David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Patience, Persistence, Politics

Patience

• A Sufi teacher spoke about the virtue of patience. As he spoke, a scorpion stung his foot repeatedly. His followers eventually noticed the scorpion and asked the teacher why he had not moved his foot away from it. The teacher replied, “I was discussing the virtue of patience. I could hardly have spoken about patience without also setting an example of patience. I would have been ashamed before God.”

• At Ferney, Voltaire played a daily game of chess with Father Adam, a Jesuit. One hopes that the father was a patient man, for when Voltaire was losing, he would overturn the board, playing the game to the end only when he was winning.

Persistence

• A man named Pen-ju came to the Buddhist priest Si-tien and said, “In my life I have tried to accomplish something remarkable, but I have failed. Can you teach me how to do something remarkable?” Si-tien agreed to teach Pen-ju, and the first task he set for him was to make a pair of sandals out of straw. After many attempts, Pen-ju succeeded in making a pair of sandals that satisfied Si-tien. Next, Si-tien told Pen-ju to stand in the mud, then walk out of the mud, and clean his sandals. In addition, he told Pen-ju to do this over and over again without stopping, except for meals and sleep. Pen-ju complained that this work was completely unnecessary, but Si-tien said that unless he did it, he would teach him nothing. After several weeks had passed, during which time Pen-ju had cleaned his sandals thousands of times, Si-tien told Pen-ju, “Before, you were unable to accomplish anything remarkable because you lacked persistence. Now you have learned persistence, so go out into the World, apply your persistence to an important task, and accomplish something remarkable.”

• Hong-su asked the Buddhist priest Si-tien, “Can you teach me how to be more persistent when confronted with a difficult task?” Si-tien replied, “Find a four-leaf clover, then bring it to me.” Hong-su searched two hours for a four-leaf clover, but he was unable to find one, so he returned to Si-tien and said, “I can’t find a four-leaf clover.” Si-tien replied, “Find a four-leaf clover, then bring it to me.” Hong-su searched the rest of the day for a four-leaf clover, but he was unable to find one, so he returned to Si-tien and said, “I can’t find a four-leaf clover.” Si-tien replied, “Find a four-leaf clover, then bring it to me.” After searching for two days, Hong-su found a four-leaf clover, and he brought it to Si-tien and asked, “Now can you teach me how to be more persistent when confronted with a difficult task?” Si-tien replied, “Bring me another four-leaf clover.”

Politics

• Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina was active back when Joe McCarthy was making it hot for anyone who believed in the Bill of Rights. He once rose in the Senate and told a story about his Uncle Ephraim going to church although he was nearly crippled by arthritis. The preacher asked various members of the church, “What has the Lord done for you?” All of the members described various good things the Lord had done for them, but when the preacher asked Uncle Ephraim, he replied, “Brother, the Lord has mighty near ruint me.” Senator Ervin then said, “And that is what Senator McCarthy has done to the Senate.”

• Hillaire Belloc was noted for his honesty. He was warned when he was running for a seat in the House of Commons that being a Catholic was a drawback and if he wanted to be elected, he should keep his religion a secret. Instead, he told the voters, “I am a Catholic. I go to Mass every day.” Taking a rosary from his pocket, he continued, “As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that He has spared me the indignity of being your representative.” The voters did not reject him — they elected him.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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