Saturday, January 15, 2011

Perceptions: Indicators from Hermit Survey

Technical difficulties in registering responses somewhat hampered the "Who is the Real Hermit?" online survey.  Although not statistically conclusive, we gained strong indicators from respondents whose responses registered in comment window.

Why a survey on hermits?  We have found perceptions.  It is helpful to realize truth about perceptions in any instance: perceptions of words, ideas, images, thoughts!  Perceptions are a way of regarding, viewing or understanding something.  If anything conclusive, the survey finds once again that God has had it right since all along, as stated in I Samuel 9:16: Man looks at the outer appearance. The Lord looks at the heart.

From over twenty photos of various persons in age, income, appearance, education and background, survey respondents were asked to choose who they think is the "real hermit".  While a replication of this survey may be offered in future to gain a higher number of respondents, the following are results at this time.

Male hermits were chosen 59% to 41% female hermits chosen.  Female #18 and Male #2 were chosen the most, and equally as often. 

Descriptors or attributes in two out of five word options resulted in:
Peaceful 70%
Withdrawn 52%
Prayerful 43%
Joyful 17%
Austere 17%

Many respondents did not answer yes or no, if they would respect and be influenced positively by a hermit if not the one they chose.  Of those who did answer, 86% indicated yes, and 14% indicated no.  (This question, to be validly conclusive, would have to include other questions to ascertain if the respondent would be candid in answering, for some may not want to reveal even to themselves that they might not be tolerant of a hermit who did not fit their perceptions.)

The final item, an open-ended statement must be analyzed non-empirically.  The respondent to complete the thought: A real hermit is someone who would....  Selecting words and word thoughts, the responses are ranked in order of highest number of like comments and are indicated by weighted number factor, 10 being highest:

live in simplicity, 10;
be a person who prays, 10;
be unique,  (surprise element, step to different drumbeat), 7.6;
live alone, 5.1;
and these each weighted at 2.4:  live Gospel values, be self-detached, be separated from worldly things, be self-reliant, have a ministry, laughs, loves.

What is the benefit of such responses regarding who and what is a real hermit?  Perhaps the value is not in the actual answers as much as in the perceptions that are revealed and to ask ourselves, "Where do we get our perceptions?"  If from history, illustrations, religion and books, then from what did each of those perceptions derive?  How did the first hermit determine how he or she knew how to look or how to be?  

The very word hermit is a label that means "solitary" in old French, late Latin, and Greek.  So perhaps the first hermit was simply someone who lived alone in a time when all other people lived together in family units, and a single person living by themselves would be unusual enough to have a word coined to describe the phenomena.  Then others began to live like that first hermit, alone, or in whatever other ways that first hermit appeared, acted, and was for what purpose of being.

For a hermit, the survey may  either validate or surprise, in various ways, depending upon outer appearance and outer ways of being and living the vocation.  Thus results may encourage reflection upon the decisions to appear, be and live in whatever way one is appearing, being and living.

What does such a survey provide for those who are not hermits?  It encourages personal reflection upon perceptions of others and of ourselves in our own vocations.  How did we determine to live our vocations, by what perceptions from ourselves or others, from history, religion, books, or from social media?

For anyone, the survey (regardless of research variables) indicates that there are many perceptions of what and how someone called a hermit would appear, would live, and would be in attributes.  And now perhaps the most significant questions remain for us each to answer, as honestly as possible.

Did any of us ever think to ask God what is our vocation, and then, how God wants us to live our vocations?  How does God want us to appear and to be?  And, if man looks to the outer appearances and God looks in the heart, what is God seeing in our hearts, and how is that going to alter the way we live our individual vocations?


  1. This is fascinating. I am currently conducting a hermit survey of my own, at I have a list of links and resources related to solitude, including your complete hermit blog. I would be grateful if you would help spread the word about my site and survey.


  2. You may want to post your dissertation survey on my other blogs relative to hermit life: The Complete Hermit and The Catholic Hermit. They still get readership even though I am not actively writing on these at this phase. There, also, you will read in The Catholic Hermit my take on the eremetic vocation as opposed to anothers take on it which is less hidden as far as actual personage, name, photo, etc. Just different takes on hermit vocation by different hermits.


Author cannot enter into discussion and/or debate with readers on topics. The purpose of the writing is to offer this author's insights, thoughts, and experiences. It is a web log, spiritual in nature.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.