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Worshipful Service

In Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," the lovestruck knight Arcita is banished from the dukedom of Theseus, but he sneaks back in and disguises himself as a servant in the household of Emily, the woman he longs to be with. Arcita gains such a reputation throughout the dukedom as a noble person that Theseus' advisors recommend promoting him from servant to squire. In Chaucer's fourteenth-century words, the advisors tell Theseus to "put him in worshipful service." "Worshipful service" is Middle English for…
Nathan Bierma
June 1, 2006

Are We Just Our Stories?

Is narrative inherent in human life or imposed on it? Is a person's life just a story? Or is story a device we place on someone's life to try to get a hold of it? Some while ago I thought about that after doing a number of personal profiles for the Chicago Tribune. One such profile was on a rabbi who was a tour guide in Israel and whose parents were Holocaust survivors; another was on a Filipino immigrant and…
Nathan Bierma
April 16, 2004