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Mary-Martha-LazarusI 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.

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3 replies to this post
  1. It was precisely the eclectic mix of political refugees, unwed mothers, and the runaway hobo, in whose room at Piety Hill I slept when he was not there, that convinced me of the authenticity of the Kirks’ faith, expressed in love. I counted myself fortunate to be able to personally thank Dr. Kirk for the example, after he had kindly invested years of mentoring and friendship in me. As it turns out, it was the last time I saw him alive.

    Thank you, Brittany, for your wonderfully lucid post, which reflects your beautiful heart and inquiring mind. Whatever hospitality we may have extended this summer as you have been with us is incommensurate with the dedication, competence, and creativity you have demonstrated in the wildly divergent tasks you have mastered. In a Kirkian sense, isn’t it fitting that you have experienced inner city kids , ex-felons and addicts, as well as conservative intellectuals in symposium all in the same internship here?

    Thank you, Brad, for bringing us together.

  2. I just saw the comments, and I appreciate both of your kind words–thank you both for your dedication to lightening the world one soul at a time. It is a joy and a privilege to learn from both of you.

    I hope and pray that each of us on the Imaginative Conservative will bring hope and hospitality to our little platoons.

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