Last Friday, a student gave a presentation on Simon Stylites, one of my favorite saints, immortalized by Bunuel. 37 years on top of a pillar! Students usually love him. This one started with a (to me) novel explanation of asceticism: You know, it's like abstinence, when you promise not to have sex before marriage. All nodded in agreement and once more, my chin hit the ground. He also compared Simon to the Seventh Day Adventists, another example that wouldn't have occurred to me in a million years, maybe, because I know so little about the Adventists... They went on to discuss if Simon had really done the Lord's work ("Jesus says in Luke: Go out to the world...") and after hearing a bit more about the desert fathers they agreed that in fact, he had. I'm glad they liked him, too, if for completely different reasons!
Here is Simon with some of his buddies, note Onouphrious who wore nothing but his hair for forty years (!)