Heroes of Richmond: Four Centuries of Courage, Dignity, and Virtue

Heroes of Richmond CoverIt has been hailed as a gorgeous river city blessed with abundant resources. It has also been called the city of “contradictions” and “crises” (Campbell, 2012), a city with a “complicated history” replete with “struggles and wounds” (Ayers, 2012; Schwartz, 2012). Richmond, Virginia, has been a magnet for heroism and villainy, a place where the best and worst of human nature have collided over several centuries.

This volume, Heroes of Richmond: Four Centuries of Courage, Dignity, and Virtue, represents an attempt to capture the complex heroic history of a complex city. Authored by a group of outstanding students at the University of Richmond, this book provides coverage of Richmond’s heroes from the first European settlements in the early 1600s to the present day.

Heroes of Richmond is now available for purchase right here.

The book offers a review of heroism in Richmond across a wide variety of domains. The authors provide an analysis of social activists John Mitchell, Jr., and Oliver Hill; groundbreaking educators such as Maggie Walker, Virginia Randolph, and May Keller; political greats such as Patrick Henry, John Marshall, Douglas Wilder, and Mary Sue Terry; selfless heroes such as Mary Elizabeth Browser, E. Claiborne Robins, Lora Robins, and several unsung citizens; and iconic legends such as Pocahontas, William Byrd II, Edgar Allan Poe, and Arthur Ashe.

“Superb scholarship about a stunning city of heroes.” – Dr. James K. Beggan, Professor of Sociology, University of Louisville

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Table of Contents:

Heroes of Richmond: Four Centuries of Courage, Dignity, and Virtue

Edited by Scott T. Allison

Foreword
Mary Kelly Tate, University of Richmond

Introduction

Richmond, Virginia: A Cultural and Historical Nexus of Heroism
Scott T. Allison, University of Richmond

Part 1
Iconic Heroes

Chapter 1. The Founding of Richmond: William Byrd II’s Heroic Odyssey
Jonathan Anthony Ohlmann, University of Richmond

Chapter 2. Pocahontas: The Unknown, Underestimated Hero of Central Virginia
Meghan N. Dillon, University of Richmond

Chapter 3. The Tell-Tale Hero: Edgar Allan Poe
Michael David Bonifonte, University of Richmond

Chapter 4. Arthur Ashe: A Hero On and Off the Court
Carlie Q. Blessing, University of Richmond

Part 2
Activist Heroes

Chapter 5. John Mitchell Jr: The Hero of Richmond Journalism and Social Change
Josh A. Trauberman, University of Richmond

Chapter 6. Waging War on Separate vs. Equal: Oliver Hill’s Journey From Small Town to the Highest Court
Kathryn K. Lynch, University of Richmond

Part 3
Educator Heroes

Chapter 7. Maggie Lena Walker: The Hero of the Harlem of the South
Brendan J. Griswold, University of Richmond

Chapter 8. Virginia E. Randolph: A Hero of African American Schooling in Virginia
Declan J. Horrigan, University of Richmond

Chapter 9. May Lansfield Keller: The Hero Who Defied All Odds
Aliya J Sultan, University of Richmond

Part 4
Political Heroes

Chapter 10. Patrick Henry: The Revolutionary Hero
Bailey A. Gillespy, University of Richmond

Chapter 11. John Marshall: The Supreme Hero of Justice
Emmalyn G. Dressel, University of Richmond

Chapter 12. Lawrence Douglas Wilder: The Black Pioneer
Janell M. Spigner, University of Richmond

Chapter 13. Mary Sue Terry: The Hero Who Defied the Double Bind
Thomas J. Villani, University of Richmond

Part 5
Selfless Heroes

Chapter 14. Mary Elizabeth Bowser: The Game-Changing Hero
Morgan E. Caron, University of Richmond

Chapter 15. E. Claiborne and Lora Robins: The Convergence of Two Selfless Heroes
Lauren J. Weingarten, University of Richmond

Chapter 16. Unsung Heroes of Richmond: The Extraordinary Feats of Elizabeth Van Lew, Gilbert Hunt, and Sally Tompkins
Mikaela R. Rosen, University of Richmond

 

Bibliography

Campbell, B. (2012). Richmond’s unhealed history. Richmond: Brandylane Publishers.

Griggs, W. S. (2012). Hidden history of Richmond. Charleston, SC: The History Press.

