catholic roots and the baggage accompanying it, something I haven’t really thought about much before, but which makes a lot of sense.
Maurice England is just perfect as the narrator, and as I don’t know what the author’s voice sounds like, he was Brennan to me, sharing his life and God’s amazing grace.
I feel very privileged to have listened to this wonderful memoir. There is so much in this audio that I think I’ll have to listen more than once to fully appreciate it.
Thanks to christianaudio.com’s Reviewers Program for this copy.
- All really is Grace
Originally posted on my blog http://bookwi.se
Spiritual biography and autobiography has a tendency to push the lesson before the story. That is not all bad. Since Augustine's Confessions, Christians have learned much from those that have gone before us. There are problems when the biography/autobiography verge into hagiography, showing only the good and never the bad. There is equally problems with the tell-all conversion stories that seem to revel too much in the pre-conversion life and too little in the post conversion reality. All is Grace does a good job of balancing the real, the history and the lesson.
Manning has had a hard life. This will be his last book. His ill health has meant that he has not been capable of speaking and writing much over the past couple years and this book was only completed with the help of John Blase. This is the third such last book I have read this year. John Stott's Radical Disciple, Eugene Peterson's The Pastor: A Memoir (probably not his last book, but still in a similar vein of concluding his public ministry) and now Brennan Manning's All is Grace. All three are very different, but are quite reflective of the lives that each have lived and the types of ministry they were called to serve. Stott's book was more theological and pastoral, prodding us to continue on. Peterson's book was reflective, asking us to look and see if we are adopting too much of the attitudes of the world instead of acting like the servant. Manning's is another call to understand grace by looking at his own life that was marked by both great grace, and great need of grace.
I have read several books by Manning, but this memoir provides some historical structure that does much to give context to his other books. Brennan was born to a difficult family, marked by a lack of love and caring and a prevalence of alcohol. Manning was drinking heavily by age 16. But he also was a talented writer and started college young. He dropped out of college, joined the Marines right before the end of the Korean War. Became a war correspondent, went back to school to become a journalist, dropped out of college again, became a Franciscan, left the Franciscans to become a Little Brother, came back to the Franciscans and served as a college chaplain, participated in a experimental community like the Little Brothers in the US, again became a college chaplain. Each time it was about 2 years before he moved on to the next thing. By the last he was a clear alcoholic and was forced to seek treatment. After some treatment and some success with the treatment he started a new career as a Evangelist speaking about grace and forgiveness as a recovering alcoholic priest. But the alcohol never really was far away.
He met, fell in love with and eventually dropped out of the priesthood to marry Rosalyn. Over the 7 years before they married and the 18 years of their marriage, he says there were many good, many bad and many ugly scenes. Not as a tell all, but gently and clearly admitting to his sins of selfishness and alcoholism. Eventually they were divorced. Throughout their 18 years of marriage, and since, Manning has been a popular speaker and writer, primarily in the Evangelical Christian world. But he still had problems of sin, selfishness, hurt and alcohol.
In many ways, this book reminds me of Lyle Dorsett's wonderful biography of AW Tozer. Tozer was a blessing to the church, a wonderful writer and speaker, but a lousy father and husband. As Christians if we believe in grace stories like Tozer's and Mannings are powerful statements. But just as they are statements to the power of grace, they are equally testaments to the strength of sin and the continual need for grace, not just at the point of salvation, but continually throughout our lives. Some Christians are uncomfortable with the need for grace after conversion. They want their Christian heroes to be perfect and sanctified. And while that is clearly God's desire for us as well, God chooses to work through broken people anyway. Scripture, and Christian history, is littered with the stories of less than perfect people being used by God for great things, even while they were far from great themselves.
It was interesting in the comments of Tim Challies' review of Dorsett's book on Tozer, many people wanted to dispute the biography, charging that the story of the many was mis-construed. That the memories of Tozer's wife, children and friends were somehow less capable than their own understanding of Tozer that they had gained only through reading his books. They refused to believe someone that had been a blessing to them could be less than what they had imagined.
Early in the book, Manning says he want to answer the questions that he knows will be asked, "How could a man that seemed so intimate with God and Jesus' message and ministry of love and grace struggle so much with addiction, self-hatred, loneliness, and marriage?" The book eventually answers "These things happen." It is not an answer that many want to hear, but it is real.
Manning's story is both sad and hopeful. He is aware of his sinfulness and is hopeful, not because he has overcome it, but is hopeful because he has come to know Christ's grace. This is a message I need to hear. I want to live a good life, but the older I get the more I have to admit to my weakness and sinfulness. It is not about the affirmation of theological truths. If I had to choose (which thankfully we do not) I would rather have Manning's personal understanding of grace and a loving God than a proper theological understanding. Manning has tried, and quite often failed to live up to what Christ wants for him. But he has been an example to many what we really should be after, Christ's grace.
This audiobook was provide by christianaudio.com for purposes of review.