Video Game Hospitality
In The Odyssey, one of the most important virtues that every good Greek nobleman has to exercise is proper hospitality. Zeus, the ruler of the gods, is the god of guests and hospitality, and the different places Odysseus and his men visit are evaluated based on how their hosts treat them. For example, the Phaeacians were properly hospitable and gave Odysseus gifts and feasted with him. Conversely, the cyclops Polyphemus was a bad host because he attacked and ate them and gave no guest gift or food. Based on these examples, proper hospitality according to Homer consists of three parts. First, the host must provide a feast before asking their guest their business. They must next give a unique and expensive gift for the guest to take with them and spread the host’s fame. Finally, they must do their best to equip their guest to go on their way or further their mission, whatever that happens to be.
I decided to practice hospitality by hosting a Mario Cart tournament in my room with my friends. I invited them into my home (dorm room), provided them with a feast (pizza), gave them entertainment (video games), and then sent them on their way with a prize or gift (for the winner). In this way, I was a proper host using contemporary methods.
I learned that hospitality in a Homeric sense is counterintuitively self-serving. While hosts are blessing their guests with a place to stay and be fed and entertained, they truly have two selfish ulterior motives. First, they fear that Zeus will curse them as the god of traveler’s and guests. Second, it is understood that when one stays with a good host, one will spread word of their great honor, fame and wealth. In addition, if that host ever comes to their previous guest’s home, they will be treated with equal honor and reverence.
Memory as Devotion
In Dante’s Divine Comedy the virtue of memory is practiced through the three different levels of existence. In the inferno the souls are cursed with the memories of their past deeds that hold them down. The souls in purgatory are motivated by their past sins so they can work towards being worthy again and to leave them behind. And those in heaven see that memory creates understanding towards God and gratefulness for the sphere of heaven they are allowed to exist within. Because the purpose of Dante’s story is to help believers set their priorities straight on God and to be working towards the spheres of heaven, a necessary virtue to be encouraged is practicing memory to benefit divine devotion.
I put this virtue into practice by choosing to memorize seven verses in Psalms by the end of a week and have friends quiz me at the end. I took the time to have one verse memorized each day and to repeat them each time I started a new verse. The idea was to have a mental focus on something spiritual that activated memory in a positive way that brought me closer to God. At the end of the week I managed to successfully remember six of the verses, the last verse hadn’t quite stuck, and I had to try a few times before getting it right, but I feel accomplished and hope these verses will stick with me.
I feel like Dante is trying to express how the importance of memory changes with how it is being treated in the afterlife. If you hold too tightly to negative memories and past sins they become a curse, and being able to move past them and let them motivate you is important, but refocusing your memory onto more positive and spiritual thoughts is the best way to become closer with God. Sometimes the hardest thoughts to remember are the positives because we are so crowded with the negative ones; it’s a good reminder that by memorizing passages from the Bible, we can use our memories to direct our devotion toward God.
In Dante’s image of purgatory, one of the terraces is the terrace of the slothful. In the book, and in the traditional Christian faith, sloth is the act of being lazy. The crime of this laziness is that it might cause one to miss out on the plan God has in store for their lives. An aspect of this laziness that Dante includes is that it can be affected, or spurred on, by different kinds of art. The example Dante uses is souls that are too distracted by singing to climb the mountain that God has put in front of them.
I have seen this version of laziness in my own life, especially in the last six months. It has been very easy for me to get distracted by art when I am entrenched in a repetitive schedule of school and leisure. Movies, books, and music can become a large distraction at times, especially when at school. The couch can become very comfortable when in the stresses of papers and midterms. To combat this feeling of sloth, I took up running. I decided to run because this is the image Dante picks to illustrate those who are fighting laziness.
Despite many doubts I had at first, running has helped me in many ways. Of course, I have been experiencing many health benefits from the exercise, But the activity has helped set the mood for my days. When add running to my day and my week, the movement has seemed to carry over into other parts of my life. Productivity in work and school has increased and being intentional with my friendships has helped strengthen relationships. My relationship with God has also benefited. In a way, running has become like a spiritual practice for me. Keeping my body moving has taught me very much about fighting sloth. I hope to continue this practice so that I may never miss out on how God is speaking to me.