Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Prodigal Book Review

A Ragamuffin Story

SUMMARY:  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 mega-church, 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 to 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.

REVIEW:  Having heard how wonderful Brennan Manning's writing was, I wanted to check out his newest book, The Prodigal.  It was a great take on the biblical story of the Prodigal son.  The main character, Jack, could be found in our modern day American culture. When he has a one-night stand with his assistant, Jack's world comes crashing around him.  I like how even though Jack alienated his father after the death of his mother ten years earlier, Dad still went after his son, helping him get through this difficult by providing shelter, a job and a friendly face when everyone else had left.  Father Frank is a refreshing character.  I love how he is very vulnerable and, even though everyone in town knows of his alcoholic background, they still love him and try to support and encourage him as much as Father Frank supports and encourages those around him.  Jack's hometown, while curious about everything that has happened, comes along side of him and tries to help him when they can.
     There were a few things I had difficulties with in this story.  One was how quickly Jack "recovered" and was offered a position preaching in a pulpit.  While I understand his character had made some major favorable changes in his view of grace, I still think it is a little soon (about two months since his night out on the town with his assistant).  One other problem I had (and it was a small one) was how Kathy, the small town newspaper reporter/owner, kept popping up, like she has a crush on Jack.  I guess it bothered me because he was still married (his divorce had not be finalized) and because of how Jack fell from grace (having an one-night stand).
     All in all, I really liked this book.  This one really made me think about a lot of things and hope I can make any changes I need to make and hope my world doesn't come crashing in around me.

This book was provided by Booksneeze and Zondervan for review without compensation.

Brennan Manning was a renowned speaker, preacher, and retreat leader.  He authored or coauthored twenty books, among them his memoir All Is Grace, The Furious Longing of God, Abba's Child, and the 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.

Greg Garrett is the author or coauthor of over fifteen books of fiction, non-fiction, 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.  He lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

No comments: