by their very existence the heroic athletes of [loving] incalculably influenced humanity in the same decisive way in which any great hero in any field influences the ordinary folk by striking their imagination, and.... by becoming a fascinating myth of heroic — religious and moral — achievement. Their shining example grows into an irresistible and enchanting image calling forth mimesis and catharsis of the masses. Heroic images of Plato in philosophy, of Newton in science, of Phidias and Michelangelo in architecture and sculpture; of Alexander the Great in military art; of Homer and Shakespeare in literature; of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven in music; of a great athlete in sport: each of these images has become an unforgettable myth for imitation by their followers. In a similar way the athletes of God have been one of the important forces in the moralization of humanity. They have discharged this role by their very existence and by becoming heroic symbols of creative love and spirituality.
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