Contents:Age Airline Pilots Anagrams Bible Blood Books Children Christmas Church Courtroom exchanges Creation Crime The Dead Engineers Examination answers God Greed History Intelligence Interruptions Interview Jacob's Ladder Jonah Journey Life London Underground The Long Silence Management Marriage Materialism Mother Mottos Noah Ocean Opposition Power Prayer Preaching Predestination Serenity Sin The Tablecloth Ten Commandments Truth War Miscellaneous
These items are apocryphal unless attributed.
It is said that medieval monasteries rejected humour. I suspect that this is not because they thought that humour is evil, but that it was an unnecessary interruption of their silence. It is never necessary to tell a joke; we do it for fun.
The Worst Age
'Sixty is the worst age to be,' said the 60-year-old.
'You always feel like you have to pee. And most of the time, you stand at the toilet and nothing comes out!'
'Oh, that's nothing',' said the 70-year-old. 'When you're seventy, you can't even crap anymore. You take laxatives, then you sit on the toilet all day and nothing comes out!'
'Actually,' said the 80-year-old, '80 is the worst age of all!'
'Do you have trouble peeing too?' asked the 60 year-old
'No, not really. I pee every morning at 6:00. No problem at all.'
'Do you have trouble crapping?' asked the 70-year-old.
'No; I crap every day at 6:30.'
With great exasperation, the 60-year-old said, 'Let me get this straight. You pee every morning at 6:00 and crap every morning at 6:30? So what's so tough about being 80?'
'I don't wake up until 7:00!'
Airline pilots humour
Here are some conversations that airline passengers normally will never hear. The following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline pilots and control to from around the world.
While taxiing at London Gatwick Airport, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Cincinnati made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a Virgin Atlantic 747. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going?! I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!" Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move until I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?" "Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded. Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out in Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?"
A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower said: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."
From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm f...ing bored!"
Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was f...ing bored, not f...ing stupid!"
Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7"
Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied and already notified our caterers."
The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.
Speedbird 206: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway."
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."
The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"
Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944 — but I didn't land."
It is not the parts of the Bible which I don't understand that worry me, but the ones I do.Mark Twain
A young man had received a Bible from his grandfather. He hatefully tossed it aside, resentful and disappointed at not being given cash. Years passed. One day he casually flipped through the pages of the Bible while sorting through his belongings. To his amazement and horror, a cheque for a large sum of money — enough to buy a new car — fell out of the crisp pages of the never-opened book. His grandfather had died a long time back; the bank account on which the check was written was long closed. Tears stung the man's eyes as he realized how ugly and foolish his behaviour had been. He had not been appreciative of a devoted grandfather. He had missed out on many opportunities, not only for a new car but, more important, for a warm and caring relationship with someone who loved him dearly.
Among other things there befell me a most infinte desire for a book from Heaven. For observing all things to be rude and superfluous here on earth, I thought the ways of felicity to be known only among th holy angels; and that unless I could receive information from them, I could never be happy...at last I perceived that the God of angels...had sent the book before I was born. Thomas Traherne
When Karl Barth, the theologian, was asked what he considered to be the most profound theological truth, he answered "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so". (Philip Yancey What's so amazing about grace?, Zondervan 2002)
Q. What kind of man was Boaz before he married? A. Ruth-less.
Q. What do they call pastors in Germany? A. German Shepherds.
Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible? A. Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.
Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible? A.Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.
Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible? A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.
Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible? A. Samson. He brought the house down.
Q. What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.
Q. Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible? A. Moses. He broke all ten commandments at once.
Q. Which area of Palestine was especially wealthy? A. The area around Jordan. The banks were always overflowing.
Q. Who is the greatest baby sitter mentioned in the Bible? A. David. He rocked Goliath to a very deep sleep.
Recently when sorting papers in a parish archive I [Edward Walsh] came on the tale of a Coke bottle. "In 1965 during a family reunion in Florida, a grand-mother woke everybody at 2.00 a.m., issuing orders to get empty Coke bottles, corks and paper. "I've received a message from God" she said. "People must hear his Word." She wrote verses on the paper, which the grandchildren bottled and corked them. Then everyone deposited over 300 bottles into the surf at Cocoa Beach. People contacted and thanked her for the Scriptures throughout the years. She died in November 1974. The next month the last letter arrived:
Dear Mrs. Gause,
I'm writing this letter by candlelight. We no longer have electricity on the farm. My husband was killed in the fall when the tractor overturned. He left 11 young children and myself behind. The bank is foreclosing, there's one loaf left, there's snow on the ground, and Christmas is two weeks away. I prayed for forgiveness before I went to drown myself. The river has been frozen over for weeks, so I didn't think it would take long. When I broke the ice, a Coke bottle floated up. I opened it, and with tears and trembling hands, I read about hope.
Ecclesiastes 9:4 'But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope.'
Hebrews 7:19, 6:18 and John 3:3 were also referenced. I came home, read my Bible, and am thanking God. Please pray for us, but we're going to make it now.
May God bless you and yours.
A farm in Ohio."
All Saints, Carshalton Parish Paper February 2009, page 3.
Winston Churchill once said "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face." "Yes," the class said. "Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position the blood doesn't run into my feet?" A little fellow shouted, "Cause your feet ain't empty."
The journalist, Christopher Hitchens, reputedly said 'Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.'
The following came from an anonymous Mother in Austin, Texas:
"Things I've learned from my Children (honest & no kidding):"
Father Christmas = Santa Claus = Saint Nicholas
= a bishop in the middle east around 300 AD who wore cardinal's red and was generous. When he heard of a poverty stricken nobleman whose three daughters might have to go into prostitution because he could not afford dowries for them to marry, he made three balls of gold and threw them through the girls' bedroom windows, hence pawn shops have three balls hanging outside.
Mince pies used to be savoury and crib-shaped but Oliver Cromwell banned them so sweet ones were adopted instead.
"The church in Africa runs a mile wide but only an inch deep" — Frik Veldman, Development Director for Southern and Central Africa "repeating this saying he heard from others ministering to Africa", quoted in FEBA "Threshold" magazine (Gill Knowles, Editor) Issue 31, page 13. Worthing: FEBA, 2008. www.feba.org.uk
Ordo Cassel said tha Christianity is not a religion or dogma but God trying to reach us.
Ghandi, speaking on Christianity as the West understands it: "what passes for Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount."
67 percent of non-Christians know a Christian, but only 1 percent know a minister.
We listened to inspiring addresses by the Archbishop of Canterbury [Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams] and Abbott Stuart of Burford, urging us to value and make known the treasures of this tradition. Mystery, awe, stillness, listening, contemplation, and regular disciplined prayer were all mentioned, as well as sacrament and symbol." — Sister Rosemary "Diary", Church Times 9 January 2009, page 16.
These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."
Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 pm in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community.
Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off-let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 pm; prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 pm there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 pm. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 pm. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
Courtroom exchanges (circulated widely on the Internet; allegedly true.)
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
the Lord God made the lot.
"crimes — including terrorist acts — are overwhelmingly committed by people aged between 15 and 30" (from an article about world population "Enough already", New Scientist 30 September 2006 page 49)
The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture. "Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or That's Michael, He's a doctor.' A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher, She's dead."
In a local newspaper was this headline, 'Maybe He Can Take It With Him'. It was a letter sent to a dead man. This is what the letter said. "Your social service benefits will stop with effect from March 1992, because we received notice you passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances."
Queen Victoria said "I feel a little better". Then she died.
Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?" The second replied, "Well, was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off a her clothes and said "Take what you want" The second engineer nodded approvingly. "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fitted."
To the optimist; the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer turned, "What's with these guys We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!" The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Lets have a word with him." "Hi George! Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greens keeper replied, "Oh, yes; that's a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime." The group was silent for a moment. The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor said, "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them." The engineer said, "Why can't these guys play at night?"
What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers? Mechanical Engineers build weapons, Civil Engineers build targets.
The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with an Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an Electrical Engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"
"Normal people ... believe that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it isn't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet."
