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Becoming a Ragamuffin Again: Lenten Reading

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Written by Basil on 04/16/2005 7:11 PM. Filed under:


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We’re back.

I’ve been reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning for Lent. The main thesis is: Modern Christians are crypto-pelagians, consciously and unconsciously believing we must earn the love and forgiveness of God. Yet, there is nothing that we could ever do to earn Abba’s love. Ragamuffins recognize the unmerited love of God because they have received it in the worst of circumstances; prostitutes and thieves, drunks and tax collectors — they all know that they could not have possibly earned God’s love, favor and forgiveness, but they experienced it anyway. When they were covered with mud, slime, excrement and pig fodder, Abba ran to them, surprised them, threw his arms around them, and threw a feast for them.

We try to box it in, lock it up. We try to tame Abba’s love. But it is untamable; he is outrageous in his love for us. I deeply needed that word this Lent.

That experience of Abba’s love for us must be prior to our repentance, otherwise we are trying to earn acceptance and forgiveness from God. I have been contemplating how we can experience Pascha before embarking on Lent, but we already do. The first two Sundays of pre-lent are the Publican and the Pharisee and the Prodigal Son. In the Russian tradition, the Great Fast begins with a service of forgiveness with the hymns of the resurrection chanted softly in the background. The problem is that we don’t focus enough on these as examples of our Father’s outrageous, unmerited love.

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7 Responses to “Becoming a Ragamuffin Again: Lenten Reading”

  1. matt Says:

    what does a 70’s Swedish disco group have to do with repentence? I mean sure, Fernando was a good song, and the story of ther divorces and break-ups was sad (especially when they sang about it.) but I still don’t see the connection.

  2. pete Says:

    Ragamuffin Gospel was a really important book for me to read when I was in college–the beginning of getting to the bottom of my addictions and addictive cycles, among other things.

  3. Karl Thienes Says:

    Why not use the English word “Father” instead of the Arabic “Abba”?

    Just curious! :)

  4. Basil Says:

    Karl, the answer has mostly to do with Manning’s use of the term in the book and in his book titled Abba’s Child, which I haven’t read. I am summarizing his writing, so I use the term he used overwhelmingly throughout the book.

    I would also argue that “Abba” has a very deep meaning beyond its linguistic roots for most English-speaking Christians. “Abba,” which is generally semitic and not only Arabic, is also very primal and visceral (being one of the first sounds a child can make, like “amma”). There is something very intimate and comforting for me in the word Abba (which is why I resonate with the desert literature).

    I hope that satisfies your curiosity.

  5. Karl Thienes Says:

    I was just giving you a hard time, my friend! I know how much you usually hate non-English words being substituted when an English word could just as easily be used.

  6. pete Says:

    The reason Manning uses “Abba” is because it’s probably how the Aramaic-speaking Jesus told his followers to pray to Yahweh.

  7. Bryan_Peter Says:

    Wow…both you and Luke Seraphim have read this during Lent. Last time I read this was as a catechumen. Probably worth picking up again, especially considering my admitted Rich Mullins addiction…

    Glad you enjoyed it. Have a great Holy Week, fellow ragamuffin.

    Oh, and this:

    “‘Abba,’ which is generally semitic and not only Arabic, is also very primal and visceral (being one of the first sounds a child can make, like ‘amma’).”

    Right; it’s pretty much used any time we’d use the word “Daddy.” Which is pretty uncomfortable to think about, as that means Christ told us to pray, “Our Daddy, who are in heaven…”