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Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  3,766 ratings  ·  480 reviews
Miles has produced a provocative and witty spiritual memoir from an atheist-turned-religious activist. Take This Bread is the story of her journey to faith and how she took Jesus' call to feed others by establishing food pantries that feed thousands of people.
Hardcover, 283 pages
Published February 20th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published 2007)
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Oct 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I didn't necessarily "enjoy" reading this book while I was actually reading it. I felt uncomfortable and challenged, not by the language but by some of the opinions and views. This author and I couldn't be more different, and I'm sure she'd strongly disapprove of my LDS religion (even the liberal wing of the Episcopalian church was far too conservative for her). Nonetheless, as Sara Miles took me along on her journey from atheist to Christian, unflichingly laying out her biases and weaknesses, I ...more
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rebecca by: Angela Gay
Shelves: favorites
It’s so hard to put into a few short words how much this book affected me and resonated with me; I could write a paper, not just a blurb. But, I start winter quarter in two days, so after thinking about it for several days, I am finally putting pen to paper, so to speak, however imperfectly. I will just describe a few things that affected me the most and hope that you will read the book for yourself. (I apologize, in advance, for the length.)

Sara Miles conversion experience begins when she, as
John Beeler
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
In her introduction, Miles claims to have bridged the chasm between liberal Christianity and right-wing/fundamentalist Christianity.

But what that amounts to, basically, is saying "hi" to a guy with a KJV in the front seat of his pickup. Otherwise, fundies play the one-dimensional role they usually do.

Aspires to nuance but never gets there.
Laura Engelken
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
It's true. I'm a sucker for cover art. Tell me, how could I turn down book that uses Gothic typeface and an image of a cross made with a jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread?

I was actually checking the library stacks for another memoir when this book caught my eye. It was a serendipitous discovery, as I'd just had an email exchange with a colleague regarding her frustration that students had "politicized" the Eucharist (a.k.a communion). Specifically, students wearing rainbow pins during mass on thei
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Sara Miles' conversion memoir is a great change from many books about Christianity and spiritual life, whose main selling points are their emphasis on religion as opposed to form or readability. I've found it hard to gut out many contemporary Christian books, too fat tracts of abused English. Miles' spare writing unflinchingly examines her route from an upbringing with atheist parents, to reporting on insurgent conflicts around the world to wandering into a church in San Francisco and finding a ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people interested in church and social change
I was so excited to read this book after I read reviews of it, but I ended up being disappointed. The basic storyline is that the author Sara Miles, a lesbian atheist, converts to Christianity and starts a food bank at her church because she believes that really fulfills Jesus' commands to the Church. And I will say that her work to start a food bank and her beliefs about how that fulfills Jesus' work today I totally agree with. But, as a liberal Christian I find her church and her other beliefs ...more
G (galen)
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
We are going to discuss this book Aug 13 at the Exponent. See here for more info.

This book made me hungry, both physically and spiritual.

Which is totally fitting, as it is a book about being fed, physically and spiritually.

Sara Miles writing is superb and rich and beautiful and satisfying as she describes her life (including intriguing passages about both her parents sprirtual journeys.) She is Chef, writer, political activist, and of course, Atheist.
Then she has a chance encounter with the Eu
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Many parts of this book were profoundly disturbing to me as I read them in light of the painful transitions at my church and some long-brewing thoughts I've had about the potential of the emergent church movement. I gave it 5 stars because it hit its mark with me. As I was sitting in the adult educational class of my most definitely not-emerging, not-radical suburban white professional-class church, I was listening to the pastor's presentation about the nature of the church in Lutheranism throug ...more
Nov 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Take This Bread is a memoir of Sara Miles, an athiest and a lesbian who has a sudden conversion to Christianity. As she discovers the grace of God that is unending and free, so she mirrors that to her community by beginning a food pantry at her church in San Francisco. Throughout her life she has been drawn to food and discovers through her religious practice that food is what connects us to God and one another.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and have discovered that I really enjoy reading t
Kristjan Wager
Aug 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, religion
Boring, and not particularly well written.

