Hi, David here.
Brennan Manning, best known for his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, passed away last year at the age of 78 after many years of declining health.
Born and raised in Depression-era New York City, Manning finished high school, enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and fought in the Korean War. After returning to the United States, he enrolled at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Upon his graduation from the seminary in 1963, Manning was ordained a Franciscan priest.
In the late 1960s, Manning joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld, a religious institute committed to an uncloistered, contemplative life among the poor. Manning transported water via donkey, worked as a mason’s assistant and a dishwasher in France, was imprisoned (by choice) in Switzerland, and spent six months in a remote cave somewhere in the Zaragoza desert. In the 1970s, Manning returned to the United States and began writing after confronting his alcoholism.
Singer-songwriter Rich Mullins named his band, A Ragamuffin Band, after one of Manning’s books. Warren Barfield’s music is also often inspired by Manning, as is the work of singer-songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones.
Manning taught a message of individualism within a context of Christ. “When I accept in the depth of my being that the ultimate accomplishment of my life is me — the person I’ve become and who other persons are because of me — then living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness is … a way of life.” When a person accepts himself as loved by God, he is liberated from conceptions of “the blood line, the nation, the church, money, ego, entitlement, security, violence, and the paltry gods of modern life.” He rejects the idea of teaching the love of God with limits. “I cling to the God of my experience, whose love beggars belief.”
Manning’s approach to religion is refreshing – religion counts for nothing. Church is important but only if it leads you closer to Jesus through grace, and not by duty. If you ever get a chance to read any of Brennen’s books you will be impressed by his straight talking and straight shooting approach to Jesus. His work is profoundly inspiring by its stark similplicity. Jesus taught simplicity – the average lenght of his parables was 38 seconds.
May you this week let Jesus just do what he needs to do with you, without limt or excuse. May you know that Jesus accepts you as you are and not as you should be because none of us are as we should be.
As You Are
Beyond fidelity and infidelity
in the morning sun and in the evening rain
That he loves you
When your intellect denies it,
your emotions refuse it,
your whole being rejects it.
Do you believe that God loves
without condition or reservation and
As you are
you should be.
― Brennan Manning, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir