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Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead Hardcover – January 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780470481660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470481660
  • ASIN: 0470481668
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In these moving, empowering reflections, which challenge ordinary people to follow Christ's model and engage in extraordinary ministry, Miles—writer, cook, and founder of San Francisco's St. Gregory's Food Pantry—explains not only gospel texts but stories from her life and the lives of neighbors touched by St. Gregory's mission. Miles's obvious homiletic gifts infuse the narrative: startling metaphors (Jesus as promiscuous Boyfriend who'll go with anyone) combine with honest self-reflection and a wry sense of humor, prodding the reader to take ownership of Christ's commands to serve, feed, and heal. Miles believes in Christian formation through experiential practice: recounting her midlife conversion, she states, I tasted Jesus before I read about him. Poignant stories of individuals experiencing healing through serving others abound; in one, reluctant juvenile delinquents working at the food pantry become transformed by the gratitude of those they're helping. Illuminating the challenges of diversity, Miles testifies as a gay Christian claimed by Jesus as an integral part of his body and a Jesus freak among secular friends. Compelling and provocative, this work promises to engage Christians in thoughtful discernment about ministry. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"It is a book that manages to be inspiring without sentimentality - serious and funny, sacred and profane." (San Francisco Chronicle, March 17, 2010)

Pretty platitudes and trite church signs are not going to work for former atheist Miles (Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion). A late convert to Christianity, Miles writes of meeting a living Jesus who has torn apart her world. No longer will she be just a journalist and author; she will be a vessel, a breathing body of Christ, living out his teachings and doing "greater deeds" than his. Miles directs the Food Pantry at the St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, where she seeks to die to herself and live unto others. This book is not another formulaic book on Christianity; it is alive with ideals of radical inclusion, and Miles's "come and see," "go and do" attitude reigns. Jesus is real and resurrected here and needs followers to feed, heal, forgive, love, and be raised from a living death. VERDICT This book is a clarion call to readers to go and do to all around them as Jesus did. Sympathetic readers will find it a passionate, verb-filled spur to action that is both enjoyable to read and inspiring.
Nancy Richey, Western Kentucky Univ. Lib., Bowling Green (Library Journal, February 15, 2010)

In these moving, empowering reflections, which challenge "ordinary people" to follow Christ's model and engage in extraordinary ministry, Miles—writer, cook, and founder of San Francisco's St. Gregory’s Food Pantry—explains not only gospel texts but stories from her life and the lives of neighbors touched by St. Gregory's mission. Miles's obvious homiletic gifts infuse the narrative: startling metaphors (Jesus as promiscuous Boyfriend "who'll go with anyone") combine with honest self-reflection and a wry sense of humor, prodding the reader to take ownership of Christ's commands to serve, feed, and heal. Miles believes in Christian formation through experiential practice: recounting her midlife conversion, she states, "I tasted Jesus before I read about him." Poignant stories of individuals experiencing healing through serving others abound; in one, reluctant "juvenile delinquents" working at the food pantry become transformed by the gratitude of those they’re helping. Illuminating the challenges of diversity, Miles testifies as a gay Christian claimed by Jesus "as an integral part of his body" and a "Jesus freak" among secular friends. Compelling and provocative, this work promises to engage Christians in thoughtful discernment about ministry. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, December 14, 2009)

The hardest part in reviewing the book "Jesus Freak" by Sara Miles-- a book that my inner cynic thought I would dislike before I read it -- is that I want to reprint the whole thing here so you can wash your soul in its heartbreaking and inspiring beauty with me.

Sara Miles was raised by atheist parents. A war correspondent and then journalist in San Francisco, Sara Miles converted to Christianity at age 46. She is a lesbian, in a 14-year relationship with her wife. She was a skeptical intellectual. And she now runs a huge thefoodpantry.org in San Francisco that operates out of St Gregory of Nyssa's. It is held -- not buried away in the basement, not in the parish hall -- but in the sanctuary. They serve over 500-600 people a week.

She describes her conversion:

At a moment when right-wing American Christianity is ascendant, when religion worldwide is rife with fundamentalism and exclusionary ideological crusades, I stumbled into a radically inclusive faith centered on sacraments and action. What I found wasn't about angels, or going to church, or trying to be 'good' in a pious, idealized way. It wasn't about arguing a doctrine — the Virgin birth, predestination, the sinfulness of homosexuality and divorce — or pledging blind allegiance to a denomination. I was, as the prophet said, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. I found it at the eternal and material core of Christianity: body, blood, bread, wine poured out freely, shared by all. I discovered a religion rooted in the most ordinary yet subversive practice: a dinner table where everyone is welcome, where the poor, the despised and the outcasts are honored.

