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14May/130

A Few Recent Passings

Long time, no blog. Austin is still beckoning for most of my time. But more sadly, it's the recent passing of two authors that I've greatly admired since stumbling onto some of their signature work that serves as a cause to drop a note here.

I've only made my way through Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy" once. And for a brief number of years, I made it a habit of reading through Brennan Manning's "Ragamuffin Gospel" around Christmas time. As much as I've made it a tendency to talk myself out of spending money after deciding to browse through a bookstore, each of these authors have proven to be two that I'm happy to drop that habit for.

Session ends on the 27th. I'm sure that there's some reading in store for me.

» Christianity Today: Dallas Willard, a Man from Another 'Time Zone'

Many of us in the church have been impacted by Dallas through his teachings and writings that are often categorized as being about 'spiritual formation,' although his real preoccupation and concern was focused on the 'kingdom of God', or what he would often speak about as the 'with-God life.' He said the four great questions humans must answer are: What is reality? What is the good life? Who is a good person? And How do you became a good person? His concern was to answer those questions, and live the answers, and he was simply convinced that no one has ever answered them as well as Jesus.

These 'spiritual' writings of Dallas almost never used a technical vocabulary, but they had a density to them that makes them slow-going for most of us. I think the main reason for this is that any given word Dallas uses is a compressed summary of the history of human thought which he has digested and distilled. Words which are vague for most of us were precisely calibrated by him.

» Patheos: Brennan Manning: The Prodigal Goes Home

Brennan told us that we spoke of grace, but we didn't really believe in it; we spoke of forgiveness, but we didn't really believe in it; we spoke of love, but we didn't really believe in it. The failure of individual Christians to embrace the radical love of God, the failure of the Church to embody that love, broke his heart, over and over again. God loves us as we are, not as we should be, Brennan taught. Because of that, he wrote, "Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace."

Brennan knew about grace first-hand, and he showed us that grace by telling his own story of his life as a Roman Catholic priest who left the priesthood to marry, of his struggles with alcohol and his first-hand knowledge of suffering, sin, and redemption.

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