Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saints and Heroes

Facing the bleak prospect in the previous post, I turn to people from the past who have managed somehow to make good out of even worse prospects. I keep long lists of saints and heroes that I augment from time to time. I keep separate lists of general heroes, saints, gay-lesbian heroes, and artist heroes.

These are all people with deep personal flaws (like all the rest of us), and some of them I don't entirely agree with (I keep Vaclav Havel on the list despite his support for the invasion of Iraq); but, they are all people who stood up for what is right and true, opened up new paths for the rest of us, and did the Lord's work, sometimes unwittingly. Many of them paid with their lives.

Here are a few samples:

All around heroes:

Abraham Lincoln

Chief Joseph

Hannah Arendt

Josephine Baker

Sam Houston

Yitzhak Rabin

Emma Goldman

Mark Twain

Albert Camus

WH Auden

Walter Reuther (on the left with Richard Frankensteen after an encounter with Ford company goons)

Mordechai Anielewicz

Frederick Douglas

Eleanor Roosevelt (at the UN)

Martin Buber

And now for a sample of saints (people I consider saintly; maybe the Roman hierarchy and the Calendar of Saints and I agree, and maybe not):

St. Francis of Assisi

Martin Luther King Jr.

Fr. Mychal Judge

Dean Jonathan Swift

Fr. Bartholome de las Casas

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Mahalia Jackson

Julian of Norwich

And here is a sample from the list of Gay and Lesbian heroes:

Harvey Milk

Fanny Ann Eddy

Craig Rodwell

Magnus Hirschfeld

Marty Robinson (on the right gripping Nelson Rockefeller's hand).

Dell Martin and Phyllis Lyon

Marsha P. Johnson

And now for a sample of artist heroes:

Filippo Bruneleschi

Francisco de Goya

William Blake

Max Beckmann

Masaccio (looking at us on the left; Brunelleschi is on the right wearing a hat)

David Wojnarowicz

Nicholas Poussin

Rembrandt Van Rijn

Shen Zhou

Phillip Guston

Thomas Eakins

This is just a sample of the lists I keep. I keep images of them, for as many as I can find images. I like to look at them from time to time.

I notice that I keep adding to these samples out of my abundant lists. What a glorious surplus to have!

Who is on your list?


June Butler said...

Hi Counterlight. Wonderful post. I don't have time to elaborate, but we will visit FDR and Eleanor's houses today.

I'll see you Sunday.

Leonard said...

Oh my list is long...I keep it in my heart and head...I even remember chance encounters in my lifetime/today and even a Scandinavian lady who lived next door when I was a tiny child...she was kind, a impressive standard for hospitality (and her cookies were excellent)...I reflect on all those everyday heros, family heros (like my ever wise/loving Mother and friendly Father and Pioneer Great Grandparents and Yorkshire Grandma) as well as some well-known champions including Alex Hart who was the last President and owner of Hart´s Department Stores in San Jose/Sunnyvale and Mt. View California and younger brother of Brooke Hart who was kidnapped (kidnappers lynched in St. James Park, 1933)...Artists, living and dead, my heart, my sensitivities and sometimes my soul is touched by Vincent Van Gogh and Raffaello Sanzio, Miguel Ángel y Leonardo da Vinci and especially Georges Pierre Seurat (variety of reasons)...and then there was Jose Luis A.R., my dear friend and loved one who was a generous friend to all and was murdered almost eleven years ago just short of his 35th birthday...certainly ++Desmond Tutu, Father Geoff Farrow and Fr.Jake/Terry are right up there among my most admired along with Bishops Pike and Spong and the Dalái Lama....heros, for me come at all levels of society and even share my everyday life.

Counterlight said...

You're a lucky man, Leonardo.

The greatest heroes are the ones we know personally.

Counterlight said...


I'll see you Sunday.

JayV said...

Several people on your list(s) I count has my own saints and heroes; some of yours I've never heard of, but will read more about them.

Mine are a mix of people whose lives have touched mine, known or unknown:

My surrogate Grandma, Rose, who was a schoolteacher and homesteader in Wyoming in the 1900s.

Environmentalists Wangari Maathai, Rachel Carlson, Henry Thoreau, David Brower, Irene van Lippe-Biesterfeld (sister of the current Dutch queen)

Roberta Worrick and Doris Emerson Conard, my high school English teachers

Poets Denise Levertov and Emily Dickinson

Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Sissy Farenthold, Molly Ivins - "Deep in the Heart of Texas"

Writers Jane Austen, Truman Capote, and Eudora Welty

Actors Noel Coward, Vanessa Redgrave, Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith

My "Tante Pieta," my Dutch aunt.

Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum and Miep Gies

Princess Juliana, former queen of The Netherlands

Dominique de Menil & Audrey Jones Beck, who brought the best art to Houston

James said...

Your choice of heroes and saints makes me admire you more than I already do. Thank you for sharing this!

Now my question, Is the Marty Robinson you list the singer?? You're going have to educate me on that choice, please.

Counterlight said...

No, it's not Marty Robinson the singer. It's Marty Robinson the union carpenter who was a founding member of the Gay Activists Alliance in 1970.

MadPriest said...

You could have mentioned Saint Francis, twice.

And who are your other country and western heroes? I think Dolly should be on the list. She must be a saint just for the heavy load she has to carry.

Counterlight said...

My country western saint is George Jones. "Whooooeeeee! White Lightnin'!"

MadPriest said...

"White Lightnin'!?"

I thought you might go for "Golden Ring."
I don't know why.