David C. Cook, $22.99, 232 pages
Brennan Manning, a former-Franciscan-priest-turned-evangelical who has written such contemporary spiritual classics as The Ragamuffin Gospel and Abba’s Child, presents his own life as a quintessential longing for God’s mercy in his bold memoir All is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir. A self-proclaimed alcoholic who has spent more than fifty years centering his preaching, teaching, and writing on his own story of the forgiveness and self-renewal of the Gospel, Manning withholds little in All is Grace: Instead he offers readers a tale of chronic binge drinking, ruined relationships, and rewritten dreams.
His life has been gritty, his decisions are often self-destructive, and the closing note of life in his 70s with a body that is infirm and now demands in-home care borders on disheartening. But Manning does not allow us to rest in a sense of secular despondence. God is greater than that, Manning insists, and His freely offered “vulgar grace” is what can save us: “Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone it cannot cover,” Manning writes toward the end of his memoir. “Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.”
Jennie A. Camp