Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

By Sara Miles

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ian davidson
Our church book group read this and found it good for conversation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kapil
An excellent read. Practical Christianity in an inclusive environment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel bergey
Two Episcopal clergy I trust gave this book well-deserved high praise. For authenticity, an outsider/inside view of mission, and often wrenching confessions, take this BOOK!

A longtime parish musician, I was inspired to investigate the music of All Saints Company (affiliated w/the author's church). Seems the poetic free liturgies are matched to music unavailable (currently) for purchase....
A Ronnie Lake Mystery (An Accidental Lady Detective :: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions :: and Finding the Church - Searching for Sunday :: Prison Promise (Prison Saints Book 1) :: Reckless Kiss (A Billionaire Possession Novel Book 1)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
salahudheen
Wonderful insight into God's working in this woman's life! A great read for both Christians and Christian curious!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tharini rajkumar
I loved how this woman went overnight from non-church goer to radically living the gospel in a way that made sense to me. Christ died for our sins? not sure what this means. But Christ preached sharing and caring for all and this woman brought this to life for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jaimie
Wonderful, powerful story, well told.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dashiel
I had to read this for a religion class in college and I felt that it was a pretty easy read. I would not have picked this book unless it was for a class assignment, but after reading it I feel like it was very good. I would recommend this book to anyone who is into religious type books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
justin
Great resource. Loved this book. Still working on it, but I enjoy the writing style and the stories. Read it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kassie siwo gasa
I thought the beginning was SUPPPPPPER boring.... tried too hard to drive home the food-connection-community point. The middle-end took my breath away and challenged me (in good ways) about my faith and my own view on inclusion.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yuricheng
Fresh, insightful. This life/faith journey gives new insight to our common human bond and transcendence.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abdullah dwaikat
An incredible exploration of radical physicality / materiality
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
flexnib
I loved it, it touched my soul.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
miranda raye
Great reminder of what faith is and what it looks like in real life. God constantly calls us out of comfort and into communion.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tinea
a little slow in the beginning for me but loving the spiritual and non-traditional stuff. Well worth a read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
victor ruano
What a wonderfully refreshing writing style! Like opening a window in a stuffy room. Her work and ministry are inspiring to those of us hoping to do church differently.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
masie
A highly enjoyable and interesting read. I was folding corners again and again so I could come back to those pages with particularly witty and profound insights.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yvette
Take This Bread has forever altered my perceptions of faith, of Christianity, of communion...in such a violently life-giving way. Thank you, Sara Miles.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jinny webber
well written and beauiful story of God at work in the world even today! must read for believers and nonbelievers, as well.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caroline boll
Full of the richness of freedom of choice and spirit. absolutely engaging. A true tale of following Christ.s calling. Yes, read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alain masse
I'm a pastor in the midwest and was blown away by Sara's story and her writing. I've used it in a study group and am preaching her story in October. I am finding that it changes people's attitudes about how we relate to those we help --- the hungry and homeless in our own well-off suburban neighborhood.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
carlyle clark
Thanks.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary beth busby
I received this book via Kindle and it is an extraordinary book on God's grace bestowed upon all of us!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abby bozman
An inspiring read that shows how interior spiritual change can and should re-order our outward lives. Sara Miles life has been turned around and continued ministry is remarkable. I am recomending this book to many!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sofi97
"Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion" was educational, surprising, variety of points of view, adventurous, hard to put down and intend to re-read it. I will be sharing it with others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
thaddeus thaler
A great book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michelle morrell
Awesome nook at a great condition. I gave it for a gift after I read it since it was in such gray condition
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
sammygreywolf
When I purchased Take This Bread, I expected a memoir similar to Faith Unraveled or Spiritual Misfit, both of which I enjoyed. There is some of that present, but mostly it seemed as if Sara Miles converted to love and charity, not Christianity itself.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Jesus said to love our neighbors and I see Sara doing that in new and radical ways. Church tradition also often takes our focus from Jesus, which is not a good thing. However, I didn't feel like Sara had an encounter with the Savior. Her encounter seemed more like one with religion itself, not anything specific. We're also well into the book before she discusses any type of food ministry; most of it is just a treatise on communion, food in general, and how we feed each other. Again, all this is interesting, but I wanted to know more about how Jesus Himself changed Sara's life and perspective. Sara seems to think acknowledging God and taking communion makes her a Christian, but doesn't seem to have plumbed the depths of Who gave her the bread of life in the first place.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
haitianmono
Makes a person think of those less fortunate.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristyn
Great book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raechel clevenger
Very readable! Sara Miles reeled me in. From the first sentence, and kept reeling until the end. I couldn't put it down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dylan
Fantastic book! I will definitely be picking up more of Ms. Miles' work!! Do not expect a traditional "come to Jesus conversion story."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aditya
Incredible life story
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bobbyliu
Excellent-I appreciated Sara's candor about her life and her journey-I plan to read her other books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
quinn
A confirmed atheist walked into a church attracted by the joyous music and was never the same. An inspirational factual account of the simple act of how taking communion changed a woman's life and led her eventually to become an Episcopal minister and to found food pantries in San Francisco.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nell wills
This was a very inspirational story about spirituality and how people are all connected. It could help renew your faith and how religion and spirituality are different.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
harolynne
Moving, vibrant and compelling.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christine cochrum
Not stilted religiosity, or squishy new agey in the least, but the true life experiences of Ms. Miles. It is very encouraging for the rest of us, who are on the same path.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jamesfifth
This book is a spiritual biography of a woman who grew up in an atheistic environment but found herself searching for "something." She found it in feeding the poor but it was a difficult journey for her. Great reading for anyone seeking inspiration.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mrs lynch
Author has a very personal and real style of expressing her experiences. This was an inspirational read and triggered some excellent group discussions. Highly recommended for others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
louis smaldino
excellent -inspiring and honest
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
leigh ann hunker
The concept of feeding from the altar is great. I am not sure why the author felt it necessary to discuss her sexuality. Have passed this on to several people, hoping we can institute this locally.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
allets
Can you imagine participating in an event without even knowing that it challenges a long held belief and then being radically changed by it? This is what happened to Sara Miles, the atheist, takes communion in a San Fransisco Episcopal church. It changes her life, the life of the church, the life of the community and the individual lives of many needy people.

