Monday, November 07, 2005

MIA: The Ragamuffin Godfather

Twelve years ago, I was privileged to spend a weekend with Rich Mullins. It changed my life forever, but not in the ways you’d think.

During a retreat in McKinney, Rich and Beaker led worship and spoke to nearly 500 students. I was volunteering as a leader with a college group and we were staying at a nearby house each night. After each service, Rich would come to the house and hang out with us. Drinking coffee, talking theology, and sharing stories, we’d laugh and cry until the wee hours of the morning. Like hundreds of others, Rich’s music, life and ministry had impacted my own in ways that hadn’t even surfaced yet. But each night, his words dripped with wisdom. They were like drops of living water that splashed on my thirsty tongue. One night, after all but two of the group had gone to bed, Rich asked us, “Do you guys like to read?”

“Sure.” I said.

“Ever read any Chesterton?”, he asked.

“Nope. Never heard of him.”, I replied, feeling a little ignorant.

He stared at me. “Man. You need to read him. He’s almost as good as Brennan’s stuff.”

Now he had me. “Brennan?” I asked. “Who’s Brennan?”

Rich then launched into an eager, passionate description of his friend Brennan Manning, of which his favorite, of course, was The Ragamuffin Gospel.

“Brother, it changed my life,” he said, “Brennan helped me realize that the gospel of Jesus is not about giving my best for God, but about realizing I have nothing to give Him. That everything I have is nothing but a gift, an expression of grace, straight from God. Everything I have is from Him…I’m just a beggar-turned-son.”

I did just what you would have done: I bought The Ragamuffin Gospel at 9am on Monday morning. Although I’ve bought and given away approximately 30 copies since then, I still have that copy. In fact, as I type this it is within arm’s reach.

Brennan was scheduled to speak today at BU. So, James, tg2 and I loaded up and drove a couple of hours to sit on the front row and soak up the wisdom of my personal Yoda: a feeble, frail man who has been weathered by alcohol, depression, divorce, and religious legalism, but who has been rescued and reborn by the free handout of amazin’ grace, and whose eyes still dance with the wide-eyed wonderment of my toddler’s.

But he didn’t show.

Brennan was rushed to the hospital Saturday night, due to complications of emphysema and, although, released Sunday afternoon to his New Orleans home, was not able to travel to Waco.

If you don’t have a copy of Ragamuffin, I’ll sell you my first copy for $10,000. Or you can run here and get one before they close tonite. Don’t wait for Amazon to ship it to you…it may take 2 days or more. In the meantime, religion can choke you under it’s yoke.

And pray for Brennan.


At 4:05 PM, Blogger Howie Luvzus said...

Sorry about your missing Brennan. I saw him about 10 years ago in New Orleans and he was unbelievable! Thanks for letting me know about this. I'll pray.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger tom cottar said...

yeah, thanks. I know his health has been touch-and-go this past year...I was really looking forward to it. Hope things are well in Rooster Poot.


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