An extended invitation

A review of ‘Home’ by Jo Swinney

Pictured below is Jo Swinney’s new book next to a hedgehog house in my garden. Please note that it is a hedgehog house and not a hedgehog home – since it cannot really be the latter until it has an occupant.Years ago, when I was new to both ministry and published writing, I wrote an article on small groups and insisted that the word ‘homegroup’ rather than ‘housegroup‘ should be used – since home was ‘more than a description of location’.

I have a feeling Jo would agree. Jo has had, to coin a phrase, more ‘homes than I have had hot dinners’. Both during her childhood and since, she has moved far, wide and frequently. Along the way she has picked up not only the self-awareness and wisdom which infuses the book, but she has also caught on the wind the distant sound of a melody which we choose to call home. This book is really an extended invitation to join her on the quest for that elusive melody.

In the book, Jo will take you with her to Canada, Portugal, France, Africa and…Surbiton!  Don’t expect a travelogue, though – this is something far more profound. Jo writes with a disarming and, at times, uncomfortable candour – but the net result is a warm and engaging read. Ultimately the book is a call, in her own words, to ‘re-embrace where I am’, which will find a resonance for many. This may be especially so when, as Jo puts it ‘people are scattered like dandelion seeds in a gale, far from the soil they grew in and sick with longing to get back’. All of this is anchored with an analysis along the way of King David’s quest for home in the Biblical accounts.

Jo writes as a Christian, with faith stitched into her very words as it is woven into the fabric of her life. That said, it is a long time since I have read a Christian book with such an honest invitation to readers of other faiths or none to join her: ‘I hope you’ll stick with me and engage with the book and with me, even where we might see things differently‘. Well done to her for writing it, and to Hodder for printing it.

Jo writes that Christians look for, and find ‘the fingerprints of God’s provision, goodness and kindness in every aspect of their lives’. I trust that many will find this book to be a help in looking for them. I did.


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