Everyday is an Atheist Holiday (More Magical Tales)
By: Penn Jillette
I've seen Penn & Teller: Bullsh!t on Showtime, and that was by accident. I had never heard of P&T, and a couple of years ago I was sitting down channel surfing and was intrigued by the title. Who puts an obscenity in the title of their television show? So I had to check it out. I was captivated by the show from the get-go. Go on subscription based TV and complain about how things are done and silly things people get away with. By the end of the episode I agreed with about every word spoken.
Beyond that, I’d never heard of Penn Jillette. I've never been to Vegas. I’ve never viewed any of the movies the duo created, and I didn't even know up until recently that he had even written God No!. I found Everyday is an Atheist Holiday also by accident and decided that I would read it and see what it was all about. Immediately, I thought it would spew his religious thoughts and beliefs all over me, and I wondered if I would get through the first chapter. Penn comes across to me as a deeply thoughtful individual. His beliefs are very genuine, that’s not an illusion.
Instead of pushing his beliefs on you throughout his writings, he spends no time trying to convince anyone to be anything that they aren't. I liked that. Instead of being a Bible bashing, Christian hater, he tells us true stories from his life. I've been to church a total of five times in my life. I assume there is a God. I don’t have any proof of that but the threat of hell for the non-believers is pretty overpowering. Penn occasionally questions the entire ideology of the process and I find that to be quite interesting. If you believe in God, and he asks you to kill your child, would you do it? Think about that one. I sure as hell wouldn't. I don’t have children but I love them very much. Completely besides the fact that it is just a morally wrong thing to do (killing anyone is wrong!), children are completely innocent and precious.
I particularly enjoyed the Happy Birthday chapter of his book. We have all experienced those people we encounter in our day-to-day lives that have a difficult time processing information in the ole noggin. They’ll fight to the death to defend something that is completely meaningless to them and harmless to anyone else, irrational or not. He comically takes us through a magical journey of using common words as obscenities to make his point. I was amazed by his gentle way of showing his feelings to the closed-minded Disney employee that was denying his families request for a Leave a Legacy brick. Casually humiliating him and making a beautiful statement all at the same time didn't seem to earn him the right to his brick, dog on it, but I’m willing to suppose in the end he got a good laugh out of the deal.
For the entire duration of the works, I had the wonderful feeling that I was sitting in a room listening to Penn speak to me. Telling stories to me so I could understand him as a human. It was as if he had invited me into his world for a short time, like old buddies and was having a good time telling me stories of his past over a cup of coffee. I had a great time reading it, and in the end I think it opened a lot of doors for me. I had a presumptive way of thinking. I still do I’m sure. Reading one book isn’t going to instantly change many people. I've been trying to think more delicately though. It just seems that there are a whole lot more questions than answers surrounding certain parts of an Americans existence that may have a valid answer when you get right down to the bottom of it.
The guy doesn't like the Grateful Dead. At first, I was pretty shocked to read that he doesn't like the Grateful Dead. Who the hell doesn't like the Grateful Dead?! That to me is equal with the statement: “I do not like George Jones or Martin Scorsese movies.” Well to each his own. I like all of the above. Maybe he’s right. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he’s never done drugs and doesn't drink alcohol. It’s also entirely possible that he’s bugnutty crazy and we should all run as far in the opposite direction as possible. I don’t think so though. I think he simply is who he is. A modern day Michelangelo painting his masterpiece for himself and his family on the foundation of love and doing it in his own words.