“Vulgar Grace” is a phrase used by Brennan Manning from his new book “All Is Grace”. This phrase describes the journey of one man’s desire to be like by many, and yet loved by God. His upbringing formed part of his identity as a Catholic Child, raised by a struggling mother. He missed her funeral in a lowest point of his life, later to find himself loved by her in a vision near the end of this story. The journey written down for all to read is a true gift to the human soul. The desire of many to be loved by God, or their mother for that matter, just as they are, not as they ought to be… “It’s ok, not to be ok,” is a revelation gifted to Brennan from a Little Brother, on his journey of living a story of vulgar grace. During his time with the Little Brother’s he said, “one thing I learned from many of the burning theological issues in the church were neither burning nor theological,” Pg 101.
The ability for the Christian community to read this book and find themselves in the story provides a possibility of transformation not unlike the gospel. It is in the story we find hope, not in a perfect life lived. There is no great stage to attain or success to measure up to by the end of the book. These are idols in the mirror of a man broken by his own addiction and humanity. There is no idol greater than the ideal self projected onto others. This story allows the reader to find his/her own shadow and be visited by Christ great love. Christianity has the power to reconcile one to another, when one of the great hero’s tells a story that opens up broken spaces in our humanity. Providing room for the love of God to illuminate our own limited expectations and understandings of God.
As I read “All is Grace” I found myself crying, laughing and hoping again in the Christian identity to go beyond our constructs of truth, function and form. We are created beings, shaped in the image of God. Our great joy is the participation in the story of reconciliation. When this story becomes true we can live loud the good news in the midst of our brokenness and humanity. He answers the great questions of why fall back into addiction and brokenness after your encounters with “Abba’s love”? with his final statement, “these things happen”. This book is a journey not an answer. And like many great memoirs it captures the vary nature of the human story. It is with great anticipation I recommend this book for all those who want to encounter the love of Christ through the story of a broken and loved man.