In the early 1900s George Riddell acquired the sensational London newspaper The News of the World. Meeting British
journalist Frederick Greenwood one day, Riddell mentioned that he owned a newspaper, told Greenwood its name, and offered to send
him a copy. The next time they met, Riddell asked Greenwood what he thought of The News.
"I looked at it and then I put it in the wastepaper basket," said Greenwood, "and then I thought, 'If I leave it there the
cook may read it,' so I burned it."
Today in the Word, November 3, 1993.
Two men had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a Sufi judge for
arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his
reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, "That's right,
On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, "Wait a second, judge, you
haven't even heard my side of the case yet." So the judge told the defendant to state
his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said,
"That's right, that's right."
When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, "Judge, they both can't
be right." The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, "That's right,
Roger von Oech, Ph.D., A Whack on the Side of the Head,
Warner Books, 1983, p. 23.
Henry Augustus Rowland, professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University, was once
called as an expert witness at a trial. During cross-examination a lawyer demanded,
"What are your qualifications as an expert witness in this case?"
The normally modest and retiring professor replied quietly, "I am the greatest
living expert on the subject under discussion." Later a friend well acquainted with
Rowland's disposition expressed surprise at the professor's uncharacteristic answer.
Rowland answered, "Well, what did you expect me to do? I was under oath."
Today in the Word, August 5, 1993.
Even those who claim to be Born Again are not necessarily firmly grounded in the truths
of the Bible. In his book which provides a statistical analysis of religious beliefs in
America, George Barna cites several fascinating statistics which are based on a national
In chapter four he states, "The Devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a
symbol of evil." Then asking that segment of his survey respondents who have
identified themselves at being Born Again, he states, "Do you agree strongly, agree
somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with that statement?"
The Born Again population reply with 32 percent agreeing strongly, 11 percent agreeing
somewhat and 5 percent did not know. Thus, of the total number responding, 48 percent
either agreed that Satan is only symbolic or did not know!
Should it then be surprising that a few pages later Barna would receive some very
startling responses? His next question, "Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and
others all pray to the same God, even though they use different names for that God."
Again, the respondents were asked to agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat or
Of that population surveyed who identified themselves as Born Again, 30 percent agreed
strongly, 18 percent agreed somewhat and 12 percent did not know. That is a total of 60
percent! (What Americans Believe, pp. 206-212).
Watchman Expositor, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1993, p. 31.
A pastor I know, Stephey Belynskyj, starts each confirmation class with a jar full of beans. He asks his students to guess
how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps
them make another list: their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The
whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right. Belynskyj then turns to the list of
favorite songs. "And which one of these is closest to being right?" he asks. The students protest that there is no "right
answer"; a person's favorite song is purely a matter of taste.
Belynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame asks, "When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that
more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?" Always, Belynskyj says, from old as well as
young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one's faith is more like choosing a favorite song.
When Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away. "After they say that, do you confirm them?" I
"Well," smiled Belynskyj, "First I try to argue them out of it."
Tim Stafford, Christianity Today, September 14,
1992, p. 36.
At the end of the Battle of Britain, British vice-marshal Alexander Adams was driving to a meeting at his headquarters when
he came upon a sign: ROAD CLOSED -- UNEXPLODED BOMB. Adams called over the policeman on duty, hoping he might
be able to suggest an alternate route.
"Sorry, you can't go through," said the policeman as he approached the car. "The bomb
is likely to go off at any minute now." Then he caught sight of Adams's uniform. "I'm very sorry, sir," he said, "I didn't know
you were a wing commander. It is quite all right for you to go through."
With "advisors" like that, who needs enemies! Although that policeman -- who was trained to respect rank -- momentarily
allowed his deference to a vice-marshal to overcome his good sense, Adams had better sense than to follow his advice.
Today in the Word, May 2, 1993.
William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State in Woodrow Wilson's Cabinet, was interviewing a man who was seeking a
diplomatic post in China. Bryan warned the applicant that it was necessary to qualify as a linguist. "Can you speak the Chinese
language?" he asked.
The man was equal to the occasion. Looking Bryan squarely in the eye, he replied, "Try me. Ask me something in
John F. Parker in Washington Roll Call, Reader's
Digest, May, 1981.
Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny. "What did
he find?" asked the cohort.
"A piece of the truth," the Devil replied.
"Doesn't it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?" asked the cohort.
"No," said the Devil, "I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it."
Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths - Living with Biblical
Tensions, 1990, Zondervan Publishing House, p. 35.