Apparently atheists are supposed to be impressed by the spirituality of this book, but speaking personally I found it uninteresting and unfathomable. Perhaps if I had grown up in a culture soaked in Christianity it would have made more sense, or might have interested me.
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone looking to create a food pantry through the front door of the church.
Shelves: book-group
Finished this this week in time for book group last night. I have to agree with my friend Erica--I wanted to love it and parts of it I did love. Basically, this is Sara Miles story of how she became a Christian in a local San Francisco Episcopal church and she started a food pantry that fed 200-300 people weekly from the sanctuary and across the communion table of the church.

The strengths of the book are Sara's passion, her descriptions of some of the folks who show up at the food pantry and he
Dec 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Sara Miles was a single mother, a left-wing atheist lesbian activist when she walked into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church and spontaneously participated in communion. Finding herself suddenly and embarrassingly moved by her experience, she decided to return.
Miles writes about the difficulties of conversion when nothing about her newfound religion made any sense to her – not the evangelists, the dogmatisms, the theological concepts, or the inner ecclesiastical rifts. For her, religion was
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be stimulating and thought-provoking. There are places where the writing is tiresome, but mostly I appreciated the author's struggles with making sense of this faith that had grasped her. Her theology is incarnational, seeking and seeing God in the day-to-day and in the face-to-face. I love her emphasis on the sacredness of food and eating, and how communion is not confined to Sunday mornings around an ornately adorned Table but emerges is unlikely places, with unlikely peop ...more
Katie M.
Feb 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Katie M. by: Jenna
A recommendation from my favorite seminarian. At first Miles drove me bonkers - she spends the first half of the book describing all the ways in which brown people like her (they fed her their last bowl of soup in warn-torn Nicaragua! they took her under their wing in working-class New York!), glossing over some sorely-needed class analyses, badmouthing conservative Christians, and just generally being sort of judgey and unlikeable. But then the second part of the book, when the food pantry real ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious, memoir
This is where I find God - in searching for connection to others and finding our common humanity. I saw myself in both Miles and the church members who resisted her efforts. Fear is not larger than God, but it can feel that way. I loved how passionate and fearless she is. I also loved how she was unafraid to pray, baptize, bless, and share communion, despite not being ordained. My favorite was chapter 21, "Rites" where she goes through the everyday incarnation of these sacred rites.

I can't say
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 c ...more
melanie (lit*chick)
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I have a fascination with spiritual memoirs. Seeing how Jesus meets people in personal and unpredicatable ways strengthens my faith. And while I don't share most of Sara Miles' views (theological or political), I do share her connection with feeding people as an outward working of the Spirit. I think food and hospitality get a bum rap, but the act of sharing a meal is most intimate, particularly with strangers.
I found her account of opening a food pantry to be challenging, honest, and inspiring.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't recall the last time I book has left me with tears in my eyes as often as this one did. I found myself in the pages of the book, as well as finding spiritual insights that I needed in narrative form. Sara Miles preaches the gospel in every page of this book.

The only thing I can recall that was unpleasantly jarring was her use of the word "tranny" to describe someone. I hope someone has explained to her why, as a cis woman, she really shouldn't be using that word.
I suppose it was inevitable that I would stumble upon Sara Miles' work eventually, considering that I have somewhat systematically been working my way through the works of female Christian writers over the past few years: Sarah Bessey, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rachel Held Evans, Lauren Winner, and most recently Shauna Niequist. I'm not sure when and where I first heard Miles' name, but I am certain that it came up repeatedly through book jacket quotations and reviews I read, so when I finally found thi ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An atheist walks into an Episcopal church, takes communion, experiences an unexpected conversion, and starts a food pantry in San Francisco. It's a heartening and engaging memoir from an honest, unlikely convert.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sara Miles calls herself an unlikely Christian and Jesus comes into her life as bread, the bread she takes during communion, the food she cooks for groups of people, and the groceries given to hungry people at her church's unexpected food pantry.
Enjoyed this. Miles can write and her story is funny, unexpected, sad at times, and moving.
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, nonfiction
I may not be able to read much right now, but the books I am reading are great. A friend recommended this book to me back in (ahem) 2008. I just got around to reading it, but I think the timing was providential because I enjoyed this book so much and reading Sara Miles' story made me see my own story in a hopeful light.

