Sara Miles Take This Bread

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Sara Milestake This Bread

Sara Miles, author of City of God, on her Faith & Background

No doubt, one of the best reads for me in the past two years was Sara Miles Take this Bread: A Radical Conversion. I cant claim it a life changer, but as a memoir of conversion centered at the table of God, its a book thats affirmed for me so much about faith, eucharist and church, and in the most compelling way.

Miles, a left-leaning journalist, political activist and atheist, was not the most likely candidate for conversion to Christian faith, yet stumbling into a celebration of communion in an Episcopal church in San Francisco, Miles found an experience of profound change. In this act of eating Jesus, she discovered the beginning of a radical turn-around in everything that mattered to her. And nothing in Miles life, nor in the life of her congregation, would be the same again.

The beauty of Miles book is that this is more, far more, than a story of personal conversion. Its about the out-working of that conversion in the feeding of the poorest and most marginalized in her home city. Its the story of food pantries blossomed all over San Francisco, ministries of hospitality that have extended the table of the church far beyond the bounds of the sanctuary. But its also an honest story. For the most part, Miles avoids the idealized and overly romantic haze that can surround stories like this and the result is a much more grounded and empowering book for those who read.

In Miles words, her story is political as well as personal:

Sara Miles Ballantine $2495 Isbn 978

Where is it written that literary women must move to coastal California , 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 pantryand within a year 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.

Take This Bread By Sara Miles

Mine is a personal story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert.Sara Miles

Raised as an atheist, Sara Miles lived an enthusiastically secular life as a restaurant cook and a writer. Then early one winter 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 she ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine, and found herself radically transformed.

The mysterious sacrament of communion has sustained Miles ever since, in a faith shed scorned, in work shed never imagined. In this astonishing story, she tells how the seeds of her conversion were sown, and what her life has been like since she took that bread.

Take This Bread is rich with real-life Dickensian characterschurch ladies, child abusers, millionaires, schizophrenics, bishops, and thievesall blown into Miless life by the relentless force of her newfound calling. She recounts stories about trudging through the rain in housing projects, wiping the runny nose of a psychotic man, storing a battered womans .375 Magnum in a cookie tin. She writes about the economy of hunger and the ugly politics of food the meaning of prayer and the physicality of faith. Here, in this achingly beautiful, passionate book, is the living communion of Christ.The most amazing book. Anne Lamott

From the Hardcover edition.


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See Scott Korb’s Review Of Sara Miles’ Take This Bread Above When Miles Sent Me Galleys For The Book Months Ago I Was Certain I Wouldn’t Have Much Use For It It’s About Miles’ Life As A Cook And I Don’t Like Books About Cooking And About Her Conversion To Christianity And Conversion Stories Are Usually More Interesting As Data Than As Narrative And About Miles’ Leftist Christian Faith And Much As I Admire Such Faith It’s Usually Too Earnest For Prose I Was The Worst Possible Audience For This Book

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See Scott Korbs review of Sara MilesTake This Bread, above. When Miles sent me galleys for the book months ago, I was certain I wouldnt have much use for it. Its about Miles life as a cook, and I dont like books about cooking and about her conversion to Christianity, and conversion stories are usually more interesting as data than as narrative and about Miles leftist Christian faith, and, much as I admire such faith, its usually too earnest for prose. I was the worst possible audience for this book and I thought it was beautiful. Heres an excerpt at Killing the Buddha.

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