250 Anecdotes About Religion: Volume 2

Here are the first 10 anecdotes from my book 250 Anecdotes About Religion: Volume 2:

Age

  • Author Michael Thomas Ford once spoke before a class of children. One child asked him, “How old are you?” When he gave the answer — 30 — he shocked the children, one of whom marveled, “You’re older than my mom,” and another of whom said, “That’s old.” Afterward, the children’s teacher explained that whenever the children asked her how old she was, “I just tell them I knew God when he was a boy. That shuts them up — except for the ones who want to know if He was a good kickball player.”[1]
  • Pope John XXIII once traveled through a Roman tenement where some blankets covered billboards showing a very shapely Italian actress. The Pope noticed this and told the crowd, “It is good that you do this, but you should realize that I am an old man, and if one of my age is thought to be scandalized by pictures like these, what of yourselves and your children?”[2]
  • In Haifa, a city in Israel, the walls of the subway cars have stenciled on them these words from Leviticus: “You should rise up before the aged.” In other words: When the subway car is crowded, get up and give your seat to an older person.[3]

Animals

  • Wesleyan pastor William Woughter was serving at a church called Buena Vista, located in a rural area near Bath, New York, when he retired. This church had the custom of giving the pastor the fruits of the earth on Harvest Day. One Sunday during harvest, the pastor would be kept out of the church until the farmers had brought in the good things of the earth as presents to the pastor. One Harvest Day, a man named Dean Stewart brought in a live turkey, which proceeded to gobble as Pastor William began his sermon. Pastor William looked at the turkey and said, “If you don’t stop that noise, I will make you preach the rest of the sermon.” The turkey stayed quiet until church was over.[4]
  • The Jewish religious leader known as the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Hasidism) told this story to a rabbi who was too rigid and legalistic: “I was driving a coach with three horses, none of which was neighing. I did not understand why until a peasant saw the horses and shouted at me to loosen the reins. When I loosened the reins, the horses immediately began to neigh.” When the rabbi heard the story, he realized that souls must be free in order to sing — too many restrictions stifle the soul.[5]

Art

  • In 1843, Englishman Sir Henry Cole invented the illustrated Christmas card. He wanted to remind his friends to give to the needy during the holidays, so he commissioned an artist to create a scene of a family enjoying a holiday feast while ignoring needy people nearby. He then sent these cards to his friends.[6]
  • Louise Nevelson created artworks for the Chapel of the Good Shepherd in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York City. When a reporter asked the pastor why a Russian-born Jew had been picked to create works of art for a Christian chapel, he replied, “Because she’s the greatest living American sculptor.”[7]

Baptism

  • One winter, some Dunkers held an outdoors baptism, breaking the ice on a river to do so. After being baptized, one of the men was asked if the water had been cold. He replied, “No, not a bit.” The other man who had been baptized told the preacher, “You better baptize him again, and hold him down a little longer. He hasn’t been cured of lying.”[8]
  • Max Weber, the sociologist, once saw a banker in the American South being baptized in a cold stream. When Mr. Weber asked what was happening, he was told that the banker was being baptized so that the people of the town would trust him and so do business with him.[9]

Bible

  • Many of us read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, in which the Pharisee says, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as that publican [tax collector]. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess.” Unfortunately, when many of us read this, we think, “Thank God that I am not as that Pharisee.”[10]

[1] Source: Michael Thomas Ford, It’s Not Mean If It’s True, pp. 112-113.

[2] Source: Louis Michaels, The Humor and Warmth of Pope John XXIII, p. 12.

[3] Source: Wayne Dosick, Golden Rules, p. 17.

[4] Source: William Woughter, All Preachers of Our God & King, pp. 58-59.

[5] Source: Elie Wiesel, Souls on Fire, p. 41.

[6] Source: Meg Cabot, Holiday Princess, p. 5.

[7] Source: Michael Cain, Louise Nevelson, pp. 95-97.

[8] Source: A. Monroe Aurand, Jr., Wit and Humor of the Pennsylvania Germans, p. 29.

[9] Source: Ron Chernow, The Death of the Banker, p. 92.

[10] Source: Tom Mullen, Seriously, Life is a Laughing Matter, p. 33.

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