Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdote Desmond Tutu (1931–)

Desmond Tutu is the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, South Africa. With a smile and sly wit, he is able to make important points with a minimum of bitterness, which is perhaps why he was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize.

He demonstrated this skill in a recent speech in New York City, where he stated, "When the missionaries first came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said: 'Let us pray!' We closed our eyes. When we opened them, the tables had turned: we had the Bible and they had the land!"

Anecdote Agatha Christie (1891–1976)

Agatha Christie's second husband, Max Mallowan, was a distinguished archaeologist who made his name excavating in Mesopotamia. On her return with her husband from the Middle East, Agatha Christie was asked how she felt about being married to a man whose interest lay in antiquities. "An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have," she said. "The older she gets, the more interested he is in her."

Anecdote Nelson Mandela

A good friend, Jessie Duarte, remembers how Nelson Mandela always made his own bed almost offending the Chinese.

“He always made his own bed, no matter where we travelled. I remember we were in Shanghai, in a very fancy hotel, and the Chinese hospitality requires that the person, who cleans your room and provides you with your food, does exactly that. If you do it for yourself, it could even be regarded as an insult.

So in Shanghai I tried to say to him, ‘Please don’t make your own bed, because there’s this custom here.’ And he said, ‘Call them, bring them to me.’

So I did. I asked the hotel manager to bring the ladies who would be cleaning the room, so that he could explain why he himself has to make his own bed, and that they not feel insulted. He didn’t ever want to hurt people’s feelings. He never really cared about what great big people think of him, but he did care about what small people thought of him. That used to amaze me. He didn’t mind if he insulted a very important person, or said something to them that was unkind, because he said they could fend and fight for themselves. But he would never insult someone who did not have power.”

A Comeback for God?

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Voltaire once said: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him" (the Western God is masculine). It has been human habit for centuries to call on God in times of distress. Therefore it may be true that God was indeed invented by human beings to provide comfort and shelter in this hostile and violent world of ours. If so, was God made in our own image, apparently for our stability and security? Does today's world bear testimony to being an ocean of stability and tranquility?

In the West, dominated by the Christian tradition, there are many doctrines about God. But at the same time, in Europe in particular, there are many who have predicted that humanity will develop into a godless future. Those who predict such a future have found support among those who claim that God is only a name for everlasting emptiness and that any perception of God is nothing but a poor attempt to have nothingness explained. But then the question arises of how one clarifies something that isn’t there.

Read more: A Comeback for God?

Blending Beliefs

Compiled by S. T. Adelante

The New York Times of December 12, 2009, cited a report of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life entitled “Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths,” recording that many Americans now blend Christianity with Eastern or esoteric ideas. Protestants (by 20 %) and Catholics (by 28 %) acknowledged a belief in reincarnation. Similar percentages espouse astrology, the spiritual practice of yoga, and the concept of spiritual energy in mountains, trees, and crystals. Over the past dozen years, the number of Americans who acknowledge experience of ghosts has increased from 9 to 18 %, and contact with the dead from 18 to 29 %. According to the Times, Americans bend dogmas to suit themselves rather than bend themselves to fit a dogma.

Anecdote Bill Gates

Bill Gates is the most famous businessman in the world. Many pages have been written about how he has dominated the revolution in personal computing. But we know little about him as a person. Here’s a familiar anecdote which may show his personality:

When Bill Gates was in the sixth grade, his parents decided that he needed some kind of help. He was at war with his mother Mary, an extrovert woman who believed that he should do what she told him. She would call him to dinner from his bedroom, which she had given up trying to make him clean, but he wouldn’t respond.

“What are you doing?” she once asked him.

“I’m thinking,” Bill answered.

“You’re thinking?”

“Yes, Mom, I’m thinking,” he said aggressively. “Have you tried thinking?”

Finally, his parents decided to send him to a psychologist. The psychologist concluded that Bill was extremely intelligent. After a one-year session and a large number of tests, the psychologist told Bill’s parents: “You’re going to lose. You had better adjust to it because there’s no use trying to punish him. It’s useless to try to compete with him.” A lot of computer companies have concluded the same.

Anecdote Thor Heyerdahl – Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer (1914—2002)

Thor Heyerdahl gained world recognition in 1947 when he and five companions sailed from Peru to Polynesia in a balsa wood raft called the Kon Tiki. The voyage added credibility to Heyerdahl’s theory that Polynesian culture exhibited pre-Inca influences.

On a visit to London, Heyerdahl had a busy schedule of appointments. Shortly after recording a program for the Independent Television Network, he was due at the BBC studios for an interview. Having been assured by the BBC that a taxi would be sent to pick him up from the ITN studios, Heyerdahl waited expectantly in the lobby. As the minutes ticked by, however, he began to grow anxious. He approached a little man in a flat cap, who looked as if he might be a taxi driver and was obviously searching for someone. “I’m Thor Heyerdahl,” said the anthropologist. “Are you looking for me?”

“No, mate,” replied the taxi driver. “I’ve been sent to pick up four Airedales for the BBC.”
. . . .
Now, this anecdote ain’t so easy to grasp. Is there anyone out there who can shed light on this anecdote? If you can, send your explanation to the administrator.

Anecdote Winston Churchill – British statesman and writer (1874 – 1965)

In January 1960, a reporter for the London Standard approached Churchill at a reception.

“Sir Winston, what is your comment on the prediction made the other day that in the year 2000, women will rule the world?”

“They still will, will they?” was Churchill’s grunted response.

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