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Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
by Sara Miles

Published: 2008-02-05
Paperback : 320 pages
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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 ...
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Introduction

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.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

My first year at St. Gregory’s would begin, and end, with questions. Now I understand that questions are at the heart of faith, and that certainties about God can flicker on and off, no matter what you think you know. But back then I thought “believers” were people who knew exactly what they believed, and had nailed all the answers. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the publisher:

1. What has been your most powerful experience of communion?

2. Do you share Miles’s belief that Jesus’ Table should be open to everyone? Are there people you think should not be allowed to receive communion?

3. Discuss Miles’s understanding of the rites of healing, marriage, baptism, and Eucharist. Do you think rites that take place outside of what she calls an “official” church context can be truly sacramental? Do you ever experience church outside of church? Have you experienced Eucharist outside of a church service?

4. Miles was baptized as an adult and writes that she takes her baptismal vows seriously. Read through these vows, and discuss how you live each one out.

5. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” What does this mean in the context of Miles’s food pantry and the people involved with it?

6. Miles is a lesbian and a Christian. Does reading about her experience change your religious beliefs about homosexuality?

7. Miles writes that food pantry was “not a social service program but a service, modeled on the Eucharist” (p. tk). Is there a difference in your church between the way you do liturgy and the way you do outreach? How does Scripture inform your outreach work?

8. As a layperson, Miles preaches, serves communion, anoints, blesses, and leads prayer at her church. Do you know other laypeople who do any of this kind of work? What is your own experience of doing this work? Do you think that certain work should be done only by ordained people?

9. Miles believes that conversion is not a single moment of epiphany but an ongoing process. Discuss your own experience of conversion.

10. What is the Bible passage that you think best expresses the message of Take This Bread?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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.

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Member Reviews

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  "Take This Bread"by JanVanEe (see profile) 06/06/11

A thought provoking life story of a unique Christian journey.

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