“Real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others. Above all, freedom from your opinions about yourself. ” says the late Brennan Manning and I remember his illustrations, demeanor, the cadence of his voice getting stronger when talking about God’s grace and softer when speaking difficult truths we must face about ourselves. My wife and I attended a retreat where Manning was our guide and leader in San Diego several years ago. We both benefited greatly and still do.
So, when I had the chance to pick up the NIV Ragamuffin Bible, I didn’t hesitate. Quotes and anecdotes from Manning are intermingled with the text of Scripture and extended excerpts from Manning on various topics are also part of the overall package. For many, Manning is a distant author who wrote some things that were helpful at a certain time, but for me, his books come alive because I can often hear his unique voice calling out for us to truly believe that God’s radical love and grace can not only change our lives, but would turn communities upside down as well because such love and grace changes everything.
Like the NRSV CS Lewis Devotional Bible and the ESV Oswald Chambers Devotional Bible, the NIV Ragamuffin Bible takes a selection of the spiritual writings of a master retreat leader and intermingles them with the Biblical text to encourage the reader along the way. I can imagine well-meaning people saying that such a Bible is unnecessary and why do we need the writings of men like Lewis, Chambers, or even Manning in the margins of our Bible? The short answer is that the Biblical text indeed stands on its own, but because we never live on our own, reading with Manning’s voice echoing in my head always encourages me and frankly, Manning only amplifies the Biblical story as he doesn’t shy away from his own shortcomings. On the contrary, the Bible is full of ragamuffins just trying to make it through life by faith alone. I was saddened at hearing of the passing of Brennan Manning earlier this year, but am reminded again that the Bible tells us that he has simply fallen asleep. This collection of quotes and observations will suffice until we meet again Brennan. Until we meet again.
(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review as part of the Booksneeze program)
Brennan Manning on Compassion
(I remember him teaching this lesson and then I remember him coming by our little discussion group on a break and saying, ‘well, ladies and gentleman, do we believe this stuff?”)