Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

This is the 25th anniversary of The Ragamuffin Gospel written by a former Franciscan priest. It is a beautiful exposition on God's grace. It is to the point and in your face in a good way. It wakes you up to the reality of God's love for you. Definitely a "come as you are" love freely given and not earned or deserved is at the core of the book's message. The Ragamuffin Gospel was very controversial when it was originally written in 1990 because it was not about a restrictive love based on sin and judgement. The author left the priesthood to get married and he is not shy in laying out his own faults of alcoholism for instance. The back cover says it nicely that we don't need spiritual cosmetics to make ourselves presentable to God. Ultimately that God IS Love is spelled out chapter after chapter in addition to the whimsical titles of each chapter.
One of my favorite quotes from The Ragamuffin Gospel is "Counterfeit Grace is as commonplace as fake furs, phony antiques, paste jewelry and sawdust hot dogs. The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.....The dichotomy between what we say and what we do is so pervasive in the church and in society that we actually come to believe our illusions and rationalizations and clutch them to our hearts like favorite teddy bears." I think this book is about "keeping it real" and being genuine even as we evangelize in sincerity to others. "To evangelize a person is to say to him or her , 'You are loved by God in the Lord Jesus'. And not only to say it but to really think it and relate it to the man or woman so they can sense it."
The author, Mr Manning, has written more that 20 books, and was a gifted speaker. He was a Korean war veteran and as I mentioned before a Franciscan priest. His final book was his memoir titled All is Grace. He died in 2013. There is a preface and afterward in this book written by people who knew that author personally that is specific to this 25th anniversary special edition. This helps the readers get to know the man and the author better.
I would definitely recommend this book to you. You will not be disappointed. There are multiple examples and quotes in each chapter. The voice of the author is highly relatable. The reader will discover that we are all Ragamuffins and that we are all loveable. What better message could there be and what more could you want from a book. Love and spirituality are central to the book as perhaps they should be in our own lives.

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