Hermits, Addicts, and Heroes

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Abstract

Thomas à Kempis provides a foil for rethinking the roles of religion and spirituality in society. Thomas told his monks to avoid a sinful world by being hermetically sealed from it. He seemed to say that the world is so tempting that it can turn them (and us) into veritable addicts who eschew religion and spirituality. Beside renouncing the world like a hermit, or grabbing it greedily like an addict, a third path is the hero’s, including everyday heroes. Across cultures and walks of life, many heroes have similar journeys. They experience a calling. They receive or discover an insight. Then they share the insight and serve others. Their flourishing lives embrace and yet transcend the imperfections of society. And even though we are ordinary people, the hero’s example can help kindle our own flourishing lives.