At home in exile

In a time of American inhospitality, Jan Holton offers a compelling vision.

The presence of “the other” creates a crisis in any society or community. M. Jan Holton’s book appears at a time when Americans not only face this crisis but intensify it through our social practices of inhospitality. Holton has written a compelling book for our context, albeit in a somewhat whimsical style.

Holton frames her book with two visions. First, she views home as a place of security and a relationship of belonging. Together, place and relationship create an environment for making meaning and maintaining identity.

Her second vision, religion, is dimmer. It functions largely as a positive shadow throughout the book, without much explication. She speaks only vaguely about “sacred stories in the Judeo-Christian tradition.” But she articulates clearly that the language of belonging is faithfulness. To be far from home, then, is to be at risk amid a lack of faithfulness. Holton’s terms—security, belonging, identity-making, and relationship—envision home as a habitat that enables a person to be fully human.