Left me feeling moved: My review of "The Prodigal" by Brennan Manning & Greg Garrett @DailyVineCA


about the book....

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 megachurch, 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 of 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.

my review....

I opened the covers of “Prodigal” a little bit worried that I was going to be reading a novel that would be all-too-predictable in its story line, that of the parable of the prodigal son and his path to being reunited with his father. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Manning and Garrett have taken an age-old story line, infused it with interesting plot elements, and given new voice to the tale of the prodigal son. I found that the story did start off a little on the slow side, but soon I found myself utterly absorbed by the characters I was meeting. Jack Chisholm is a flawed human being in a manner that readers will be able to relate to, often well-meaning but struggling to live through past hurts or selfish desires. He is so completely off-mark in what he teaches as America’s pastor, that it is hard to believe that churches such as his actually exist out there. Sadly, it’s all too true that the gospel of grace and freedom can be twisted to become all about striving to just “do better”, forgetting the grace and redemption Jesus offers. Jack’s path to healing and reconciliation is a fascinating one to watch, and some of the scenes brought tears to my eyes! The novel is well-written and will leave you thinking about your own relationship with Jesus, as well as reflecting on how you treat others in the world around you. I closed the pages of this story feeling moved by the power of God’s love to find us even in our darkest moments, and bring us hope when all seems lost.

I award this book a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend that readers who enjoy entertaining and moving contemporary fiction books pick up a copy for themselves.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

 about the author....

Brennan Manning

 Brennan Manning spent his life and ministry helping others experience the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. A recovering alcoholic and former Franciscan priest, his own spiritual journey took him down a variety of paths, all of them leading to the profound reality of God's irresistible grace. His ministry responsibilities varied greatly - from teacher, to minister to the poor, to solidary reflective. As a writer, Brennan Manning is best known as the author of the contemporary classics The Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba's Child, Ruthless Trust, The Importance of Being Foolish, Patched Together, and The Furious Longing of God.
Greg GarrettGreg Garrett is the author of novels, including the new The Prodigal (with Brennan Manning), Free Bird (chosen by Publishers' Weekly and the Denver Rocky Mountain News as one of the best fiction debuts of 2002), Cycling, and Shame, the memoirs Crossing Myself and No Idea, and works on theology, popular culture, politics, and narrative including The Gospel according to Hollywood, The Gospel Reloaded (with Chris Seay), Holy Superheroes, Stories from the Edge, We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel according to U2, The Other Jesus, One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter, and Faithful Citizenship. Greg is also--with Brian McLaren, Lauren Winner, Phylis Tickle, Chris Seay, and other writers--involved in The Voice project, a scripture project for Thomas Nelson. Greg is 2013 Centennial Professor at Baylor University, writer in residence at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, and Residential Scholar at Gladstone's Library in Wales. He lives in Austin, Texas with his family.
Find out more about the book on the publisher website:   http://zondervan.com/9780310339007