Monday, April 29, 2013

The Passing of Brennan Manning

A few weeks ago, Brennan Manning passed away. Listening to him speak once again as I (Francois) was driving across Pennsylvania, I was brought to tears (again!) by his insight and gentleness. I came to know Manning when I first read his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel,  in the 90's as I was attending graduate school. Shortly thereafter I had the chance to hear him speak at a church. While I had been a Christian for almost 10 years at that point, his message of Grace and God's love was unlike anything I had heard before. During more than 20 years of writing and speaking, Manning used his own life story of success and failures as an example to teach about God's furious love:"Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion." 

For college students who are in the midst of defining their identities, Manning's exhortation often strikes a deep cord. The chapters from his book, Abba's Child, on our belovedness and our attempts to hide from God and others have been staples on CCO trips for many years. The conversations these two chapters open go to the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. The grasp of our belovedness and the power of our impostor (as Manning called our false self) are also central to the assumptions from which we build our leadership. We often assign these readings on CCO trips during a time of solitude for students to really chew on Manning's words and let the Holy Spirit bring to mind the experiences of the trip which speak to when they encountered their belovedness and their shadow self. For many these are powerful moments of reflection and learning.

For those of you who are familiar with his work, you know what a loss this is. And yet we cannot help but celebrate because Manning is now with his Abba whose love he has sought and shared with so many.  For those of you who have not read any of his work, here is 45-minute video from one of his many speaking engagements: