David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Children, Church

Children

• As you may expect, science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov was a precocious child. He even taught himself to read. His father was proud of him and said to Isaac’s Uncle Joe, “Isaac can find any word in the dictionary.” Uncle Joe replied, “Impossible!” Isaac looked up the word “impossible” in the dictionary and showed it to Uncle Joe. In school later, Isaac ran into a problem. He showed off his intelligence in school, and some bullies disliked him because of that and so they beat him up. Isaac solved this problem by doing the homework of the biggest bully, who then kept the other bullies from beating him up.

• Hillary Rodham Clinton and her brother were not pampered when they were growing up — for one thing, they did not receive an allowance. Hillary’s brother, Tony, remembers doing chores around the house, then at dinner asking their father for a few dollars. However, having grown up during the Depression, their father was not free with money. Instead, he would give Tony an extra potato and say, “That’s your reward.” Hillary’s father was hard to please. Hillary would come home from school with a report card full of A’s, and her mother would be pleased and say, “Oh, that’s wonderful, dear.” However, her father would say, “You must go to a pretty easy school.”

• As a small child, Christina Lessa became entranced by gymnastics and started taking lessons. After a whole week of lessons, she decided to perform an Olympic-level balance beam dismount that takes years to learn. She broke her wrist and gave up her lessons, but as an adult she became a renowned photographer of gymnasts.

• When Muhammad Ali, nee Cassius Clay, was an infant, some of the first sounds he made were “gee-gee.” After he grew up and became a world-famous boxer, he claimed that he had been trying to say “Golden Gloves.” (Mr. Ali won the national amateur boxing tournament known as Golden Gloves twice in his career.)

• Obviously, the White House is very concerned about security. When Caroline Kennedy’s pet hamsters escaped from their cage, JFK’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, announced at a press conference, “Our security is very tight, but these were extremely intelligent hamsters.”

• A Presbyterian family once visited a Baptist church where the family’s young daughter was very impressed by a stained glass window portraying Jesus. The daughter said, “I always knew God was a Presbyterian — but I didn’t know until today that Jesus was a Baptist.”

• Performance artist Rinde Eckert identifies his pivotal performance as the time he played Peter Rabbit while he was in kindergarten. Whenever he dipped his head so that his bunny ears flopped over his face, the audience laughed.

Church

• Abraham Lincoln once ran for Congress against pioneer preacher Peter Cartwright. Once, Mr. Lincoln attended one of his rival’s sermons. Mr. Cartwright asked everybody who wished to go to Heaven to stand up. Almost everyone stood up. Then he asked everybody who wished to avoid going to H*ll to stand up. At this point, everybody but Mr. Lincoln was standing. Mr. Cartwright then said, “I observe that many of you accepted my invitation to give their hearts to God and go to Heaven. I further observed that all but one of you indicated an aversion to going to H*ll. The sole exception is Mr. Lincoln, who failed to respond to either invitation. May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln, where you are going?” Mr. Lincoln replied, “I’m going to Congress.”

• Comedian Dick Van Dyke, who used to be a Sunday School teacher, once imagined a want ad for a Sunday School teacher: “Wanted: Teacher. Must have the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the courage of David. Must teach like St. Paul, lead like Moses, and stay cool under fire like Shadrach.” By the way, Mr. Van Dyke and his wife taught their young children to say this prayer: “Lord, we thank Thee for our food, for rest and home and all things good, for wind and rain and Heaven above, but most of all for those we love.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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