City of God: Faith in the Streets

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Overview

Paradise is a garden...but heaven is a city.

From the acclaimed author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak comes a powerful new account of venturing beyond the borders of religion into the unpredictable territory of faith.

On Ash Wednesday, 2012, Sara Miles and her friends left their church buildings and carried ashes to the buzzing city streets: the crowded dollar stores, beauty shops, hospital waiting rooms, street corners and fast-food joints...

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Overview

Paradise is a garden...but heaven is a city.

From the acclaimed author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak comes a powerful new account of venturing beyond the borders of religion into the unpredictable territory of faith.

On Ash Wednesday, 2012, Sara Miles and her friends left their church buildings and carried ashes to the buzzing city streets: the crowded dollar stores, beauty shops, hospital waiting rooms, street corners and fast-food joints of her neighborhood. They marked the foreheads of neighbors and strangers, sharing blessings with waitresses and drunks, believers and doubters alike.

CITY OF GOD narrates the events of the day in vivid detail, exploring the profound implications of touching strangers with a reminder of common mortality. As the story unfolds, Sara Miles also reflects on life in her city over the last two decades, where the people of God suffer and rejoice, building community amid the grit and beauty of this urban landscape.

CITY OF GOD is a beautifully written personal narrative, rich in complex, real-life characters, and full of the "wild, funny, joyful, raucous, reverent" moments of struggle and faith that have made Miles one of the most enthralling Christian writers of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/20/2014
“You are dust and to dust you shall return.” One wouldn’t think a book about death would be so vibrant, but Miles (Take This Bread) is able to interweave characters and portraits of her city of God, San Francisco, to bring her theology and practice of Ash Wednesday liturgy to life on the streets. Miles is herself a character, a woman who wrestles with her spirituality as a recovering reporter sympathetic to a plurality of religious movements beyond Protestant Christianity. She introduces other personalities who put flesh and blood on her story of repentance on Ash Wednesday 2012, like an “ancient Mexican bearded gnome-lady” who blesses Miles, or Mr. Claws, the homeless man who sparks her adventure with a visit to a medical clinic, only to disappear. San Francisco’s Mission District is not only the setting but also the protagonist of the book, moving the narrative forward with its urban flavors and faults, influencing Miles’s theology and making “the presence of God most real” for both author and reader. This is a convincing Lenten adventure into a dynamic Christian view of faith in the streets, of repentance and blessing, life and death, in the cracked sidewalks and fractured realities of the city of God. Agent: Greg Daniel, Daniel Literary Group. (Feb. 4)
From the Publisher
"Joyous and touching...An intriguing read, Miles' account will resonate most with those who live in and love the inner city."—Kirkus Reviews

"An informative, luminous memoir of faith and community."—Booklist

"This is a convincing Lenten adventure into a dynamic Christian view of faith in the streets, of repentance and blessing, life and death, in the cracked sidewalks and fractured realities of the city of God."—Publishers Weekly

"CITY OF GOD is another gorgeous, gritty, profound work of art from Sara Miles...I love everything she writes, but there is something special about this new book."—Anne Lamott

"Miles makes a convincing case for taking worship outside and provokes the churched reader to join her on the asphalt."—Sojourners

"Once again Sara Miles has given us a great read about...how every moment of our lives is liturgy, and each and every liturgy we do is for the whole world which God loves so dearly."—Nedi Rivera, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon

"A wondrous new book...[Sara] is a fantastic writer."—Spirituality & Heath Magazine

"Sara is so inspiring...Where most aim for the clouds, she's focused on the dirt and sweat and blood and struggle of this world and the presence here in it with us-which is, of course, the best news of all."—Rob Bell, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins

"Gorgeously written, City of God takes Jesus from the walls of the church to the streets of the city, showing us that where two or more Anglicans or prostitutes or head-injured junkies or housewives are gathered, He is with us. I cannot recommend this book highly enough."—Nadia Bolz-Weber, New York Times bestselling author of Pastrix

