tuesdays with brennan…

Several authors and editors I respect counseled me not to write the book as quickly as I did; they urged me to wait two or three years and put some distance between me and the expedition in order to gain some crucial perspective. Their advice was sound, but in the end I ignored it – mostly because what happened on the mountain was gnawing my guts out. – John Krakauer, Into Thin Air

Gnawing my guts out? No, but it has caused me to tremble.

It inevitably takes an entire Monday to travel from Denver to Belmar, New Jersey…a descent from mile high to sea level which meant that most of my visits with Brennan Manning began on a Tuesday. Ours was an arranged friendship, that of author and collaborator. I would spend three or four days with him kicking up the dust of memory, helping him sift a memoir. I would return home to altitude and then descend weeks later and do it again. My initial visions of this reel starred me, a young Mitch Albom of sorts, and Brennan, the aging Morrie, buoyed by a haunting Thomas Newman score. But Brennan Manning is not Morrie…he’s more like Everest.

I had been warned going in, both from the right – ‘Manning’s a liar’ – and the right of right – ‘Manning’s a Merton-loving universalist heretic priest.’ However loud the soundings, in the end I ignored them. Why? Improbable situations always drip a sweeter blood.

I wrote the goal in the front of a fresh Moleskine: to assist with ‘the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images’ (Joan Didion). I then turned the page and set myself to not just hear, but listen. What I witnessed time after time in his spartan apartment was the texture of a grace not easy or cheap, of which Manning is often blisteringly accused. It was something else altogether, something even beyond the pale ‘ragamuffin’ moniker, for seriously, who can resist a cute wittle wagamuffin? That’s right, not many who have a pulse. No, what I befriended on those Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays, and even an occasional Friday, was a collection of rag and bone, a man riven by a vulgar grace…a grace that both amazes and offends, often in the same life, often in the same breath.

Tuesdays with Brennan have caused me to press on now further shorn of an easy God. And that is precisely the reason we’ve listened to Brennan Manning all these years. His life is and has been a testament to a grace greater than his sins and ours…a love of Jesus so deep, deep, vast, unmeasured, boundless, and yes, free…a feral, elemental fury that blows where it wills and is generous beyond our fault.

I am beginning to understand. Tuesdays’s child is full of grace. But to understand is to tremble.    

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  1. Sethhaines on May 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    “Tuesdays with Brennan have caused me to press on now further shorn of an easy God.”

    I’m looking forward to reading how this plays out. Can’t wait to get my hands on this work.

    • thebeautifuldue on June 1, 2011 at 4:12 am

      Thank you for taking the time to comment…yes, ‘shorn’ is the correct word to use.

  2. Lindsay on May 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    John, I went ahead and ordered all of your recent prepub publications. Looking forward to a rich fall.

  3. kendall on May 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Interesting to hear your perspective on time with Brennan. I spent some unchoreographed days with him at the Downing House, mostly watching the World Series, chatting about the Yankees and Brennan taking smoke breaks here and there.
    Sounds like you got to see behind the veil also….looking forward to hearing what you found

    • thebeautifuldue on June 1, 2011 at 4:09 am

      Kendall, thanks for stopping in…I’d like to hear a little more about your experience sometime…

  4. Mike on May 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Any book recommendation from you has proved to be a winner. This one I’m sure will be the same.

  5. thyrkas on May 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    So glad you ignored the warnings from well meaning advisors. There have been some take-heed messages about ‘post-modern emergent church heretics’ which have been so off base as to make me wonder if my advisors and I are talking about the same person. Or, am I that blind, stubborn, deaf and stupid that pity should attend my way? Not sure, but you are inspiring me to keep all the avenues of approach open.

  6. Vern Hyndman on May 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    My good golly… two living heroes of mine. Can’t imagine hearing Manning through the incredibly poetic, concise mind of John Blase. I would trade my Harley for a seat at those Tuesday meetings.

  7. dougwalk on June 12, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Brennan Manning spoke at a church I attended maybe 15 years ago. I was on the worship team and while we were preparing and rehearsing, I noticed this man, sitting quietly worshiping with us as we went over the songs. In the back room before the service we were introduced to this humble man & I think that day was one of my “pivot days” in my relationship with Christ. In this man I saw an intensity and raw faith that kinda floored me. Did I remember his message? Nope. Just the laser-like focus. He showed a Tozer-like “Pursuit of God” and it moved me. And still does. Looking forward to reading the book.

  8. thebeautifuldue on June 13, 2011 at 12:58 am

    That’s a great memory, Doug…the book releases in October…thanks for stopping by!

  9. Lance Ford on June 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    So very looking forward to your book, bro. I know it will reach deeply. About ten years ago we had Brennan do a 3 day formation weekend at the I planted. I had precious one on one time with him and then had the opportunity to spend a few days with him an a couple dozen folks for a few day in the Bahamas about 3 years ago. I watched Brennan set on the edge of his seat as N.T. Wright and Richard Rohr shared. He was hungry, teachable, desirous to grow and learn. Amazing. Thanks for doing this book and giving us all a closer seat to a man who has helped so many of us know Abba’s heart.

  10. mary kathryn tyson on July 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for climbing and for being willing to tremble at that Grace, on behalf of us all. Frightening and heartbreaking if we would all allow that level of pain and soul-Sabbath. My friend, my priest, my brother, my life’s greatest and worst teacher. I’m going to run now. Don’t even know you, and I appreciate you more than I have words to express. xo

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