QUICK HIT: Brennan Manning’s meanderings and musing fill paragraphs and pages with nary a header to remind you of the topic because how can you forget? If you’ve never heard of Brennan, Abba’s Child excellent place to start.
Before he died in 2013, Brennan Manning was a spiritual enigma, a self-proclaimed ragamuffin, and Franciscan priest who somehow appealed to evangelicals as well. He was a writer and speaker and leader of spiritual retreats. And he was loved by his heavenly Father. Manning had a way with words, in the way he didn’t mince them, in the way that he laid it all down right there in black and white and was just so honest and sincere that you had to accept what he said.
And, though his seminal work is The Ragamuffin Gospel, you get all of that in Abba’s Child as well. First published in 1994, this edition from NavPress has been updated by John Blasé, Manning’s frequent collaborator. For those unfamiliar with Manning’s work, there is no better place to start. For those who know him only from Ragamuffin, this book is a great look into the other things Manning wrote on, although really Manning only had one theme on which to write: his Abba Father.
There is something about Manning’s writing that almost demands that one read it aloud. There’s a poetry embedded in his prose that’s absolutely beautiful and altogether befitting of subjects he writes on. I’ve sat here trying to pick out one aspect to elaborate on, but I find myself failing altogether because there’s wisdom and thought-provoking sentences on every page. A random example, in which I turn to random pages and quote to you the first thing I read:
Page 48: The life of Jesus suggests that to be like Abba is to show compassion.
Page 117: The truth of faith has little value when it is not also the life of the heart.
Page 17: The more I invested in ministerial success, the more real the imposter became.
Page 148: Let the great Rabbi hold you silently against his heart. In learning who he is, you will find out who you are.
And I could go on. Manning’s chapter on the imposter is alone worth the cost of this book. Most Christian authors don’t write like Manning did. Not anyone. Their books are carefully sectioned off, simply worded, and structured. There’s nothing wrong with that. Manning’s meanderings and musing fill paragraphs and pages with nary a header to remind you of the topic because how can you forget?
If you’ve never heard of Brennan, this is an excellent place to start. If you have, it’s an excellent way to remember a man who was truly a modern saint.