"There's a refreshing honesty to City of God; her actions on Ash Wednesday take on greater significance in light of her questioning."—Los Angeles Review of Books"Sara Miles is a spiritual pioneer...Now she has taken us into the streets of the city where the very hope of heaven intersects the very the heart of life, where we might discover anew that God is truly with us."—Bishop Michael Curry, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolin

"Rarely, if ever, have I heard or read or experienced a more poignant or persuasive presentation of the city as metaphor and prototype for the Kingdom of God. Miles's panorama is lived theology, and its result is a kind of holy magnificence."—Phyllis Tickle, author, The Great Emergence

"Sara Miles gives us much more than a beautiful love song to her neighborhood...she offers us a glimpse of how living Christian faith can re-enchant the world."—James Alison, Catholic priest, theologian, and author

Anne Lamott
"CITY OF GOD is another gorgeous, gritty, profound work of art from Sara Miles...I love everything she writes, but there is something special about this new book."
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon Nedi Rivera
"Once again Sara Miles has given us a great read about...how every moment of our lives is liturgy, and each and every liturgy we do is for the whole world which God loves so dearly."
Episcopal Diocese of North Carolin Bishop Michael Curry
"Sara Miles is a spiritual pioneer...Now she has taken us into the streets of the city where the very hope of heaven intersects the very the heart of life, where we might discover anew that God is truly with us."
author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Go Rob Bell
"Sara is so inspiring...Where most aim for the clouds, she's focused on the dirt and sweat and blood and struggle of this world and the presence here in it with us-which is, of course, the best news of all."
New York Times bestselling author of Pastrix Nadia Bolz-Weber
"Gorgeously written, City of God takes Jesus from the walls of the church to the streets of the city, showing us that where two or more Anglicans or prostitutes or head-injured junkies or housewives are gathered, He is with us. I cannot recommend this book highly enough."
Phyllis Tickle
"Rarely, if ever, have I heard or read or experienced a more poignant or persuasive presentation of the city as metaphor and prototype for the Kingdom of God. Miles's panorama is lived theology, and its result is a kind of holy magnificence."
James Alison
"Sara Miles gives us much more than a beautiful love song to her neighborhood...she offers us a glimpse of how living Christian faith can re-enchant the world."
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-07
Account of an unusual urban Ash Wednesday. San Francisco Food Pantry founder and director Miles (Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead, 2010, etc.) shares her experiences and musings from Ash Wednesday in 2012. A resident of San Francisco's Mission District, the author encounters a level of diversity within a few blocks of her home and church that rivals almost any other urban neighborhood in America. It is within such a setting that she goes about the job of ministering, under the auspices of an Episcopal church, to the larger community. Much of her story is a lead-up to her journey outside the confines of church walls, when she took the ashes of Ash Wednesday out into the neighborhood, offering ashes on the street corners throughout her neighborhood. Despite her anxieties about this very public celebration of liturgy, the event turned out to be a joyous and touching experience. Miles is deeply committed to her urban neighborhood and toward radical involvement in the life of the city. In fact, everywhere she looks, she is reminded of "the movement," a waning countercultural thrust spawning everything from socialist bookstores to gay street patrols. Given the nontraditional backdrop of the Mission, Miles' Episcopal chants and rituals seem out of place and even jarring, yet everywhere she went on this Ash Wednesday, she was met by people eager to partake in the ceremony. Along the way, she introduces colorful characters, both from the fringes of society and from the depths of San Francisco activism. An intriguing read, Miles' account will resonate most with those who live in and love the inner city. Though the author recognizes that religious experiences are global and varied, she is unapologetic in proclaiming, "for me, it's cities that make the presence of God most real." Poignant and passionate look at the city church, inside the walls and out.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455547319
  • Publisher: FaithWords
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 150,868
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara Miles is the founder and director of The Food Pantry, and Director of Ministry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. She is the author of Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion and Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Salon, and NPR. She lives in San Francisco.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Highly Recommend

    This has been a perfect Lenten read for me. Though we worship God in houses of prayer God is encountered everywhere. Sara Miles brings that reality home in a humble, compassionate way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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