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Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion Paperback – February 5, 2008
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
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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.
I'd be lying if I said that one reason I didn't walk down the aisle to "accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior" was to get to be like grownups. I too wanted to get in on the magic. So, when I read that Sara Miles was an atheist, and then first participation in the Eucharist "utterly short-circuited my ability to do anything but cry" I knew what she was talking about.
Years after my own conversion and venture into college, I began to develop a deeper Eucharistic theology. For me, Eucharist is one of the few places I find connection and palpable presence with God. Like Miles, I find inspiration to work and pursue justice via the sustenance provided at the table. When I have not participated in the feast of the table for weeks, I find my entire life sags and wanes. The Eucharist centers me, and fuels me.
Sara Miles's conversion was not "walking down the aisle" or a moment of inner conversion, but participation in ritual. Hers is not a story that speaks from on high, but from deep below--the pits of humanity. Miles would begin a feeding campaign, and throughout the book the talk of food continually returns.
Miles's memoir speaks to polarization currently felt within the American Christian experience. Whether theologically or politically, Christians build walls of conservative or liberal identity, and then refuse to engage what lives outside those walls. Communion, Eucharist, challenges those beliefs. Communion provides the space for all to be welcomed, and to remember that all belong in the body of Christ. Moreover, for the church-at-large, doing away with meaningful ritual must not occur. For Sara Miles the Eucharist began a life centered on the life and mission of Christ.
Miles tells the story early in her memoir of time spent working in Mexico. On the Church holiday Corpus Christi, plainclothes thugs armed with guns and batons supplied by the Mexican police descended upon marchers outside her residence. They killed at least 25 people. For her and others that day would become known as "Corpus Christi massacre," the murder of the body of Christ.
We need the Eucharist to remind us of the love and compassion Jesus lived into. We need the Eucharist to remind us that whether we are conservative, liberal, or apathetic we comprise one body. The hate spewed from both sides slowly pricks and bludgeons the body of Christ.
Take This Bread reminds me that I don't need to agree with every person. In fact, I don't want to agree with every person. But, I want to be able to break bread with people and share in the moment of fellowship. For those that speak unbearably harsh words against humans because of their sexual identity or political affiliation, I find it hard to be loving and welcoming. Yet, the harder pill to swallow is the fact that we share in the same body of Christ, and yet hate remains the outcome of their actions.
In the words of the 7th century mystic Isaac of Nineveh, Miles recalls, "Did not our Lord share this table with tax collectors and harlots? So do not distinguish between worthy and unworthy. All must be equal for you to love and serve."
May this be our prayer. May it be so.