David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Clothing, Cold Weather, Collections, Compassion, Confession

Clothing

• Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (who became Pope John XXIII) spent much time as Papal Nuncio in France, where he was often invited to dinners at which many women dressed fashionably but immodestly. Plans were made to ask the women to dress more modestly, but he rejected them, saying, “I have found that on such occasions it is not so much the woman at whom the crowd is looking but at me to see my reaction.”

Cold Weather

• In Rankin, Illinois, Al Karlstrom’s father was the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. Each Sunday morning, he would remind his children to shine their shoes in preparation for church. One very cold Sunday, his children were running late, so to save time shining their shoes, they used Vicks VapoRub instead of shoe polish. This worked out very well, as it made a nice shine. However, the steam radiators were running on high that Sunday to keep the cold out of the church, and the fumes coming off the pastor’s children’s shoes cleared up the heads of the congregation.

• Rabbi Israel Salanter and two friends stayed at an inn in the midst of a very cold winter. He observed a serving girl drawing water and carrying the buckets in the cold, and when it came time for him and his friends to wash their hands before eating, he used very little water although his friends used lots of water. When asked about this, Rabbi Israel replied, “One should not be over strict in his observance of the law at the expense of someone else.”

Collections

• Art Linkletter’s first public appearance was in church. His father was an evangelist whose income depended on the contributions the congregation made. Therefore, he would dress up his son in clean but patched clothing, and then send him out to collect the offering while he told the congregation to “dig deep, brothers and sisters, for the good work.”

• Rabbi Stephen S. Wise took up a collection in his synagogue, and he told the worshippers, “Friends, tonight is the Sabbath when it is forbidden to carry money. Empty your pockets and put the money in the collection plates.”

Compassion

• Kamala Masters, who teaches Buddhist meditation, sailed with some friends in Hawaii. She felt seasick on the boat, so her friends urged her to get into the water. Because she didn’t have a life vest, she didn’t want to, but her friends persuaded her. She and some of her friends got in the water, a squall started blowing, and it blew the boat away from her. She started to panic, so her friends asked her to remember her Buddhist teachings, saying, “Kamala, what if these are your last moments? What do you want right now? Don’t you want more love in your heart? Don’t you want more compassion? What do you really want?” Kamala was very honest, and she admitted, “What I want right now is the boat!”

• In the early 20th century, Rabbi Aryeh Levin was walking in a field with Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. When Rabbi Levin plucked a small flower from the field, Rabbi Kook started to tremble and told him that he refrained from plucking anything living unless some benefit could be gained from so doing, since every living thing, including plants, had a guardian angel looking out for it. From this experience, Rabbi Levin learned from Rabbi Kook to be compassionate toward all living things.

Confession

• Songwriter Grant Clark brought a priest to see the great American scoundrel Wilson Mizner. Mr. Mizner told the priest, “Hello, Father. I went to confession yesterday, and the priest left in the middle of it.” Surprised, the priest asked, “Where did he go?” Mr. Mizner replied, “For the police.”

• A woman went to confession, but instead of saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” she absent-mindedly began to say a common table prayer: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest ….” Fortunately, the priest had a sense of humor and asked, “What’d you do, bring your lunch?”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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