Q. Name the four seasons.
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar
Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.
Q. How is dew formed?
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire
Q. What causes tides in the oceans?
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight
Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed
Q. What are steroids?
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.
Q. What happens to your body as you age?
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental
Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery .
Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes?
A. Premature death
Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow
Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)?
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts — the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I, O and U
Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie
Q. What does 'varicose' mean?
Q. Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarean section'
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome
Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.
Q. What is a terminal illness?
A. When you are sick at the airport.
Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas
Q. Use the word 'judicious' in a sentence to show you understand its meaning.
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.
Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight.
A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, "I'm drawing God." The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like." Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."
Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) said "Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours".
A priest and poet called R S Thomas (1913–2000) spent several hours waiting to see an albino dunnock (a freak bird) that was reported in north Wales, and commented afterwards "Waiting for birds is like waiting for God, but I don't think I'd wait three hours for God."
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray:
"Take only ONE. God is watching."
Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.
A child had written a note,
"Take all you want. God is watching the apples"
Mae West: "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
L P Hartley began his book The Go Between with the words "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."
Winston Churchill once said "For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself."
George Santayana: "those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it".
Or as Christian poet Steve Turner puts it, "History repeats itself. It has to — nobody listens".
The following was copied from The Bournemouth Evening Echo supplement and lists answers given by schoolchildren to history tests...
Ancient Egypt was old, it was inhabited by gypsies and mummies who all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.
Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the 10 commandos. He died before he ever reached Canada but the commandos made it.
Solomon had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. He was an actual hysterical figure as well as being in The Bible. It sounds like he was sort of busy too.
Socrates was a famous old Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. He later died from an overdose of wedlock which is apparently poisonous. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.
Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonised by Bernard Shaw for reasons I don't really understand. The English and French still have problems.
Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen". As a Queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "Hurrah" and that was the end of the fighting for a long while.
It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.
Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 ft clipper which was very dangerous to all his men.
The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter.
Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. They lived in Italy. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet but her father was having none of that I'm sure. You know how Italian fathers are.
Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation.
Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practised on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel.
Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large.
Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.
The 19th century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine.
The invention of the steamboat caused a great many rivers to spring up.
Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbits but I don't know why.
Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire at night.
Samson slew the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles.
The 7th commandment is, Thou shalt not admit adultery.
The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still, and he obeyed him.
David was a Hebrew king who learned to play the liar.
Charles Darwin was a naturalist. He wrote the Organ of the Species. It was very long and people got upset about it and had trials to see if it was really true. He sort of said God's days were not just 24 hours, but without watches who knew anyhow? I don't get it.
"America is in mourning. Alex, the African grey parrot, who was smarter than the average US president, has died at the relatively tender age of 31." The Guardian, London, Spetember 2007, qouted by Deborah Blum in Smarter than the average bird (a review of "Alex & Me" by Irene Pepperberg, HarperCollins), New Scientist 8 November 2008 page 47. (See also the New York Times angle on this.)
A little learning is a dang'rous thing
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Henri Nouwen says that as professor at the Notre Dame University in Paris he used to complain about the way his work was continually being interrupted, until he realised that the interruptions were his work.
Reaching Out, Collins 1975 p52 quoted in Anne Long Listening DLT 1990 p145
"An interview is a highly stressed, unstructured test of social interaction skills. Frequently, it's not a good way to assess for the role that's being hired for."
Ray Coyle of Auticon UK quoted in an article "NeuroDiversity" in IET magazine Engineering & Technology July 2019 p32
I dreamed there was a ladder from earth to heaven.
I was given a chalk and told I could ascend to heaven provided I wrote one of my sins on each rung.
On the way up I met a Bishop coming down.
I said "you're going the wrong way" but he said "I need some more chalk".
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".
The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?" The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".
"The longest journey begins with a single step" — Lao Tse, Chinese philosopher.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. — T.S.Elliot 'Four Quartets'
T.S.Eliot is said to have written "one of the purposes of life is in discovering new cheeses".
A list of actual announcements that London Tube train drivers have made to their passengers...
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction".
"Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from E & B syndrome, not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any."
"Do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there is a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won't reach our destination."
"Ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now....'Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall.....'".
"We are now travelling through Baker Street, as you can see Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don't think about things like that".
"Beggars are operating on this train, please do NOT encourage these professional beggars, if you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity, failing that, give it to me."
During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl: "step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gentleman... unfortunately towels are not provided".
"Let the passengers off the train FIRST!" (Pause .) "Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care — I'm going home...."
"Please allow the doors to close.Try not to confuse this with 'Please hold the doors open'. The two are distinct and separate instructions."
"Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors."
"To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage — what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand?"
"Please move all baggage away from the doors (Pause..) Please move ALL belongings away from the doors (Pause...) This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train — put the pie down, four-eyes, and move your bloody golf Clubs away from the door before I come down there and shove them up your a**e sideways"
"May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it's only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage".
The Long Silence
At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a vast plain before God's throne. Some groups talked heatedly, 'How can God judge us?' 'What does he know about suffering?' snapped a young woman. She jerked back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. A black man lowered his collar, 'What about this?' he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn, 'Lynched for no crime but being black. We have suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones and toiled till only death gave release.'
Many other people recounted stories of suffering. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky he was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light; where there was no weeping, no fear, no hunger and no hatred. All agreed that God seemed to lead a pretty sheltered life.
So each group sent out a representative. There was a Hew, a black woman, an untouchable from India, an illegitimate child, a victim from Hiroshima, a sweatshop worker and a prisoner from a labour camp. In the centre of the plain they consulted.
At last they were ready to present their case. It was very daring. Before God could qualify to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured. So the decision was made: God should be sentenced to live on earth as a man!
But, because he was God, they set certain safeguards to be sure he could not use his divine powers to help himself:
As each leader announced a portion of the sentence, there were shouts of approval from the people. But after the final statement, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved.
For suddenly all knew...God had already served his sentence. (From "Beddgelert Parish Magazine October 2005", attributed to "Anon")
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The woman below replied, "You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground.
You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."
"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help so far."
The woman below responded, "You must be in Management."
"I am, "replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
"Well, "said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."
Francis Dewar quotes in his book Called or Collared (London: SPCK, 2000) p30 an "old declension" I am firm, you are stubborn, he is pig-headed.
A vision without a task is a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision with a task is the hope of the world.
Lord Scarborough, quoted in Church Times 25 May 2012 page 14, said "Deans are like pigeons: they like to leave their mark".
"Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony".
(RC primary school child, quoted by David Winter in Church Times, 22 December 2006, p12).
"I believe that we infants have as much fun in our infancy as adults do in their adultery."
(another primary school child, apocryphal)
Today's Short Reading from THE BOOK OF FICTION...
From Genesis: "And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth."
Then He made the earth round...and He laughed and laughed and laughed!...
Veni, Vidi, Visa: I came, I saw, I bought.
(Jane Collins in Christianity+Renewal magazine, January 2002, p45).
Tesco, ergo sum: I buy, therefore I am.
"the creature's illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature's own sake, be shattered" (C S Lewis says in The Problem of Pain).
As a mother "you are as happy as your least happy child" — Michelle Obama, US First Lady, 2012
Ten mottos for the Twenty-first Century
To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive — Robert Louis Stevenson.
You have to set yourself goals so you can push yourself harder. Desire is the key to success. — Usain Bolt
Two men looked through prison bars; one saw mud and one saw stars — anon
Noah (as it might have been)
And the Lord said unto Noah: "Where is the ark which I have commanded thee to build?"
And Noah said unto the Lord: "Verily, I have had three carpenters off ill. The gopher wood supplier hath let me down yea, even though the gopher wood hath been on order for nigh upon twelve months."
And God said unto Noah: "I want that ark finished even after seven days and seven nights." And Noah said: "It will be so." And it was not so. And the Lord said: "What seemeth to be the trouble this time?"
And Noah said unto the Lord: "Mine subcontractor hath gone bankrupt. The pitch which thou commandest me to put on the outside and on the inside of the ark hath not arrived. The plumber hath gone on strike. Shem, my son who helpeth me on the ark side of the business, hath formed a pop group with his brothers Ham and Japeth. Lord, I am undone."
And the Lord grew angry and said: "And what about the unicorns, and the fowls of the air by sevens?"
And Noah wrung his hands and wept, saying: "Lord, unicorns are a discontinued line; thou canst not get them for love nor money. And it hath just been told unto me that the fowls of the air are sold only in half dozens. Lord, thou knowest how it is".
And the Lord in his wisdom said: "Noah, my son, I know. Why else dost thou think I have caused a flood to descend upon the earth?"
(Not attributed, from a parish magazine)
Doctor's office in Rome:
SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.
Hotel in Acapulco:
THE MANAGER HAS PERSONALLY PASSED ALL THE WATER SERVED HERE.
Information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner in Japan:
COOLES AND HEATES. IF YOU WANT JUST CONDITION OF WARM AIR IN OUR ROOM, PLEASE CONTROL YOURSELF.
Car rental brochure in Tokyo:
WHEN PASSENGER OF FOOT HEAVE IN SIGHT, TOOTLE THE HORN. TRUMPET HIM MELODIOUSLY AT FIRST, BUT IF HE STILL OBSTACLES YOUR PASSAGE THEN TOOTLE HIM WITH VIGOUR.
Dry cleaner's in Bangkok:
DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.
Sign in men's rest room in Japan:
TO STOP LEAK TURN COCK TO THE RIGHT.
In a Nairobi restaurant:
CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.
On the grounds of a private school:
NO TRESPASSING WITHOUT PERMISSION.
On an Athi River highway:
TAKE NOTICE — WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.
On a poster at Kencom:
ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT READ? IF SO, WE CAN HELP.
In a City restaurant:
OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND WEEKENDS.
One of the Mathare buildings:
MENTAL HEALTH PREVENTION CENTRE.
A sign seen on an automatic restroom hand dryer:
DO NOT ACTIVATE WITH WET HANDS.
Hotel notice in Tokyo:
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO STEAL HOTEL TOWELS PLEASE. IF YOU ARE NOT A PERSON TO DO SUCH A THING IS PLEASE NOT TO READ NOTICE.
On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
Hotel room notice in Chiang-Mai, Thailand:
PLEASE DO NOT BRING SOLICITORS INTO YOUR ROOM.
Hotel lobby in Bucharest:
THE LIFT IS BEING FIXED FOR THE NEXT DAY. DURING THAT TIME WE REGRET THAT YOU WILL BE UNBEARABLE.
Hotel elevator in Paris:
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR VALUES AT THE FRONT DESK.
In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian orthodox monastery:
YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS, AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY EXCEPT THURSDAY.
Hotel catering to skiers in Austria:
NOT TO PERAMBULATE THE CORRIDORS IN THE HOURS OF REPOSE IN THE BOOTS OF ASCENSION.
Taken from a menu in Poland:
SALAD A FIRM'S OWN MAKE; LIMPID RED BEET SOUP WITH CHEESY DUMPLINGS IN THE FORM OF A FINGER; ROASTED DUCK LET LOOSE; BEEF RASHER BEATEN IN THE COUNTRY PEOPLE'S FASHION.
Supermarket in Hong Kong:
FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, WE RECOMMEND COURTEOUS, EFFICIENT SELF-SERVICE.
From the "Soviet Weekly":
THERE WILL BE A MOSCOW EXHIBITION OF ARTS BY 15,000 SOVIET REPUBLIC PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS. THESE WERE EXECUTED OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS.
In an East African newspaper:
A NEW SWIMMING POOL IS RAPIDLY TAKING SHAPE SINCE THE CONTRACTORS HAVE THROWN IN THE BULK OF THEIR WORKERS.
Hotel in Vienna:
IN CASE OF FIRE, DO YOUR UTMOST TO ALARM THE HOTEL PORTER.
A sign posted in Germany's Black Forest:
IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE.
