I awoke this morning with an understanding of why there were so few people at Mass yesterday evening – we went to Mass at the the Church of Our Lady’s Assumption and St Gregory (quite a mouthful and seemingly incongruous name) and for a Church that reportedly has an amazing choir, which is why we avoided the morning Mass, that fewer than 20 people attended in an area that was jostling with people. More about the Mass and the Sunday crowds later.
One of the hopes I had with going to Canterbury was to be re-acquainted with Chaucer. I studied Middle English literature when I was at Macquarie Uni in the 1960s and enjoyed the challenge of reading and discussing aspects of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, specifically the Prologue and the Nun’s Priest’s Tale. Regrettably, our time there was too short for exploring the nexus between religion and literature as a reflection of society. We spent our time looking at the traces of the past from the Stone Age to the scars of World War II (Canterbury was also bombed by the Germans) and only on the morning we left did I purchase a copy of Chaucer’s great work.
So I awoke this morning with the thesis of a paper buzzing around and linking the Prologue, the crowds in the streets, fewer than twenty at Mass, the stern look on Cranmer’s face on his portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery and Vermes’ thesis regarding how St Paul and others had changed the direction of Jesus’ mission. And in all of this I recognised elements of Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, particularly my adoption of a position coming out of my imagination constructing a view of the world that makes some sense for me and provides me with a way forward. More about this later.