David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Prejudice, Public Speaking, Respect

Prejudice

• Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce was in a diner on Sunset Boulevard when a tough-looking man got off his motorcycle, walked in, and said, “I’m gonna kill me every Jew in this place.” Mr. Bruce immediately began singing, “When Israel was in Egypt land, let my people go.” He got the worst of the fight, but he amused police officers with his comedy when they arrived to stop the disturbance.

• Morris K. Udall, a Mormon and later a politician from Arizona, ran into bigotry while serving in the Army. An Army Major asked, “Morris? What kind of a name is that?” Later, Mr. Udall received a letter from “Judge Levi Udall,” and immediately the Major thought that he was Jewish, so the Major began to treat him exactly like he treated all of his Jewish officers — badly.

Public Speaking

• In the old days, many people regarded playing cards as irreligious. Susan B. Anthony, a Quaker, gave a speech in which she introduced a Methodist friend of hers, the Reverend Anna Howard Shaw, as her “right bower,” thinking that a right bower was a right-hand man and not knowing that a right bower is a leading card in the game of euchre. The audience laughed, mystifying Ms. Anthony, until the meaning of “right bower” was explained to her later. The next day Ms. Anthony again addressed the audience, and she said, “When I came to your town, I had been warned that you were a very religious lot of people. I wanted to impress upon you that Miss Shaw and I are religious, too. But I admit that when I told you she was my right bower I did not know what a right bower was. I have learned that since last night.” The audience laughed, then Ms. Anthony continued, “It interests me very much, however, to realize that every one of you seemed to know all about a right bower, and that I had to come to your good orthodox town to get that information.”

• Cordell Brown says that having cerebral palsy can be an advantage in public speaking, which he has often done to raise money for Camp Echoing Hills, a camp he founded in Warsaw, Ohio, for adults with handicaps. Because the cerebral palsy affects his speech and coordination, no one can tell when Mr. Brown is nervous. He sometimes used to put his hands in his pockets at the beginning of his fund-raising speech, and then tell the audience, “I’ve got my hands in my pockets to start this presentation because by the end of the evening, I’ll have them in your pockets.” Of course, having cerebral palsy does have disadvantages. Early one Saturday morning, Mr. Brown was at a car wash when a police car pulled in with its lights flashing. Someone had seen Mr. Brown washing his car, noticed that he was uncoordinated (an effect of cerebral palsy), thought he was drunk, and called the police!

• Some politicians change political parties. For example, Reverend W.H. Bill Alexander started out as a Democrat, but he changed his affiliation to Republican. In 1950, he ran against the junior senator from Oklahoma, A.S. Mike Monroney. Senator Monroney’s senior colleague, Bob Kerr, campaigned for him. In a devastating reference to Reverend Alexander, Senator Kerr said, “Now, this fellow Alexander one day said to his congregation, ‘After communion with the Almighty, I have decided to enter the Democratic primaries and run for the Senate.’ Well, soon afterward, Alexander switched over and won the Republican nomination. What I’d like to know is this: If the Lord told Bill Alexander to run as a Democrat, who then told him to run as a Republican?”

Respect

• As a young boy, while in the Potala Palace, the 14th Dalai Lama enjoyed looking at people in the Tibetan capital city, Lhasa, through his telescope. Sometimes he looked at the people in the prison at the base of the hill the palace was situated on. Whenever the prisoners noticed that the Dalai Lama was looking at them through the telescope, they knelt to show him respect.

• When Rumi, the founder of the Sufi order known as the Whirling Dervishes, died, many Jews and Christians showed up at his funeral. The Muslims were surprised that these non-Muslims wanted to attend the funeral of an eminent Muslim saint and sage, but they explained the great respect that they had for Rumi, and so they were allowed to attend his funeral.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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