If you believe, you will be amazed at the power of God to transform us. You will come to a new understanding of the Lord's Supper.

If you don't believe, you will be amazed at the ability of one person to change the world. But you might be prompted to challenge some of your own beliefs.

Regardless, it is a powerful read of a well written book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lori k
Parts were good and other parts were rehashes. Overall a challenge to everyone reading it to seek out new ways to help those in need. Language is sometime irreligious and could be offensive to some.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kwang
I loved the book that this was recommended from by Nadia Diaz-Weber; however, this really wasn't like that. There is a lot emphasized on her early twenties in war zones but I don't feel it was really ever relevant in her church years. I found that I had to skim through a couple chapters just so I wasn't so bored with the book and able to finish it. I did like the last portion of the book discussing how she didn't plan to take this path but it just kept happening.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chandra helton
Really makes you think
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tanda
Very interesting read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marzie
My discussion group at church undertook to read this book at our priest's suggestion. I personally liked the book, even though I'm not a big fan of Ms. Miles' personal life style. Some didn't like it at all because of language and political orientation. All agreed, though, that the book was well written, that it made for lively discussion, and that Ms. Miles' life experiences challenged our assumptions about religious conversion. Definitely not for children, but probably ok for older teens, with adult guidance.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
sree sathya
Here's a summary: Sara decides to join a church because the church's interior, bread, and chanting make her feel emotional. She sadly receives zero catechism and bizarrely decides that the bread in Holy Communion is synonymous with feeding the poor. Feeding the poor is an important act of charity, but Sara has zero comprehension of Old Testament sacrifice, Jesus offering himself as the new sacrifice, and Holy Communion is received to remind us that Jesus is the new sacrifice for our sins.

The descriptions of worship in the Old Testament detail that worship should be offered to thank GOD. Worship should not be created for humans to feel emotional and giddy.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
matt creamer
I read this book for a theological discussion group. The author's premise is a good one, but she takes it much too far - stretching a metaphor beyond where it should go. The book loses its power as the author goes on and on and on.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jenterline
WOULD NOT HAVE READ HAD NOT BEEN ASSIGNED FOR MY CLASS. AUTHOR HAD A WAY OF MIXING "THE WORLD" WITH CHRISTIANITY WHEN "CHRISTIANS" ARE TO LIVE DIFFERENTLY FROM THE WORLD. THE BEST OUTCOME WAS THAT OF PROVIDING FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
truthmonkey
I write this as a Catholic (neither liberal or conservative socially or theologically speaking) so don't take my word for this review.

So I found a copy of this book at a Saver's a few years ago (and today I finally managed to finish it) and I bought it out of nothing but curiosity. You see, I'm usually not interested in conversion stories (even those towards my own faith) as I always have the impression that they're heavily emotionalist testimonies about how the author may or may not have been raised in a particular faith tradition, then fallen away from it, and then through some tragedy/miracle (s)he manages to come back. However, as I soon found out Miles' testimony was hardly anything like that.

I'll try to review without explaining the whole book, but as a memoir we see Miles start by being raised in a rather unconventional family, especially with a non-religious background, and not having a "formal" higher education background either (she went to a college in Mexico that was organized in a rather unorthodox way), working through the food industry in the meantime. Keep in mind that food is one of the central themes of the book, and it is more emphasized as you go along the way.

As the premise says, even though she had a rather good life, starting a family with her partner as well, she for no apparent reason got into a church building to take communion, and that's how everything changed.

However, things don't just get any easier for her. In fact, like for Paul and the early Christian it actually gets harder. Even though she ends up joining one of the most liberal churches you can think of (the Episcopal Church) some of her secular friends and siblings heavily frown upon that, including her partner and her daughter. She also has to confront with the congregation of St. Gregory's apparent hypocrisy as that church was built upon the idea of inclusiveness, except that when Miles starts feeding people that look and live different than them they start complaining and resist. Even the very people she's trying to feed, that is the poor and homeless of San Francisco, give her a harder time as time goes by, through being lost in translation and realizing that it's never a good idea to romanticize the poor as some of them try to steal and cheat from her pantry.

