David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Humility, Husbands and Wives, Hypocrites, Ignorance

Humility

• The Dalai Lama gave a series of lectures in Tucson, Arizona. Although his English is good, he lectured in Tibetan about Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, and a translator spoke in English. At one point, the Dalai Lama told the translator, “You’re mistaken. That’s not what I said.” They then argued about a sentence by Shantideva — the Dalai Lama thought the sentence was “She said that to him,” but the translator thought the sentence was “He said that to her.” After discussing the sentence for a while, the Dalai Lama looked the sentence up, and then he started laughing and admitted, “Oh, I made a mistake.” Although he was lecturing in front of 1,200 people, he freely admitted that the mistake was his.

• One day Pope John XXIII went to a nursing home that was run by nuns so he could visit a dying prelate. The nun who answered the door was understandably astonished to see the Pope, and she almost fainted. However, the Pope told her, “No need to be alarmed, Sister. After all, I’m only the Pope.”

Husbands and Wives

• The private Groucho (real name: Julius) Marx was as funny as the public Groucho Marx. His first wedding was like a scene out of a Marx Brothers movie. Harpo hid behind a potted plant and made it appear to be walking around the room. When the minister said, “We are gathered here in holy matrimony,” Groucho’s response was, “It may be holy to you, Reverend, but we have other ideas.” And when the minister asked, “Do you, Julius, take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife,” Groucho replied, “Well, we’ve gone this far. We might as well go through with it.”

• A young, newlywed Hindu couple came to Mother Teresa and gave her much money, which they had saved by not celebrating their wedding, not buying wedding clothes, and not going on a honeymoon. When Mother Teresa asked why they had made such a sacrifice, they answered, “We love each other so much that we wanted to share the joy of our love with those you serve.”

• An atheist heckled Billy Sunday during a sermon by interrupting with questions designed to embarrass believers. For example, the heckler asked, “Who was Cain’s wife?” Mr. Sunday responded, “I honor every seeker after the truth. But I should like to warn this man that he shouldn’t risk salvation by too many inquiries after other men’s wives.”

• Bob Hope’s wife, Dolores, is a devout Catholic. Once, she got on a plane in which two priests were seated in front of her and three nuns were seated behind her. Charlie Lee, one of Mr. Hope’s many writers, was also on the plane. He asked Mr. Hope, “Why can’t she take out regular insurance, like the rest of us?”

Hypocrites

• Reed Smoot was one of the first Senators from Utah. He was a Mormon, and it was rumored that he was a polygamist, although he wasn’t (however, he did support polygamy when that was Mormon doctrine). Mr. Smoot’s swearing-in was delayed by a filibuster until another Senator looked at all the philanderers in the Senate, then said, “Gentlemen, I would rather have a polygamist who does not polyg, than a monogamist who does not monog.”

• A nobleman told the Bishop of Meaux, Jacques Bossuet, that he didn’t go to church because too many hypocrites were there. Bishop Bossuet responded, “Don’t let that keep you away, my lord, because there is always room for one more.”

Ignorance

• Religion in the American frontier was often almost nonexistent, save for circuit-riding preachers, who were sometimes astonished by the ignorance of the people they were trying to teach. The Reverend Freeborn Garrettson, a Methodist circuit rider, asked a frontiersman, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” The frontiersman answered, “Sir, I do not know where the gentleman lives.” To test a young boy’s knowledge of Scripture, another circuit rider asked, “Who killed Abel?” The young boy answered, “I didn’t know he was dead. We just moved here last week.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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