Friday, April 6, 2012

God, No! by Penn Jillette

I was led to this book by a quote from it on one of the blogs I frequent, and thought it might be interesting. Ummm...interesting...may be the most appropriate word to describe it. WARNING! This book is filled with profanity, obscenity, debauchery, and all sorts of things that many of you may find offensive. If you are easily offended, do NOT read this book - and maybe you shouldn't even read this post.

Jillette is an atheist, militant and emphatic. He was actually raised in a very faithful family, but around the time he was a young adult, he began to question his faith, and when the pastor couldn't answer his questions about matters biblical, the pastor recommended that he not hang out with the church youth group any more.

His family eventually also broke with the church, over a dispute within the church about removing a female pastor who was suspected of being a lesbian. Hmmm...his church was so biblical that they didn't pay any attention to the scriptures that state that a woman should not be placed in a position of leading a congregation, but finally the sticking point was her sexual orientation? Something is wrong with this picture.

He says, "Reading the Bible is the fast track to atheism...I'm sure there are lots of religious people who've read the Bible from start to finish and kept their faith, but in my self-selected sample, all the people I know who have done that are atheists."

Indeed. It's been my experience, in my associations with many Christians over several decades, that reading the Bible consistently and persistently leads to a greater understanding of its message and a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. I'm almost certain, from my own self-selected sample, that those non-believers who claim to have read the Bible cover to cover were exaggerating, at best.

Jillette is an entertainer, through and through, and often writes very witty passages and fun, self-mocking anecdotes. He talks about attending, at one point, the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey clown college, where he didn't do as well as he hoped.

"I came into the college as a great juggler, and I left as a great juggler, but I never got to be even a passable clown. That's right, I failed as a f**king clown. (asterisks mine - jon)"

On the subject of tattoos, Jillette has a suspicion I've long entertained:

"I figure the Asian logogram that the trendy guy thinks means 'truth' probably means 'round-eyed sodomite,' but what do I know?"

On the other hand, he says, " says, 'f**k you' to god. Tattoos and big fake tits are a way to say to yourself and the world that the way you ended up, even the way you think you were created, is not as important as your free will."

While I grew up in an era when body art wasn't nearly as common as today, and had some social stigma attached, I think that tattoos are about the same as wearing stylish clothing, or adding bling to your ride, just a way of personal expression, that most often has nothing to do with religious feelings, negative or positive.

He mentions the author Mary Roach, whose book, Packing for Mars, about astronauts was fascinating, in the context of his going on a flight to experience free fall.

Penn writes an interesting passage about the political Left and Right.

"The liberals I know will say that medical marijuana is a foot in the door, the first step to legalizing marijuana for everyone. And when the right wing accuses them of wanting that same exact thing, they ridicule the right wingers and say 'What about the people suffering horribly from cancer who need to toke?' My liberal friends think the literal reading of the Bible is nonsense and we should celebrate the other religions and cultures, and when the right says 'They're trying to take the Christ out of Christmas,' liberals go bug-f**king-nutty. Just about everyone who writes and produces comedy on TV is a f**king lefty and is pushing the agenda of gay rights and liberal causes, and my liberal friends - even though they're against the f**king corporations running TV - are thrilled with those writers, but when the f**king psycho right wing says the TV writers are doing just what they're doing, my liberal friends scoff. I think that's why my lefty friends are so comfortable calling the Tea Party people racist, even though the Tea Party doesn't say they themselves are racist. My left friends just assume that everyone lies about their real agenda."

No comment necessary.

And, the quote that lured me to this book in the first place:

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voiting to have the government take away moeny by force through taxes to give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering poeple is immoral, self-righteous, bullying laziness."

I might not agree with Penn on much, but he's nailed this one - he's a small L libertarian.

Had a minor flashback when Penn mentions what a rip off Kreskin's magic kit was.

One amusing quote is from the 40s mentalist, Denninger.

"To those who believe, no explanation is necessary; to those who do not, no explanation is possible."

Faith and Atheism, in a nutshell.

This book is vastly entertaining, and very funny, in places. Tread carefully, though, if you' can disgusted  or offended by matters of faith, sexuality, morality, or politics.

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