Thursday, 18 November 2010

Open wide...

I read a remark by a small child the other day. Whilst speaking to a children's evangelist, he picked up a Bible and said: "It's easy for you. It's all in here, all you have to do is read it out!" Simple - but he had a point. I like the story of the little girl who was praying at the end of the day. Her mother overheard the following comment as the child came to the end of her prayers: "Dear God, please look after Yourself, 'cause if anything happens to You we are all in big trouble."

I've always been a collector of remarks that make you think. They are very helpful to spread amongst the anecdotes when speaking in public. How about this one: "Most of the problems in this world are either caused by people who are trying to be important, or by those who think they are important." One of my favourites is a line from Arthur Miller's play All my Sons, in which one of the characters says: "There are some people who would rather see the whole world hang than admit that they were wrong." And George Bernard Shaw authored a few good put-downs, too. Commenting on foxhunters, he referred to "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable".

It seems from the Gospels that Jesus, too, had the ability to use the one-liner to prick the bubble of pomposity or underline a truth. My favourite is His reply to the fault-finding Pharisee, when he said: "You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel". I think Jesus had a great sense of humour. Mark Twain once pompously said: "It is my intention to one day explore the place where Moses was given the Ten Commandments." He received the reply: "Why don't you stay in America and try and keep a few of them?".

With pomposity often comes a sense of superiority and power. I find the words of Jesus to Pilate most telling: "You would have no power over Me unless it were given to you". The late President Kennedy was once quoted as saying. "We all inhabit the same Earth, we breath the same air and we are all mortal".

A rich man died. A friend inquired: "How much did he leave?". "Everything" was the reply.