However, as she emphasizes again and again, she is never alone. You can't be a Christian alone. Along the way are some parishioners, as well as outsiders (most of them just as poor as the people they feed) help her run the pantry, and it is here that she realizes that communion is the fulfilling of the desire of not only feed, but to be fed as well, and it's the basis of going to the pantry not because you want to feel good or you were forced to. If anything that sentence may be the thesis of this book, as she repeats it in the latter chapters.

If anything, what I got out of the book the most is how Progressive Christianity may see itself as and as for, through the idea of helping out the community and the poor, not necessarily through some planning like Liberation Theology tried to do decades ago, but through action that involves meeting people that are not like you.

At the same time, however, if you were to see how I left my copy as you'd find that I left plenty of notes arguing against the author. Maybe because Catholics and Episcopalians/Anglicans may have very different understandings surrounding the Eucharist and Communion, but I also heavily suspect that St. Gregory's in particular has a universalist theology as seen with the fact that the icons within depict plenty of people who were never Christian dancing in heaven, it is named after St. Gregory of Nyssa who was indeed a universalist, and also by how Miles shows an Eucharistic theology of Jesus who never excludes anyone from the Table.

That made me wonder about what she thought about Paul's writing regarding the matter, who clearly says that you can't partake of the Table under sin (1 Corinthians 11:27), but I've seen plenty of liberal Christians ignore him altogether because his writings contradict the loving spirit of Jesus (never mind that it was the latter who first mentions about hell and eternal damnation, the only people who have any convincing argument to me so far are the Unitarian Universalists who don't even believe in the divine origin of the Bible and say that the hell parts were added much later). But, considering that (at the time of writing) she married another woman you might have the answer to that, and in one chapter she implies that she may not even believe in a literal afterlife, so there's that also. In a way, you may wonder if she believes more in the act of communion and feeding people than she does with God, but the same could be said about the fundamentalists she constantly contrasts herself and others with her from that they believe more in the Bible than they do with God.

Last but not least, I found the ending to be a bit, rushed and sudden if I can put it that way.

Forgive me if this review looks more like a rant against the author, but that was never my intention. I still find he life story to be very interesting but there is plenty of points she makes that I can't agree one, even though this is a memoir and not a theological manifesto, so we just have agree to disagree.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
tammie
I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I found the author's voice interfered with her message. What she accomplished was wonderful, but on every page I felt her narcissism was palpable. Perhaps only very driven people can effect big changes, but I had a sense that the whole ministry was as much about Ms. Miles as about the people for whom St. Gregory's (and it is St. Gregory's, not Ms. Miles) is providing food. She makes her parish sisters and brothers seem insular and uncaring. They seem focused entirely on their precious liturgy instead of the large community, a problem many churches have, but her portrait of St. G's makes it seem they have it in overabundance. In truth, the book did me one favor- saved me from making the trek into San Francisco for services on my next visit. I found myself wondering about what welcome I would get if I did not buy into their affected dance liturgy and wanted to receive communion and sit quietly in contemplation. In the end, I looked for but did not really see the evidence of a fundamental transformation in Ms. Miles or her congregation that I expected from this book. But I am glad people are getting food, however that ministry serves the egos of the congregation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
abhishek dhandia
Sara Miles describes herself as a blue-state, secular intellectual, a lesbian, and a left-wing journalist who developed habits of deep scepticism from covering revolutionary movements in Central America. Her grandparents on both sides were missionaries, but in reaction to that upbringing her parents were actively hostile to religion. So, it's a bit of an understatement that she also describes herself as a "very unlikely convert." But at the age of 46 Miles walked into Saint Gregory's Episcopal Church in San Francisco, partook of the Eucharist, and experienced a radical conversion. She had never heard a Gospel reading, never said the Lord's Prayer, and knew only one person who went to church. Today she is on staff at Saint Gregory's.

That was some eight years ago and only the beginning of further conversions. Building upon her life experiences as a chef, her conversion through the Eucharist, passion for the poor, and the founding vision of St. Gregory's, in 2000 Miles started a food pantry at her church that gave away free groceries (not meals) with no questions asked and no forms to fill out. Each week food for about 400 families was placed around the eucharistic altar. Such was the open communion and unconditional acceptance that she experienced at Saint Gregory's and intended to extend to anyone who was hungry. Through connections with the San Francisco Food Bank, and the generosity of unexpected donors, the miracle of the loaves multiplied and Miles went on to jump start nine more food pantries around the city.

Mundane food for the body became not only a sign of God's kingdom but, as theologians would say, the actual thing signified. Those who received wanted to give. Care for broken spirits accompanied bread for hungry bodies. If you have spent any time in church you will especially appreciate Miles' candid descriptions of the disruptions and divisions that the food pantries caused at Saint Gregory's. At one point more homeless, schizophrenic, and drug-crazed hungry people came to the food pantry than artsy, proper worshippers to the church services. While Miles saw this as a blessing, others saw it as a curse of sorts.

