The term ‘Heretic’ conjures images of people being burned at the stake, boiled in hot oil, tarred, feathered and generally made fun of for expressing ideas considered radical at the time.

I think back to perhaps the most enlightening book I read, The Glass Bead Game, the final novel of author Herman Hesse, who soon after won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The protagonist, Joseph Knecht (which translates to ‘servant’ in English) becomes the equivalent of a rock star within the system – eventually reaching the title of Magister Ludi, or Master of the Game. But with this mastery comes understanding, and a realization of a truth completely at odds with the world he rose from within to its highest possible status.

This month’s topic is on heretics in the broadest sense – those who clearly understood and articulated core truths well before the rest of the world was ready to digest them. Many suffered greatly, only to be vindicated oftentimes years or centuries after their deaths. While the list of people goes on and on, in this case I intentionally didn’t highlight religious figures (or present-day heretics) as there’s more than enough to debate here with the starter list, I sense. That said, I’m always happy to talk about anyone who had the courage to describe a world beyond ours, often turning out to bring just the right vision we all need and eventually embrace as a society.

Here’s this month’s starter list …