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by Audrey Theodosia Bryant
from Signs of the Times, No. 26 - Jul 2007
Did the funnybone survive among the fittest?
Is laughter evolution at is best?
Are the subleties of humour
Out of gut or skull or femur,
Are they dominant, recessive or repressed?
Did our laughter have to wait for the banana?
Which came first, pomposity or peel?
Was it just a little slip
Or an elephantine blip
That emerged in human genes as jest-appeal?
Did the caves contain the comics of pre-history?
Did early woman laugh until she cried?
Or did God originate the joke
By making ‘none so queer as folk’
And Adam’s apple incompatible with pride?
As the earth pursues its orbit to oblivion
And greed devours our green and pleasant land,
Will the humourless be fooled
To see their market pulled
From beneath the only soles they understand?
When the economic gods dissolve and wither
In the gases of the engines of their dreams,
Will the stars all laugh aloud
To see how fallen are the proud?
Will God smile as he files the might-have-beens?
I’ve loved the Church of England from its arms,
The font my first and friendly view of life
Beyond a home of clergy-centred calm
Amid a world (I later learned) of strife.
Sundays to church, the creed and Cranmer’s prayers
That brought such faith and order to my cares.
Missionary stories filled my mind,
Pictures of tribal lands and vicar’s wives
With wide-eyed children round them, and the kind
Of daughter churches, Christian homes and lives
Learnt from our own, by our own shepherds led
With native sons’ vocations credited.
An African perspective soon emerged
Absorbing ancient values, ancient views;
A mother cocoanut whose milk had surged
Into the life of new-born churches whose
Native kings and tribal chiefs and shamans wise
Marked, learned, digested and revised.
Such milk was rich and good, they heard the call
And many were ordained and rose to lead
And gave their Christian service, but not all,
Some felt an ancient grandeur and a need
To grasp the reins of power and to keep
A territorial right over who led their sheep.
One bold archbishop, openly breaking ranks,
Due process and the law he soon defied,
Put his own people up (with little thanks),
The congregation’s legal choice denied
And travelled far and loudly blamed ‘the rich’;
Methinks Malengo doth protest too much.