David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Education, Enlightenment, Etiquette


• Not being able to spell may have advantages. A young Quaker woman attending Oxford University was very intelligent but completely unable to spell. On a visit to the continent, she filled out a form in Customs. In the space by the word “Occupation,” she wrote, “Nun” — and she was amazed at how much quicker than her traveling companions she passed through Customs.

• When Rolf E. Aaseng first began teaching Sunday School, he and another teacher complained about the rooms they taught in. Mr. Aaseng taught in a stinky basement, and the other teacher taught in the kitchen. However, yet another teacher topped them both — because of lack of space, she was forced to teach her Sunday School class in the women’s restroom!

• Rabbi Stephen S. Wise knew a couple who had gotten their son accepted into an excellent boys’ school before their son was even born. Rabbi Wise asked what they would have done if they had had a girl, but they assured him that they had considered that and had also applied for their child’s admission into an excellent girls’ school.

• Rabbi Jacob Joseph grew up in a very poor household in Lithuania. His father, who worked in a brewery, used to scrimp on food so that he could pay his son’s tuition. Because of this experience, Rabbi Joseph knew that poor people often value Jewish education more than rich people.

• A school in Germany had only one Jewish student. The teacher told her, “Just like all the Jews, you are greedy. Your father pays tuition for only one student, but you are learning enough for three.”


• A student came to Zen master Suiwo, seeking enlightenment, so Suiwo gave him a problem to solve: “Hear the sound of one hand.” The student meditated for three years, but he never solved the problem and so did not achieve enlightenment. Finally, the student asked to return home in disgrace because he had not become enlightened. Suiwo urged the student to stay another week, which the student did, but without becoming enlightened. Suiwo again urged the student to stay another week, then five days, which the student did, but always with the same lack of results. Finally, Suiwo told the student, “Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself.” The student attained enlightenment.

• Zen master Ikkyu accepted an invitation to become the abbot of a subtemple; however, at a banquet held after he became abbot, several wealthy people told him that in return for their making large donations to the subtemple, they expected him to give them inka — written confirmation that they had become enlightened. Refusing to be bribed, Ikkyu and his chief disciples immediately left the subtemple.


• Rumi, the founder of the Whirling Dervishes, understood and practiced good etiquette. When an Armenian butcher bowed to him seven times, Rumi returned the bows. On another occasion, several children in a group bowed to him, and Rumi bowed to each of the children. One child was far off, and he called to Rumi, “Wait for me until I come.” Rumi waited, the child arrived and bowed to him, and Rumi returned the child’s bow.

• In Philadelphia, a homeless person named Carlos was very hungry and wondering where his next meal would come from. A priest appeared and gave him a sandwich. Carlos was so hungry that he ate the sandwich before remembering to thank the priest. After eating the sandwich, he looked for the priest, but the priest had disappeared. After that, Carlos always thanked someone who gave him food, and then he ate the food.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: No Worries — “Backwards Upside Down”


Music: “Backwards Upside Down”


Artist: No Worries

Artist Location: Cary, North Carolina

Info: “An eclectic, mostly acoustic band based in the North Carolina Triangle, No Worries makes music steeped in all the Americana styles … blues / rock / country / bluegrass … originals, old favorites, and covers of great songs you’ve maybe never heard yet. No Worries is also the feeling you’ll get from our music. We’re fun, smooth, but seasoned — with a pinch of red pepper.”

No Worries: Only fine roots music

“Released two songs per month starting in fall 2020, this album of [11] songs is nine years in the making. It’s the archetypal ‘labor of love.’ Emphasis on the love. And the labor. It’s the best thing to happen all year! All songs are Richard Bowdon originals.”

“No Worries Band is Richard Bowdon on lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica; Jim Amsden on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, keyboard, dobro; Rob Surra on vocals, bass. Additional lead guitar by Ken Faircloth and vocals by Amelia Kelley.”

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $7 (USD) for 11-track album

Genre: Roots Music. Americana.


No Worries on Bandcamp