Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Uncle Panagiotis and the End of the World

Demetrios’ Great Uncle Panagiotis was a journalist. (That’s “Pahn–ah-YO-tees”.) He came to America sometime around 1920 and worked on the staff of the Greek-American newspaper, The National Herald. He stayed in America several years before returning to Greece.

Once, Uncle Panagiotis attended a service of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In those days, they were expecting the end of the world in six months. The preacher was talking about how money would become worthless and would be lying in the streets like trash, when Uncle Panagiotis stood up and said, “You don’t believe a word of this!”

There were gasps and protests, but Uncle Panagiotis stood his ground. “No, not one of you here believes this,” he said, “and I can prove it to you.”


“How much are you paid per month?” he asked the preacher.

The preacher told him.

“Fine,” said Uncle Panagiotis. “I will pay your salary for the next six months so you can quit your secular job and devote yourself to preaching the end of the world to as many people as possible, to prepare them.”

Silence, while people weighed the pros and cons of the preacher giving up a good job.

“But if the end of the world doesn’t happen by the end of the six months,” Uncle Panagiotis continued, “then each member of the congregation will owe me $2 per month for the rest of my life.”

No, no, that was too much. No deal!

“But you’ve just said money will become worthless,” Uncle Panagiotis replied. “Well, then, make it one dollar a month from each of you for the rest of my life.”

They didn’t want to do that, either.

“You see?” said Uncle Panagiotis, with a shrug. “It's as I said. You don’t really believe the end of the world is coming.” And out he walked.


Ezekiel said...

I chuckled.

And then I said, "Lord, have mercy on me, the sinner."

And then I chuckled again.

The words come easily, but living them doesn't.

Elizabeth said...

Each day I pray "Suddenly will come the Judge of all men, but with fear, we cry unto Thee at midnight....."

but do I really , truly, believe it to be that close?
I wonder:-(

Christopher D. Hall said...

I laughed too...but it is sad that money tends to be the fulcrum of our decisions and the crucible, as it were, of our lives.

Oh, that we would actually do as we say!