And so I became a Christian, claiming a faith that many of my fellow believers want to exclude me from; following a God my unbelieving friends see as archaic superstition. At a time when Christianity in America is popularly represented by ecstatic teen crusaders in suburban megachurches, slick preachers proclaiming the "gospel" of prosperity, and shrewd political organizers who rail against evolution, gay marriage and stem-cell research, it's crucial to understand what faith actually means in the lives of people very different from one another.

But the real story of her book, Jesus Freak, is the story of the food pantry -- a place where the volunteers are not just church members, they are members of the community being served -- they are the same people who fill their weekly bags with food. Every week, about 50 volunteers sit down for a meal together, and then they open the doors and pack up food for whoever comes through them. There are no "qualifications" to get free food. No one has to fill out forms.

Her book is full of stories of the Food Pantry, and her search for meaning in her faith. Miles says, "Sharing food in this way was about making whole new lives possible. At the food pantry we drank out of the same cups, and put our sick, scarred hands on each other. And sometimes, when we thought we were just going to have lunch, we tasted heaven."(p. xvi)

There are stories of unlikely volunteers becoming stalwarts of the team, stories of comforting the dying, and stories of finding God in the faces of everyone she meets. She and her team, her community, live out the radical Gospel, the love that includes all and is not dependent on any one institution. "Culture," she says, that great human yeast, continued to rise and swell and sour the flesh-and-blood experience of God in every time and place...Yet all religions...even the most liberal, were tempted by the reactionary impulse to freeze faith in place. Because, as Jesus teaches, it is easy to be threatened by the reality of the complicated, messy, syncretic, God-bearing truth that becomes incarnate among us and makes all things new. We'd rather have a dead religion than a living God."(p. 137)

Sara is unabashedly in love with God. She takes delight in walking the path of Christ -- for her it is more a dance. Yet there is no Easter-bunny sentimentality in her. She lives in the gritty reality of death and resurrection every day. She is there with the sick, the infirm. In addition to the working poor, she feeds mentally ill people, marginalized people, dirty people, street people that are used to being rejected, cast away.

And sometimes it is hard. She formed a group for exhausted care-givers at one point.

She wrestles with forgiveness in her life -- and learns about it from surprising sources. She opens her heart every moment of every day. The characters of the Pantry will be memorable to all who read this inspiring and uplifting book. You'll want to know them, know what happens to them. You'll want to help them.

In a 2006 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, she was asked the following question:

Q: People often talk about a divide in this country between the secular left and the religious right. Where do you fall in that scheme?

A: I know that there are a lot of Christians who don't think I ought to be allowed in the club. Luckily, Christianity is not a club. It is, as my favorite patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic apostle -- St. Paul -- said, a body. "There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female anymore. For you are all one in Jesus Christ." What counts is not who you are. Your human status is not the point.

When I started this book, I thought I would find a preachy, airy book about conversion and doctrine. Instead I found a gift of meaning, a shared struggle, a beacon of hope -- a true communion.

~~ Contributing Editor, Mata H. also searches for meaning at timesfool.blogspot.com


More About the Author

Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry, and serves as Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. She is the author of CITY OF GOD: FAITH IN THE STREETS; JESUS FREAK: FEEDING HEALING RAISING THE DEAD; and TAKE THIS BREAD: A RADICAL CONVERSION.

To find details of Sara Miles' speaking engagements in a city near you, go to the "events" section of her Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sara-Miles/152978483594?id=152978483594&sk=events

Related Media


Customer Reviews

Recommended reading by Nadia Baze Weber.
Renee Colson
The themes of the book loosely follow the subtitle "feeding, healing, raising the dead."
K. Harriger
Sara Miles shares her life and lessons with compassion and love in Jesus Freak.
J Martin Jellinek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By William Dahl VINE VOICE on January 13, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Wow! I mean....Wow! A uniquely powerful narrative. Look for it soon...

The book is due out in February 2010....PRE-ORDER NOW!

How many times must we read true stories about people who are living as Jesus today, before we begin to adopt their ways...walk their wisdom...breathe the beauty of intentionally "leaning into the interruption" (p.77) that living in The Way, actually affords us. Why do we complain that so many of us seem to be missing the miracle of living - inhabited by the Spirit of God?

