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Take This Bread
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Early one morning, for no earthly reason, Sara Miles, raised an atheist, wandered into a church, received communion, and found herself transformed-embracing a faith she'd once scorned. A lesbian left-wing journalist who'd covered revolutions around the world, Miles didn't discover a religion that was about angels or good behavior or piety; her faith centered on real hunger, real food, and real bodies. Before long, she turned the bread she ate at communion into tons of groceries, piled on the church's altar to be given away. Within a few years, she and the people she served had started nearly a dozen food pantries in the poorest parts of their city.
"Take This Bread" is rich with real-life Dickensian characters-church ladies, millionaires, schizophrenics, bishops, and thieves-all blown into Miles's life by the relentless force of her newfound calling. Here, in this achingly beautiful, passionate book, is the living communion of Christ.
"The most amazing book."
-Anne Lamott
"Engaging, funny, and highly entertaining . . . 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."
"-Booklist
"
"Powerful . . . This book is a gem [and] will remain with you forever."
"-The Decatur Daily"
"What Miles learns about faith, about herself and about the gift of giving and receiving graciously are wonderful gifts for the reader."
-National Public Radio
"[A] joyful memoir . . . advocates big-tent Christianity in the truest sense . . . a story of finding sustenance and passing it on."
"-National Catholic Reporter"
"Rigorously honest, "Take This Bread "demonstrates how hard-and how necessary-it is to welcome everyone to the table, without exception."
"-San Francisco Chronicle"
"Moving, delightful and significant."
"-The Christian Century"
Don't miss the reading group guide in the back of the book.
Product Details

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About the Author

Sara Miles is the author of How to Hack a Party Line: The Democrats and Silicon Valley and co-editor of Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan and the anthology Opposite Sex: Gay Men on Lesbians, Lesbians on Gay Men. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Progressive, La Jornada, and Salon, among others. She has written extensively on military affairs, politics, and culture. She lives in San Francisco with her family. Visit the her website at www.saramiles.net. From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

Hunger and yearning, both literal and figurative, are the threads running through Miles's (founder, St. Gregory's Food Pantry, San Francisco) journey from atheist to religious activist. Miles is a self-described "secular intellectual lesbian left-wing journalist." She found a home at St. Gregory's in an inclusive faith focused on the least among us, where she could wrestle with the uncertainty and ambiguity of her faith journey. Some Christians may not want to claim her, while some nonbelievers may be unable to comprehend her conversion. But all will be moved and challenged by her compelling story. Her identity as a grandchild of missionaries who was raised by atheist parents and her work in Central America and the Philippines shape her story. Taking communion on impulse intersected with her relationship to food, and being fed by Christ and feeding the hungry all came together in a life-changing way. Communion led to community for both Miles and the people served by the food pantry, as well as those at St. Gregory's, who had to stretch to accept her belief that all are holy and her vision of humanity as church. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Nancy Almand, Mesa Coll., San Diego Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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 2007 Reed Business Information.

Advance praise for Take This Bread "A love song to the feast at the altar and the feast of a food pantry written with grit, authority and integrity."-Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light "Sara Miles's joy, confusion, and passion for the Christian life, together with her skill as a professional journalist and the fullness of her own humanity, have produced what has to be the finest confession of faith I've read in years. Take This Bread is a good, tight, absorbing read."-Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours and former Religion Editor for Publishers Weekly "This book is a stunner. Beautifully and simply written, it is a wonderfully straightforward account of a life and a conversion which will leave many readers, as it left me, tingling with longing that such signs and wonders might emerge in and through our own stories. Sara has come by the great truths of the Christian faith honestly. The story of how people grow through becoming empowered to be givers, and not mere receivers of handouts is a wonderful glimpse at a true emergence of Church."-James Alison, Catholic theologian, priest, and author of Faith Beyond Resentment "Some books you can't put down, some you shouldn't-this one's both. Sara Miles's story of spiritual nourishment recalls Patch Adams, but she's also a writer like John Muir or Jane Addams, a gifted stylist whose passion translates to vivid storytelling. Take This Bread is necessary reading, I would think, for anyone who's ever taken a bite out of anything."-J. C. Hallman, author of The Devil is a Gentleman From the Hardcover edition.

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