AGAINST THE GRAIN By Garth Hewitt
Garth Hewitt’s book “Against The Grain” is subtitled, “Choices On A Journey With Justice” and it is on sale as a book, but do not believe for even a moment that it is just another book among the many books that you could buy. It is so much, much more than just another book. It is the story of Garth Hewitt; a singer, a songwriter, a priest, an author, an activist and it is in his own words – no ghost-writing here.
The cover says that it is “A mixture of stories, theology, wisdom, music, humour – all building together to say something really important…but gently.” It is certainly all of that, but it is a lot more as well.
Printed on high quality paper as befits such an almanac, it is A4 size and heavy – oozing quality from the moment that you pick it up. The preface begins with the words of one of Garth’s songs, and the book features many such songs as Garth tells not just his story, but also the story of those people whose lives have intersected with Garth over the years.
The book’s prose begins with a story from Garth’s life, and there are a huge number of stories in the book. Indeed, after reading the book, I felt that I knew Garth personally (though I have only met him once!).
The Preface sets the scene for what follows, as Garth recounts how the book – and its title – came into being. Garth also tells of the questions that underpin the book alongside The Five Marks Of Mission. The preface also contains the lyrics of the title song as well as Garth’s thanks to those who worked with him on the book.
Chapter One tells of Garth appearing on a panel about racism, it tells of Stephen Lawrence, and it tells of Damien Hirst’s café; as Garth gives us something for the soul.
Chapter two is about influences and family, and Garth’s early years.
Chapter three sees a ministry of music and justice as Garth was commissioned as a troubadour.
Chapter four tells of the musical influences that have shaped Garth through the years, and he remembers where it all started.
Chapter five is a love song for the earth and Garth especially remembers Greenbelt.
Chapter six tells about two roads dividing as Garth became a presenter on a television show, and how he worked with Bernie Flint and Cliff Richard. Garth Hewitt the pop singer? Gospel singer? TV star?
Chapter seven explores the many countries that Garth’s ministry has taken him to, including Haiti, India, Poland, Nicaragua, Uganda, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Chapter eight focuses on the lonesome troubadour and the life choices that must be made.
Chapter nine is about stealing Jesus back and the joy of theology.
Chapter ten tells of the setting up of the Amos Trust and the ever-expanding ministry.
Chapter eleven feasts on life, and sees Garth becoming a vicar, and he walks the city and All Hallows.
Chapter twelve is about poetry – a human right – and Gaza.
Chapter thirteen is about songs from the fifth gospel – from Palestine to St Jerome to Banksy, and as a canon in Jerusalem.
Chapter fourteen is about the road home to London, and illness in the family bringing Garth to rock bottom.
Chapter fifteen has moments of hope and inspiration, and considers the significance of days in the calendar.
The book as a whole is full of fascinating trivia (Garth watching Freddie The Field Mouse on television), fascinating facts (Cliff Richard doing backup vocals for Garth), well-known names (Billy Graham) and personal hardships (Garth’s own health), and so much, much more.
Pictures, posters, photos and album covers are packed into the book and extend the storytelling in a great way. The book is an autobiography, an almanac, a scrapbook, and an honest revealing of the man.
Through it all, Garth never comes across as a “typical” recording star – he is humble, honest, and human. That human has spent himself on causes that are dear to his heart, and has seen many friends and many fellow musicians support him through the hard times that life has brought him, as well as through the joys of life.
No review could ever do justice to this book. It is worth every penny and is a book that you will want to treasure once you have it. Get it, and journey with Garth as you read and see the stories of his journeys to many places, of his journeys with many people, and of the journey of his life that has a Godly purpose. “Against The Grain” is priceless.