Williams, D. (2015). Spending two perfect days in Richmond, Virginia. http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2015/04/08/spending-two-perfect-days-in-richmond-virginia/#7b19496066af

Heroes of Richmond Cover

Heroes of Richmond Cover

Why Our Fathers are Our Heroes

8By Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals

In our Mother’s Day blog, we noted our research finding that people listed their mothers as heroes more often than any other person.  Fathers were a close second.   Why are parents viewed as so heroic?  Developmental psychologists tell us that the relationship we have with our parents is the first significant relationship of our lives.  It is a relationship that indelibly shapes our values, our aspirations, and our future behavior.  Thus when we experience successes in our careers and in our personal lives, it is not surprising that we attribute those triumphs, at least in part, to our parents.

The origin of Father’s Day is not entirely clear, but there are several fascinating possibilities.  Babylonian scholars have discovered a message carved in clay by a young man named Elmesu roughly 4,000 years ago.  In the message, Elmesu wishes his father good health and a long life.  Some believe this ancient message represents evidence of an established tradition of honoring fathers, but there is little evidence to support a specially designated Father’s Day until modern times.

There is some debate about the origin of the Father’s Day that we celebrate today.  Some claim that a West Virginian named Grace Golden Clayton deserves the credit.  fathersIn 1907, Clayton was grieving the loss of her own father when a tragic mine explosion in Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of whom were fathers.  Clayton requested that her church establish a day to honor these lost fathers and to help the children of the affected families heal emotionally.  The date she suggested was July 8th, the anniversary of her own father’s death.

Still others believe that the first Father’s Day was held on June 19, 1910 through the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington.  Inspired by the newly recognized Mother’s Day, Dodd felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition as well.Her own father, William Smart, was a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child.  Dodd was the only daughter, and she helped her father raise her younger brothers, including her new infant brother Marshall.

Whereas Mother’s Day was met with instant enthusiasm, Father’s Day was initially met with scorn and derision.  Few people believed that fathers wanted, or needed, any acknowledgement.  It wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day an official holiday.  Today the holiday is widely celebrated in the month of June by more than 52 countries.

Why are fathers heroes?  fathersThe respondents in our survey listed two main reasons.  First, fathers are given credit for being great teachers and mentors.  They teach us how to fix a flat tire, shoot a basketball, and write a resume.  Fathers are less emotional than mothers, but they lead by example and devote time demonstrating life skills to us.  Former governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, once said, “I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.”

Second, fathers are great providers and protectors.  Our respondents told us that their fathers were heroes in their commitment to provide for their families, often at great sacrifice.  Many fathers work at two or more jobs outside the home to ensure that their families have adequate food and shelter.  Fathers also provide us with a sense of safety and protection.  Sigmund Freud once wrote, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

On this Father’s Day, we wish all fathers, and all men who serve as father figures, all the kudos they so richly deserve.  Happy Father’s Day!

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Do you have a hero that you would like us to profile?  Please send your suggestions to Scott T. Allison (sallison@richmond.edu) or to George R. Goethals (ggoethal@richmond.edu).

Leadership and Sexuality: Power, Principles, and Processes

 By James K. Beggan and Scott T. Allison

The focus of this new book is on how power, principles, and processes influence the way that sexuality exerts an influence on leadership and followership. We consider power as the ability to influence an outcome to occur, more specifically with regard to the ability to control resources and others (Stuppy & Mead, 2017). Leadership and sexuality can both be understood in terms of the expression of power (Parker, Barbosa, & Aggleton, 2000). Leaders exert influence over followers. People who can influence others often step into leadership roles. Sexual attractiveness can be a means of exerting social influence over another, i.e., acting as a leader. Achieving the status of leader is a characteristic that many people find sexually attractive. The ability leaders have to control others can occur through legitimate as well as illegitimate means. An employer’s ability to fire a worker for coming to work late is typically well within his or her authority. Quid pro quo sexual relations are outside the permissible.

Sexual opportunities can be construed as a reward for achieving a leadership role (Baumeister, 2010). For some species of animals, social dominance is the sole basis for sexual access to mates (Dixson, 2015). One way that social dominance expresses itself is through leadership. Although becoming a leader may afford sexual opportunities, it is also true that in the 21st century, rather than be seen as a benefit, sexuality can be viewed as potential liability for leaders, as people have become rs-anthony-weiner-c0765988-b506-4967-a722-55b79f5dbc60more sensitive to issues related to gender, sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual harassment.

