Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion Paperback – Feb 5 2008
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
Where is it written that literary women must move to coastal California (if they don't already live there), become Episcopalians and write conversion memoirs? Miles, like recent memoirists Diana Butler Bass, Nora Gallagher and Lindsey Crittenden, loves Jesus and detests the religious right, though she is also critical of "the sappy, Jesus-and-cookies tone of mild-mannered liberal Christianity." Mild-mannered she is not. Converted at age 46 when she impulsively walked into a church and received communion for the first time, the former war correspondent suddenly understood her life's mission: to feed the hungry. What her parish needed, she decided, was a food pantry—and within a year (and over opposition from some fellow parishioners) she had started one that offered free cereal, fruit and vegetables to hundreds of San Francisco's indigent every Friday. Not willing to turn anyone away, she raised funds and helped set up other food pantries in impoverished areas, occasionally "crossing the line from self-righteous do-gooder to crusading zealot." For Miles, Christianity "wasn't an argument I could win, or even resolve. It wasn't a thesis. It was a mystery that I was finally willing to swallow." Grittier than many religious memoirs, Miles's story is a perceptive account of one woman's wholehearted, activist faith. (Feb. 20)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A self-proclaimed blue-state, secular-intellectual, lesbian, left-wing journalist with a strong skeptical streak, Miles was hardly a candidate for Christian conversion. Yet convert she did, wholeheartedly at age 46. For upon her first Communion (in an Episcopal church), everything changed (she still can't fully explain the feelings that arose during her first Communion). She realized that "what I'd been doing with my life all along was what I was meant to do: feed people" and started a food pantry in her gritty San Francisco neighborhood. The journey from skeptical secularist to devout Christian was long, complicated, and often convoluted (her parents were avid atheists), but the story she makes of it is engaging, funny, and highly entertaining, including many surprises as well as the occasional wrong turn. Incidentally, Miles comments, often with great insight, on the ugliness that many people associate with a particular brand of Christianity. Why would any thinking person become a Christian? is one of the questions she addresses, and her answer is also compelling reading. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Thank you for sharing your Love-story
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That was some eight years ago and only the beginning of further conversions. Building upon her life experiences as a chef, her conversion through the Eucharist, passion for the poor, and the founding vision of St. Gregory's, in 2000 Miles started a food pantry at her church that gave away free groceries (not meals) with no questions asked and no forms to fill out. Each week food for about 400 families was placed around the eucharistic altar. Such was the open communion and unconditional acceptance that she experienced at Saint Gregory's and intended to extend to anyone who was hungry. Through connections with the San Francisco Food Bank, and the generosity of unexpected donors, the miracle of the loaves multiplied and Miles went on to jump start nine more food pantries around the city.
Mundane food for the body became not only a sign of God's kingdom but, as theologians would say, the actual thing signified. Those who received wanted to give. Care for broken spirits accompanied bread for hungry bodies. If you have spent any time in church you will especially appreciate Miles' candid descriptions of the disruptions and divisions that the food pantries caused at Saint Gregory's. At one point more homeless, schizophrenic, and drug-crazed hungry people came to the food pantry than artsy, proper worshippers to the church services. While Miles saw this as a blessing, others saw it as a curse of sorts.
With her story of radical Christian conversion and the incarnation of daily discipleship Miles will join other feminist authors who have earned a broad readership because of the authenticity with which they have written about loving Christ, the church, and the world--Joan Chittister, Nora Gallagher, Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Marilynne Robinson, and Barbara Brown Taylor come to mind. When I finished her book my mind kept returning to Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 4:21, "The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power," and in Galatians 5:6, "The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love."
This is a book about a different kind of Christianity, one based on love and reminiscent of Jesus---authentic and moving---for all of those who are turned off by the religious right and what today passes for the "Good News". It is refreshing and eye-opening to see a secular leftist lesbian experience a radical conversion to Christianity based around feeding others' physical, spiritual and emotional hunger through food pantries. Jesus said "Feed My sheep", and the author does this, and chronicles her journey. She is the kind of Christian I want to be, not hate-based or fear-based or dogma-based, but faithful to the actual Gospel, which is violently at odds with the way faith is sometimes practiced today.
