David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion — Wisdom, Work, Yom Kippur


• Catholics and Lutherans can work together, despite past differences. For example, Reverend Vincent Heier, a Catholic in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, invited some Missouri-Kansas Lutherans to meet in St. Louis Cathedral. He welcomed the Lutherans by saying, “We are pleased to provide the cathedral. Please don’t nail anything to the doors.”

• Joseph Pike and Samuel Randall were asked by Munster Province Meeting to pay visits to several Friends and speak about the subject of plainness. They did an excellent job — before speaking to anyone, they first went through their own homes and got rid of their own superfluities.


• Mulla Nasrudin made plans for the next day, telling his wife, “If it rains, I shall work inside the house, and if it doesn’t rain, I shall plow the field.” His wife replied, “Whenever you make plans, you should say, ‘God willing.’” “Why?” asked Nasrudin. “It shall either rain or not rain. There is no third choice.” The next day was sunny, so Nasrudin set out to plow his field, but a group of soldiers kidnapped him, forced him to be their guide to the next town, then beat him for his trouble. Late at night, black and blue all over, Nasrudin returned home. His wife had locked the door, so Nasrudin knocked. His wife asked, “Who is it?” Nasrudin replied, “It is I — God willing.”

• Zen masters sometimes hide themselves, appearing to be ordinary people while practicing Zen in secret. One such Zen master took an unusual occupation in Japan — he ran a floating outdoor tea room. He searched for spots of natural beauty, filled with flowers and beautiful scents, then made tea there for anyone who wanted it. This sign announced his prices: “The price of tea is however much you give me, from a hundred pounds of gold to half a penny. You can even drink for free, if you like; but I can’t give you a better bargain than that.”

• Pope John XXIII went out of his way to visit the poor sections of Rome. On one visit, he spoke with a 12-year-old boy and asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy answered, “Pope, like you.” Pope John XXIII replied, “You’ve chosen a difficult vocation. It is — you can believe me — a life of sacrifice.”

• Joe “Ducky” Medwick, a major league baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals, met the Pope in the company of several people who announced their occupations: “I’m a comic,” “I’m a singer,” etc. When it was Ducky’s turn to be presented to the Pope, he said, “Your Holiness, I’m a Cardinal.”

• At an outdoor rally at which Pope John Paul II spoke, workers were warned against calling the portable potties “Porta-Johns,” as the Holy Father might find the name offensive. Therefore, the workers called the portable potties “Vati-Cans.”

Yom Kippur

• Although most Jews fast on Yom Kippur, Jews are permitted to eat if they are gravely ill. When the Rabbi of Rachmistrivka became gravely ill, his physician decided that the Rabbi would have to eat on Yom Kippur. The physician was loath to tell the Rabbi this, so he stammered when he spoke to him. The Rabbi listened, then he asked, “What are you trying to say? Are you trying to tell me that I must eat on Yom Kippur?” The physician answered, “Yes.” The Rabbi then said, “Important decisions such as that should be clearly stated. In such important matters, you must be completely decisive.”

• In 1965, the World Series was played between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minneapolis Twins. The opening game of the World Series was on Yom Kippur, and Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax went to the synagogue rather than the ball park. Fellow Dodger Don Drysdale was on the mound, where he gave up six runs before being taken out of the game in the third inning. After being taken out, Mr. Drysdale told his manager, “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too.”

• On Yom Kippur, the voice of radio deejay Phil Spector was on the air when a Jewish man telephoned him and asked indignantly, “How can you, a Jewish boy, be working on Yom Kippur?” Mr. Spector replied, “I’m not working — I’m on tape.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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