Monday, September 29, 2014

Funny Enough for Bathroom Reading!

There are people, I know, who don't like Penn Jillette. I myself haven't met any. Even if you don't agree with his opinions, there is a certain style to the way he presents them. That is surely the case with God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales.

First, a warning or two. If you are a frail lady librarian from the heartland, are of a certain age, or find strong language intolerable, you won't get past the Tourette's-like frequency of Jillette's &*#%s. If your sense of offense is triggered by the sacriligeous, the title alone should provide enough red flag.

That being said, Penn Jillete has an eye for a humorous line, and it doesn't get much funnier than his thoughts on the power (or impotence) of religion. He takes on God (or as he consistently renders it, god) and church alike as a problem in today's society, and isn't shy about telling us why he feels neither has a place in our lives.

Much of the book is anecdotal in the extreme: we learn why his mother wasn't religious, and what his churchless children do for the holiday season that falls at the end of the calendar year. A supremely moving story about the death of his mother provides an insight into a secular ceremony to replace a funeral service. Another hilarious tale shows us the power of breaking religious food laws, as he and Teller introduce an ex-Jew to a bacon cheeseburger at a restaurant named Traif.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, mostly while "revering the porcelain god", but my simple testimony shouldn't sway you. Look inside, read a page or two and make up your own mind whether to buy in. After all, that's what Jillette is asking us to do with the various holy books we are heir to.

Can I get an Amen?