Hotel in Zurich:
BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPRIETY OF ENTERTAINING GUESTS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE BEDROOM, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE LOBBY BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE.
An advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist:
TEETH EXTRACTED BY THE LATEST METHODISTS.
A laundry in Rome:
LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME.
Tourist agency in Czechoslovakia:
TAKE ONE OF OUR HORSE-DRIVEN CITY TOURS. WE GUARANTEE NO MISCARRIAGES.
Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand:
WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?
In the window on a Swedish furrier:
FUR COATS MADE FOR LADIES FROM THEIR OWN SKIN.
The box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong:
GUARANTEED TO WORK THROUGHOUT ITS USEFUL LIFE.
In a Swiss mountain inn:
SPECIAL TODAY — NO ICE-CREAM.
Airline ticket office in Copenhagen:
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
On the door of a Moscow hotel room:
IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST VISIT TO THE USSR, YOU ARE WELCOME TO IT.
A little fish was swimming in the vast ocean. He had heard a rumour about this thing called 'ocean' and he wanted very much to find it and feel it and see it. In his quest to discover the ocean, this little fish asked many other fish in the sea, "Have you heard about 'ocean'? Do you know where I might find it?" The answer always came back, "No. We have heard the rumour, too, but we have never seen 'ocean' and don't know where it might be." (Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello, quoted in Closer to God, 19 July 2008)
Mahatma Ghandi is said to have seen four stages of opposition to a radical idea:
Winston Churchill once said "A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
"Power currupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are nearly always bad men." — Lord Acton, 1887
"Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man"
- US Cardinal Francis Spellman 1889–1967
A prayer scratched on the wall of a prison cell in Cologne during the second world war:
I believe in the sun,
even when it does not shine.
I believe in love,
even when I cannot feel it.
I believe in God,
even when he is silent.
An ancient fable tells of how a novice in the spiritual life once asked his master how he might reach communion with God. lnstead of giving him an answer, the master asked a question in return. 'What can you do to make the sun rise?' The novice was disappointed, knowing of course that he could do absolutely nothing to make the sun rise. He became disheartened that all his attempts to pray appeared to be fruit-less and totally ineffective. Eventually he went back to the master and asked him, perhaps a little petulantly, 'So why have you been teaching us all these methods and practices of prayer?' The master answered him, 'To make sure that you are awake when the sun rises.'
See also the Serenity Prayer.
Winston Churchill said "The head cannot take in more than the seat can endure".
Vicar's daughter: "Why does Daddy say a prayer before his sermon?"
Mother: "To ask for God's help in preaching well."
Daughter: "Why doesn't God answer his prayer then?" (Adapted from Gordon Kuhrt An introduction to Christian Ministry page 34)
Preacher at the start of the sermon: "I'm sorry about the plaster on my face. I was thinking about my sermon while I was shaving, and I cut my face."
Note handed to preacher on leaving: "Instead of thinking about the sermon and cutting your face, why not think about your face and cut the sermon?" (Adapted from Gordon Kuhrt An introduction to Christian Ministry page 34)
The greatest risk for a preacher is they become so accustomed to their own language they think everyone else understands it — Pope Francis
A two-verse limeric from a letter to New Scientist 26 February 2005 from Alan Worsley:
There was a young man who said "Damn!
I now understand that I am
A being that moves
In predestinate grooves
Not a car, not a bus, but a tram."
The young fellow then thought,
"No, it is not necessarily so,
The argument fails,
I can lay my own rails,
And go where I want to go."
A prayer by Revd Dr Reinhold Niebuhr:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
The Serenity Prayer is part of a longer prayer composed by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
"God grant me the grace to accept with serenity the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference,
living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace,
I taking as you did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that you will make all things right, if I surrender to your will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.
Sin (see also Appendix 2: Terms: Sin)
In an interview in Church Times 16 March 2007 page 30, Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams quoted Augustine as saying "The problem with injustice is not only the suffering of the oppressed, it is the corruption of the mind and heart of the oppressor".
