The Tailor in Heaven obviously is a Grimm’s tale with a more religious leaning. Like I mentioned before this is a product of the time in which the tale was created. People told all kinds of religious stories back in the day because that was what their lives revolved around.
Once upon a time God decided that he wanted to spend time in the heavenly garden and he took all the apostles and saints with him and left no one in heaven but St. Peter. If you didn’t know this already, St. Peter is the person, according to tradition, that is responsible for letting people in the gates of heaven. God told Peter not to let anybody in while he was away.
After a while a tailor came to the door of heaven. He asked Peter to let him in and stated that he was just a poor honest tailor. Peter doesn’t think the tailor is honest because he snips away bits of cloth from people’s clothes when they bring them in to be altered. The tailor, quite correctly, states that it isn’t theft if little pieces of cloth fall away while mending clothes. The tailor says, “Look let me in, I’ll do all the dirty work. I’ll take care of the children. I’ll wash their clothes. I’ll clean the benches they play on and I’ll sew up all the holes in their clothes.”
Peter does fill a bit sorry for him so he lets him in and tells him to sit in the corner behind the door of heaven that God may not see him when he gets back. Well, once Peter was out of sight the tailor got curious and decided to poke his nose in every corner of heaven. In one area he found many beautiful chairs, but one was higher than the others and made of gold. It also had a gold footstool. The tailor decided to sit in the chair, which was God’s.
While sitting in the chair he was able to see all that was going on down on Earth. He observed an old washer woman doing the wash, but taking out two veils from the wash to keep for herself. This made the tailor angry so he picked up God’s footstool and threw it at her. He couldn’t figure out a way to get the footstool back so he went back to his place behind the door.
Well, God came back and asked Peter where his footstool was. Peter told him he did not know and that nobody had been in heaven except for one tailor who was still sitting behind the door. Well, God decides to talk to this tailor. The tailor tells him everything.
“Oh you knave…were I to judge as you judge, how do you think you could have escaped so long? I should long ago have had no chairs, benches, seats, nay, not even an oven-fork, but should have thrown everything down at the sinners. Henceforth you can stay no longer in heaven, but must go outside the door again. Then go where you will. No one will give punishment here, but I alone, the Lord.”
Well the tailor had to go back outside. To wait a while.
God is kind of mean in this story. Here’s the thing, there is an argument that different religions answer differently. This argument is all about the nature of God. Is God forgiving and loving or is he full of wrath and can stand no unclean thing? We have both of these views of God from The Bible, The Book or Mormon, the Apocrypha, and many other books of scripture and endless musings by religious people. Some religions tend to look at God as only this person who brings vengeance down on people. Other people like to see God as this all-forgiving and all-loving being. The God in this story is definitely more on the vengeance side, but not completely.
God in this story has some very human traits. He goes out to enjoy himself and says that Peter can’t let anybody in while he is gone. I can’t imagine that God would abandon his post for a while. I do have to wonder why the heaven in this tale apparently only includes God, apostles and saints. Where is everyone else at? The story specifically says that God takes the apostles and saints to the garden and heaven is completely empty except for Saint Peter. So no other good people are in heaven? Where are the other inhabitants of heaven? Where are all these children mentioned by the tailor?
This give us a little indication about the religious beliefs of the people who created this tale. They clearly saw God as this strict entity. I don’t agree.
Notice that Peter is dishonest with God in this story, but is not treated in the same manner as the tailor. Peter lets somebody into heaven when God has already told him not to do so. Peter as you may or may not know, was a man who denied Christ three times. God forgave him at some point right? Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny him because he told Peter, “Hey you’re going to deny me three times before the rooster crows in the morning.” I assume Peter was forgiven; no, I believe that Peter was forgiven. In my opinion, this tailor has done nothing to deserve being booted out of heaven. Peter was dishonest, no punishment, but the tailor does something and gets punished.
This one is easy. Only God can judge. Only God can mete out punishment. Only God can deem you worthy enough to enter into heaven. Only God can truly forgive your sins. Easy-peasy…lemon squeezy. That’s it. That’s the moral.
This isn’t news. There are repeated references in the Bible that say only God judges. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. God put you in the Earth and he can take you out of it. The end. I don’t know how much more simple I can get with the theme of this story.
There are two examples where this is illustrated in this story.
Example A: God says to Peter, “Don’t let anyone in while I’m away.” Peter lets somebody in anyway, but when God finds out, the tailor has to go back out of heaven.
Example B: The tailor tries to provide punishment for theft down on the Earth. He tries to play God. God reprimands him, then makes him leave heaven.
Two different people tried to go against what God has said or rather provide services that God usually provides and both are shown that really this is God’s job and you cannot do it. The end.
I also want to say that maybe God tries to be judicious in his punishments. God talks to this tailor and he says, “Look I can’t be throwing furniture down at the earth every time somebody sins.” He acknowledges that people sin all the time and that they aren’t always punished immediately. He’s patient in a way or maybe he just really likes his furniture?
I am not impressed with the view of God in this story. He seems mean and unforgiving. The God I have in my mind is always willing to forgive if you’re willing to repent. This God is just like, “Yeah, quit touching my stuff.” This story is clearly a product of a more strict time in the history of Christianity. Remember the mom from The Water Boy? Remember how, to her, everything is wrong and everything is “the devil”? Remember that? That’s what this story reminds me. All the people in this story are doing the wrong thing and nothing they can do is the right thing. It’s like trying to flip a quarter and you keep calling “heads” but the coin is always “tails.”