Did you know…?

Priests are Catholic or Orthodox, and presbyters are Protestant elders, but the word “priest” actually derives from the word “presbyter.”  “Presbyter” is the Greek word meaning “elder” (presbuteros).  Presbyters formed the church councils which ruled the earliest congregations in Christianity.  Today, the Presbyterian Church takes its name from this style of church governance found in the book of Acts.


As often as we hear a referee in football or soccer saying that a team is “off-sides,” that is NOT the correct term.  The word is singular:  “off-side” (as in, which “side”–team–are you rooting for?).


The put-down that women are “hysterical” has its origin in the word “uterus.”  The Greek word for “uterus” is “husteros”.  A belief in ancient times is that the uterus exerted pressure on a woman’s body, causing her to act erratically.


Before the word “sacrament” was used in churches, it was used in the Roman Legions.  The meaning of the Latin word “sacramentum” is:  an oath of allegiance.  In the Roman Legion, swearing the oath became a solemn, almost religious moment.  Each soldier promised three things:  to obey one’s officers, never to abandon his legion’s standard (the pole with an eagle symbol that was carried before the troops) and to sacrifice one’s life for emperor and empire.


The main, native language of East Africa–Swahili–has become familiar to many Americans, whether they know it or not.

*The board game “Jenga” (in which tiny logs are used to build a tower) is the Swahili word meaning “to build.”

In the movie The Lion King, Swahili is used often:

*the baby lion is named Simba (which means “lion”),

*he baboon is Rafiki (friend)

*the wart hog is Pumbaa (clown),

*the life philosophy of “Hakuna matata” means “there are no problems

*when Rafiki is overjoyed at locating Simba, Rafiki hops up and down in a tree and chants, “Asante sana, squished banana”.  “Asante sana” means “thank you very much”.


At the speed of light, a laser would orbit the Earth seven and a half times in one second.


Though most dinosaur discoveries in the United States have occurred in the West, the first complete fossil of a dinosaur was found in New Jersey!  The Hadrosaurus (a T-rex-type creature) was named for the town it was found in, Haddonfield, a few mile east of Philadelphia.


Speaking of New Jersey, its most famous musicians might be “The Jersey Boys” (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons),  who came from Newark.  But another Newark musician far less known is Samuel Ward.  He was a church organist and composer.  In 1882, he wrote a hymn whose melody is used today in singing  “America the Beautiful”!


Ulysses S. Grant seldom cared about anything but results.  He looked slovenly in uniform.  He was not a clever strategist like Napoleon but simply pounded the opposition relentlessly with direct attacks.

Grant’s attitude about anything except results included his own name.  At birth, he was named Hiram Ulysses Grant.  In his late teens, he was recommended by his member of Congress in Cincinnati for admission to West Point.  The member of Congress signed Grant’s name mistakenly, writing it as “Ulysses.”  (“Ulysses” was what people called the young fellow rather than “Hiram.”) Also mistaken was Grant’s middle name.  The congressman thought Grant was named after his mother’s family (Simpson).

Grant let it go, and forever after went by Ulysses S. Grant.  It was actually a relief.  The young man was somewhat shy about his true name, Hiram Ulysses Grant, because of its initials, HUG.


In early America, whenever men travelled, if they stayed at an inn, they often shared the bed with another man.  Thus–in Moby Dick–Ishmael arrives at an inn, and is put up in the same bed with someone he never met–Queequeg.

It was a way of keeping warm in rooms that were poorly heated.  Abraham Lincoln did this.  In later years, as President, he often slept with the third of his four sons, Willie.

Tragically, Willie died during the White House years at the age of 11 after a short but severe illness from drinking contaminated water.


Who needs Viagra?  Harry Truman had such a life-long crush on Bess (whom he first met when they were grade-schoolers in a Sunday School) that one morning in the White House, Mrs. Truman bashfully had to explain to an usher that a repair needed to be made.  The First Couple had broken the slats of their bed.


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