David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Tobacco, Wills, Wisdom


• A Mennonite pastor punished his five-year-old son by removing him from church — an act the son felt was very unfair. To get revenge, the young boy waited until later in the day, when he and his father attended a men’s business meeting, then the boy announced to the group, “My dad will probably deny this, but he smokes sometimes!”

• One Church of Christ preacher, Jimmy Smith, caught another Church of Christ preacher, T.Q. Martin, smoking. Mr. Smith said, “I see you’re burning incense to the devil.” Mr. Martin replied, “Yes, but I didn’t expect him to catch me at it.”


• Wilson Mizner, a rascal, led a life devoted to women, gambling, opium, and the spending of money — and he also devoted his life to wit. After he died, he made one last joke in his will: He left his estate to a woman. Everybody assumed, given the life Mr. Mizner had led, that the woman must have been his mistress, but she was a woman with whom he had had a Platonic friendship for the 15 years he knew her. The woman, Florence Atkinson, called him “the best and dearest friend I ever had in my whole life. … I know [his brother] Addison almost as well as Wilson. We were like three brothers.”

• Revolutionary War general Charles Lee made an infamous will that said, “I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church, or church-yard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist meeting-house; for since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company when living, that I do not chuse to continue it when dead.”


• Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah was ugly, and the daughter of the Emperor of Rome told him that she thought it was odd that so ugly a man could have such wisdom. He then asked if the Emperor kept wine in earthen vessels. She replied that he did, and Rabbi Joshua told her that it was odd to keep such a good thing as wine in earthen vessels and that the Emperor ought to keep his wine in golden and silver vessels. She told the Emperor what Rabbi Joshua had said, and the Emperor ordered that his wine be kept in golden and silver vessels — but the golden and silver vessels turned the wine sour. Therefore, the Emperor called Rabbi Joshua before him. Rabbi Joshua explained what he and the Emperor’s daughter had discussed, and he stated that he had merely repeated to the Emperor’s daughter the same principle she had told to him — good things should not be kept in common vessels. The Emperor then asked, “Are there no handsome scholars?” Rabbi Joshua replied, “If the scholars were ugly, they would be even more scholarly.”

• A man planted flowers in his garden; however, when the flowers grew, dandelions also grew with them. The man sought advice from friends and tried several ways to get rid of the dandelions, but nothing worked. Finally, the man sought advice from a wise gardener. The wise gardener suggested several ways to get rid of the dandelions, but the man had already tried them. Finally, the wise gardener said, “I suggest that you learn to love dandelions.”

• Many people are in despair over their evil deeds, but instead of turning from evil and doing good, they continue to despair although they instead “could be stringing pearls for the delight of Heaven,” in the words of the Rabbi of Ger. That is why the good Rabbi said, “It is written: ‘Depart from evil and do good’ — turn wholly from evil, do not dwell upon it, and do good. You have done wrong? Then counteract it by doing right.”

• During a sea voyage, a storm raged. A passenger on ship began to scream for help, and his shrieking disturbed the other passengers, who asked the wise Bahlul what could be done to quiet the panicked passenger. “Tie a rope to him and throw him overboard,” Bahlul said. “Just before he drowns, drag him on board. Then he will realize that he is safe on board this ship.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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