Customer Reviews for

Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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  • Posted December 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I had the opportunity to review Penn Jillette┬┐s new book, Every

    I had the opportunity to review Penn Jillette’s new book, Every day is an Atheist Holiday. I have always been a fan of Penn and Teller and since Penn’s appearance on the Apprentice, I did find a new appreciation for him. I felt he was certainly the most polite and agreeable player EVER to play the show and I was disappointing he didn’t win.

    I wanted to read Penn’s book, because I have always known him to be a deep thinker and a blatantly honest person, I also knew he was a strong fan of Christopher Hitchens and so I was hoping that this book on athiesm (or Penn’s view on atheism) would be an enlightening read.

    Penn’s thesis came early where he tried to describe what a holiday was, “the word holiday comes from holy day and means ‘exalted and worthy of complete devotion.’ By that definition all days are holy. Life is holy.” And I’d agree with him. He’s absolutely right. Regardless of what people believe our modern ‘holidays’ are not ‘Christian.’ Sure, they get adopted by people of faith, but there are no biblical instructions for celebrating special days. To be perfectly fair, all of our modern holidays are ‘American’ and nothing more.

    Further, I would argue that the bible agrees with Penn. Every day is sacred, and every day should be full of wonder and life. But sadly that is not how most live.

    Now, I wanted to write a review that was fair to the book, I am not interested in slamming it’s author or grandstanding about Christianity. I have also never met Penn, so I can not make wild judgments about who he is as a person, so I will try (and most likely fail) to stick to a book review and less to a sermon.

    Each of Penn’s chapters are cleverly titled around an American holiday, he then tells some life anecdote and by the time each chapter ends, he has tried to wrap it back around to the holiday mentioned in the title.  The book doesn’t actually “take you any place” unless you count Penn’s mind as a ‘place’ and it certainly does not pose an intellectual argument for atheism. But, I am sure it’s purpose wasn’t to be intellectual, but to be entertaining, and it is my own fault for assuming that a well-known debunker of B.S. would try to write a book about debunking faith, but that is not the book that Penn wrote.

    I think what surprised me most, was how often I agreed with Penn’s observations. I think he tries to distance himself from people of faith and thereby show how different he is, but the things he cares about and the things he thinks about are in fact very similar to that of a religious person.

    Penn loves his family and he loves his children.  Penn is a loving father and husband and much of the book is devoted to his observations of family and loss. Penn wrote, “I’m afraid of a life that is so full of joy and love that every second just bursts by and is gone.” He spoke about the tragedy of never being able to be in the same room with his Father and his son at the same time or how he would love to see his Mother play with his daughter. I think these are ingrained emotions that all people share, religious or otherwise.

    He says, “what scares me and breaks my heart is the beauty of what I have right now.” Penn is talking about living for today and that continues to drive his thesis – that every day should be holy – should be sacred. Interestingly, Penn is not afraid of death, in other words, to him (as an atheist) death is just nothing, its not even darkness, it’s just finality – but when I read his book, I noticed that Penn is afraid of something that is related to death, in that, he is afraid of life… ending.

    For Penn, death is not another chapter or a beginning, it’s simply a state of non-being, but what scares him is the marrow of life coming to an end, “God might promise ever lasting life, and the possibility of seeing my loved ones again, but he can’t promise that this life that I’m living right now won’t go by.” For Penn, each nano-second is sacred and time passing, is a sort of death. To watch each moment slip away is hell.

    So piggy-backing on Penn’s views of death and the afterlife, I felt that much of Penn’s biblical understanding was out-dated; and through the book, I found this to be true for many other biblical positions he takes. Penn said in his book that he reads the bible every day (he’s got me there, even I don’t do that) but it appears to me (and I am sure that I am wrong) that he reads the bible looking for argument, or mistake or error or irrelevance instead of reading it as a story. For instance he writes,

    “…the bible condones slavery and tribalism, but I won’t dwell on it.” But what he means is slavery and tribalism are a part of the story of the bible and to be fair so is murder, fratricide, incest, misogyny and polygamy. But… the bible doesn’t condone them. Yes, they are mentioned as history, the bible certainly doesn’t edit out the “bad stuff” but it is true to the times that people lived in.

    Because let’s face it, people have always been sick and twisted.

    But the bible doesn’t not “condone” those actions. There are no bible verses that say “do” those things or “it’s ok to do those things.” In fact much of Penn’s argument against the bible or against people of faith is familiar to anyone who has spent time on the internet.  His sound bites and supporting arguments haven been read before in the rants of thousands of high school kids trying to “sound smart” or attempting to appear as if they “know” what’s in the bible by proof texting a few verses.

    And this is why I was so upset by this book. I was hoping for something so much more from this author. Penn is a magician and an incredibly talented performer.  But, I think as a magician and an admitted fan of Harry Houdini, Penn has spent so much of his life discovering the secrets to magic, that he has lost the ability to see real magic or to have real faith in that which can’t be explained.

    Penn writes, “Wanting to believe something is not any reason to believe it. If anything, it’s a reason to question it.” But Penn doesn’t just question faith, he lives his life in protest of it.  He wrote, “we want everyone to know we’re atheists.”

    And so my question is… why?

    Because that flies in the face of his thesis. A person who lived their life in celebration of life – wouldn’t give two craps about what others believed.  Take Santa Claus for instance, (SPOILER ALERT) he isn’t real. But thousands of people believe that he is – of course they are wrong, but what Penn is doing is making it his life’s work to announce to the world that he doesn’t believe.

    So what?

    Why waste time trying to convince people that something “doesn’t exist?” Ironic from a magician who spends his life trying to convince the world that there is nothing up his sleeve when there is, or that his deck of cards is ordinary when it is a far cry from.

    In the dutch Ancient Law Merchant by by G. De Malynes, published in 1622, there is a familiar proverb: “live and let live.” And it means to run your own life the way you want to, and to let others do the same. Live and let live means to be tolerant of differences and to embrace individualism. I would expect that a man who says he wants to milk each day for the majesty that it is, would live by this philosophy.

    However, in his book, Penn repeatedly show’d instances where he blatantly bullies his “faith&rd

    6 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    If you don't mind being offended and/or shocked from time to tim

    If you don't mind being offended and/or shocked from time to time, this is a great book. Very witty. Highly recommended.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Good, not great

    Penn is still funny in this book but it's nowhere near the genius of "God, No!" This book is more just ramblings and funny stories he has to tell about his life. They're still worth reading, but they don't have the laugh until you pee effect that GN did.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    Another fine book by Penn Jillette.

    Another fine book by Penn Jillette.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014

    If I could he would get zero stars

    To me, a christan, this is highly insulting.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2013

    Great book for a laugh!

    Great book for a laugh!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 24, 2013

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    Posted November 19, 2012

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    Posted December 14, 2012

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    Posted November 26, 2013

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    Posted November 1, 2013

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