I have witnessed both Christ-like hospitality and Southern hospitality, which often echoes Calypso more than Eumaios, especially as I waver between residence at a hearty Midwestern college, and the quasi-southern quasi-international metropolis of Houston, my family’s home. But, in the midst of having found genuine people in both settings, I have discovered that I have the opportunity to awaken others to the beauty of the transcendent. It is not because I am a saint, for I am not, but because I understand one simple concept which equips me to serve and welcome others—hospitality.
This word hospitality plays a vital role in the reflection of the human heart. From Eumaios’ care for the old man to Plato’s welcoming of intellectual discussion, as he invites others to join him in his quest for truth, from Abraham’s welcoming of the Divine to Christ’s open arms in heaven, from Babbitt’s feast to the shepherds sacrifice for Father Valiant in Cather’s “Death For the Archbishop”, true hospitality never ceases to reveal some aspect of the Divine. As individuals welcome friends and neighbors, coworkers and intellectuals, into their homes, they have the opportunity to manifest Christ’s sacrificial love—to give up their own comfort in order to give others a real sense of Christ’s love.
Russell Kirk and his wife, Annette, have always exuded this Christ-like hospitality, as they welcomed refugees, hobos, professors, students, and curious individuals into their home, which is why Piety Hill seems to be such a fitting name for that rather majestic house in Mecosta, Michigan. For, Russell Kirk knew what it was to be a Conservative because he understood the cult–that is, the community’s reverence for the Divine–to be the center of life on earth. He lived this transcendent ideal in his quaint, Gothic-style, catholic home. He was a host to Conservatism, both in the books he wrote and the life he lead, and we must aspire to open our doors in order to rekindle the cult.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.