David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Food

Food

• Back in the days when Catholics did not eat meat on Friday, Rear Admiral George Dufek and Father Linehan (a geo-physicist from Boston College), were at the South Pole. Rear Admiral Dufek pulled some sandwiches out for lunch, but Father Linehan looked at the sandwiches, saw that they were made with ham and roast beef, and said, “None for me. It’s Friday, you know.” Rear Admiral Dufek replied, “If you’ll step about 15 paces to the left, it will still be Thursday.” Father Linehan did so, and then he enjoyed lunch.

• Some of the food eaten on the Jewish Sabbath is especially good. For example, the bread known as Hallah is eaten on the Sabbath. One day, a Jew had a visitor who ate only the expensive Hallah but did not touch the common, inexpensive bread. The host hinted to the visitor, “Taste the bread,” but the visitor continued to eat the Hallah, remarking that Hallah is better than plain bread. “True,” said the host, “but it’s expensive.” The guest replied, “The extra expense is worth it.”

• While walking along a river, two monks noticed a lettuce leaf floating downstream. “How sad,” said one of the monks, who knew that Zen master Gizan lived one mile upstream. “Gizan has started to waste food.” Just then, Gizan burst out of the bushes, panting and sweating, jumped into the river, and began to swim downstream after the lettuce leaf. The two monks bowed low in the direction of Zen master Gizan, and then they continued their walk.

• A rich man came to the Maggid of Mezeritch and tried to impress him with his piety. When the Maggid asked the rich man what he ate, he replied that he ate nothing but bread. The Maggid shook his head sadly, and then he ordered him to eat cake. When the rich man asked why, the Maggid explained, “If you are content to eat bread, you will believe that the poor can live by eating stones, but if you eat cake, you will give bread to the poor.”

• On the American frontier, getting enough food to eat was sometimes a major struggle and thus took precedence over other things. One frontier preacher was giving a sermon when some dogs near the camp started barking at a bear. The preacher listened for a moment, then told the women to pray while he and the other men took off after the bear. After they had killed the bear, the preacher resumed his sermon.

• Zen master Taji was on his deathbed. His disciples knew that he liked a certain kind of cake, so they went from shop to shop in Tokyo until they found the kind of cake he liked, then they brought him a piece. After Taji had eaten the cake, his disciples asked if he had any last words for them. “Yes,” he replied, and as his disciples leaned toward him, he said, “My, but this cake is delicious.” Then he died.

• The Buddhists believe in a realm of being that is populated by “hungry ghosts.” They have enormous bodies but very small mouths, so they are constantly feeding themselves to fill up the emptiness inside. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist teacher in Vietnam, was asked what the realm of the hungry ghosts is like. He replied, “America.”

• A preacher ate a couple of Sunday dinners with the same farming family, who served chicken each time. After the second dinner, the preacher remarked on a hen that he said was particularly proud looking. “She should be proud,” said the farmer. “She has two children in the ministry.”

• After Mother Teresa gave a piece of bread to a small, hungry girl lost in the streets, the girl began to eat the bread very slowly, crumb by crumb. Mother Teresa said, “Eat, eat the bread! Aren’t you hungry!” The girl replied, “I am just afraid that when I run out of bread, I’ll still be hungry.”

• God cares more about how you earn your money than what you eat. As Israeli economist Meir Tamari has pointed out, in the Torah, over 100 commandments concern economics, but only 24 commandments make up the foundation for traditional Jewish dietary practice.

• A starving dervish asked a rich man for food, but the rich man asked him to return the next day, when he was holding a feast. The dervish replied, “Give me some food today, so that I may live until tomorrow to attend your feast.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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