Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Book Review and looking forward to Greenbelt

Back to work this week so doing a bit of reading on the tube. Working through Richard Dawkins "The God delusion", have been meaning to get to it and it seems better in short doses. Don't think this blog will turn into a book review site - won't be much time to read once we get to September, won't be time to breathe! But for now just wanted to share about a book I was reading whilst I was away. It's called "Take this bread - a radical conversion (The spiritual memoir of a twenty-first -century Christian)" by Sara Miles.

I can't remember who recommended it to me but when I went on to Amazon before I went away I had put it into my basket so I went ahead and ordered it. I think it's amazing. As Sara says on the cover; "Mine is a personal story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert". A lesbian left-wing journalist who covered revolutions around the world, Miles talks of being forced to deal with the impossible reality of God who she meets in communion after wandering into a church in San Francisco. She says "..as well as an intimate memoir of personal conversion, mine is a political story. At a moment when right wing American Christianity is ascendant, when religion worldwide is rife with fundamentalism and exclusionary ideological crusades, I stumbled into a radically inclusive faith centered on sacraments and action. What I found wasn't about angels or going to church or trying to be "good" in a pious, idealised way. It wasn't about arguing a doctrine - the Virgin birth, predestination, the sinfulness of homosexuality and divorce - or pledging blind allegiance to a denomination. I was, as the prophet said, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. I found it at the eternal and material core of Christianity: body, blood, bread, wine, poured out freely, shared by all. I discovered a religion rooted in the most ordinary yet subsersive practice; a dinner table where everyone is welcome, where the despised and outcasts are honoured. And so I became a Christian, claiming a faith that many of my fellow believers want to exclude me from; following a God my unbelieving friends see as archaic superstition."

It links a lot to what Martyn has been saying about personal and social holiness for me, and it certainly is good preparation for reading Dawkins. There are also links with what we see in the "Somewhere else" expression of Church in Liverpool. That inclusivity, the personal journey of conversion and growth and the radical action of sharing through food. If anyone else has read this I would love to hear what you thought. And if you haven't - give it a go.

Anyone else out there going to Greenbelt this year? I'm looking forward to it. Not least Billy Bragg on the Friday night. Any recommendations for speakers or bands to listen to? Hope the ground is dry for those who are camping - as ever I will be ensconced in the local Travel lodge. Look out for the Methodist Church stand and for Twelvebaskets among others. Still, nearly two weeks of work to do first. And more of that reading on the tube.


DaveW said...

"Anyone else out there going to Greenbelt this year?"

See you there.


Mr John Cooper said...

Look forward to seeing you in the mud.

Warm Regards

Barbara said...

I'm going too, with a little group from round my circuit. I can highly recommend James Alison, former Catholic priest and he now writes theology, often on sexuality and inclusiveness. Went to his talk last year on the "clobber texts" those used to clobber gay people over the head with, and he talked about the real meanings hidden in the text, which was fascinating. This year, he is back doing the clobber texts from the NT, which could be even better. I'm sure it will be pretty busy.
See you there - I'll be bringing the bright green wellies!