Monday, May 19, 2008
"Take This Bread" Book Discussion
"Take This Bread" was written by Sara Miles about her life before becoming a Christian, becoming a Christian and then living out her Christianity. She has probably lived "nine lives" through her experience as a war journalist, and that experience set a background for her understanding of the Eucharist and food. Her upbringing was Atheistic with a fervor, seasoned with her parents bitterness with the church. At the same time in her background lies her grandparents' "activist/missionary" Christianity.
That she wandered into a church, St Gregory's Episcopal church, received communion and found herself transformed was not a happenstance. Her transformation led her to not just serve the Eucharist during the worship time, but to serve the bread, the food, the groceries to the hungry of San Francisco. She did this all the while being scorned for her new found faith by her friends and family, and dealing with opposition within the church. It is powerful that she then writes about these experiences openly in the book; "Take This Bread". This book, her life, her Christianity challenges us in our own lives, churches and neighborhoods on how are we sharing this "Bread of Life" or not sharing it.
I love the title of this book, it reminds me of several other book titles, Peterson's "Eat this Book", and the book we read and discussed a couple of months ago; Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." I love the cover of the book, a picture of a Peanut Butter Jelly sandwich. I lived off of PB & J sandwiches through college and seminary; believe it or not, I still like to eat them. This memoir brings to mind Anne Lamott's writing about her own conversion and life; although they are not similar in the way they write. I am struck by how her faith has been sustained even through what has turned others off or away from Christianity. She gives us hope for what is real and can be real and living about Christianity and the church in the world.
There is much that can be discussed about this book and from this book. I invite you to do so in the comment section of the post. If you don't know where to begin here are some possible discussion ideas or you can use the ones in the reader's guide of the book. As I understand it Sara Miles is at some point going to join us in discussion as well. And some of you may have already written her with questions. The following are from the writer herself. I asked her what one question she had not been asked that she wished she was asked since she has already been interviewed a lot; and this is what she wrote;
"I'm not sure I have just one question I've been burning to be asked. But here are some thoughts about areas I know provoke a lot of debate and discussion.
* One is open communion: specifically, why offer open communion? Often church people seem to think that open communion is sort of about manners-- let's allow everyone to receive some wafers so we can be nice and not make anyone feel uncomfortable. I have a very different take on it, which I'd be glad to answer questions on.
* Similarly with gay marriage: I don't think it's a question of "rights" at all, or of justice. I think the argument for gay marriage is based in a theology and ecclesiology that sets God's kingdom apart from the powers and principalities of the world. Would be glad to talk about this.
* Another specific question I'd love to be asked: what are the two main principles that set your food pantry apart from many church feeding programs?
* Some of the group may want to ask about ordination, etc....why I preach, teach, feed, heal, and pastor a congregation, but haven't pursued ordination."
So the table is ready and open for discussion. I have some virtual PB&J to share as we sit around the table and discuss.