With her story of radical Christian conversion and the incarnation of daily discipleship Miles will join other feminist authors who have earned a broad readership because of the authenticity with which they have written about loving Christ, the church, and the world--Joan Chittister, Nora Gallagher, Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Marilynne Robinson, and Barbara Brown Taylor come to mind. When I finished her book my mind kept returning to Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 4:21, "The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power," and in Galatians 5:6, "The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sari
It really was not fair, I was (am) enjoying a novel, I pick this book up (it looked so lonely sitting on a table in our den, I am such a sucker) read the Prologue then was unwilling to return to the novel until I had finished reading the remainder of this book. The story of how Sara Miles, Granddaughter of Christian Missionaries, daughter of avowed Atheists, Liberal-war correspondent-activist-homosexual-Atheist herself went into a church, took Communion and could not stop what that meal did for/to her is a one that is difficult to be halted once the telling of it has begun.
Ms. Miles conversion is not clean, orderly, instant or complete, in other words, very typical. She is "captured" by Christ through transubstantiation - the idea that in Christian Communion the bread and the wind literally become the Body and the Blood of Christ. For those, like Ms. Miles before that Communion, this sounds ridiculous at best and sick at worst. For those who are experiencing transformation by the Holy Spirit, this remains a Mystery of uniting with the Divine and others. Ms. Miles became intensely aware that this Mysterious Union was meant to be shared, not kept to herself. Actually, the only way she could "keep" it was by giving it away. She was drawn to the Church by being offered, then eating some bread and wine served in a church. How could she keep others from being likewise invited?

The author discovered an irresistible urge to "feed My (Christ's) sheep" as she journeyed deeper into this Christ-Life. This memoir is about how she saw the Gospel as needing to continue to be incarnate - the Gospel is about people touching people in community. The best way to for her to "preach" this Good News was by opening a food pantry in her Episcopal Church (it is good to know Baptists are not the only ones who get freaked out by such actions). The struggles, joys, rewards and difficulties experienced in "doing" this part of the Gospel are commensurate with the promises of Christ, i.e. those who will understand this message are the poorest among humanity, those who are most threatened by it are those who have "it all together" and this will NOT be easy. People are real, dirty, hurt, crazy, hungry and play by their own rules, even those who "get it" will be difficult to love, at times.
Ms. Miles is so open, honest and inviting in her writing that it seems more a conversation than a book (I responded several times to her chatting). Her enthusiasm and commitment, as well as sound theology, led me to consider doing the difficult work of a Food Pantry. Her conversion is displayed by action, and is not limited to quoting scripture or directing a Bible study, although she does those things as well. She uses "real" (adult) language to speak of her being elation, frustration, delight, anger, joy, fear and the accomplishments she finds in becoming a Christ-Follower. She never tries to mask the difficulty of following Jesus. She invites the reader to consider the Gospel, a challenge made greater by her example.
This book is, unintentionally, a good exegesis of Matthew 5:6, (NIV)"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled." I was shocked by the awareness of this verse, in light of this book, that I am fed by feeding others. Repeatedly, the Bible states, both forthrightly and by example, the only way to see/be/experience the Kingdom of God is in community and by giving that community away. Ms. Miles says, "you can't be a Christian by yourself," even though I am MUCH more comfortable trying to do just that. Being a lifelong protestant, formed in a revivalist tradition, salvation has been too much about "ME." The task at hand is how to live in the Community of Christ where "take this bread" requires me to be a part of that loaf.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
irin sintriana
I read this book as part of a book study at my church. Though this is not normally the kind of book I would chose to read, I couldn't help but relate with many of the points Sara Miles made in it. She talks about being rasise atheist as her parents rebelled against the strong religious upbringing of their own missionary parents. While my parents were not zealous, they did make me go to church as a boy and I tended to rebel against the church as a response when I grew to adulthood. For twenty years I was not afflilated with any church. Then one day my wife and I took our kids to church and we decided this was a part of our lives that was missing. We joined a local church and have been active members now for over ten years.

While our own decision to join a church was nowhere near the radical conversion Sara Miles experienced, I can relate to her needing to fulfill some latent part of her life that was void of meaning. My own life rarely parallels Miles' life, but I can also relate to her desire to keep her mission work simple and open to all. I have a problem with people who want to treat religion (and subsequently their church life) as if it is an exclusive "members only" club that does not have time for any deviation from established norms. Jesus did not teach us to be exclusive but rather inclusive, as demonstrated by his association with tax collectors and harlots.

Creating a pantry to aid local needy people is Miles' missionary contribution, but her becoming a visible presence to the downtrodden and dispossessed of her neighborhood is her greatest achievement. Her church never activle sought out the people who ultimately benefited from her food pantry. It was the pantry that brought people to her church and gave it an identity it likely never would have abtained had she not walked into the church's doors. We must all ask ourselves "what if Sara Miles had walked into our church? Would we be ready to accept her and her vision for serving the community?"