She is Episcopalian, and her sexual identiy as a lesbian (which she retains after her conversion) is peripheral to her story about feeding hungry people. She ministers to "the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely", and the book chronicles how all this comes about.
This is a great read, one that will make Christians open their eyes, and people of other faiths respect someone who has lived her life in love.
It might also bother you, especially if you are an evangelical. Sara is raw. She's rough. She uses language and lives a lifestyle that would make many Christians furrow their brow. She throws out statements like this: "You know," Swami Jeff told me once, "God couldn't care less about the church. We don't understand the Eucharist, or that bread and wine live within us, so we ritualize the things that hold the mystery. We focus on the container and formalize the mystery. But you can't do that." Which is, of course, so wrong in so many ways. God does care about the Church. The Church is God at work in the world. The book of Ephesians rightly teaches that the greatest metaphor for Christ and the Church is a husband and wife (and the metaphor goes the other way, as well). And there are many other things about this book that are so bothersome. And offensive.
And yet, her voice is necessary, because she get so much right. She understands the radical, accepting love of Jesus Christ for this world. She gets that love for Jesus demands a love for all his children. She gets that serving Christ is more important than showing up to church and looking pretty. "Doing the Gospel rather than just quoting it was the best way I could find out what God was up to." She gets that feeding the poor is one of the essentials of following Christ. And she gets the fact that Christ is for the poor, the outcast, the marginalized, the hungry. She understands that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now, right under our noses, if we would only open our eyes to see it. She hammers home the idea that community is core to Christianity - but not the community we choose; it's the community God calls to us, and calls us to. She gets the Modern Church. "My suspicion was that committees in churches served the same purpose as committees in other institutions: They were holding tanks for people who professed interest in an issue but didn't always want to act." And, I've got to tell you, the story of her conversion, of how she walked into church, received Communion, and was overcome by God, is breathtakingly powerful. I wish all could read her story.
In the end, a lot of Christians will be scandalized by much of who she is and what she says There are certainly parts that make me uncomfortable. And yet there is so much to learn here, so much the Church needs to wrestle with, to understand, to hear - it ought to shock Christians right out of their complacency, into a place where they take Jesus' mandate seriously.
As she traveled to war-torn countries reporting on the effects of the war on the citizens, and experienced first-hand how people who are worlds apart, and don't speak the same language, can be brought together by the simple act of sharing food, she began to see food as the universal bond that ties us all together.
On her return to San Francisco, she happens upon St. Gregory's Church, a radical Episcopalian church where the founders are trying something new: Breaking down the barriers of the traditional church and inviting its members to take a greater role in the celebration of the Eucharist.
As quoted on her web site: Then early one morning, for no earthly reason, she wandered into a church. "I was certainly not interested in becoming a Christian," she writes. "Or, as I thought of it rather less politely, a religious nut."
But Sara Miles ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine, and found herself radically transformed.
Sara is hooked, and is soon a full-fledged member of the church, receiving Communion on a regular basis. Her desire to share the breaking of bread with those less fortunate becomes overwhelming.
Sara sets up the St. Gregory's food pantry--a new idea, where, instead of dishing out meals like soup kitchens, the volunteers allow the poor and needy of the area to maintain their dignity by selecting their own groceries and bringing them home to cook their own meals. In no time, the news of the good work in St. Gregory's has spread among the community, and over 250 people gather outside every week for the pantry.
Through her good work, Sara Miles has set up a number of similar food pantries in San Francisco, helping hundreds of people. This heartwarming, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, story of one woman's plight to bring the church to the people should be an inspiration to all of us to reach out to those around us, and embrace God's children, as he embraces us all.
Armchair Interviews says: One woman's good work is making a huge difference
To me, church-shopping is an individual pursuit, and a small topic. I am always more interested in (and mystified by) how people find faith; what brings a person to belief?
I don't think it matters whether your communion is a wafer or home-baked bread; I suspect both can serve the same purpose when shared in the right spirit.
Nowhere near as good as Mary Karr's Lit.