Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Take this Bread: Spiritual rebirth through feeding the hungry

Take This Bread: A Radical ConversionTake This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sara Miles is a NY-born left-wing, single mom, lesbian journalist and foodie, raised by children-of-missionaries but atheist parents, who lived and traveled extensively in war-torn central America as a young woman. In her 30s, she walked into an Episcopalian church and took communion, and it changed her life.

Miles' Christianity is a very earthy, progressive, inclusive sort, which I can completely relate to (but many others might find offensive). She took her experience of spirit and faith and translated it into very real terms by deciding to feed Jesus' sheep, as he asked his disciples to do. She got her church to let her open up a food pantry, where they fed 250+ families each week for free, no strings attached. Eventually she opened up several more food pantries with the help of a benefactor who liked what she was doing.

With all the honesty of Anne Lamott, Miles talks about her difficulty and ambivalence in embracing the poor and Christians alike. She vehemently and colorfully expresses her dislike of the pushy Russians, for example, in addition to the closed-minded old school Episcopal church.

I enjoyed the descriptions of her time in Central America, her grandparents' missionary experiences, and the time she spent in the kitchens of New York City, in addition to the detailed descriptions of the food pantry experience. The middle of the book dragged a bit, and the whole book was focused more on Miles' spirituality than her personal life. It sounds like her activism might have caused some stress in her marriage and with her relationship with her daughter, but this is only briefly mentioned.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and greatly admire how Miles put her faith into action.

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