Miles' writing style is abrupt and to the point. Many mainstreamers will likely scoff at her language and judge her based on her sexuality, but she is a living example that anyone has something to offer if only given the chance. After all, John 3:16-17 says that gGod loved the world so much that he sent his son so that whoever believes shall not perish and that God sent the son not to judge the world, but to save it. There is an important lesson for all to make note of here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vittal
I really enjoyed Sara Miles's "Take This Bread." Even without the religious angle, Miles's life is an interesting one: raised in Greenwich Village by athiest parents, she worked in food service for several years before getting involved in left-wing politics. While covering war-torn Latin America, Miles saw suffering first hand. After settling in San Francisco ("The northernmost city in Latin America") with her young daughter, she finds love and feels herself drawn to a church in Potrero Hill. Her religious conversion may not be entirely surprising: both sets of her grandparents were missionaries. Her spiritual journey is brutally honest: like Anne Lamott, Miles doesn't feign piety or see the world through rose colored glasses. After Miles starts a food bank at her church, there are moments of grace as well as challenges to her faith. Miles is candid about her own self-righteousness and lack of affection for those who don't share her worldview. What emerges is an honest, engrossing story about just how difficult it is to be a Christian. It is also a revealing look at faith-based charities and social problems in America.

I enjoyed "Take This Bread" quite a bit. I'm sure many others will too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leslie erkman
Sara Miles shares her story pre-conversion, which is exciting but not necessarily a tragedy. The conversion moment is better described as a process.

Miles tells of her life before converting to Christianity. Raised in an atheist home, she finds little to no sympathy for religious causes. She hints that this is, at least for her mother, a rebellion against her own religious upbringing. There is not much of an overtone that her household was an "active atheist" home...that is, one that taught her to go out of her way to disprove God, join the fight against public faith, and sign petitions against the pledge. She tells more of an upbringing of avoidance....that religion was best ignored.

This is followed by two chapters of her job life, first as a cook in New York City and then as a reporter in Nicaragua around the time of the cartels. She describes the people she meets and the sights and sounds of her experiences in the kitchen and in war, and in both instances very careful to describe the food: how it is prepared, how it is served, how it tastes. She's obviously building to something as she learns cooking shortcuts from her restaurant co-worker and the meals she ate alongside revolutionaries and murderers in Central America. In both cases, it is food prepared generously, earnestly, and with feeling, and shared with much the same intentions. She is always in mixed company, and she wants to emphasize that point as well.

Next begins her life in San Francisco. Everything else serves as background for what she is about to do in this place. If her chief memories up to this point center around food, then it makes sense that her conversion happens because of food as well. For reasons unclear to her, she wanders into a liberal creative Episcopalian Church and receives communion, and there is something about that moment for her that makes sense. It is in the offering, the chewing, the drinking, that the act of receiving Jesus becomes real to her. It takes place in this way, rather than in an evangelist sharing a tract or by someone accosting her with their most carefully crafted arguments. She is welcomed and she is offered bread, and that is when she begins wondering how to follow Jesus.

What she comes up with is forever tied to that first experience. As Sara becomes more involved with her church, she seeks to share this experience with others, and finds that the best way to do that is to organize a food pantry. Usually, when we think of food pantries, we may picture a closet or a section of the church basement set aside with rows of canned goods. When St. Gregory offers their pantry, they set the food--which includes fresh produce--right around the communion table in the sanctuary. The theology of communion is always front and center for Miles and for what she wants to organize. She finds no other way to properly offer food to others than to state it's because Jesus offered it first.

This project is undertaken not without some setbacks and roadblocks. Sara notes the mixed crowd that shows up: the homeless, the addicts, the schemers...she has plenty of stories to tell about them all. More than one person expresses thankfulness; even eventually volunteers to help. But for every one of these, there is the man who tries to take advantage of a timid girl's hospitality, there is a rude Russian with a sense of entitlement, there is the uneasy feeling that Miles gets at points when she delivers food to shut-ins. She sugarcoats none of it; she doesn't romanticize the people she helps or lament when they don't immediately change upon entering the doors of the church.

Perhaps Miles' most biting critique is reserved for the Church itself. One may actually be surprised that, while more conservative churches are mentioned from time to time, she's hardest on the liberals. She openly wonders about the dissonance between their wanting to welcome all people and then her need to fight to offer the pantry a second day. She frequently compares the uniquely creative and vibrant liturgy she experiences at St. Gregory's with the dry traditionalism at a denominational leaders' retreat ("If these are the people who want to hear about experimental liturgy, what are the conservatives like?"). She critiques "limosine liberal" activism-at-a-distance, and at almost every turn it's the white educated middle-class who bear the brunt of what she says.

Miles' story and advocacy comes in the form of experiencing Jesus in sharing bread and then turning right around and experiencing it with others. In many churches, we point to Jesus' preferred crowd of prostitutes and tax collectors, but Miles' story is one of witness to what this actually looks like in a particular place, and the underlying question always concerns why more churches aren't doing the same thing. One of her strongest themes to this effect is how simple it really is to feed others, and how needlessly complicated the church makes it either out of its own institutionalism or avoidance. This is as challenging a book as it is encouraging.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vance
I did not know what to expect going in, but was intrigued by both the title and cover image. This book is phenomenal and has inspired me to look into working with local food kitchens and participate in charitable food packing. Miles has a fantastic mind and her story is inspiring, uplifting and important. Thank you, Sara. Have a blessed day.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rafa
This was the best book that I have ever read on living out the principle of Open Table. I love to read about someone who lives their faith, who puts verbs in their sentences, who know that to love Jesus is to try and emulate Him. Sara Miles answers the question of what it means to be inclusive, and she does it in the language of a real person, who forges ahead in faith. Reading this book you cannot say to yourself - well that's okay for a super woman but what does it have to do with me. Sara Miles is a real person.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jennifer lee
Sara Miles is an Episcopalian lay person who came to faith as an adult. Take This Bread is her faith journey and correlation between the sacrament of communion and what some call, Gospel Hospitality. Sara takes the reader through her relationships, her careers, her frustrations with organized religion, and her joys with the many people she met and served.

