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Book #19: Take This Bread

Take this bread cover I have been slowly (for me) reading a book I dearly wanted to speed through, because it is so good: Take this Bread, by Sara Miles. It was the discussion book this month for RevGalBlogPals, and if you click here you can read those thoughts, including participation from the author herself.

I've been churched my whole life long. I've gone to the Baptist church with my mom and the Methodist with my daddy, and when we lived in Alexandria I attended an Episcopal day school and a Presbyterian church for six years, and since I wound up in the UCC, you can imagine that I have had many influences inform my impression of Communion.

It was fascinating to read the memoir of this previously unchurched granddaughter of missionaries who had a Jesus experience when given the bread for the first time and went on to feel a calling to feed people. What she has done with that calling and what it has done to her is told engagingly, really irresistibly, in this memoir.

As a former board member of the food rescue and soup kitchen here in City By the Sea, I knew a lot of the data about surplus foods and government commodities already, but that section is an education if you do not.

I highly recommend "Take This Bread" and think it would make a great discussion book for churches considering hospitality in all its forms.

6 thoughts on “Book #19: Take This Bread”

  1. This was a requested Christmas book and I gobbled it down, then passed it off to my pastor, who referred to it in a recent sermon. I think the emphasis on “extravagant welcome” is illuminating and focusing, esp for mainline churches (that frozen part of the “frozen chosen”) and churches who might have lost their direction a little. I agree that it would be a great church read.
    A second and more minor aspect that makes it valuable is how she’s a lesbian, but that’s not the center of the book OR her faith: I think Miles’s narrative presents the model (extremely necessary for some people who can’t imagine a non-traditional family model) that is possible if we stop micromanaging who can love whom.
    Okay then. I fear I have managed to sound self-righteous and judgemental: always my goal before nine a.m! BUT I am off to garden, and I agree: a good book!

  2. Becky, not at all! It’s true, Miles’ sexual orientation and family situation is part of the book, but it’s only part of the story, just as my divorce and remarriage are only part of my story or someone else’s choice to remain single or early marriage would be only part of his or her story, too.
    I hate to use the word “normalize” because that would appear to pathologize our definitions, but perhaps a better comparison is to say that like the daffodils that will naturalize over the years in my garden (hopefully), her life story might show someone who thinks otherwise that a partnered lesbian mother is naturally who she is both in that aspect of life and in all the others.

  3. You know I have struggled with this book for reasons I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere else (so maybe I’m being over-reactive). Her (what I read as anyway) constant criticism of liturgy and worship at places other than her church (which is wonderful but quite distinctive–one of a kind really) wore me down.
    I do applaud and admire her work with the food pantry and her struggles with faith and the notions of what hospitality looks like. Perhaps I need to pull the book out and give it another go.

  4. I have now got my copy, at long last…too late for our discussion, but I plan to take it with me to Polyphony tomorrow and sit and read whenever I can…you make me excited about that prospect.

  5. RDM, you raise a good point. Miles is very critical of other worship experiences. Even as a non-Anglican, I winced at a few of those places. I find her voice prophetic in other areas, and I guess all prophets rub us uncomfortably about some things, don’t they?

  6. As noted at the RG discussion, her worship experiences at Gregory of Nyssa are unlike any I have ever seen. The corporate liturgical dance during worship I have only seen one place…and would definitely send my husband (for one) running away screaming. It’s certainly not representative of TEC or liturgical worship…and I’m not sure that’s the point either. That part seemed more incidental to the hospitality focus, as well.

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