David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Sermons, Sunday school, Theft, Tobacco, War

Sermons

• While in Edinburgh, Sydney Smith gave a sermon. After noticing that the congregation was composed mostly of women, he preached on this verse from the Psalms, “O, that men would therefore praise the Lord.”

Sunday School

• As a child in Sunday school, Michael Thomas Ford and the other students were fascinated by the Flannelgraph — a board covered with felt on which Bible stories could be enacted using paper dolls which stuck to the felt because of a material on the back of the dolls. One Sunday, when the teacher was out of the room for a few minutes, young Michael and the other children got a chance to enact their own scene with the paper dolls. However, the scene they chose to enact was not wholly appropriate for a Sunday school — they enacted a scene from Saturday Night Fever using the St. Paul paper doll to represent John Travolta’s character.

• In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, young Tom wins tickets each Sunday by reciting a few Bible verses — the tickets, when numerous enough, can be exchanged for a plainly bound Bible. Mark Twain’s Sunday school had the same system except that the tickets entitled a child to borrow a religious book from the Church library. In his later years, Mr. Twain claimed that he won his tickets by reciting the same five Bible verses each week.

Theft

• Nicholas Waln (1742-1813) was both a Quaker and a wit. While living in Philadelphia, he became aware that someone was stealing wood from his woodpile. By keeping careful watch, he learned that his next-door neighbor was the culprit, so he arranged to have a load of wood delivered to the neighbor. Instead of being pleased with the gift, the neighbor felt insulted and angrily demanded of Mr. Waln what he meant. Mr. Waln replied, “Friend, I was afraid thee would hurt thyself falling off my woodpile.”

• While on a Boy Scout trip as a young boy, Matt Groening took a Gideon Bible from a motel — he thought that it was free. He then underlined all the “dirty parts” in it. Of course, he got into trouble. Incredulous, his scoutmaster screamed, “You stole this Bible on top of everything else?”

Tobacco

• Charlie W. Shedd used to have two collections. One collection consisted of portraits of Jesus. As a young pastor in Houston, Texas, with the help of his congregation, he had collected these portraits, which now are displayed in the “Faces of Jesus” room at the Jekyll Community Presbyterian Church on Jekyll Island, Georgia. The other collection consisted of pipes, which he enjoyed smoking. However, one day, while sitting in the Faces of Jesus room, he started wondering, “In which of these faces would a pipe look good?” The answer was none, so he decided to get rid of his pipes and stop smoking. While on vacation at Playmore Beach, Rocky Mount, on the Lake of Ozarks, he put his pipes in a bag, rowed out onto the lake, and dropped the bag overboard. The next day, the bag of pipes had washed up on the beach in front of his cabin. But pastor Shedd was not to be dissuaded. He and his wife rowed back out on the lake, where they dropped the pipes one by one into the lake. This time, the pipes stayed put.

• Rev. Gustave Weigel, S.J., once lit a cigar and began puffing on it contentedly following an interfaith dinner. A fundamentalist Protestant looked on, disgusted, and asked, “Don’t you Catholics believe that the body is a temple?” After the priest replied, “Yes,” the fundamentalist asked why he was putting smoke in it. Father Weigel replied, “You put sausage in it.”

War

• During World War II, Gertrude Babilinska helped save the life of a Jewish boy named Mickey in Poland during the Holocaust. His parents had died, and she had promised them that she would take care of him. During the war, Mickey became ill and Ms. Babilinska was forced to take him to a German doctor. After the doctor had treated Mickey, she tried to pay him, but he refused payment, saying, “No, you have helped feel like a man.” Because of this, she realized that he knew that Mickey was Jewish. After the war, Ms. Babilinska took Michael to Israel so she could fulfill her promise to his parents to raise him as a Jew.

• When World War I broke out, the Austrian emperor asked Pope Pius X to bless his country’s cause. The Pope declined, saying, “I do not bless war; I bless peace.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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