There is no shortage of evidence demonstrating that great leaders sometimes have poor judgment when it comes to issues of sexuality (Gamson, 2001). Even a quick glance at the newspaper or history books reveals how many careers are ruined or irrevocably altered because of sex. Bill Clinton’s entire tenure as president can be reduced to a punch line about oral sex. Technically, although guilty of marital infidelity, Bill Clinton’s crime with regard to Monica Lewinsky was not the affair but charges of perjury that stemmed from lying about the affair. Of course, he only lied because he knew there would be a scandal if the affair caught the attention of social media. His perceived wrongdoing stemmed from both the fact that he was married and that Lewinsky was a low-level intern, with far less power than the President of the United States. Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Weiner lost their jobs because of a weakness for prostitutes and sexting, respectively. Retired four-star general and director of the CIA David Petraeus resigned after news of a long time-affair with his biographer became public. Beloved entertainer, civil rights activist, and television surrogate father Bill Cosby had his entire life and career upended after allegations of years of sexual misconduct. Donald Trump’s presidential race was marred but ultimately not derailed by comments he had made years before the election about how he felt being a celebrity entitled him to make inappropriate sexual advances toward women.

The problems that are created as a result of sex are more systemic than the bad judgment of a few well-positioned leaders. The US military has repeatedly failed to adequately address issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault in their ranks. The Catholic Church turned a blind eye toward years of sexual abuse by priests. Fox News became notorious sangernewbecause of a climate of sexual harassment that existed, manifested by the behavior of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and talk show host Bill O’Reilly.

In looking at the details of these kinds of cases, we repeatedly ask ourselves two questions: Why do unarguably intelligent and successful leaders put themselves into these kinds of situations? And why are we, as members of the constituency, continually surprised by these revelations? Shouldn’t we expect it by now?

Although the question of why rich and powerful men (we are not being sexist here; it is more often men than women) risk their careers by engaging in illicit sexual activity is an interesting one, we suggest that the connection between leadership and sexuality is much more important, complex, and broad than the phenomenon of a sex scandal. Sexual leadership can be viewed as operating at both macro- and micro-levels. Issues related to sexual leadership come into play when a nation decides in favor or against an abstinence-only policy with regard to sexual education, the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage, or a husband and wife decide whether to try a new sexual position. Sexual leadership also comes into play in grey and black markets. What leadership dynamics are involved in recruiting, motivating, and managing women who work as strippers, or as prostitutes? The purpose of this edited volume is to explore the largely ignored relationship between sexuality and leadership.

Leadership and Sexuality is published by Elgar and will be available in February of 2018.

Table of Contents

Introduction — Sexuality in Leadership: A Long-Neglected Topic with Vast Implications for Individuals and Society

James K. Beggan and Scott T. Allison

SECTION 1: Sexual Leaders

Chapter 1 — Playboy, Icon, Leader: Hugh Hefner and Postwar American Sexual Culture

Carrie Pitzulo

Chapter 2 — Planned Parenthood: 100 Years of Leadership and Controversy

Sheila Huss, Lucy Dwight, and Angela Gover

Chapter 3

Leadership and the Free the Nipple Movement: An Autoethnographic Case Study

James K. Beggan

SECTION 2: Leadership and Sexuality

Chapter 4

A Failure of Courageous Leadership: Sex, Embarrassment, and (Not) Speaking Up in the Penn State Sexual Abuse Scandal

Jeremy Fyke, Bree Trisler, and Kristen Lucas

Chapter 5

Because They Can:  Adult to Student Sexual Abuse in PreK-12 Schools

Charol Shakeshaft

Chapter 6

Heterosexism in Organizations: The Importance of Transformational and Heroic Leadership

Shaun Pichler

Chapter 7

Leadership in Strip Clubs

Maggie B. Stone

Chapter 8

Training Religious Leaders in Sexually-Related Issues

William R. Stayton

SECTION 3: The Sexuality of Leaders

 Chapter 9

 “Stupid is as Stupid Does” or Good Bayesian? A Sympathetic and Contrarian Analysis  of Bill Clinton’s Decision to Have an Affair with Monica Lewinsky

 James K. Beggan

 Chapter 10

 Leading and Following? Understanding the Power Dynamics in Consensual BDSM

Emma Turley

Chapter 11

Does the “Zipless Dance” Exist? Leadership, Followership, and Sexuality in Social Dancing

James K. Beggan and Scott T. Allison

Chapter 12

Heroic Leadership in The Walking Dead’s Post-Apocalyptic Universe: The Restoration and Regeneration of Society as a Hero Organism

Scott T. Allison and Olivia Efthimiou

References

Allison, S. T., Goethals, G. R., & Kramer, R. M. (Eds.) (2017). Handbook of heroism and heroic leadership. New York: Routledge.

