David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Death, Easter, Education

Death

• A young man was dying, but he kept clinging stubbornly to life. A Sister asked why he was fighting so hard to live, and the young man replied, “I cannot die without asking forgiveness from my father.” The young man’s father arrived, and a couple of hours after being forgiven, the young man died peacefully.

• Thomas Hart Benton and John Caldwell Calhoun were enemies. After Mr. Calhoun died, Mr. Benton was asked, “I suppose, Tom, you won’t pursue Calhoun beyond the grave?” Mr. Benton replied, “No, sir! When the Lord lays his hands on a man, sir, I take mine off.”

• Alexander the Great once saw the Greek philosopher Diogenes looking at some human bones. “What are you looking for?” he asked. Diogenes replied, “Something that I cannot find — the difference between the bones of your father and those of his slaves.”

• As Rabbi Yisrael Salanter lay on his deathbed, he told the man who was watching over him that a dead body was nothing to fear. Even as he died, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was considerate of other people’s feelings and did not wish to frighten them.

• When Wilson Mizner lay dying, his nurse asked if he wanted a priest to administer the last rites. Mr. Mizner replied, “I want a priest, a rabbi, and a Protestant minister. I want to hedge my bets.”

• While on his deathbed, Heinrich Heine was asked if God would forgive his sins. Mr. Heine replied with his last words: “Naturally, God will forgive me. That’s His business.”

• When the great 19th-century actor Richard Mansfield lay dying, his wife clasped his hand and said, “God is life.” He smiled at her and said, “God is love.”

• Lord Tenterden was an English judge. On his deathbed, he said, “Gentlemen of the jury, you will now consider your verdict.”

Easter

• One Easter, United Methodist pastor Lawrence W. Althouse dressed as an angel to take part in an ecumenical dawn pageant. He was running late, so he drove his car faster than he should have, and a police officer pulled him over and asked if he knew how fast he was driving. Mr. Althouse replied that he didn’t know, but he “really had to hurry because I’ve got to get to the resurrection on time.” The police officer looked at Mr. Althouse’s halo and wings, then let him go without giving him a speeding ticket.

• Early one Easter morning, humorist Frank Sullivan pushed this message under the apartment door of a friend: “Get up, lazy bones! I’ve been up for hours! J.C.”

Education

• The rural Springport, Indiana, Middleroad Friends Meeting engaged in a worship exchange program with the inner-city Mount Zion Evangelical Missionary Free Baptist Temple. This led to some strange experiences. When the inner-city choir came to the Meeting, the somber-clad Quakers learned how to clap during what for them was normally a period of quiet worship. And when the female Quaker pastor preached in the inner-city church, she had to adjust to a congregation that repeated every phrase worth repeating — fortunately, lots of phrases were worth repeating. The worship exchange, which was definitely different for both churches, was also judged a success by both churches.

• Preacher Will D. Campbell ministers to people who need to be ministered to. He was very active in the Civil Rights Movement, but he also ministers to Ku Klux Klan members. For both blacks and whites (even racist whites), he performs weddings and funerals. Kris Kristofferson, who even before he became famous knew Mr. Campbell, once visited Mr. Campbell’s office to ask him, “What the hell kind of place is this? You’ve got a preacher who marches with Dr. Martin Luther King and also ministers to members of the Ku Klux Klan. I’m a Rhodes scholar, and I don’t understand that.” Mr. Campbell replied, “Maybe the reason you don’t understand is that you’re a Rhodes scholar.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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