Making Room: Recovering Hospitality As A Christian Tradition

by Christine D. Pohl. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999.

Henri Nouwen once lamented that in our age, the word “hospitality” suggests “tea parties, bland conversation, and a general atmosphere of coziness.” Challenging such banal images, 'Making Room' presents hospitality’s rich history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The book points to Old Testament stories of Abraham welcoming angels, Jesus’s commandment to love those unable to reciprocate, the early church’s emphasis on sheltering and sharing meals with the poor, and the ways that “hospitality” was later associated with private entertainment and the hotel industry. Moving beyond the idea that “hospitality” is only an action or product, Christine Pohl suggests that it may be a transformative spiritual practice. She states, “hospitality is not so much a task as a way of living our lives and of sharing ourselves.” We are particularly encouraged to share ourselves with those not like ourselves—without requiring that they become like us to receive our attention and care. Congregations seeking to explore the foundations and settings for hospitality will learn much from this book. An accompanying guide for individual or group study is also available.