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 – All Is Grace.
Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel) sums up this reluctant memoir: "I am alive, but it's been hard." Weathered and tired, Manning narrates his life through a cast of seminal players who have defined it, for better or worse, including an abusive mother. His dispassionate voice evokes trust. When attempting to articulate his relentless battle with alcoholism, he writes that the telling of it "feels a weak attempt," but recounts these struggles lucidly to lay bare "the thick darkness that was always behind any light in my life." The greatest regret in his life has been that he "did not know how to be married." (He and his wife Roslyn were divorced after 16 years.) At points the narration feels tired and obligatory, as if he simply doesn't want to talk anymore. Conversely, that is the book's appeal. There's no cutting corners, no spinmeistering. If the book could be defined as a psalm, it would read, "How pleasant it is when fellow travelers of faith can read another's story and hear the ring of truth and, conquering that, still believe."