- Let brotherly love continue.
- Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
(From the 13th Chapter of Hebrews, English Standard Version)
In Lazarus, which is my first novel, I discuss in detail the pledge process of the Sigma Chapter of Beta Chi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Reactions to the fact that it is so detailed have been mixed. Some people (who are Greek) feel that it is too detailed and I have somehow defiled the sanctity of “The Process.” Others (who are not Greek) are simply uninterested in the minutia of a pledge process and wish I would focus on the characters more. Then there is the majority, who get so engrossed in the details of the process that it is entirely fulfilling to them.
Certain mysteries of Greekdom remain by the end of Lazarus though, not the least of which are what sort of ritual secrets the pledges learn when they cross.
In Covenant, we learn one of those secrets: the motto. Taken from the first verse of Hebrews 13, the secret motto is “Let brotherly love continue.” It is spoken as part of the opening ceremonies of the chapter meeting. It is also the backbone of the philosophy of the entire organization, which is fleshed out further in Epiphany.
To the Betas, letting brotherly love continue is their prime directive. No matter what, the brotherhood must go on. It is this directive that Craig follows which turns him from virulent homophobe to merely an aggressive prophyte helping Adrian prove his mettle. We know that in reality, Craig is still a homophobe, but his belief in the motto of the fraternity allows him to at least silence his rage and begin the process of accepting Adrian as he is, where he is.
The motto is exemplified more organically by the majority of Adrian’s line brothers, who in their own way and apart from Adrian, learn to accept his sexuality in spite of what popular opinion may be. Further, on either side of the spectrum, there are members of the line who do far less than accept Adrian and those who do far more – those who never doubted their brotherly love for Adrian for a second.
What is addressed in Epiphany is the second verse of the chapter. Regarding hospitality, it admonishes the reader (and in this case, Betas) to show hospitality even to strangers, lest their own divinity be ignored. A literal reading could take this passage to mean that actual angels could be ascertaining your worth by a test of your hospitality. A more liberal reading, perhaps that of a Quaker, might suggest that if God is in all of us, then we are disrespecting God by being inhospitable to strangers.
In Epiphany, as an Amazon reviewer states, Adrian finds an element of his own strength through his interactions with other Beta chapters. It could be argued that these brothers, who for all intents and purposes, are able to recognize the God within each other without having to know each other directly. They gain camaraderie as well as strength; social ties as well as benefits from these relationships. They are trained to be hospitable to one another, which further facilitates letting brotherly love continue.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve performed an exegesis – hope my Theology professors are proud!
While Beta Chi Phi is obviously a fictitious fraternity, I wanted to inject what I felt were the important parts of Greekdom into the mythology of this organization. Brotherly love (and sisterly devotion) should always transcend the bad times, if possible, of course. I don’t mean merely glossing over the bad times or not addressing drama as it occurs – I mean that the type of people who join an organization should be the ones who have the capacity to transcend. Even though, as I said above, Craig might not actually be cured of his homophobia, at least he understands that there is decorum which he must adhere to now that Adrian is his brother. I was not always afforded those same courtesies when my brotherhood learned that I was openly gay. I was indeed accosted and literally surrounded by members of another chapter for that very reason. And there was the hate mail I received through my previous website – a reason that I will not allow comments on my diary to this day.
But I’m not a victim, so don’t worry about all that. There will always be those people for whom brotherly love cannot transcend their own prejudices. I blame the prophytes. And in the absence of prophytes, I blame the parents.
Regarding hospitality, I am troubled by those Greeks who do not perform their due diligence at accommodating fellow members of organizations. Yes, yes, I am that same guy who frequently tells people “I joined Alpha Phi Alpha, not the NPHC.” But I mean it for different reasons.
When I say we should accommodate our fellow Greeks, I mean that if there is a Sigma that I can consider for an internship, I will consider him. I like interns. They don’t have to all be Alphas.
If I see a Greek on the street – any Greek – I am going to acknowledge them, even if they are outside of my council, or even a member of a so-called “white” fraternity or sorority.
If a friend has invited me to a crossing party for their special, I am going to attend if I can or send a greeting or a card if I can’t.
Just be hospitable. Be nice. Do for others. It’s not hard.
I went to a city for a work conference and met with as many friends and acquaintances as I could. One was a member of another fraternity. We had other things in common, but I tried my hardest to meet up with this dude and make sure he understood the opportunities for service and professional advancement that I was in town for. Never met up with him. Just didn’t happen. Didn’t ever hear a good explanation, really.
And on the other hand, I met up with another person – an AKA – and even though a partnership never happened between our two jobs, the effort was made to meet up, to be hospitable, to “build” as the hip-hop community might say. This is what being Greek is all about. Taking a large network and using it to your benefit – not just because that’s what it’s there for, but because it also ought to be fun.
Obviously, “building” isn’t just for Greeks. The same theory of being hospitable to “strangers” can and should be utilized across all of your large networks. If you are a Georgetown alum, you already have commonalities with Duke and Syracuse alums. Bitter rivalries are for basketball. Put down the sword and get to work. Same for Howard and Hampton. We can do big things here.
Whether you believe in angels or not, you must certainly believe in good karma or paying it forward. As Hebrews admonishes us to do, make these sacrifices. Whether you believe they are sacrifices to God or to some personal gain, it can’t hurt to just be hospitable. I think indifference is a good gateway to spite and I’m definitely trying to have less of that in 2012.