Paraclete Launches New Fiction Line

Paraclete Press
For Immediate Release
October 10, 2017

LAUNCH DAY!

The first in the new Paraclete Fiction line, We are pleased to announce the book launch for Kate James’ debut novel “Can You See Anything Now?“.

Can You See Anything Now? explores grace in the midst of tragedy, and in the lives of unforgettable, utterly ruined characters. The novel follows a year in the small town of Trinity, and the lives of the suicidal painter, Margie, who has been teaching her evangelical neighbor, Etta,

how to paint nudes; her husband, the town therapist who suspects his work helps no one; and their college-aged daughter, Noel, whose roommate, Pixie, joins them at home for a winter holiday, only to fall into Trinity’s freezing river.

Themes of small-town life and the juxtaposition of tragedy and redemption should resonate with readers of Marilynne Robinson, Richard Russo, and Elizabeth Strout. Early endorsers include Leslie Leyland Fields, Suzanne Wolfe, and Scott Cairns.

About the Author: Katherine James has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University in New York City, where she received the Felipe P. De Alba Fellowship. She has been on staff with CRU, a ministry to college students, for over twenty-five years. She is a member of Redbud Writers Guild, and is senior editor for CruPress. Her memoir, Notes on Orion, about the opioid epidemic in the suburbs of Philadelphia and the ways that it affected her family, will be published by Paraclete in the second half of 2018.

“Katherine James just might be a genius. If you’re a redemption chaser, you’ll love this book. If you hate redemption stories, you’re going to love this book.” —Leslie Leyland Fields

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly, srantonia@paracletepress.com, (508) 255-4685 x 329

Introducing “Almost Entirely”

This November, we are adding a new title to our Paraclete Poetry collection! Look for the release of Jennifer Wallace’s book of poetry “Almost Entirely.”

Below is a preview from her blog.

The title for my newest collection of poetry (due out from Paraclete Press on November 14, 2017) comes from a poem (“Testament”) by my first favorite poet, Hayden Carruth.

I fell for Carruth’s poetry 30 years ago while sitting on the floor at a local bookstore, pouring over the shelves, looking for poems that would “give me a feeling.” When I read the long lines of his book, Tell Me Again How the White Heron Rises and Flies Across the Nacreous River at Twilight Toward the Distant Islands (1989), I admired the movement of his mind, his mysterious but down-to-earth images. I didn’t know a lot about poetry and said to myself: “I want to write like he does.” And I literally reproduced his poems in syntax and lineation—my nouns where his were, my verbs where his lived.

I read his “Testament” many years later. At 86, while contemplating his life and reinvigorating the previously stale idea of life as hourglass, he remarks: “I am almost entirely love, now.” That just grabbed me. It was not envy of him for seeing himself as made almost entirely of love. Such an affirmation! An aspiration! No, I was 100% puzzled and seduced by “almost entirely.” How could it be? Entire—as in complete, and almost—as in partial. Those two in endless orbit. My poems, never quite finished, finished by readers I never get to meet. My life, winding down, and filled with people and places I love, but also distant. My relationship with God—ever present and ever elusive.

Here is the opening poem from Almost Entirely:

Carruth, my first loved poet, said
in his “Testament”: Now I am
almost entirely love. He
imagined his ego’s heaviness
sifting through the hourglass’s narrowness
and settling on a gatheringcone of love below.

He didn’t know, then —
that when I lift his book from the shelf,
the love he has become spills
like galaxies in my hands.

Paraclete adds Megory Anderson’s “Sacred Dying Journal” to extensive list of pastoral care resources

For Immediate Release

This ecumenical book is being praised as a “tool to assist us in reflecting upon and expressing our wishes around dying,” by Sr. Maryann Lucy, OP, of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters of Wisconsin, and as “a gift that opens the heart to the deeper personal mysteries of death and dying,” by Barry R. Howe, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri.

Sacred Dying Journal by Megory Anderson, PhD, adds to the growing Paraclete Press list of pastoral care resources related to grief, bereavement, suicide, and addiction.

Specific questions and exercises help the reader to discover their wishes, desires, and spiritual needs for the final chapter of their lives. As the culture continues to discuss ethics of euthanasia and aspects of palliative care, this book highlights the spiritual needs of those approaching the end of life.