Overall, I would recommend this book, particularly for people working in ministry. Sara provides a great story, which is a wonderful reminder for all people; a person's faith journey is unique, and worship is experienced differently by different people. Sara comes from a family which does not practice organized religion, yet somehow `finds' it. Her time in an established church setting is marked with spiritual growth, and a professional growth. Over time, Sara assists with leading worship, and becomes a vital part of the church ministry. As such, she also experiences the trials and tribulations of church politics. Yet she obtains her goal of social justice and opens a food pantry which is open one day a week and serves people in the neighborhood; serves all people, prostitutes, homeless, people speaking all languages, children and the mentally ill. With the food pantry, Sara questions the written and unwritten rules of organized religion, questions why there is such a need when so many people, particularly in our country have so much.

In short, Sara continually parallels the meal of Christ to the meal offered at the food pantry, how Christ served all of humanity with his suffering and how we should also serve all of humanity. Some parts of the book were a bit too detailed for me, so I simply skipped those sections, but overall, I truly enjoyed this faithful journey. Sara provides many questions which all christians should be asking themselves.

Only because I did find some parts of the book to be redundant and too detailed, I give the book a 4 out of 5 stars.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
barbara snuggs
We read it for a book club. There were eight people. Three thought it over the top, one didnot like it and others were so'so. It took longer to recieve the book than usual purchases from the store
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen wine
As a gay man who is in discernment for the vocational diaconate, Sara Miles' story about her transformation from a radical non-believer to one converted by an all-encompassing understanding of communion both speaks to me and challenges me. It speaks to me as one who came from a life that did not include religion to an understanding of grace that is radical in its inclusion of all people. It is challenging in that her vision of inclusion pushes the boundaries of traditional Episcopal belief, encompassing the poor and disenfranchised of society. I hope, in my ministry, that I can remember Sara's message in making God manifest in this world through feeding all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gharony
Sara Miles was an unlikely candidate for a religious epiphany--a lesbian, with atheist parents and a journalistic view on life. She had been a restaurant cook and writer.

As she traveled to war-torn countries reporting on the effects of the war on the citizens, and experienced first-hand how people who are worlds apart, and don't speak the same language, can be brought together by the simple act of sharing food, she began to see food as the universal bond that ties us all together.

On her return to San Francisco, she happens upon St. Gregory's Church, a radical Episcopalian church where the founders are trying something new: Breaking down the barriers of the traditional church and inviting its members to take a greater role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

As quoted on her web site: Then early one 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 Sara Miles ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine, and found herself radically transformed.

Sara is hooked, and is soon a full-fledged member of the church, receiving Communion on a regular basis. Her desire to share the breaking of bread with those less fortunate becomes overwhelming.

Sara sets up the St. Gregory's food pantry--a new idea, where, instead of dishing out meals like soup kitchens, the volunteers allow the poor and needy of the area to maintain their dignity by selecting their own groceries and bringing them home to cook their own meals. In no time, the news of the good work in St. Gregory's has spread among the community, and over 250 people gather outside every week for the pantry.

Through her good work, Sara Miles has set up a number of similar food pantries in San Francisco, helping hundreds of people. This heartwarming, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, story of one woman's plight to bring the church to the people should be an inspiration to all of us to reach out to those around us, and embrace God's children, as he embraces us all.

Armchair Interviews says: One woman's good work is making a huge difference
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nahar rohit
A friend handed me this book and said I might enjoy it because of my Anglican background. I took it home and read it. My response to the story of this woman's conversion and following growth into a very active ministry was convicting and sometimes infuriating. From other reviews on this page I find I am not alone. I would recommend this book because it is important to know how people view the church (and evangelicals, watch out - she's quite scathing in her opinions) and where one can find grace. I think that her life story is one of grace and no matter how much I agree or disagree with what she says about life issues and doctrines and those of other christian denominations, that is the main issue. The Grace of God is far more amazing than any of us realize. And her life is a great catalyst to continue the conversation of one of the most important of faith issues - loving others.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
carsten
This is certain to be one of my favorite reads of the year.

Sara Miles is a woman who has never visited a church in her life, whose parents are acknowledged atheists. Yet, suddenly and unexpectedly, Miles eats a bite of the Lord's Supper and becomes a Christian.

Her life completely changes and she becomes the founder of a food bank at her church. The food bank brings in the poor, the desolate, the sick, the crazed, and these, in turn, become changed and, in addition, act to change those in the church. Delightful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joe fernandez
Inspiring, honest, and deeply moving, by the end of Sara's story you'll love this lesbian, left-wing atheist as much as any of the other Christians of God's flock. It's hard to remember a book I enjoyed more.

On a whim one day, Sara walked into a church, ate a bit of bread, sipped a bit of wine, and underwent "a radical conversion." While never overcoming her skepticism about God, she nevertheless embraced the church ... but the Christianity she embraced had no use for angels or worship or dreams of eternity. It quickly came to mean real concern about real people. Take This Bread is about real hunger, and Sara's struggles to establish a food pantry to care for the poor, elderly, sick, deranged, and marginalized of San Francisco.

