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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Prodigal

From the inspirational author of The Ragamuffin Gospel comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Jack Chisholm is “the people’s pastor.” He leads a devoted and growing megachurch, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, “We have got to do better.” Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn’t know is anything about grace.
This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already---on the news.
After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books.
Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter.
But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son: “Come home.”
A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably.
Jack Chisholm lost everything---his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing---but he found grace. It’s the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.
Gregg Garrett is the author or coauthor of over fifteen books of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, including The Other Jesus, We Get To Carry Each Other:  The Gospel According to U2, and the acclaimed novels Free Bird, Cycling, and Shame.  A frequent speaker and media guest, he is on of America's leading voices on religion and culture.  Greg serves as Professor of English at Baylor University, Writer in Residence at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, Residential Scholar at Gladstone's Library in Wales, and as a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church.  He lives with his family in Austin, Texas.  
Brennan Manning was a Roman Catholic priest, a lifelong seeker of wisdom, a world traveler, a sojourner among the poor, and a sinner forgiven by a gracious God.  For fifty years, Brennan offered the message that God loves us without condition or reservation, loves us as we are and not as we think we should be.  It is a message of grace and forgiveness that has helped reconcile many to God, and a message that he lived out for the whole world to see, with courage and conviction, warts and all.  A renowned speaker, preacher, and retreat leader, Brennan authored or coauthored twenty books; his most popular being his million-selling and life-changing book The Ragamuffin Gospel.  
He went to rest in the loving arms of his Abba on April 12, 2013, but his voice still echoes in the hearts and minds of his readers.
My Thoughts:
I read The Ragamuffin Gospel years ago and was impressed with Manning's presentation of God's grace.  Now, many years later, The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story is the perfect follow-up book.  The Prodigal presents the ideas shared in The Ragamuffin Gospel in story form.  Garrett and Manning come together in what would be Manning's final book to give us a gritty and genuine picture of the failure of man along with the consequences of sin paired alongside the beautiful picture of God's grace that reaches far and wide to redeem.
There's nothing candy coated in this story.  Jack's story is all of our stories...we miss the mark and God chases after us with His scandalous love and mercy.  The cameo appearance of Brennan as Father Frank in the novel is brilliant!  Brennan ran a good race and fought the good fight.  We are blessed that he left us with one more picture of God's amazing grace. 
One of the questions in the reading group guide, which is included in the book, is:
Would you like to read more stories about Jack?
My answer?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Happy Reading,