Social Justice

Book Review

Take This Bread – Sara Miles

Sara Miles is an unexpected Christian; a self-proclaimed left-winger, lesbian journalist with an obsession with food raised in an atheist home, she finds herself at an unexpected place: St. Gregory’s in San Francisco.  It is there that she experiences a profound “conversion” as she participates in communion.  She then records her experience of joining a community that she  can’t help but love and hate at the same time. Basically she sees the heart of Christianity as LOVE and one of the most basic ways to offer love to ALL people is through food.  She decides to start a food pantry and reaches out to the poorest of the poor in San Francisco and a very interesting story ensues.

I think my friend Lynn said it best when she describes Sara as a “crass Anne Lamott”.  I always find it refreshing to have an unexpected take on traditional spirituality, especially something that seems to make it more accessible to all.  I love that this woman has a story…a great personal story.  She’s covered wars in Central America, had a child, cooked in restaurants in New York, has a great family and is crazy-passionate about food.

I can see how for a stuffy-suburbanite this book (and author) could seem completely radical.  Her spirituality (and that of this little Episcopal church in SF) is quite “unorthodox.”  I think people could be completely turned off by her or as some have said in my book group, I LOVE THIS; I didn’t realize you could be a Christian and be like her.

For me, it was much like when I first read Blue Like Jazz; an unorthodox approach to spirituality and church is not revelational (for me).  So yeah, guess what: surprise! church happens outside of church.  Loving people, and especially those different from you, is church.  It’s Christ.

But what I did think was great and fresh was her whole approach to food.  I found myself being so envious of not only her love of food (and GOOD food) but her ability to see it as this thing that can cross boundaries.  I wish I was that passionate about food.  Fortunately for me several people in my immediate circle of friends and family are very passionate about good food and therefore I receive their spoils; however unfortunately for me I’m totally an Eat to Live person.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy good food, I’m just not willing to put in the effort that my husband will to tickle my palate with delicacies most do not.

But that’s the thing with this author, even though she’s a total foodie, she still makes it accessible to all.  I think I can only be so insouccient about food because I’ve never been in a place of want.  I’ve always had it.  I’ve never had to go without this most basic need.  And I wish I could syphon some of her passion about feeding people.

I like knowing there are people like her out there doing things that I would not think of.  A good read indeed.


(purchase from your local bookstore)