Christian hospitality is more than a well-set table, pleasant conversation, or even inviting people into your home. Christian hospitality, according to Elizabeth Newman, is an extension of how we interact with God. It trains us to be capable of welcoming strangers who will challenge us and enhance our lives in unexpected ways, readying us to embrace the ultimate stranger: God.
In Untamed Hospitality, Newman dispels the modern myths of hospitality as a superficial commodity that can be bought and sold at The Pottery Barn and restores it to its proper place within God's story, as displayed most fully in Jesus Christ. Worship, she says, is the believer's participation in divine hospitality, a hospitality that cannot be sequestered from our economic, political, or public lives. This in-depth study of true hospitality will be of interest to professors, students, and scholars looking for a fresh take on a timeless subject.
Elizabeth Newman (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theology and ethics at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. She is the coeditor for Studies in Baptist History and Thought and has published numerous articles in theology and ethics, including essays on theology and science, Christian identity and higher education, the priesthood of all believers, baptism, and the Lord's Supper.
What passes for hospitality in contemporary life-being "nice," reaching out to consumers, and practicing multiculturalism for its sake-is a distortion of real hospitality, according to Newman, a professor of theology and ethics at Baptist Theological Seminary. In our political, economic and ethical common life, as well as within our Christian congregations, we have domesticated hospitality. True hospitality is learned in worship, which, at its best, teaches people to receive from God, as well as to give everything back. Rather than motivating us to be hospitable, Newman explains, worship transforms us so that no other choice is possible. Newman explores how corporate worship (singing, praying and so on) can help people overcome the individualism of contemporary culture, which works against Christian understandings, and begin to see their lives as gifts from God. Particularly in the Eucharist, people learn to be both guest and host, and "become people capable of recognizing and receiving Christ," able to see God in others, no matter how strange or challenging they appear. This scholarly study of how North American culture understands, and has marginalized, true hospitality will be of interest primarily to academics, clergy and students. Copyright 2006 Publishers Weekly.