Truly Random Thoughts…

On Homer…

The Odyssey is such a terrific book. If you haven’t read it recently, please do. The Robert Fitzgerald translation, please.

The *only* flaw with it is that it doesn’t end; it just stops.

Hecatombs here, there, and everywhere. Is our God as real to us as what Homer portrays?

My most substantive thought is that here we have one of the great epics of history constantly underlining and underscoring one of the primary virtues of civilized people, one of the primary virtues of the Old Testament, one of the primary virtues of the New Testament, definitely one of the prime virtues of the Benedictine tradition…do you know what I’m talking about?

Hospitality. Hospitality is absolutely central to the plot of the Odyssey. I would argue that both in liberal and conservative, Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical circles, this is one of the least understood and practiced of the virtues. And I don’t just mean the constantly used yet ambiguous defined “inclusion” either. I mean good old-fashioned Homeric style, Abrahamic, Johannine, and Matthean style hospitality. The kind that would take an absolute nobody who washed up on the freakin’ shore and outfit a boat to take them wherever in the Aegean they needed to go kind of hospitality. A hospitality that gives cold water and receives people into their communties kind of hospitality. I’m not talking about some loosey-goosey permissiveness here, I mean honest-to-God hospitality.

I sure know that I don’t do it and I’m not sure how I’d go about starting but…damn. What if we did?


About Derek Olsen

I'm a layman within the Episcopal Church with a PhD in New Testament and an interest in most things medieval, monastic, and liturgical. My chief job is keeping up with my priestly wife and our two awesome kids. In addition to that, I earn a living, run the St Bede's Breviary, listen to loud goth/industrial music, and do some stuff for the church. I currently serve as Secretary to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music where I'm also co-chair of the Calendar committee and chair of the Digital Publications committee.
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3 Responses to Truly Random Thoughts…

  1. Lutheran Zephyr says:

    That kind of hospitality, like the Gospel, just might change the world, turn it upside down. Sounds good/scary/exciting . . .

  2. Annie says:

    Yes, I know what you mean. It is the kind of hospitality that throws open the doors of the church and welcomes all who God sends us, not questioning why or who, but welcoming them because they came, trusting God that this is where they have been tossed by the storm for us to shelter. No argument of inclusivity–it never should have been an argument in the first place.

    I’ll keep in mind the Fitzgerald translation. I haven’t read Homer since highschool.

  3. Anastasia says:

    the greeks still know how to do hospitality.

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