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Brennan Manning is the author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Wisdom of Tenderness, and Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God.

What is a ragamuffin?

Well, there's a beautiful scene in the Old Testament about the Anawim. In the eighth century, they're the poor, the homeless, landless, and God will one day restore their prosperity. But in the sixth century the Anawim took on a meaning of tremendous spiritual depth. The Anawim were the poor in spirit who had an unwavering trust in God and committed themselves entirely to doing his will.

Now, when the Anawim theme comes into the New Testament, the Anawim are those who gather to meet Jesus at his birth. They're the poor ones, the nobodies, the people on the margin of respectability. They're the shepherds. There's Anna, this old lady at 84 years old. There's Simeon, an old man. And all these animals. And then, of course, there's the Virgin Mary, who was considered the last and lowliest in a long line. Those are the ones who are truly poor in spirit. They acknowledge their utter dependence on God even for their next breath, have just cast their lot with Jesus, and surrendered to the Father's will. And that's basically what a ragamuffin is.

What is premise of this book about trust?

The basic idea is in one sentence: The splendor of a human heart that trusts and is loved unconditionally gives God more pleasure than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, the sight of 10,000 butterflies in flight, or the scent of a million orchids in bloom. Trust is our gift back to God, and he finds it so enchanting that Jesus died for love of it.

It's what Jesus said we need to bring into the relationship.

Yes. Childlike surrender and trust, I ...

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December 2002

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