Allison, S. T., & Goethals, G. R. (2016). Hero worship: The elevation of the human spirit. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 46, 187-210.

Allison, S. T. (2015). The initiation of heroism science. Heroism Science, 1, 1-8.

Allison, S. T., & Goethals, G. R. (2014). “Now he belongs to the ages”: The heroic leadership dynamic and deep narratives of greatness. In Goethals, G. R., et al. (Eds.), Conceptions of leadership: Enduring ideas and emerging insights. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9781137472038.0011

Beggan, J. K., & Harbison, J. M. (2007). Sex. In M. Flood, J. K. Gardiner, B. Pease, & K. Pringle (Eds.). Routledge international encyclopedia of men and masculinities. Oxford: Routledge.

Beggan, J. K., Vencill, J. A., & Garos, S. (2013). The good-in-bed effect: College students’ tendency to see themselves as better than others as a sex partner. Journal of Psychology, 147, 415-134.

Goethals, G. R., Allison, S. T., Kramer, R., & Messick, D. (Eds.) (2014). Conceptions of leadership: Enduring ideas and emerging insights. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9781137472038

Allison, S. T., & Goethals, G. R. (2011). Heroes: What they do and why we need them. New York: Oxford University Press.

To Be a Hero, or Not To Be? On the Pursuit of the Heroic Life

Heroes blog OE 3By Olivia Efthimiou

Much attention is now being paid to the heights humans can achieve and the best of human nature. This is indeed a welcome and much-needed change, and heroism is in many ways leading the fold in this new wave of thinking. The hero is overwhelmingly seen as a symbol of triumph, overcoming the odds against him or her for some victorious end result. They defeat evil and order is restored in the world.

But reality is not as clear-cut. The burden and scars the hero can be left with as a result of what they have learnt and the trials they have undergone may leave them dispirited, calling for even greater amounts of courage to deal with the outcome of the journey. At other times there is no clear triumph as the journey might mean having to live with lifelong pain, as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder, injuries or brain damage.

Psychologists Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo (2006, p. 31) speak of the “subtleties” of heroism that have been lost. The common conception of heroism, which is more of an exaggerated, overemphasised ideal, is juxtaposed against ‘ordinary’ reality. An ordinary wo/man who as a result of a single noble act or acts of bravery (usually in sequence) rises to the status of hero or superhuman, sealed into this realm therein. As Franco and Zimbardo (2006) suggest we are all, under the right conditions, capable of both evil (as demonstrated in the Stanford Prison experiment) and heroism. Arguably it is most accurate to describe the life of a human as a combination of both, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Daily acts of reaching outside our comfort zone can be regarded as heroic – we are creatures of habit and comfort. But we are also curious creatures, with an innate thirst for imagining the impossible. An act of doing something that feels uncomfortable, however small, taps into this inborn adventurous spirit, bringing us closer to our innate heroic nature. It is these small subtleties that are indeed becoming lost in all the celebratory fan fare of ‘superheroes’ and celebrity culture. True heroism is likely Heroes blog OE 1to be a quiet, subtle thing, like a whisper in the dark that you can barely sense. But it is there. So let us begin to celebrate the small, the subtle, the unseen. For it is there that our true treasure lies.

Introducing the concept of the “banality of heroism” proposed by Franco and Zimbardo (2006) almost a decade ago, by no means denigrates the centrality of heroism in day to day life. If anything it escalates it, paving the way for a system where everyone is a hero. Acknowledging the value of heroism means acknowledging the value of journey and story, both our own and of others. We must begin to respect story as science, as episteme (from its Ancient Greek derivation), or as deep knowing – and knowledge as a journey itself – and dispel one-dimensional views of individuals, groups and the cosmos, recognising them for the rich tapestries that they are.

I believe that this type of science can provide answers to the enduring presence of heroism, which is arguably one of the few constants of not only the history of humans, but the universe itself. I believe we will also constantly fail to fully comprehend heroism’s function if we continue to look at it as a ‘higher’ ‘superior’ state of humanity (and indeed by not looking outside humanity), but rather as something innate and firmly embedded within life and physiology itself. I believe that rather than thinking of heroism as something ‘out there’, a magical quality associated with a ‘mythical’ past that left us, it has always been there. We just need to open our eyes to it in new ways. In describing this work as merely an initial attempt, Franco and Zimbardo (2006, p. 33) themselves emphasise that “at best, it allows us to propose a few speculations that warrant further investigation”.