In this book, Sara Miles reveals that "Sharing our real stories, unvarnished and unfinished, not only provide helpful tips or sympathetic laughs: it's the thing that allows us to become whole." (p.76). This book is penned to "pass it on." Parts of it will make you laugh, make you weep, make you cringe -- and stand awestruck at the magnificence of the miracle of mercy. Listen to Sara Miles:

"We'll stay hungry if we eat alone. We'll be lonely if we think we can only share fellowship with the right people. We'll starve if we believe that a community is a supernatural kind of miracle, or a product we can buy -- not something we create by offering ourselves recklessly to others." (p.26).

If, as Sara suggests, "we understand God through stories," (p.1) -- I assure you that the stories she shares in these pages will rearrange your heart, redirect your feet, empower you with the essential energy and deliver the direction to embrace the leading of God's Spirit, so eloquently illustrated in this uniquely powerful portrayal.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John P. Plummer VINE VOICE on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sara Miles, former restaurant cook and war correspondent, established herself as one of the most engaging and inspiring voices in contemporary Christianity with the account of her conversion, Take This Bread. In this much anticipted new book, she takes us further into her ministry at St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. She asks what it would mean for us if lived as if we - and our neighbors - were Jesus. "It's actually pretty straightforward, Jesus says. Heal the sick. Cast out demons. Cleanse the lepers. *You* give the people something to eat. *You* have the authority to forgive sins. Raise the dead." (xi) Again and again, Sara and her friends, in all frail and fallible humanity, enact the Gospel, and we are left (to borrow her term) poleaxed by grace. Sara's tremendous, experiential faith in the reality of Jesus and his transforming power will challenge some Christians, while the inclusive embrace of her community will challenge others. It is a boundary-breaking freshness that blows through this book. Readers, Christian and not, liberal or conservative, are at great risk of being taken up by this wind!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sara Miles' memoir of living the word of Christ is the kind of frank, forthright challenge that many Christians need to get us out of our self-satisfied funk. She shows us that, far from being a set of tenets to believe, Jesus gives us the hope of a new and transformed life. And that life has played out in her by giving her new friends, new hope, and something meaningful to live for.

As detailed in her previous book, Take This Bread, Miles came to Christ late in life. But when she did, she dared to hope that the words of Jesus and the apostles were more than metaphors: maybe we are literally meant to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and lift up the oppressed. So she did so, right where she lived, in the least desirable part of San Francisco.

And she unearths a life full of more meaning than she could hope for. Founding a food pantry in her church, she meets the whole range of her city's people, from the rich and haughty to the low and desperate, seeing Jesus in each of them. Her life of prayer and service to the word takes her outside of the usual "Christian" circles, and she sees Jesus everywhere she goes.

Chapters on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, forgiving sinners, and raising the dead give object lessons in how Christ is about more than mouthing correct pieties. In particular, the healing chapter convicted me of how I take the message for granted and look for easy ways out of Christ's word in my life. Her unusual bluntness can have the same effect on you.

Miles challenges Christians to see Jesus' word as something we can live up to.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rev Casey VINE VOICE on February 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sara Miles shares her obsession with living like Jesus among the sidelined people of America. A self-described "Jesus Freak," Sara oversees The Food Pantry of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, CA. She shares numerous stories of encountering the presence of God in people many well-adjusted Americans might just as soon ignore.

Miles writes moving, lyrical prose while celebrating the miraculous appearance of God's kingdom in the most chaotic of persons. She's a storyteller, and she's at her best when telling stories about The Food Pantry. Sara certainly swims in a more theologically liberal current than I do, and her freewheeling reading of Scripture were frustratingly imprecise on more than one occasion (cf. Jesus being healed of racism, 18).

For all our theological differences, "Jesus Freak" remains a book to celebrate. Miles takes Jesus seriously, so much so that she believes Jesus whenever he says (in various ways) that we, his disciples, really can do much of what he did by the power of the Spirit. The Christian life is incarnational, just as Jesus, the Word of God, became flesh and lived among us. Or, in Miles' words, our "spiritual life" following Jesus means we must be a "physical life," tangibly blessing others.

"Jesus Freak" is an infectious book to tangle with, one that I hope motivates us all to follow in the footsteps of the Man from Galilee.
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