David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Good Deeds, Heaven and Hell

Good Deeds

• Late in her life, dancer Josephine Baker fell on hard times and lost her home. Coming to the rescue was Grace Kelly, aka Princess Grace of Monaco. She offered Ms. Baker an apartment in Monaco, and Ms. Baker was based there for the rest of her life. (Fortunately, Ms. Baker died only after a triumphant return to Paris with a gala benefit titled Josephine for Monaco’s Red Cross.)

• Tenor Enrico Caruso was capable of great kindness. He once saw a beggar shivering outside his hotel, so he gave him his fur-lined coat. Mr. Caruso owned many clothes, so many that people asked why he had such a large wardrobe. To such inquiries, he replied, “Two reasons. First reason, I like. Second reason, other people like. Also, I give to people who ask.”

• As a missionary to coal miners, Vincent van Gogh gave away his good clothing to the poor and dressed in shabby clothing. One day, a baker’s wife with whom he had boarded saw him and asked why he had given away his good clothing. Mr. van Gogh replied, “I am a friend of the poor like Jesus was.” Not impressed, the baker’s wife told him, “You are no longer normal.”

• During the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler saved over 1,000 Jews who worked for him. After the war was over, he said, “I knew the people who worked for me. When you know people, you have to behave towards them like human beings.” When he died, he was buried, as he had requested, in a Catholic cemetery in Jerusalem.

Happiness

• According to biblical law, if a farmer forgets any sheaves of grain and leaves them in the field at harvest time, the farmer cannot gather them. Instead, they must be left to be gathered by the poor and by strangers. In the Tosephta Pe-ah 3:18 is the story of a man who once forgot some sheaves of grain and left them in the field. When he remembered the sheaves, he was very happy and ordered his son, “Go and sacrifice a bull as a burnt offering, and another bull as a peace offering.” His son asked why he was so happy fulfilling the commandment regarding the forgotten sheaves — even happier than when fulfilling all the other commandments. The father replied, “The All-Present One gave us all the other commandments of the Torah, so that we obey them intentionally. But this is a commandment that we can fulfill only unwittingly. For if we had intentionally left that measure of wheat on the field, we would have been unable to observe this particular commandment.”

• Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk could be blunt when he felt that bluntness was needed. A miser once asked him, “Do you think that I shall enjoy the world to come?” Rabbi Mendel replied, “You do not enjoy this world for which you have toiled. How can you expect to enjoy the world to come for which you have done nothing?”

Heaven and Hell

• A homophobe once said to lesbian comedian Judy Carter, “All homosexuals are going to hell.” She replied, “So, people like Michelangelo; Leonardo da Vinci; James I of England, who commissioned the King James translation of the Bible; Mary, Queen of Scotland, England, and Ireland; and my homosexual brothers and sisters with the gifts of compassion, faith, love, and understanding are going to hell. And people who judge, hate, kill, and despise are going to heaven. Help me on this one … where do I want to go?”

• Occasionally, politicians are given introductions that make them appear to be saints. Brooks Hays once said to one such introducer: “If you do not go to heaven for charity, you will certainly go somewhere else for exaggeration or downright prevarication.” Of another such introducer, Mr. Hays said, “I hope that the Lord will forgive this man even as He does heathens, atheists, used-car salesmen, and fishermen.”

• A man died and went to the Pearly Gates, where he demanded to be let in to Heaven. The angel at the Gates asked what he had done for his fellow man on earth, and the man said that on four separate occasions he had given a quarter to a beggar. The angel asked St. Peter what should be done with the man. St. Peter replied, “Give him his dollar back and tell him to go to Hell.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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