31/10/2014

Abba's Child (by Brennan Manning)

I’ve loved all Brennan Manning’s books since first being introduced (by my son) to the ‘Ragamuffin Gospel’ some years ago. When I first read ‘Abba’s Child’, I liked it very much - that was about eight years ago, so I thought it time for a re-read.

At the end of the book, right before a short study guide for groups, is the comment that the author has two modes of reading non-fiction. The first mode is to read ‘externally’ - for information which he might want to use in a discussion, or a sermon, or perhaps even a book. The second mode is internally, taking it in short chunks, perhaps re-reading passages, and spending time pondering them.

Although I had quite forgotten about this distinction until I reached the end of the book, the latter mode is exactly how I read it - just a few pages each morning over about six weeks. That’s a very long time for me to take over a book which I loved - and it’s not even long; there are fewer than 170 pages in the actual book itself. Some days I re-read a section which I had read the previous day; some days I managed only a couple of sides of text.

It’s not that it’s heavy going or requires extensive digestion; far from it. This is a very well-written book intended for the general populace, without academic language. The theme is the love of God as father - something which, the author believes, most of us barely grasp in its real sense.

He begins with looking at what he calls ‘The Imposter’ - the image we portray to our friends and family, even sometimes to ourselves. He make several references to Susan Howatch’s brilliant novel ‘Glittering Images’, which prompted me to re-read that too, a few weeks ago. But rather than throwing out the imposter, Manning suggests we need to embrace him (or her), accept the imposter as part of who we are, offering our whole selves to our Father who loves us more than we can possibly imagine.

The rest of the book enlarges on the way we are loved, examining some common prejudices and misconceptions. The author describes many of his own mistakes and ways he missed God over the years; he is honest and open about his failings, and I found this very encouraging.

It’s a book to be taken slowly, savouring each paragraph, absorbing the wisdom and letting go of the false images and ideas we so often cling to. It’s written from a strongly Christian perspective, of course; but I would recommend this to anyone exploring the faith as well as those who have been committed to God for years. Too often Christians portray themselves as judgemental or angry - this book demonstrates a much gentler and yet also more powerful faith, one that grows and changes, and one which is very, very appealing.

Very highly recommended. Now available in Kindle form as well as being still in print in paperback.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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