Marketing will include promotion through the author’s Sacred Dying Foundation, as well as outreach initiatives to hospices, funeral homes, and chaplains, and pastoral care programs in churches of many denominations.

The book launches the weekend of October 13–15, 2017 at the The Art of Dying Conference: Spiritual Scientific and Practical Approaches to Living and Dying at New York’s Open Center.

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly,
srantonia@paracletepress.com
(508) 255-4685 x 329 .

What Are We Waiting For?

When I was a child I loved Advent. I loved lighting candles and watching the light grow even as the days became darker. I loved the familiar hymns. I loved opening the little doors on my calendar. I loved the smell of cookies in the oven and the big spruce tree that had to be watered every day but still dropped needles all over the carpet. I loved the way our spare bedroom became a place for secrets: mysterious bundles and rolls of wrapping paper. But as much as I loved Advent, I also found it a strange season.

Everyone said Advent was a time for getting ready—for waiting. But what were we waiting for? The birth of Jesus? How could we still be waiting for someone born so long ago? The usual reply was that we were waiting for Christ to come again. But what did that mean? And what did all our preparations—the cooking and wrapping and baking half a dozen varieties of cookies—really have to do with Jesus anyway?  

Unlike Lent, which has a coherent story built around following Jesus on the way to Jerusalem, Advent seems stitched together from bits and pieces: prophetic words of consolation; hints about one who is coming; glimpses of an imagined future. The only thing that holds it all together is the idea of waiting: waiting for a better future; waiting for an end to exile; waiting for a savior. But what are we waiting for?

When I had children of my own, I was eager to share with them many of the Advent traditions I had enjoyed. We also added new ones: a Jesse tree with ornaments lovingly crafted by hand; an Advent Spiral around which a wooden Mary and her donkey travelled on her journey inward; a library of seasonal picture books. But the question still lingered: What are we waiting for? What is the purpose of this sacred season? Where are we in this story? If all our rituals do not connect in some genuine way with who we are and what we are meant to be and do, then what is the point?

 

These questions simmered in the background until one Advent when a surprising image presented itself. I was blending sweet potatoes for my youngest child, helping my son cut out ginger cookies, and trying to keep my middle daughter out of the dough, when a passage from the letter to the Galatians popped into my head (an occupational hazard for a student of the New Testament). Paul, frustrated with the behavior of the community of Christians in Galatia, decides to lay on some guilt and compares himself to their mother who endured the pains of childbirth for them, but now—horror of horrors—finds himself in labor all over again because of their immaturity. In a fascinating double metaphor, Paul not only envisions himself as a woman in labor, but also warns the Galatians that his pangs will not go away “until Christ is formed in you.” In other words, they are pregnant too, struggling to bring Christ to birth.

Like the best metaphors, this one both startled and enthralled me. As I watched my children toddle around the kitchen, the idea of them being pregnant with Christ made me laugh. But at the same time, I knew there was some deep truth here. What is the point of Advent? Not more busyness at a time already overstuffed with commitments. Not sentimental traditions or empty rituals. Not an acting out of something that happened long ago and far away. Suddenly I could see more clearly the now of Advent.

Advent is a time to practise patience as something new is formed in us. Advent is a time to be particularly open to the Spirit. Advent is a time to watch for ways we can take part in transforming aworld which cries out for healing. Advent is a season for looking—searching for signs of Christ bursting into the world, and knowing that we are all invited to share in that holy work.

Now there is a worthwhile invitation. So what are we waiting for?

***************

Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas presents Advent as special time for waiting and watching—paying attention—to the ways God comes to us.

Told from the point of a view of a child, the story weaves together familiar Advent traditions like the Jesse tree and the Advent wreath, biblical stories and characters, and reflections on what these stories call us to do and be.

This book reassures children of the presence of God in all times and places and invites them to become part of the holy work of making Christ present in the world.

Surprised by Grief

by Roger Hutchison

It has been said that we are currently in a place of perpetual trauma.

I feel it.

I feel it from my head to my heart to my toes.

I feel it in the interactions I have with those around me.

There is a weariness in my human brothers and sisters.