Behind every crisis, there is a hero. Behind every life that shatters, there is the opportunity to put it back together. Heroism is a gift bestowed to all of us, which, if left unrealised, becomes a curse and the root of our Pandora’s box. Sometimes the cost is simply too high – so why be heroic? Because as the fictional character of Peter Parker says in the end of Spider-Man 3, “Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have a choice. … It’s the choices that make us who we are, and we could always choose to do what’s right.” And most of the time it is not about good or bad choices, but choices that were simply not good enough. Those are the ones that make the most impact in a world where heroism is banal.

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Note: This is a short version of the essay “The problem of heroism” appearing in the online commentary forum Heroism Today.

References

Franco, Z. E., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2006). The banality of heroism. Greater Good, 3, 30-35.

Olivia Efthimiou is a transdisciplinary researcher at Murdoch University, Perth and Associate Researcher at the Australian National Academy of Screen and Sound Research Centre. She is the website creator and administrator of Heroism Science – Promoting the Transdisciplinary Study of Heroism in the 21st Century and lead Editor of International Advances in Heroism Science.

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Are Men More Likely Than Women to Become Heroes and Villains?

By Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals

The world recently observed the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster in which 1,514 people died after the ship struck an iceberg.  Much has been said about the “women and children first” rule that determined who would be the lucky ones to board the limited number of lifeboats.  Editorial cartoons of the day honored the heroic men who sacrificed their lives to allow others to live.  While gender roles have certainly changed since 1912, studies show that there is still considerable pressure on males to protect women from danger and to place their own well-being behind that of women.

Psychologist Roy Baumeister at Florida State University thinks he knows why men seem so self-sacrificing.  In nearly all human societies “men are expendable,” he proclaims.  And with expendability comes the kind of heroism shown by the men of the Titanic who drowned so that others would live.

Understanding Baumeister’s argument requires an examination of his larger thesis, namely, that evolution has endowed men and women with different motivations and priorities.  In his recent book, Is There Anything Good About Men, Baumeister first examines our patriarchal society — the inescapable fact that men have long dominated the political and economic spheres of our culture.  Men are more likely than women to be presidents, prime ministers, and members of Congress and Parliament.  Men are also more likely to be CEOs of major corporations and wielders of power on Wall Street.  We also see more men discovering cures for diseases, exploring space, and creating great works of art.

Feminists have argued that this gender gap in power, success, and wealth is due to men’s deliberate attempt to oppress women.  Baumeister does not disagree with this assertion.  He does, however, challenge us to understand culture (e.g., a country, a religion) as an abstract system that competes against rival systems and that uses both men and women, often in different ways, to advance its cause.

Baumeister’s first observation is that while there are no doubt more men than women at the top of society, there are also more men at the bottom.  Men are far more likely than women to commit crimes and to serve time in prison.  Men are also more likely to suffer from severe mental disabilities; they are more likely to die in wars; they are more likely to be homeless; and they are more likely to have the worst and most dangerous jobs in society.

In short, Baumeister argues that men go to extremes more than women.  “In an important sense,” he writes, “men really are better AND worse than women.”

Why is this the case?  Baumeister points to biology and evolution.  Recent research using DNA analysis reveals that today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men.  Throughout all of human history, it is estimated that perhaps about 80% of women but only 40% of men have been able to reproduce.  “It would be shocking,” writes Baumeister, “if these vastly different reproductive odds for men and women failed to produce some personality differences.”

Because men have faced a more daunting challenge in reproducing, they may have evolved to be more risk-taking than women.  Nature may have designed men to take chances, try new things, be creative, and explore bold possibilities.  Becoming a hero who succeeded in these risky endeavors may have given men a better chance to attract a woman with whom to reproduce.

Baumeister believes that because women are able only to bear a few children in their lifetime, their priority is to “play it safe” and invest time in developing close intimate relationships.  Women have done best by minimizing risks.

The key to understanding why women have evolved to avoid physical risk lies in understanding what drives population growth.  Baumeister argues that population growth depends much more upon there being plenty of women than upon there being plenty of men.  “To maximize reproduction,” says Baumeister, “a culture needs all the wombs it can get, but only a few penises can do the job.”  If a society loses half its men, the next generation can still be full-sized.  But if it loses half its women, the size of the next generation will be significantly smaller.  As a result, most cultures keep their women out of harm’s way while using men to do the risky work.