Both light-hearted and deeply meaningful, this is a book that will toy with the full range of your emotions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anita allen
Dear Sara, I want to meet you and eat with you and feed people along side you. Sincerely, me. This book was suggested by a friend and I had my Nook on-hand, so I purchased it on a whim instantly. Best whim I have ever had. This book took my theory of communion (that every meal is sacred and should be treated as the Eucharist) and illustrated it so clearly that I cannot believe the whole world cannot see this Truth. The stories Sara shared changed me deep inside. What an amazing woman who serves such an amazing God.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
calai alvarez
Sara Miles, a life-long foodie, is hungry. She wanders the bowels of kitchens, war, and politics in search of sustenance. She finds it finally in the cesspool that is the church, and in those banging at its doors. The place Jesus came to be with the lepers, the outcast, and the possessed. And they are all still there. Sara tells her story with funny and troubling anecdotes about both the nonsense and the overwhelming presence of God found in the players and places of organized religion. The fact is, there are loads of people wandering around longing for meaning, or to be a part of the healing of this planet. But the last place they would expect to find it is the church, which seems so embattled with itself it is essentially worthless: filled with hypocrites, snobs, holier-than-thou's, and exceedingly needy people. This memoir takes us into such a place, recognizes the players for what they are, but then generously asks - So what? Aren't we all a little mad? Come to the table anyway. It will fill you, empty you, and fill you again. I bought ten copies of this book for friends who are living on the edge, not knowing where to look for what it is they are missing. I recommend it highly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kylee g
sara's book is the equivalent of that great film,
Babette's Feast!

both are stunning and awe-inducing portrayals
of the healing power of GRACE and GENEROSITY.

in these times of a meager and tepid, petty and trivial religiosity;
it is so refreshing and inspiring to read a story
so overflowing with the SPIRIT launched by the CHRIST-event.

of special interest to me was the genuine transformation
that takes place among ALL of those who partake
in the giving and the receiving of just plain and ordinary BREAD.

a truly LUMINOUS read;
i will miss the whole melange of souls that
sara so delicately introduces us to: i learned to love them all!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pat shay
'Take this Bread' is a wonderful book, funny and profance and touching. I loved every page. I liked the commentary on the clergy and learned so much about how to love the other. Miles brought me to face my fears. Her take on Christianity as a complex, disturbing, scary way to live is so real. With fine writing she takes us into what it means to incarnate our religion, and it's painful to face that. Luckily, her humilty, mistakes and humor keep us on her side and thinking about how we might go forth too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bibi raid
Sara miles had NO religious or spiritual education growing up. She stumbled on the church in adulthood, or rather encountered the risen Christ by chance? one Sunday morning in St. Gregory's in San Francisco. Her vision of real church as communion between very different people, even those who disagree and who don't like one another is fresh and she makes her case eloquently.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maurice
This is one of my favorite books of any genre. As a progressive who often has trouble with the more conservative aspects of the institutional Church, and as a person who faces doubt, this book has repeatedly called me back to faith and inspired me with its vision of fellowship and love. Miles is a thoughtful believer and an entertaining writer.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ykng96
I did not even finish it and will delete it from my Kindle. Found it boring and self absorbed. Sorry!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenae
Time magazine asked various writers to reveal their guilty summer reading pleasures. Anne Lamott wrote: The third summer book I've already read is Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles, a memoir that blew me away although I am a nice Protestant girl not normally drawn to book-length writing on the Eucharist. I am going to foist this on every single hard-core left-wing religious nut I know. And make no mistake: there are many of us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
loren manns
Not everyone does what they are passionate about, but Sara has engaged her energy into eliminating food wastage and feeding the hungry in San Francisco. I loved her story and the way she tells it. Inspirational
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
randah
This is a wonderfully written book. Sara is funny, interesting, and presents an intriguing way of seeing the spiritual. This book helped me to see Jesus and his teachings in new light.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fredrik karlsson
"Take This Bread" by Sara Miles is delightful, heartwarming, and a great insight into one spiritual journey. I read it with tears streaming down my cheeks while I laughed out loud at some parts. Truly a gift to those of us who are questioning the Christian Faith and our place in it. The descriptions of St. Gregory's make me want to make a trip from Ohio just to worship with a diverse and interesting congregation. I can feel in inclusiveness of the building and its people, as well as the joy that emanates from them. A book I have ordered in paper in which to write and underline those parts that speak directly to me. Thank you!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
moira campion
Sara Miles has penned a masterpiece. I am inspired by both the story of her conversion and the work she did in starting and running the food pantry. Her insight into the Eucharist and connecting it with the food pantry I found to be unique and deeply meaningful. I work in a soup kitchen/food pantry myself and am going to recommend this book to the other volunteers. I would also recommend this book to those who are "different" in one way or another and don't fit into the traditional church-goer profile.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nick black
From the moment I began reading to the last page I was hooked. I think this is a book that every church should own and require all outreach workers to read. In my view, Ms. Miles grasps and conveys in a succinct and direct manner just what it means to act out one's faith, a faith that has nothing to do with politics or what is expedient, or what will please people the most. There is a need, one responds, and that's all there is to it. Ms. Miles does not romanticize working with the homeless, feeding the hungry. She presents the challenges and difficulties clearly and realistically. This is not "fun" work. It's not meant to be fun. Yet,as I read this, I was struck by her understanding and acceptance as well as the clear conviction that this is what she was meant to do. Again, a very worthwhile read,immensely helpful and hopeful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john greenup
In an age when so much "Christian" energy is focussed on metaphorically stoning gays, immigrants, those whose need for a safety net would threaten to raise taxes, etc. -- here is a woman who asks "What Would Jesus Do," and looks to the Sermon on the Mount rather than an out-of-context verse in Leviticus for an answer. Jesus would feed the hungry, and so she does, very literally. It's also a mystical book, and challenges all of us to explore the realm of the numinous. It's perfectly, beautifully written.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
courtney sutherland
for me in "Eat This Bread" is that many of the people that Sara set out to serve with the food pantry themselves become agents of God's redemption in the lives others. That is a beautiful thing and certainly the way the Spirit intends for things like this to work. How often do the objects of the Church's ministry remain just that! In this story the objects become the subjects of the Spirit's empowering presence and are sent out to give bread to those still needing it.

