December 2, 2020

A Witness to Vulgar Grace

The following is from Brennan Manning’s memoir, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir.

Drink deep and savor. This is the good stuff.

My life is a witness to vulgar grace — a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wage as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party, no ifs, ands, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request — “Please, remember me” — and assures him, “You bet!”…This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough…

Sin and forgiveness and falling and getting back up and losing the pearl of great price in the couch cushions but then finding it again, and again, and again? Those are the stumbling steps to becoming Real, the only script that’s really worth following in this world or the one that’s coming. Some may be offended by this ragamuffin memoir, a tale told by quite possibly the repeat of all repeat prodigals. Some might even go so far as to call it ugly. But you see that doesn’t matter, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand…that yes, all is grace. It is enough. And it’s beautiful.


  1. You are absolutely right, Chaplain Mike.

    That IS the good stuff.

    That IS the gospel.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Brennan Manning understands grace like nobody else!

  3. Beautiful! Beautiful! He says it like no one else. When I read Manning, I understand grace, deep down.

  4. I am so glad it’s true, because I lost my way for 50 odd years and now am back without reservation!

  5. Only Brennan Manning could discribe grace this way and make tears weal up and make you know this is the only way it could be

  6. yeah…amen…

  7. Too bad the real world doesn’t work like that. People such as my father would simply laugh at such an excerpt.

    • laugh all you want, it’s true.

    • Huol…

      I REALLY want to believe this but I’m afriad fo going to another church and facing another smack down. I don’t know why Christinaity is so graceless. This book has been recommended to me by several people and its on my to read list.

    • I would suggest that the REAL world does work like this. Let us go higher up and further in.

      That, of course, is the scandal of the gospel. That is what makes it so vulgar. It is counter cultural in a way that OWS can only dream of.

      Reality is so much more than it’s cracked up to be.

      • Dave-

        You comment about how it’s cracked up to be reminds me of a card my sister got me recently. My sister got me a humorous card that shows a plumber bending over and trying to fix a sink. You can use your imagination, its nothing pornographic. But when you open up the card it says, I hope your Thanksgiving is everything is cracked up to be. Anyhow reading your comment reminded me of that card….

        Oh dear….

  8. Wow! That’s really good!

  9. Don’t you just know that he would be a pleasant person to be around. That’s a fountain welling up. That’s what He gives His own that the world cannot see.

  10. “It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility.”

    What a great sentence. I love Manning too.

    • my own father could not accept this blatant extravagance of grace either when i tried to explain to him my own later-in-life conversion experience, or personal epiphany as i understand it…

      he actually said to me, “You make it sound so simple…”

      right. but he so wrapped up in his own sense of unrighteousness he could only see as far as the sides of hole he was in allowed…


      he was one the did think he needed to get up to ground level to even begin to approach God. he suffered from guilt at divorcing my mother & not being the father to the teenagers left behind in the wake of such a decision…

      this is one of the foundational understandings of the Good News that each person must apprehend if they are ever to grow in the atmosphere of acceptance Jesus demonstrated to those hung up on the two extremes; 1) uber-religiosity; and 2) uber-sinner categories…

      thank you for such grace O God!

  11. That Other Jean says

    Beautiful and free and so very, very hard to believe.

  12. Wow…….this fellow pilgrim is my new best friend and teacher. I think that I have grown so much as a Christ-follwer by reading his books and listening to him speak (albeit on tape). I have read his first two books [devoured, actually] since I first heard of him here at I-monk, and gave myself a huge gift and ordered four more of his books yesterday. He is the real thing, and his telling of the Trinity’s words and works makes my sinner’s heart soar.

    In the children’s book “The Velveteen Rabbbit”, an old rocking horse explains the concept of being real to the toy rabbit…..

    “What is ‘REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. ” Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

    “REAL isn’t how you were made” said the Skin Horse. “When a Child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, that’s when you become REAL.”

  13. I started this book once and couldn’t get into it. Bought it a few weeks ago at a teachers’ conference and am currently reading it. This time around, it’s speaking to me. I’m loving it.

  14. Brennan Manning offers us wisdom that comes from brokenness covered by nothing but unconditional love and free grace. Beautiful!

  15. David Logsdon says

    I am sitting here at my desk during my lunch break reading “All Is Grace” and just had the urge to check “Internet Monk”. Wonder why?