In the dark? Follow the Son.
One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?" Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."
The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing — Edmund Burke
The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities.
When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest — a driving rainstorm — hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory coloured, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colours and a Cross embroidered right in the centre. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the centre aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained.
The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighbourhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.
True Story — submitted by Pastor Rob Reid — Who says God doesn't work in mysterious ways?
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds.
After explaining the commandment to "honour thy Father and thy Mother", she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"
The eldest of family answered, "Thou shall not kill."
The 7th commandment is, Thou shalt not admit adultery.
Moses came down from the mountain. "I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I've got it down to ten. The bad news is, adultery is still forbidden."
Malcolm Muggeridge, quoted by Gerald Coates in Christianity+Renewal December 2006: "My dear boy, if you are going to have anything to do with newspapers, you must understand they do not exist to tell the truth." Similarly, David Self writing in Church Times, 8 December 2006, page 12 quotes Lord Beaverbrook ("one-time owner of the Daily Express") as saying that journalist's job is to make mischief.
'Sir Max Hastings, a former editor of The Daily Telegraph and a historian, described journalism as "the business of doing a jigsaw with a vast number of pieces missing...and a good number of pieces wilfully concealed by those in positions of power" — Church Times 15 November 2013 p6 "What is truth? Public figures give different answers".
Bishop Kallistos Ware to Revd Paul Kennington: If someone thinks they have God's truth, they are a heretic. The trouble with heresy is, it makes sense, but Christianity is mystery.
"Journalism doesn't deal with complication well any longer" — Mick Gordon ("Deep Cut" play director) quoted in Clare Allfree "A time to point the finger", London Metro newspaper, March 10 2009, page 23.
"Darwin changed our thinking as much as any scientist." Stuart Kauffman in "Evolution's final frontiers" (a compendium of quotations) in New Scientist 31 January 2009 page 43.
Winston Churchill once said "A lie goes halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
It is said that a bishop once wondered what to do about six problem curates. He sent them each an anonymous letter saying "All is discovered. Flee!" and they all fled.
George Orwell said "Sport is war minus the shooting".
President Barak Obama said on 24 May 2016 "big nations should not bully smaller ones".
A television programme marking the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War (C4, 5 January 2002) included a testimony from the British Army officer who was 2nd in command to Colonel "H" Jones at the attack on Goose Green.
Colonel Jones was a dynamic man who led from the front. There was no cover because the countryside was gently rolling hillside covered in turf. Jones led a group in a charge on the enemy lines; a supporting group watched the enemy fire get closer and closer to him; he was hit and fell only inches from the enemy trenches. When the others saw him fall they sent a pre-arranged coded radio message which meant that the 2nd in command had to take charge.
The 2nd in command did not know what to do; he just felt cold and depressed. 400 men were attacking 1500, on a bitterly cold night, with no more stores or ammunition than they had been able to carry, on account of the Atlantic Conveyor having been sunk with their helicopters on board. Mrs Thatcher had announced their attack 24 hours earlier on the World Service, so there was no element of surprise. It was going badly and many men including the Colonel were dead. It seemed hopeless.
He walked alone up a gully, and took out of his pocket a prayer that he had plasticised earlier. He knelt down on the turf and said the prayer, effectively giving his future into God's hands. Suddenly he no longer felt cold; he felt joyful; and he knew what to do. The following morning he invited the Argentineans to surrender, which they did, being even more cold, hungry and demoralised than the British.
The rest is history.
A drunk man who stank of beer sat down on a subway seat next to a priest. The mans tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick and a half empty bottle of Gin was sticking out his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading, after a few minutes the man turned to the priest and asked, "Say, Father, what causes arthritis?"
"My Son, it's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man, sleeping around with prostitutes and lack off a bath."
"Well, I'll be damned" the drunk muttered, returning to his paper. The priest thinking about what he had said nudged the man and apologized.
"I'm very sorry; I didn't mean to come on so strong, how long have you had arthritis?"
"I don't have it Father; I was just reading here that the Pope does".
© David Billin 2003–2019