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The cover of a Spiderman comic bookHallo again to all.

In the last 20 years or so, many movie blockbusters have been based on comic-book heroes. Spider-man 2 is the most recent example; Superman and its various sequels were earlier financial, if not artistic, triumphs. In Spider-man 2 (to which we were dragged but from which we emerged smiling), the movie makes the point that every society needs heroes: people able to carry on and to achieve, to do battle with plain old brass-bound badness, to keep bringing the light into the dark, when the ordinary run of humans have given up, in petulance or despair.

Comic book heroes. Fairy-tale heroines. Shining and intrepid knights. Brave and clever princesses. Who are their present-day counterparts?

Heroes of the Catholic Revival: Charlotte Yonge (cover)When we were at university, it was very modish to focus on the 'antihero'. We recall an endless series of rather dreary assigned books whose protagonists seemed to us more irritating than inspiring. We rather think that the age of antiheroes has passed, but we're not certain of the return of the hero. There are the saints, such as the great and good Mother Theresa, but are saints and heroes necessarily the same? They may be at times synonymous, but not in every case.

On our desk is a little book on the life of Charlotte Yonge. Published in 1932, it's one of a series called Heroes of the Catholic Revival, devoted to the lives and work of the men and women in and around the Oxford Movement. Some of the names are well known: John Keble, Edward Pusey. Others are, to us, utterly unknown: Griffith Arthur Jones, Mary Scharlieb. (Memo to self: Do a Google search on these two.) Is there a man or a woman who serves as an 'Anglican hero' in your life? Someone who inspires you, kick-starts your energy, shakes you from the slough of despond, because of what they are, what they've done, or what they're doing?

We'd like to hear about your 'Heroes of the Anglican Communion'. We'll limit our enquiry to men and women, living or dead, from about the time of Elizabeth I to yesterday; more or less the 'modern' Anglican world. (You may be inspired by the most worthy St Etheldreda, but we'll dip back into the deep Anglican past another time.)

Whether Archbishop Desmond Tutu or the parishioner down your street; whether a mid-Victorian gaitered and mutton-chopped archdeacon or the first female bishop, do let us know a bit about the men and women who inspire you -- and why they do.

In the midst of all our present-day roils and bickering, we need heroes more than ever. Tell us about yours. We know they're out there.

See you next week.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 1 August 2004

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