In short, men were designed by nature to take chances, risk their lives, and strive — mostly unsuccessfully — for greatness.

According to Baumeister, the emergence of gender inequality may have little to do with men pushing women down in a patriarchal conspiracy.  Rather, it came from naturally evolving forces that drove expendable men to seek out wealth, knowledge, and power at great risk to themselves and with the goal of improving their reproductive chances.

This brings us back to the Titanic and the men who heroically died so that women and children would live.  While nature may have designed men for this type of bold heroic sacrifice, this same brazenness sends many men spiraling downward toward a life of crime and other villainous activities.  Men are thus hard-wired for both greatness and wretchedness.  It’s a provocative idea, and it’s not without its detractors.  But it is also an idea well-worth thinking about.

References

Allison, S. T., & Goethals, G. R. (2011). Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them.  New York: Oxford University Press.

Baumeister, R. (2010). Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Resurrection of Christ is the Hero’s Transformation

Resurrection1By Scott T. Allison

Every Easter season, about three billion Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In an earlier blog post, we discussed the heroism of Jesus and the significance of his life, death, and resurrection. For Christians, resurrection signifies the immense power of God, and it validates who Jesus claimed to be, namely, the son of God.

But there is more.

According to many scholars, including Joseph Campbell and Richard Rohr, the rise, suffering and resurrection of Jesus are all significant because they model the human journey of growth, setback, and heroic transformation. I use the word “model” deliberately. We’re all destined to rise, fall, and become resurrected. Jesus showed us that our lives are all about — or should be about — transformation.

The life of Jesus is a blueprint for all human life. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the significance of Jesus’ life and death.

For now, let’s focus on transformation, which I believe is the centerpiece of the hero’s journey. All good heroes in storytelling undergo a transformation that forever changes them morally, emotionally, mentally, physically, and/or spiritually. My friend and colleague Greg Smith and I talk about the significance of these types of transformations in our 2015 book, Reel Heroes & Villains.

There is no more dramatic transformation than campbell_herothe one undergone by Jesus of Nazareth. His life followed the classic pattern in hero storytelling. Denied proper shelter and born in a manger, Jesus overcame poverty to grow into the wisest spiritual leader of his time – a remarkable transformation. This transformative rise of the hero represents the first part of the heroic arc.

As with all heroes, his ascendancy had to come to an end. Jesus was arrested for threatening the established order, and he was tortured and brutally murdered. This tragic fall of the hero is part two of the classic heroic arc.

The third act in the heroic journey is the hero’s rising from the ashes of defeat. As Joseph Campbell wrote, “The crucifixion is not a calamity if it leads to new life.” The resurrection was a dramatic physical and spiritual transformation that not only represented the transcendence of Jesus – it transformed all of Western civilization for two millennia and beyond.

More from Campbell: “Through Christ’s crucifixion we were unshelled, which enabled us to Falling-Upwardbe born to resurrection. The imitation of Christ, then, is participating in the suffering and joys of the world, all the while seeing through them the radiance of the divine presence.”

And from Richard Rohr: “Jesus is actually naming and revealing what is happening everywhere and all the time in God. Jesus’ resurrection is a statement about how reality works: always moving toward resurrection.”

Resurrection, then, is transcendence. For Christians, it can also be likened to other phenomena of spiritual change, including conversion and salvation. Hindus call dramatic growth of this type enlightenment, and Buddhists call it bodhicitta. Twelve step programs call it an awakening. The Greeks called it metamorphosis. Psychologists like myself label it plain old development.

But development is clearly an understatement. Transformation is a complete change in form, not unlike a caterpillar transforming intometamorphosis a butterfly. The resurrection of Jesus is the most dramatic form of transformation possible, at personal level and at the level of an entire society or culture.

The pattern in Jesus’ life, and in our own lives, is clear. We move from order to disorder to reorder. And psychologists who study post-traumatic growth will tell you that the final reorder is a more beautiful place to be than the original order.

Transformation gives us hope that no matter how dire our circumstances, we can be redeemed. Hero stories move us all because they call us all. This Easter season, we can pay attention to the story of resurrection and thereby learn much about the hero’s journey that awaits each of us.

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Bibliography

Allison, Scott, and Goethals, George. (2017). The hero’s transformation.

Allison, Scott, and Smith, Greg. (2015). Reel Heroes & Villains.

Campbell, Joseph. (1995). Reflections on the Art of Living.

Rohr, Richard. (2011). Falling Upward.