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Entries in alternative christianity (13)


Book Review - Take This Bread, by Sara Miles

Just finished reading this beautiful autobiography and confession of faith by Sara Miles. This is one of the best books I've read in the last few years. It's delightful, brutally honest, profane, earthy, profound, sacred, joyous and confused in equal measures.

The author was raised an atheist, is a lesbian and mother of a daughter, who strolled into a church in San Francisco one day for no particular reason, took the eucharist, was transformed on the spot and spent the next years trying to work out what had happened - in both senses of the words "working out."

While doing that, she took her lifelong interest in food, both for its own sake and as a means of making community in poor zones and war zones, and established a hugely successful food program for the urban poor of San Francisco, understanding the feeding of the people as being the reality behind the sacred meal as it is celebrated in the Christian church.

There are some fabulous descriptions of what happens when the "wrong" people start to turn up at church - the hungry, the homeless, the crazy, the addicted, the cantankerous, the lazy, the greedy and the sick. And of course, fighting the "right" people along the way and learning that grace extends to everyone, however unloveable and on whichever side of the spectrum they are.

If any book is likely to get me to understand holy communion as being most certainly not the property of the churches, this is it. Let's get the communion service back out of church and back among the people.

You can find it here.




Unorthodox Priest by Peter Neary-Chaplin

When God's white eye lifts slowly in the east
and heats to vapour the swollen millrace of dreams
that call the priest
awake and up and into dazed attention,
and thankfulness arises in his heart
for light and warmth
and all the teeming stuff of earthy life
that comes with just a little tilling
and ancestral knowing of the place,
the woodpecker his alarm,
the timid deer his wife,
then he knows no better way to start
than touching forehead to the ground
and painting blessing
in every chamber of his heart
so that it leaks a bit with every beat
and blesses every tiny space
just like the worms beneath his feet.


From my collection My Mother is an Old Elephant.  Please buy a copy!