God wants intelligent, independent followers. Rabbi Eliezer made several arguments, but the other Rabbis did not agree with his arguments. Rabbi Eliezer said, “If my arguments are correct, may that tree prove it.” The tree moved several feet in the earth, but the other Rabbis said, “A tree proves nothing.” Rabbi Eliezer said, “If my arguments are correct, may that stream of water prove it.” The stream of water reversed itself and flowed up a hill, but the other Rabbis said, “A stream of water proves nothing.” Rabbi Eliezer said, “If my arguments are correct, may the walls of the House of Study prove it.” The walls of the House of Study immediately bent inwards, but the other Rabbis said, “The walls of the House of Study prove nothing.” Rabbi Eliezer said, “If my arguments are correct, may Heaven prove it.” A voice from Heaven proclaimed that the arguments of Rabbi Eliezer were correct. However, Rabbi Joshua quoted Deuteronomy 30:12: “It is not in the heavens.” Explaining why Rabbi Joshua said this, Rabbi Jeremiah said, “He meant that since the Torah has been given already on Mount Sinai, we do not pay attention to a heavenly voice, for Thou hast written in Thy Torah, ‘Decide according to the majority” (Exodus 23:2). So how did God react to the result of this discussion in which a majority opinion (in accordance with the Torah) bested miracles? Rabbi Nathan met and asked the Prophet Elijah exactly that question. Elijah said, “He was laughing, and saying, ‘My children have defeated me. My children have defeated me.’” God gave His children the Torah, and God wants His children to become mature. In this story, Humankind’s understanding of what makes a good argument wins out over the miracles, yet the existence of the miracles is not disputed.
I’d like to be God for just one day so I could make a few changes in the World. That guy who tells racist jokes? Zap! Guess what — you’re black. That guy whose name is on every list of date rapists written on the walls of women’s restrooms? Zap! You have two breasts and a vagina, and a guy who is just like what you used to be is about to ask you on a date and he won’t take no for an answer. That preacher who spoke about the “sin” of homosexuality last Sunday? Zap! Let’s see how your male friends treat you now that you really, really like them. That guy who hates Jews? Zap! If you feel a pain, it’s because you’ve just been circumcised.
When Monty Python’s Flying Circle first came up with the idea to make a film about the beginning of Christianity, its members thought at first that they would make fun of Jesus. But, university graduates all, they read the New Testament gospels and other sources carefully, developed a great respect for Jesus, and made their film The Life of Brian not about Jesus, but about a character who supposedly lived at the same time as Jesus. Nevertheless, the film was controversial and some people described it as a “crime against religion.” However, Python member Graham Chapman asked, “Don’t they realize that God has a sense of humor?”
God exists, and yet people are skeptical about the existence of God. God created everything, and therefore, God created skepticism about His existence. Why would God do that? According to Rabbi Moses Loeb, God created skepticism about His existence in order to help the poor. Because of skepticism about the existence of God, rich people cannot tell poor people, “God will take care of you,” and rich people cannot tell poor people, “Your reward will be in the world to come.” Because of skepticism about the existence of God, rich people are obligated to help poor people right now, in this world.
When rocker Bruce Springsteen was young, his parents worried about him because they felt that playing music was OK as a hobby but would not make a good career. Therefore, Mr. Springsteen went to Heaven to ask God what he should do with his life; in particular, he asked if he should stop playing music. God, who was sitting behind a set of drums, answered his question by saying, “What those guys don’t understand is that there was supposed to be an Eleventh Commandment. All it said was: “LET IT ROCK!”
In the 19th century, many clergymen looked down upon theaters and actors. One clergyman wanted to see the great actor Edwin Booth, so he wrote him to ask if Mr. Booth could arrange a way for him to see Mr. Booth act at Booth’s Theater without there being a chance that a member of his congregation would see him. Mr. Booth wrote back, saying, “There is no door in my theater through which God cannot see.”
When American ballet master George Balanchine was asked how he managed to create his choreography, he replied, “Oh, it’s really very easy. I hear music, and I see people doing things, and I just go in the studio and I have them do what I see them do in my mind.” He then pointed upward and said, “He tells me.”
During the dark days of the Civil War, a man told President Abraham Lincoln, “Mr. President, I’m from up in New York State where we believe that God Almighty and Abraham Lincoln are going to save the country.” President Lincoln replied, “My friend, you’re half-right.”
In 1897, Enrico Caruso visited Giacomo Puccini. Mr. Caruso sang a few pages of music, and Mr. Puccini jumped up from the piano and asked, “Who sent you to me — God?”
“God has blessed you richly, so get down on your knees and thank Him. Don’t forget the less fortunate or God will personally kick your *ss. I’d love to do it for Him, but I can’t be everywhere at once. Amen.” — Willie Nelson.
“Why is it when we talk to God we’re praying — but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?” — Lily Tomlin.
“If something about the human body disgusts you, complain to the manufacturer.” — Lenny Bruce
“Never trust a man who starts a sentence with ‘What God meant to say was ….” — Bill Hicks.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose, by David Bruce