David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Prayer, Preachers

Prayer

• As a boy, Richard Goode practiced at the piano, playing of course the same pieces over and over. A neighbor, Rabbi Ginzburg, once asked Richard’s father why his son did this. Mr. Goode replied, “Rabbi, haven’t you been saying the same prayers over and over since you were a child?” Afterward, Rabbi Ginzburg often could be heard humming to himself Richard’s piano music.

• As choreographer George Balanchine lay dying in a hospital, ballerina Suzanne Farrell stopped by to see him. Mr. Balanchine knew that Ms. Farrell’s knees had been bothering her, so he asked how her knees were. She said, “My knees are great; I could do anything.” Mr. Balanchine smiled and said, “Oh, I’m so glad, because I’ve been lying here praying for your knees.”

• Mark Twain once stayed over at the house of a friend. The next morning, he was seen standing at the top of the staircase. His friend said, “What’s the matter? Why not come on down?” Mr. Twain asked, “Family prayers over yet?” Hearing that they were over, Mr. Twain said, “All right then, I’ll come down.”

• Dolores Curran says that when you teach young children to pray, you should be prepared to hear some strange prayers, such as, “And Jesus, please hit Danny for me because he took my Big Wheel.”

• Peg Bracken’s grandmother occasionally ended her prayers by saying: “And if You’ll just tend to Your business, Lord, I’ll tend to mine.”

Preachers

• Reb Yaakov Krantz was a traveling preacher who was very popular and very well paid. Another preacher, who was envious of Reb Krantz’ success, complained to him, “You and I are both preachers. You and I both borrow ideas from others. When you preach, the synagogue is crowded and you are handsomely rewarded, whereas I have to speak to practically bare walls, and I hardly make my expenses. Tell me, what is the secret of your success?” Reb Krantz replied, “You and I can be compared to two sorts of thieves. One steals a piece of leather and sells it for one ruble. The other takes the leather, makes a pair of fine shoes out of it, and sells them for 10 rubles. The first is a common thief; the second, an artist.”

• A young clergyman was nervous about giving his sermon, so he asked an older clergyman for advice. The older clergyman said that he had suffered from the same problem, and he advised the young clergyman to take a pitcher of martinis to the pulpit with him. The martinis were clear like water, and the young clergyman could take a sip whenever he felt nervous. The young clergyman accepted the advice, gave his sermon, then asked the older clergyman to critique his performance in the pulpit. The older clergyman said, “I have three comments to make. First, don’t put olives in the pitcher. Second, don’t gulp — sip. Third, Daniel slew the lion — he didn’t beat the hell out of it.”

• Elton Trueblood, a Quaker, was committed to equality in ministry. One day, he was invited to preach at a large university. He met with other clergy before the service, and eventually the host pastor told everyone that it was time for them to put on robes and clerical vestments. Mr. Trueblood asked, “Is it required that we wear robes in religious settings?” The host pastor, somewhat flustered, said that it was not required, and Mr. Trueblood replied, “In that case, I’ll be glad to do so.”

• A friend was driving country comedian Jerry Clower around Savannah, Georgia, when the friend said, “John Wesley used to be pastor of that church.” Mr. Clower immediately said, “Stop,” and they went into that church. About the experience, Mr. Clower says, “I felt a tingling all over. Here’s a man that put one foot on Europe and one foot on the United States and preached and started Methodism.”

• At a New England Yearly Meeting, two very educated Quakers by the names of Rufus Jones and Augustus T. Murra, spoke. However, one elderly Quaker worried that the learned discourse of the two gentlemen was way over the heads of their audience. After the gentlemen had spoken, she said for everyone to hear, “Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs,’ not ‘Feed my giraffes.’”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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