A palpable grief in the way their bodies move.

Shoulders and hearts burdened by so much pain and sadness.

I weep for the murdered children of Sandy Hook.

I weep for the millions of people impacted by the wrath and destruction of recent hurricanes.

I weep for the division, anger, and injustice that is sweeping through this country.

…and I weep for those impacted by the senseless and brutal massacre in Las Vegas.

The grief is simply too much to bear—and for many of us, there is a numbness.

Twenty-five years ago, I took a pottery class at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC and created several items, most of them not very memorable.

Today I rediscovered one of the vases, took it in my hands, and much to my surprise, I began to weep.

Grief washed over me like a waterfall. I cried with my entire being and I cradled the vase close to me as if to protect it from breaking.

Until recently, most of my pottery was with my mom and dad. You know…the place where artwork you create as a child ends up.

It either clutters the surface of the refrigerator, ends up in a box under a bed somewhere, or like this vase, it sits on the shelf in a guest room and collects dust.

This vase now sits on a bookshelf in our home and today I gave it a name.

The vase is a bit portly—like its creator. It is not spectacular, but it is mine.

I remember the sensation of the wet clay in my hands. I remember the sound of the potter’s wheel as it hummed below me. I remember the feeling of the spinning lump of earth in my hands.

I remember watching with awe (and some disappointment) as it began to look like an ashtray…then a bowl…and finally a “vase.” I use the word “vase” in the most generous sense.

I removed it from the wheel and waited for it to dry.

Days passed. Once it was dry, I applied the glaze.

The glaze is a bit uninspiring before it is fired—dull and thick. I had no idea what it would ultimately look like. It certainly wasn’t beautiful in its current form!

Once the glaze dried, we dug a hole in the ground and filled it with sawdust, paper, and leaves. We buried the pot in those same combustibles and set it on fire.

After a full day of being exposed to intense heat, we covered the pottery and burning material with sand. This last step gives the finished pieces more color and variation

Surprised by grief.

This is the name of my vase.

This clay vessel, created by human hands was returned to earth from where it came.

It was transformed by fire and carries scars and burn marks on its surface.

Wounds that heal but never go away.

The dull glaze now sparkles in the sunlight—a cobalt blue “drip” spills over from the top edge.

Blue…like the grief that overflows from our eyes and our souls.

Tiny cracks dance across its surface.

Surprised by grief…and the color blue.

All of humanity weeps right now, and the fires are burning.

There is much pain in our world. And we will never be the same because of it.

But the vessel will hold and our colors will shine brighter than before.

And we must carry this color and light out into the world.

 

Roger Hutchison is the author of My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. — available next month.

Christmas Book for Children on Race, Ethnicity, and Faith

After reading this book…”you and your children will never look at a crèche the same way again. That Baby in the Manger is a wonderful starting point for family discussions on race, ethnicity and faith. ” —  Paul Canavese and Ann Naffziger, co directors of GrowingUpCatholic.com

This week at Paraclete we caught up with Anne E. Neuberger the author of a new children’s book for Christmas that is a powerful conversation starter!  This is a timely book as parishes, congregations, and communities become more and more diverse, and national conversation about race and ethnicity increases.
Anne, can you give us a synopsis of the book?

It is just a few days before Christmas and the first graders have gathered around the nativity scene in the front of their church.  The manger, however, is empty, as the Christ Child statue will not be placed in it until Christmas morning.  The statue’s absence causes a discussion amongst this multi-cultural group, and it becomes clear that they are bothered by the statue they remember (with blonde curls). Each child wants to identify with Jesus, but he doesn’t look like any of them!  An inspired solution comes just in time for Christmas, and shows how Jesus and his love came down for all of us. 

What  makes this book unique?

Christmas stories for children are not uncommon and fall into three basic categories. Some are religious and focus on the events in the nativity story in scripture.  Some use this story and add new characters children will appreciate, such as a child shepherd or a  mouse that is a resident of the stable. Many books are secular, portraying fun holiday preparations and gift giving.  

 THAT BABY IN THE MANGER is clearly reflecting the scripture story but its theme is very contemporary: how can children of a variety of ethnicities in an urban, 21st century setting, identify with the child-God who came to earth  into a very different a culture, centuries ago?