Sara Miles is probably not the woman you expect to be sitting in the pew behind you. The daughter of atheist parents (both of whom where the children of missionaries), Miles grew
Conor Warren
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book

Absolutely amazing work. Sara Miles inspires and challenges us to examine our own lives and the walls we build. I cannot praise this work enough.
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, memoir
3.5 Stars This book was recommended to me by the Executive Director of an organizer which provides meals to the homeless due to my involvement with the local food bank. Being that I'm not religious, I was a bit skeptical but I had been assured that while it did center around religion, it was not "preachy" as it was "written by a nun who is a lesbian and says fuck."

The granddaughter of missionaries, Sara Miles was raised as an Atheist by her parents and had absolutely no interest in religion unt
Barb Terpstra
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued to read this book because of the teaser: "Sara Miles, raised an atheist, wandered into a church, received communion, and found herself transformed--embracing a faith she'd once scorned". Coincidentally, I had just heard a sermon about how the Table is for everyone ( Also, about 6 months ago, I incorporated John 6:57 into my daily prayers: "Just as the living Father sent me and I live by [through, because of:] the Father, even so whoever c ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
After reading the description on the back, I realize I was hoping this book would be something like a "how-to" manual for converting to Christianity: "How to have that lightning-bolt experience even when you haven't been trying very hard." However, Sara doesn't go much into the "why" of her conversion, because she doesn't really understand it herself. She was instantly converted to Christianity, and instead of having all her doubts removed in a blinding flash, she ends up staying the same, often ...more
Oct 15, 2009 rated it liked it
The premise of this book compelled me to request it from the library, and I certainly found parts of it interesting, insightful, and inspiring. But, by about the halfway point, I began feeling like I was reading the same stories and thoughts over and over. At a certain point, it felt like Miles was hitting the reader over the head with her beliefs about communion and Jesus' radical inclusivity, which she feels is most illustrated (then and now) in the breaking of bread. Although Miles is a self- ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual-memoir
I was surprised when Sara Miles' conversion happened in about chapter four. There were over 200 pages left and the subtitle of the book was "a radical conversion," so what was left to say? A lot actually, and much of it also about conversion, the sort of conversion that is an ongoing process. Miles' stories of coming to faith and becoming involved in her church are encouraging and challenging. Much of her story revolves around food, from cooking in New York to receiving gifts in Latin America to ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
On Good Friday of this year my brother and his girlfriend convinced me to go the giant's opening day with them in San Francisco. Even though I knew I wouldn't make it home in time to go my home church's evening Good Friday service I decided to go anyway. When the game was over I convinced them to find a service close by in the city. So they got out their iphones to search, I wanted to go a church of my chosen denomination , they wanted to go to the closest church. They had the iphones and were d ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Honestly, I really liked this book (hence the four stars) and will probably revisit parts of it in the future as I continue to learn what it means to be fed by God, to drink the blood and eat the body, and to turn and share Jesus with others by feeding His sheep. I love the language and metaphors, the heart and honesty of the author, and of course, the descriptions of food.

HOWEVER. The author does not appear to believe many of the things I believe are central to Christian faith (i.e., the inerr
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Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry, and serves as Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Her other books include "Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion," and her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, Salon, and on National Public Radio.
“Faith, for me, isn't an argument, a catechism, a philosophical “proof.” It is instead a lens, a way of experiencing life, and a willingness to act.” 19 likes
“It doesn't promise to solve or erase suffering but to transform it, pledging that by loving one another, even through pain, we will find more life. And it insists that by opening ourselves to strangers, the despised or frightening or unintelligible other, we will see more and more of the holy, since, without exception, all people are one body: God's.” 14 likes
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