It's a great story, full of memorable people. Miles is an open book and while that will certainly frighten off many she is not about to get all apologetic for it.

Everyone should make a habit of reading at least one book a year written from a point of view different than one's own. This one would qualify for most evangelicals.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christi cota
Passionate--open hearted--piercingly intelligent--earthy--occasionally profane--absolutely unconventional--Sara's raw story of her own life pulled me along to its hopeful conclusion, all my other reading set aside for later. This is NOT a "how-to" book; it is clear that Sara believes she played little role in this conversion, and that even for her it remains a mystery--but what a compelling mystery! Her journalistic talents only enhance what would by any measure be a great read. And if you like her style, as I do, check out her earlier book, "Hacking the Party Line: the Democrats & Silicon Valley".
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ryan woerth
A beautiful story of the mystery within the mundane. A simple act that is shared in this story of a courageous woman in her quest for truth and wholeness
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
suzy cherry
Sara Miles tells an inspiring story of how she found her connection to Christ and his Church. A friend said "I read it in about two days. Awesome awesome. ... " Saying that "... congregations that will live on the edge [like Sara's] are tapping into their energies and become alive and energized that way..." After you read it, seeing what one person can do, you will also be inspired.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
taryn
I found Take This Bread to be an interesting, practical approach to understanding and applying Jesus' message, especially as regards to inclusion and accepting one another. Sara Miles opens herself up, sharing very personal experiences and observations. She brings the reader along on her transition from non-believer to believer, and allows the reader to grow along with her. I found this to be a really entertaining, challenging journey, well worth the time and effort.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alka adhikari
Sara, an agnostic walks into a church for the first time and states, I ate a piece of bread, I drank a sip of wine and it changed everything. This book has greatly influenced my thought about The Table and how it changes everything. One of my all-time favorite books!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessy
A wonderful book for those of us in the Episcopal Church who sometimes get wrapped up in the 'business' of being the church. A gentle reminder of what is and more importantly what is not important as we experience conversion each and every day.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
thomas resing
I love reading about converts to the Episcopal Church, I am one myself. The more unusual the story, the more it interests me and Miles' story fits that bill. Although I found some things about her puzzling- for instance: she calls herself "lesbian" but has an affair with a man (Huh?!) and then she seems to think that getting pregnant in the middle of a war was a good idea (What?!), I thought her life was fascinating. She is also admirable for starting the food pantry, and for linking food to ministry and to communion- the Body of Christ. The analogy is excellent. It also shows how a church can be so open and welcoming to all people from all walks of life, and although not intended as an ad for the Episcopal Church, it sure serves as great publicity!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jess kappeler
Review: I only gave this book a 1 star rating so people would read my review and comment on it. It's a good book because it challenges how Christians typically think. I am a lifelong Christian scholar and" Good girl", run prison and church ministries, etc. Sara Miles is a Lesbian, was a lifelong atheist, and even thought Jesus a racist for not immediately the Cyro Phoenician woman (how could the creator of races be racist?). She makes judgmental statements about conservative Christians and those who don't think like her throughout this book. Yet she set up a bread pantry and received $250,000 dollars for it in short order! As she empowers those who came for food to serve it to others they too are changed, healed and empowered! I most identified with her when she was frustrated that her church wanted to keep Sundays for feasting, music, and the arts vs. distributing food twice weekly. The feelings she expressed were just like mine! What does this say about Jesus working through as "unprepared" for ministry as her? What does it say about me? About you? I think that it is somewhat the opposite of the two "top three" disciples James and John who spent all that time with Jesus and STILL wanted to call fire and brimstone down on the unbelieving towns.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
eveline chao
I have being trying to feed four children lunches by slicing my bread this way and it simply does not satisfy at least two of them. I wish I could give them each full sandwiches, but the Lord simply does not intend for it to be this way. I could ask for government assistance, but I think I shall stick to prayer to hope for my answer. In the mean time, back to slicing the bread down the middle both ways.
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