Cleveland Amory tells this story about Judge John Lowell of Boston. One morning the judge was at breakfast, his face
hidden behind the morning paper. A frightened maid tiptoed into the room and whispered something to Mrs. Lowell's ear. The lady
paled slightly, then squared her shoulders resolutely and said, "John, the cook has burned the oatmeal, and there is no more in
the house. I am afraid that this morning, for the first time in seventeen years, you will have to go without your oatmeal."
The judge, without putting down his paper, answered, "It's all right, my dear. Frankly, I never cared much for it
Bits & Pieces, March 4, 1993, p. 23.
Another poll sheds light on this paradox of increased religiosity and decreased morality. According to sociologist
Robert Bellah, 81 percent of the American people also say they agree that "an individual should arrive at his or her own
religious belief independent of any church or synagogue." Thus the key to the paradox is the fact that those who claim to be
Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms -- terms that make no demands on behavior.
A woman named Sheila, interviewed for Bellah's Habits of the Heart, embodies this attitude.
"I believe in God," she said. "I can't remember the last time I went to church. But my faith has carried me a long way.
It's 'Sheila-ism.' Just my own little voice."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 98.
Allan Bloom writes: "Openness - and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims
to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings -- is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real
danger. The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right,
and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and
really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 84.
To please his father a freshman went out for track. He had no athletic ability, though the father had been a good miler in his
day. His first race was a two-man race in which he ran against the school miler. He was badly beaten.
Not wanting to disappoint his father, the boy wrote home as follows: "You will be happy to know that I ran against Bill
Williams, the best miler in school. He came in next to last, while I came in second."
Bits & Pieces, September 17, 1992, p. 12.
Once when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was preparing a speech, he needed some economic statistics to back up a point he
was trying to make. His advisers said it would take six months to get accurate figures.
"In that case, I'll just use these rough estimates," FDR said, and he wrote down some numbers in his text. "They're
reasonable figures and they support my point.
"Besides," he added as an afterthought, "it will keep my critics busy for at least six month just to prove me wrong."
Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.
At the county fair a distinctively dressed Quaker offered a horse for sale. A
non-Quaker farmer asked its price, and since Quakers had a reputation for fair dealing, he bought the horse without
hesitation. The farmer got the horse home, only to discover it was lazy and ill-tempered, so he took it back to the fair the
next day. There he confronted the Quaker.
"Thou hast no complaint against me," said the Quaker. "Had thou asked me about
the horse, I would have told thee truthfully the problems, but thou didst not ask."
"That's okay," replied the farmer. "I don't want you to take the horse back. I want to try to sell him
to someone else. Can I borrow your coat and hat awhile?"
In the survey taken in early 1991, interviewees were asked, "Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or
disagree strongly with the following statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in
conflicting ways and still be correct." Only 28% of the respondents expressed strong belief in "absolute truth," and more
surprisingly, only 23 percent of born-again or evangelical Christians accepted this idea!
What a telling revelation! If more than 75 percent of the followers of Christ say nothing can
be known for certain, does this indicate, as it seems, that they are not convinced that Jesus existed, that He is who He claimed
to be, that His Word in authentic, that God created the heavens and earth, or that eternal life awaits the believer? That's what
the findings appear to mean. If there is no absolute truth, then by definition nothing can be
said to be absolutely true. To the majority, apparently, it's all relative. Nothing is certain.
Might be. Might not be. Who knows for sure? Take your guess and hope for the best!
James Dobson, December 1991 letter, quoting George
Barna, What Americans Believe.
While an estimated 74 percent of Americans strongly agree that "there is only one true God, who is holy and perfect, and who
created the world and rules it today," an estimated 65 percent either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the assertion that
"there is no such thing as absolute truth."
Christianity Today, September 16, 1991, p. 48, from George
Barna, The Barna Report: What Americans Believe, 1991.
A woman's red station wagon was crushed by an elephant at a circus. The owners of the animal apologized, explaining that the
animal, for some reason, simply liked to sit on red cars. In spite of the damage, the woman's car was still drivable. But on
the way to the garage she was stopped short by an accident involving two other cars just ahead of her. When the ambulance
arrived a few minutes later the attendants took one look at her car, then ran over to assist her.
"Oh, I wasn't involved in this accident," she explained. "An elephant sat on my car." The
ambulance attendants quickly bundled her off to the hospital for possible shock and head injuries, despite the lady's
Bits and Pieces, October, 1991.
The drunk husband snuck up the stairs quietly. He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and bruises he'd received
in a fight earlier that night. He then proceeded to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he'd pulled one over on his
When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his wife. "You were drunk last night weren't you!"
"Well, if you weren't, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?"
A number of years ago the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War
hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by
Douglas's company for the DC-8 were close to Boeing's on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave
Douglas one last chance to out-promise Boeing on this feature. After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he
didn't feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, "I know you can't, I just wanted to see if you
were still honest."
Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 22.
Once, when a stubborn disputer seemed unconvinced, Lincoln said, "Well, let's see how many legs has a cow?"
"Four, of course," came the reply disgustedly.
"That's right," agreed Lincoln. "Now suppose you call the cow's tail a leg; how many legs would
the cow have?"
"Why, five, of course," was the confident reply.
"Now, that's where you're wrong," said Lincoln. "Calling a cow's
tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Bits and Pieces, July, 1991.
Those that think it permissible to tell white lies soon grow colorblind.
Dr. Clarence Bass, professor emeritus at Bethel Thelolgical Seminary, early in his ministry preached in a church in Los
Angeles. He thought he had done quite well as he stood at the door greeting people as they left the sanctuary. The remarks
about his preaching were complimentary. That is, until a little old man commented, "You preached too long." Dr. Bass wasn't
fazed by the remark, especially in light of the many positive comments. "You didn't preach loud enough," came another negative
comment; it was from the same little old man. Dr. Bass thought it strange that the man had come through the line twice, but when
the same man came through the line a third time and exclaimed, "You used too many big words" --this called for some explanation.
Dr. Bass sought out a deacon who stood nearby and asked him, "Do you see that little old man over there? Who is he?"
"Don't pay any attention to him," the deacon replied. "All he does is go
around and repeat everything he hears."
Pulpit and Bible Study Helps, Vol.16, #5, p. 1.
Writing letters of recommendation can be hazardous--tell the truth and you might get sued if the contents are negative.
Robert Thornton, a professor at Lehigh University, has a collection of "virtually litigation-proof" phrases called the
Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations, or LIAR.
Here are some examples:
*To describe an inept person--"I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever."
*To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow
workers--"I an pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine."
*To describe an unproductive candidate--"I can assure you that no person would be better for the job."
*To describe an applicant not worth consideration--" I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of
Larry Pryor in Los Angeles Times.
Two brothers were getting ready to boil some eggs to color for Easter.
"I'll give you a dollar if you let me break three of these on your head," said the older one. "Promise?" asked the
younger. "Promise!" Gleefully, the older boy broke two eggs over his brother's head.
Standing stiff for fear the gooey mess would get all over him, the little boy asked, "When is the third
"It's not," replied the brother. "That would cost me a dollar."
Justin Martyr may have been the first Christian to express what we today call "the integration of faith and learning." He
wrote, "Whatever has been uttered aright by any man in any place belongs to us Christians."
D. Bruce Lockerbie, Thinking and Acting Like a
Christian, p. 87.
When regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened, all things will remain doubtful.
The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be
a theological wilderness.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.
The late former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker told the story of the day Winston Churchill, sitting in the House of
Commons, was brought the message that his deadly enemy, Aneurin Bevan, had just died. Churchill bowed his head, clearly shaken.
"A great man, a brilliant man, a tragic loss," he muttered. Some minutes later another member of parliament came to Churchill to
inform him that the press was waiting outside to get his "heartfelt opinion on Nye
Churchill thought a moment, then looked up warily and said, "Are you sure he's dead?"
A ship captain one day recorded in the ship's log, "First-mate drunk today." It was a true statement, but was the first
incident where the mate had been drunk while on duty. The mate pleaded with the captain to
amend the statement, but the captain refused, saying it was a true statement.
The next time the First-mate was in charge of the ship, he recorded in the log,
"Captian sober today."
The kings of Italy and Bohemia both promised safe transport and safe custody to the great pre-Reformation Bohemian reformer, John
Hus. Both, however, broke their promises, leading to Hus's martyrdom in 1415.
Earlier, Thomas Wentworth had carried a document signed by King Charles I which read, "Upon the word of a
king you shall not suffer in life, honour, or fortune." It was not long, however, before Wentworth's death warrant was signed by
the same monarch!
Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 16.
Everybody has the right to express what he thinks. That, of course, lets the crackpots in. But if you cannot tell a crackpot
when you see one, then you ought to be taken in.
Harry S. Truman.
A couple of hunters chartered a plane to fly into the Canadian wilderness. Two weeks later when the pilot came to pick them up,
he saw the two animals they had bagged and said, "I told you fellows I could only take you and one moose. You'll have to leave
the other behind."
"But we did it last year in a plane this size," protested one of the hunters, "and the other pilot let us
take two moose."
"Well, okay," said the pilot. "If you did it before I guess we can do it again."
So the two moose and the hunters were loaded in and the plane took off. Because of the
heavy weight, it rose with difficulty and was unable to clear an obstructing hill. After the crash, the men climbed out and
One hunter said to the other, "Where are we, anyway?"
His companion surveyed the scene. "I think we got about half a mile farther than we got last year."