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God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales Hardcover – August 16, 2011
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Not only can the man rant, he can write. From the larger, louder half of the world-famous magic duo Penn & Teller comes a scathingly funny reinterpretation of The Ten Commandments. They are The Penn Commandments, and they reveal one outrageous and opinionated atheist's experience in the world. In this rollicking yet honest account of a godless existence, Penn takes readers on a roller coaster of exploration and flips conventional religious wisdom on its ear to reveal that doubt, skepticism, and wonder -- all signs of a general feeling of disbelief -- are to be celebrated and cherished, rather than suppressed. And he tells some pretty damn funny stories along the way. From performing blockbuster shows on the Vegas Strip to the adventures of fatherhood, from an on-going dialogue with proselytizers of the Christian Right to the joys of sex while scuba diving, Jillette's self-created Decalogue invites his reader on a journey of discovery that is equal parts wise and wisecrackingAmazon Exclusive: Teller Interviews Penn Jillette
Teller is an American magician, illusionist, comedian, writer, and is the smaller, quieter half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette.
Teller: I presume your new book is all about me, right?
Penn Jillette: We've done three magic books together and I wrote two novels without you. I wanted to put something out there that was all me, my ideas and beliefs and take on things that would be thought-provoking and funny. I do a lot of op-ed stuff and TV pundit stuff. I'm always the nut on those panels that they go to for a joke, but end up being the guy the host says "Hey, Penn’s a whack job, but he’s right." Oh, and I guess I talk about you, too.
Teller: I'm going to pretend to ask you about the book, as if I haven't read it yet. So Penn, what's your book about?
Penn: It's a pretty funny look my life and all the goofy things that are important to me: skepticism, truth, atheism, our show, my family and friends, libertarianism. I share funny stories about those things and talk about my beliefs and even tell one about the skin falling of my scrotum. Oh, and I guess I talk about you, too.
Teller: I love the Siegfried & Roy story in the book.
Penn: I think it's my favorite and it really captures the essence of the book. It's funny, nutty and from my heart.
Teller: Do you have to be an atheist to read this book?
Penn: God No! (get it?). I’m very respectful of Christians in the book. And it's not all about being an atheist. It's a funny, humorous book about a lot of stuff that goes on in the life and head of a nutty Vegas magician. There are lots of heavy books out there about religion and Atheism. But this one might be the feel good one. Too bad Oprah’s Book Club has shut down.
Teller: Why should I buy this book if you’ve already given me a free copy?
Penn: Well, you owe me $24.99.
"Penn Jillette is a 21st-century Lordof Misrule: big, boisterously anarchic, funny, Rabelaisian, impossible--andunique. There isn't--couldn't be--better not be--anybody like him." --Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of"The Greatest Show on Earth" and "The God Delusion"
"There are few people in the country who question more boldly, brashly and bravely than my friend Penn Jillette. This book is funny, provocative and profane. But is it right? God, no!" --"Glenn Beck"
"This planet has yielded exactly one mutual friend for Glenn Beck and me and that friend has written a brilliant book called "God, No!. "Penn reveals 'the big secret of magic, ' tells you why tattoos are perfect expressions of atheism and exactly what to eat when you know you're going to vomit later." --"Lawrence O' Donnell"
"Jillette has made a career as a provocateur, and it is tempting to dismiss this book as another piece of carny shtick, but there is a forceful intelligence at work here that demands to be taken seriously. He has shaped his argument with care." --"Daniel Stashower, " Washington Post Book World
"People who say that libertarians have no heart or atheists have no soul need to read this book. Because Penn Jillette has a lot of both." "--Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of "South Park "and award-winning Broadway musical" The Book of Mormon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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GOD NO! is god awful. Especially the first half, or so, where Jillette seems hell-bent to out 'Howard-Stern' Howard Stern with juvenile raunch. Way too much information.
The second half is better--the 'Afterword' is very much worth reading--but still there's far too much recourse to too vulgar imagery.
Penn Jillette has long been an admired champion of individual liberty, with much to offer on the subject. Packaging his good ideas in sleaze, however, is distracting and cheapens the product.
Recommendation: Read, instead, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Shermer, Jacoby, Ali, Ingersoll, Mencken, Twain, Barnum, Hayek, Ringer, Randi, Rothbard, or Rand. Their writings may tend toward the less visceral--but at least you won't get your metaphorical face rubbed in metaphorical body fluids.
(NB: If by chance you are, or think like, a hormonal fourteen year old boy, feel free to disregard this recommendation--but read those other folks, too.)
"There's a world of safety in doubt. The respect for faith, the celebration of faith is dangerous."--Loc 3211
Kindle edition, 224 pages, 3229 Locs
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 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?
All in all though, it's a book you can enjoy no matter what your religious background, you don't need to be an atheist to enjoy this... it helps, but you don't need to. It's got a little something for everybody, and everybody can enjoy a little something from the book