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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)
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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.