A Conversation with Sara Miles
Random House Reader’s Circle: You use the phrase “eating Jesus”
in your book. What do you mean by that? What is the difference
between “finding Jesus,” a term we hear often, and “eating Jesus”?
Sara Miles: As an adult convert, I think I heard the invitation
to eat the body of Christ and drink his blood as something
fresh and shocking—not as a symbolic phrase dulled by years
of repetition. It hit me the way it hit the first disciples, who
found the idea completely disturbing. To say that communion
means we are “eating Jesus” reminds me of how risky—and
how thoroughly physical—the encounter with God is.
RHRC: You write about both physical and spiritual hunger.
What do you see as the causes of hunger?
SM: Most of the people who come to get free groceries at our
food pantry are working people with kids. They simply don’t
get paid enough: At minimum wage, they can’t afford to provide
both food and rent for their families. But the scandal of
hunger in this country goes way beyond individuals living in
poverty: It’s a political issue involving the whole wasteful,
oversubsidized agricultural system, which fails to feed even
middle-class people well.
As a nation, we ’re obsessed with food, afraid of it, and
deeply out of touch with what it means to sit down and eat real
food with other people. We ’re surrounded by abundance,
we’re fat, and we ’re starving.
Spiritually, I think we ’re hungry because we believe we can
eat only with the right people. And we’re hungry because
we’re afraid to put the wrong thing in our mouths.
RHRC: What’s been the most surprising response you’ve received
to Take This Bread?
SM: Some of the most gratifying responses to my book come
from people who have committed their lives to feeding others;
it’s inspiring to hear their stories.
I’m also deeply moved by letters of support and blessing
from people whose political and theological views are very
different from my own—conservatives who think homosexuality
is wrong, evangelicals who think liberalism is ridiculous,
atheists who can’t stomach the idea of religion at all. I’ve
heard from Salvation Army officers, Orthodox priests, radical
Catholics, and Mormon housewives.
Their generosity and openness to the message of Take
This Bread reinforces my faith that the Holy Spirit blows
everywhere—frequently knocking down denominational and
RHRC: What are the biggest challenges to your faith that you
face on a daily basis?
SM: Oh, my own mind is probably my biggest challenge—my
bossy nature, my impatience, and my desire to be right. I
struggle every day to be less controlling and more open to
change and to seeing God in the most unexpected places and in
the most unlikely people.
RHRC: What do you recommend for Christians who disagree
with a lot of the right-wing evangelical rhetoric dominating
the political landscape?
SM: First, do something. Feed, heal, help. Don’t just argue
about ideology. Second, pray for your enemies. Don’t pray
that they become different, or start doing what you want them
to do. Just pray for them.
You don’t get to practice Christianity by hanging out with
people who are like you and believe what you believe. You have
to rub up against strangers and people who frighten you and
people you think are misguided, dangerous, or just plain wrong.
RHRC: And what recommendations would you make to leftists
who find no room for religion?
SM: Again, do something. Feed, heal, help. Don’t just argue
about ideology. Second, understand that secular leftists and religious
leftists of many faiths have worked together to make
political change throughout history. You don’t have to wait to
act until everyone agrees on every point of doctrine. Being a
leftist isn’t about being pure: It’s about being willing to work
with other people for justice and for human rights across the
RHRC: What do you most want readers to walk away with
from Take This Bread?
SM: I hope that readers, whether or not they’re religious, will
be able to take away Jesus’ message: Don’t be afraid. That
they’ll find ways to act; to feed others, to accept being fed by
others; that they’ll be willing to open up to people very different