hospitality

housewarming party

housewarming party

Last weekend on a whim my wife invited our neighbors over for dinner, and had a mighty old time. Their daughter (which is a definite regular over at our house) was with the kids while we talked over dinner and afterwards.

We’ve talked about having others over, and have done this a few times, but more as birthday parties or when we moved into our house as a housewarming party. I’d definitely love to have others over more often. But what I’m wondering is on the whole, is this practice fading?

I recently started getting a Focus on the Family Magazine (technically since they have so many things going on, they call this the Family magazine) in the mail. I didn’t request it I don’t think, but must have agreed to one or two of something in their Action network to merit them deciding I could use a copy. Anyway, they have some (but maybe not all) good articles, and one in particular that I read recently was over Reviving Hospitality (read it). Keep in mind that it seems sometimes this organization may take the view that culture is changing, and not for the good (a bit more than I might agree with). So, here’s the article beginning:

Hospitality is quickly disappearing from American life.

During the mid to late 1970s, the average American entertained 14 to 15 times a year. By the late 1990s, that figure fell to eight times per year — a decline of 45 percent. If this trend continues, the blessing of hospitality will be nearly extinct in less than one generation.

The article goes on to focus on things that people might use as excuses, including being too busy or focusing on things being perfect or a reluctant spouse. Which probably get used a lot. But in my view it’s not all about any of that. I desire to know people more, not just have them come over to eat. I want to talk about what they have going on, what they do for fun, possibly kids, whatever the topic goes to. Maybe play a game. Just hang out. Too many times in too many things there’s no really open time to just be yourself, but having people over should definitely be a time that you can be yourself and so can your guests. But I want to know you and not just in some shallow way.

It seems that most of us feel stuck in shallow conversations all the time, and really want to have an opportunity to just be themselves without having a need to wear a ‘mask’. I completely see hospitality as being the antidote to that.

Is hospitality not what it used to be?

If I look back as a kid, I don’t recall my family having people over a lot, but keep in mind I was born in 1979 so that probably fits well with their statistics. In talking with my grandmother, it does seem that hospitality (and in general caring for others such as your neighbors) was much more generally held than possibly is the case now. I think as a whole in our culture we have almost lost the interest in hospitality. Maybe not everyone but enough of a percentage to notice.

What do you think?

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5 responses to “hospitality

  1. When I was younger my parents had people over, and we went over to their friends’ houses, a LOT. I think it is dying. And I am as guilty of it as anyone else.

    Your post has me thinking, Chris!

  2. Good Jim. Wouldn’t you view this as an aspect of fellowship?

  3. When I was growing up, my grandparents visited us almost every Sunday. Usually neighbors or other family members would come by also. I think today we might use our “busyness” as an excuse not to get together in this way. I definitely agree that we are engaged in too many shallow conversations these days – about the weather, usually – and not sure what will make that change.

    I like what you’re doing though Chris and your perspective on this.

  4. Well written, Chris!
    This is a struggle for our family. I think the best way to describe our conversations with our neighbors is “suspicious”. Everyone seems to think that if you want to strike up a conversation with them, then you must want something from them. As yet we have had no luck in getting to know the neighbors on our culdesac.

    And yet we’ve been able to meet friends through the blogosphere.

    Perhaps we’ve become such a niched society that we only trust people we find in our own social circle? Perhaps the rise in communication that allows us to find people with political and religious philosophical views just like us makes us nervous about interacting with others who we just don’t know will mesh with those beliefs.

    Glad you brought up the topic – it needs to be discussed.

  5. You know I feel a bit hypocritical on this topic since writing this after meeting with one couple once.

    Yeah Joey – it is a bit funny (but maybe not really funny at all) that you end up connecting with people online. A word you said really struck me as probably really vital to this topic – trust. Is it possible that because we don’t *yet* know someone or their thoughts on certain things that we may not want to deal with/discuss (like what you’re saying Joey), that we don’t want to get together? Towards that, maybe because of social circles (including online such as this), we may learn a bit on this about each other, and have at least some sort of “trust”?

    Maybe I’m stretching a bit… but I know I’ve felt burned before in some relationships and have a lost a bit of trust in others. But I long for that – I sincerely desire to open up and trust those thoughts with others and to have the same happen back to me.

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