 We are raising our children in a secular society. It is a tremendous challenge to help them become aware of the spirituality in life. Our world is more commercial than any earlier generation.  How can we do this?

 One way is through the use of stories. This ancient and very reliable method of passing on wisdom and heritage is still available to us.  Story has the power to let us slip into someone else’s life and emotions. Through stories we can experience another time and place. Add THAT BABY IN THE MANGER to a reading of a more traditional Christmas books. It can either open up a discussion about who Jesus is and how we experience  Him , or help make the time we call Advent about Jesus and not about gift getting.

 This book may encourage families to get or create their own nativity scene. Download a discussion and study guide, suitable for ages Pre-K-4th grade. 

Anne has also created an online activity and discussion guide to assist churches and families to discuss the themes of the book even further.

Click here to read the book, or to place an order.  

 

The Canticle of the Creatures for Saint Francis of Assisi

Luigi Santucci. The Canticle of the Creatures for Saint Francis of Assisi,
Translated by Demetrio Yocum,  Illustrustrated by Martin Erspamer

Brewster MA: Paraclete Press, 2017.

While there are many appropriate and equally laudatory adjectives that come to mind when reviewing this little gem of a publication, the one that rises to the surface most immediately for me is “Franciscan” … authentically “Franciscan.”

Franciscan spirituality, as I have grown to love it, is a uniquely holistic spiritual tradition. It is true that such could be said of many other traditions—Christian and otherwise. But what both endlessly inspires and baffles me about this wisdom school is its powerful juxtaposition of enduring insight and art, poetry and sagacity, simplicity and profundity, accessibility and unfathomability. It is what makes the Franciscan school of wisdom a resource that I can daily revisit without ever depleting its richness.

This enchanting publication—The Canticle of the Creatures for Saint Francis of Assisi—not only communicates this Franciscan spirituality, it richly embodies it. Designed as a kind of livre de poche (literally a “book that fits in your pocket”), this diminutive publication actually does fit into your pocket. Yet the quality of the paper, the charm of its design, and the elegance of its translation will caution you to put it into your very best pocket!

Born in the fertile mind of Italian poet and litteratus Luigi Santucci (d. 1999), the work revolves around the imaginative yet engaging reflections by some of God’s noble creatures who inhabited the life of Francis of Assisi. Multiple medieval sources recount Francis’ encounters with a wolf, nightingales, fish, bees, cicada and many others. The unexpected freshness that Santucci breathes into the remembrance of Francis’ encounter with this holy menagerie, however, springs from his provocative yet lucid crafting of reflections by these very creatures themselves, who muse on their distinctive encounters with the poor man of Assisi.
These endearing reflections are punctuated with magical illustrations by Martin Erspamer. Happily the quality of the paper and printing, design and production, allow these graphics to more than hold their own as vibrant counterpoints to the text without overwhelming that text. Such is important, since both the original writing and the quite deft translation by Demetrio Yocum contribute immeasurably to sustaining this mesmerizing counterpoint of text, visuals, language and spirituality.

This enchanting livre de poche, in the spirit of Il Poverello, illustrates that depth spirituality need not be gargantuan, boisterous or intimidating to be authentic. Rather, it is everyday; something you can slip into your pocket. Such everyday pocket-slipping will be enhanced if this lovely livre de poche finds its way into one of your pockets.

Edward Foley, Capuchin
Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality,
Catholic Theological Union

Paraclete announces new children’s series by Jon M. Sweeney: “The Pope’s Cat”

Paraclete Press
Orleans, Massachusetts
September 29, 2017

For Immediate Release

As part of its growing children’s book program, Paraclete Press has signed author Jon M. Sweeney and illustrator Roy DeLeon to a three-book series for children ages 6-9. Both the series and the first book are titled The Pope’s Cat. According to the description, these books “tell the story of a stray born on the Via della Conciliazione in Rome, how she’s adopted by the Pope, and the ways in which she then runs the Vatican from museum to floorboard!” It is unclear if the Pope of this series is Pope Francis but there is definitely a resemblance. The Queen of England also makes an appearance in book one, on an official visit to the Vatican.

