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A mixture of stories, theology, wisdom, music, humour – all building together to say something really important… but gently.
Garth says of Against the Grain, “My book is a journey that reflects choices and influences both musical and spiritual. There are stories, and I talk about music, theology, the enjoyment, and why I made various choices. I take time to speak about various aspects of the songs and recording, there’s a chapter about the Greenbelt Festival and my involvement in the early days; one about the time when I was with EMI for the album Did He Jump or Was He Pushed produced by Cliff Richard, then chapters about the change where I started to reflect more on issues of justice, from Road to Freedom to Lonesome Troubadour; a chapter on theology called ‘Stealing Jesus Back’; one about the days at All Hallows on the Wall when I was with Christian Aid as well as Amos; a chapter on Palestine entitled ‘From St Jerome to Banksy’, and of course one on the Amos Trust as to why I started it. And in all of this some personal moments about family and friends.
It’s a mixture which hopefully paints a picture that has something important to say about the road to justice and hope.”
Garth Hewitt writes redemption songs and then sings them without fear. His voice comes through clearly in these pages, challenging us by his witness to act for justice. His is a brave voice, needed more than ever in a fearful world and in a sometimes timid church. Please God, it will help us sing redemption songs of our own.
The Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector, St James’s Piccadilly; previous Chair of Trustees of Amos Trust
A singing, campaigning troubadour with an unquenchable thirst for justice.
Simon Mayo, Broadcaster/Writer
Garth Hewitt shows us what it means to be an activist, artist, and a person of faith—with his faith shaping everything else. Garth’s life and work has consistently addressed the urgency of justice, peace, and truth. Against the Grainis a wonderful account of Garth Hewitt’s pilgrimage and offers real insight into how such a journey is engaged and sustained—how you keep going when a committed life isn’t always easy. Garth and Gill have also shown us parents how to raise children who decide to live their lives hoping to change the world. Garth Hewitt’s journey and family is an inspiration to many of us and this autobiography will help educate and activate a new generation. Garth’s story shows us how to do the work of justice with guitar in hand.
Jim Wallis, New York Times bestselling author of America’sOriginal Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, president of Sojourners, and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine
I deeply respect Garth’s integrity and his commitment to social justice worldwide. The full extent of his humble hand in these matters may never be known, but this book will help spread the word of a life that has affected thousands of people globally for the betterment of their lives, and the pursuit of a peace that finds justice.
Martyn Joseph, Singer/Songwriter/Activist
Garth Hewitt, the Christian troubadour shows how faith and art flow into active compassion for some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Against The Grainis an inspiration to go and do likewise.
Bishop Richard Chartres, formerly Bishop of London
Garth Hewitt is Britain’s Pete Seeger. Not only for the wonderful music he writes and performs, but for his critical spirituality. Garth not only witnesses the plight of the forgotten, he confronts the spiritual desolation of our time that underpins the injustice in our global system. Like Pete, Garth wields his music as a righteous truncheon for liberation.
Jeff Halper, Director, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
I met Garth in 1996 for the first time, his laughter and smile always brought
comfort inside me, I always knew him as a man devoted to nations that needed a voice and hands. I never saw him tired helping others and bringing the joy to their life. All respect to his endless efforts in contributing to peace and justice in a forgotten land that many others avoid.
Wisam Salsaa, Manager of the Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine, Former Holy Land Guide
If we have eyes that see, all of us seek guides in this life.
Some lead us for just a moment while others a lifetime.
Garth Hewitt is such a guide and this book is evidence.
Listen to his music, read these pages, and you will
Daniel Bonnell MFA, Artist/Writer/Teacher
The reader of this book Against the Grain is taken beyond the words of its writer, Canon Garth Hewitt, on a colorful, adventurous, as well as inspirational journey – from his early beginnings. His life, ministry, and music is able to carry you to his world where he touches on human issues and uncovers the injustices of our world – which needs heroic people like Garth to be a crying voice in the wilderness of our world in which we live. This is a great effort as well as an informative piece of work.
Reverend Canon Fuad S. Dagher, Vicar of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Shefa-Amre, Galilee
A must read for all who love justice. Garth Hewitt takes his reader along his
remarkable life journey in this powerful book – an exciting and moving life of faith, hope and love. As priest he is totally committed to the revolutionary Jesus who lived and died to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind and set the captives free. As poet and songwriter he gives us songs of a beautiful world of justice, peace and freedom.
He tells us how those songs come to be written. The poor, the oppressed, voiceless and marginalised come to him and he turns their stories into songs of hope, healing, strength and dignity. The “Empire” tried to squash you and wipe you out, but God has sent this musician to you with empowering songs and poems. Listen … dry your tears; remove your sackcloth, for your God of love has come into this world for you.
His gifts and talents are not for achieving personal success, wealth, popularity and fame. He had chosen to remain faithful to his God and standing with the victims of injustice. Could he be more successful by worldly standards? …Never … “Social justice trumps everything”. Like the Prophet Amos, he speaks out for the poor and oppressed – with steadfastness, courage in the face of nastiness and against the grain. Poetry and music must be the language of justice. This book is about a modern day prophet who is prepared to leave everything, including his music, to be with the oppressed. But in so doing he has created the most beautiful and inspiring songs and writings for humanity. Songs of healing, resistance, justice, freedom, hope and love for this broken world.
Dr Swee Ang – survivor of the Sabra Shatilla Massacre, Founder of Medical Aid for Palestinians
Garth Hewitt is a remarkable man who embodies not only “the personal is political” but also “the spiritual is political”.
The book brings together his journey in music, writing, travelling, theological reflection, being ordained, and his decades long partnership with the amazing Gill, in an engaging and thought provoking manner.
The breadth of his life experience is extraordinary. From listening to Martin Luther King live, meeting Mother Theresa in India, Yasser Arafat in The Occupied Terrories, to having Cliff Richard be a backing singer for him, presenting a “Gospel Pop” TV programme, to becoming an active campaigner supporting practical projects in Africa, the Philippines, India, Nicaragua, the US, and courageously advocating for the Palestinians, we are taken on a dizzying and delightful tour of his life.
As a Muslim, there is much I can relate to in his considerations of social responsibility and notions of a Just and Loving God, as well as his emphasis on approaching religion not on a “competitive” but collaborative basis.
Speaking – and singing – truth to Power inevitably involves “Going Against the Grain”. But Garth does so by refusing to silence or ignore the spark of Divinity that calls every one of us to Love, Justice, and Peace, and by doing so his life can be seen as a significant tributary in the sea of change.
We are introduced at the beginning to a friend who asks him: ”Do you wish you’d been more successful?” The impact he has had on thousands of people around the world through his moving performances, gift of empathy, his joyous and quietly fierce witnessing of faith in the face of oppression, and no less his active part in his close knit family are all testimony to what I would consider a “successful life”. Indeed I can’t think of a more successful life.
Salma Yaqoob, Activist, former Leader of the Respect Party and Patron of the Stop the War Coalition