Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Canterbury tales

In one of the many saints calendars, today is the commemoration of Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the "Canterbury Tales." As a teenager, my knowledge of this unique collection of stories didn't extend much beyond the fact that most of them seemed too offensive to print in our high school literature text books. But as I grew up, I came to view this collected works as an example of risus paschalis, or holy laughter.

Did you know that preachers in the medieval church had to include an amusing story in their Easter sermons to get the congregation to laugh. It was a response to leaving the solemnity of Lent and entering into the joy of God overcoming the world in the Resurrection.

Laughter is often a tonic for the soul, and unfortunately in the midst of crisis laughter is the first thing that gets thrown out the window. The leaders of the Anglican Communion might do well to learn again how to laugh with one another. For there seems to be a lot of overly serious ranting and not enough laughter to keep us all honest.

So in honor of Chaucer and his gift of laughter in the form of the "Canterbury Tales," I'll end this entry with a joke instead of a prayer....

During a recent audience, a businessman approached the Archbishop of Canterbury and made this offer: 'If he changed the last line of the Lord's Prayer from "Give us this day our daily bread" to "Give us this day our daily hamburger" McDonald's would give the church $1 million every time His Grace prayed it in public.' Of course the Archbishop declined, claiming he could not change the sacred text.

The next week, the businessman offered him $50 million for every time he prayer it in public. The Archbishop said he would have to consult with his council, and the following day met with the other Primates of the Church.

The Archbishop began the meeting by saying, "Boys, I've got good news and bad news. The good news is the church will never have to worry about money again. The bad news is we have to figure out some way of getting out of our contract with Wonderbread!"

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