The Pope’s Cat (March 2018 / Paraclete Press / ISBN 978-1612616568 / trade paperback / black & white illustrations / $9.99) by Jon M. Sweeney, illustrated by Roy DeLeon, is to be followed six months later by Margaret’s Night Alone in St. Peter’s (A Christmas Story).

The Pope’s Cat is a heartwarming tale, which gives the papacy a human touch, along with a taste of life in Rome. Jon Sweeney has done an excellent job in opening up the world of the Vatican to youngsters, while cat lovers will be charmed by this story. I read it to my two children and they both loved it!” –Christopher Lamb, Vatican correspondent for The Tablet (UK)

About the author: Jon M. Sweeney’s popular history, The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation, has been optioned by HBO. He’s the author of two dozen other books including The Complete Francis of Assisi, When Saint Francis Saved the Church, winner of a 2015 award in history from the Catholic Press Association, and The Enthusiast: How the Best Friend of Francis of Assisi Almost Destroyed What He Started. This is his first book for children.

About the illustrator: Roy DeLeon is an Oblate of St. Benedict, spiritual director, yoga instructor, graphic designer, and professional visual artist. He is also author of Praying with the Body. This is his first book for children.

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly, srantonia@paracletepress.com(508) 255-4685 x 329

Paraclete Signs Two Industry Veterans to Big Books for 2018

Paraclete Press
For Immediate Release
September 22, 2017

Paraclete Press has signed Bert Ghezzi, bestselling author, popular editor, and author of more than twenty books, to a new edition of a book first published a generation ago. The Angry Christian sold 60,000 copies in its original run twenty-five years ago, and is set to be reissued in April of next year, with a foreword by Brandon Vogt. 

Bert Ghezzi

Phrases such as “culture of anger” have come to describe much of our world today. Both Press and author suspect that Ghezzi’s book is much needed. Early endorsers for the new edition include Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Dr. Ray Guarendi; and Fr. Dwight Longenecker, who writes, “In this practical and pastoral little book, Bert Ghezzi walks us through a guidebook on anger, showing how anger is God’s blessing not his curse. When the energy of anger is directed properly, God’s power to heal and transform ourselves and our world is unleashed.” Says Ghezzi, “I placed The Angry Christian with Paraclete because I knew that they would get it into the hands of many readers.”

Paraclete has also inked a deal with Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. for Fifteen Spirituals that Will Change Your Life. Carrigan has worked in publishing for more than twenty years, including at Publishers Weekly and Continuum, before his current work as a music journalist. As Carrigan says, “Music touches people’s hearts in deep and enduring ways that words often fail to do.” Paraclete saw in this title an antidote to the uncertainty and anxieties that many face today. The faith, hope, and love that these songs evoke will carry readers to a place beyond themselves where they connect with others and with God. Carrigan says, “I am excited to be working with Paraclete again: I am grateful for the vision they have of publishing thoughtful books.” Fifteen Spirituals will publish in September 2018.

For more information, contact Sr. Antonia Cleverly, srantonia@paracletepress.com(508) 255-4685 x 329

The Good Fool

The St. Francis Holy Fool Prayer Book
Excerpted from the Introduction

The Good Fool
For those who try to live the Gospel, and by doing so, feel like fools

Here we are, fools for Christ’s sake, while you are the clever ones in Christ; we are weak, while you are strong; you are honored, while we are disgraced. To this day, we go short of food and drink and clothes, we are beaten up and we have no homes; we earn our living by laboring with our own hands; when we are cursed, we answer with a blessing; when we are hounded, we endure it passively; when we are insulted, we give a courteous answer (1 Cor. 4:10–13).

Otherwise known as holy fools.

This can be confusing and for good reasons. Even the Bible seems to contradict itself about fools. A fool for Christ’s sake is altogether different from the kind of person the psalmist describes when he or she begins, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Ps. 14:1–3). That’s not a foolishness to emulate! Nevertheless, St. Paul’s foolishness is. The Bible speaks about both kinds of fools—good and bad—but for the most part, the good sort has been lost.

The foolishness praised by St. Paul is a way of living out Jesus’s teachings in the Beatitudes. “Beatitude” comes from a Latin word that means happiness. These are ways to true happiness, and of course they aren’t what you might expect. Who is blessed? The poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, people who are peacemakers—not the powerful. Even the “pure of heart”—and the phrase means pretty much what it implies, and that is, those who are simple or willingly naive—are singled out as blessed. Do you want to sign up for this sort of blessedness, happiness? Not many do. That’s why we call them fools. Holy fools.

A Christian can point to Jesus’s foolishness as the exemplar, just as Jesus sometimes pointed to the Hebrew prophets as his inspiration for defying others’ expectations. Like Jeremiah, Jesus dressed simply. Like Isaiah, Jesus often walked around barefoot, and he didn’t know where he was going to sleep at night. Contrary to what religious leaders thought appropriate, Jesus chose a strange mix of people as his followers and friends (women, the poor, despised tax collectors, the untouchable sick). Occasionally, he went against societal norms and theological expectations with an attitude of naiveté. No matter if someone thought he was “dumb.”

Even Jesus’s own family thought he was a fool at times—and not the good kind. Just after he appointed his twelve disciples, the Gospel of Mark says: “He went home again, and once more such a crowd collected that they could not even have a meal. When his relations heard of this, they set out to take charge of him; they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” (Mk. 3:21). In twenty-first-century language, that sounds like they staged an intervention! They wanted to set him straight. Perhaps he was embarrassing the family.

Later, when Jesus was teaching Torah—good rabbi that he was—he invariably shocked his listeners, ratcheting up the expectations of God on those who seek to truly follow him. He said, for example: “You have heard how it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say this to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27–8). Seriously?! What was once a law of Moses, easy to track in one’s life, just got a whole lot tougher. Who would even know if one was observing a law such as this? The religious leaders of the day thought he was nuts.

Jesus was a holy fool in his not worrying about the outcome or result of his teaching. Most important of all, he was a holy fool for allowing himself to be misunderstood, and later, mocked. He didn’t defend himself when the meaning and purpose of his life was questioned by Pontius Pilate. He was willing to stand physically humiliated before crowds. In these ways alone, without any other agenda, there have been saints throughout history who have sought to imitate our foolish Lord.

I give you the end of a golden string; Only wind it into a ball, It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate, Built in Jerusalem’s wall. —William Blake, from Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion

There is a perfect line, an uncut thread, “a golden string” throughout history that connects the foolishness of Christ with holy fools who have lived in every generation since his death and resurrection. They all have understood how being reviled can be a sign of blessedness or holiness, a true mark of God’s Spirit alive inside of someone. When people witnessed this foolishness in Francis of Assisi eight hundred years ago, they called him pazzo. That’s Italian for “crazy”—so, I guess, we can’t avoid the term! The adjective, however, made Francis happy, in the sense that he knew: if they call you crazy or a fool, you must be doing something right!

The first instances of the crazy foolishness in Francis were outpourings of the Spirit in him. In other words, they are difficult to explain if you use only rational or pragmatic ways of understanding: Like when he stripped naked in front of a crowd in order to give everything back to his father that was rightfully his. Or when he began preaching to birds after people didn’t seem to pay much heed to his words. Or when he scolded some of those birds for not listening carefully enough and chirping too loudly during Mass. Or when he joined a friend and disciple in deliberately humiliating himself—Francis had punished his friend by holy obedience (he was, by then, the friend’s religious superior) for refusing to preach the Good News. The punishment was: go and preach, then, in your underwear. But a few minutes later, Francis chastised himself for being too severe— and decided to repent by stripping down to his breeches himself and joining the friend in the pulpit.

Why would someone do these things? They don’t exactly make sense, do they? And yet, somehow, they did, and do.

Here’s another bit of context: At the time that Francis and Brother Juniper, one of his closest friends and first followers, were becoming fools for Christ, there were professional fools—hired in noble and royal courts, as well as traveling from town to town—acting as entertainers but also as truth-tellers. They were often regarded as possessing a strange sort of wisdom that comes from being detached from the normal ways of the world. They never stopped reminding their audiences that the world will lie to you, deceive you with false appearances; that it may seem rational but actually it is mad. You see such a troupe in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for instance (act 5, scene 1). They are the grave diggers who appear after Ophelia’s suicide, bantering about death, love, and the meaning of life.