Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do, by God (as told to John Shore)by John Shore
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About one year after his sudden and utterly out-of-the-blue conversion to Christianity (which he describes in the riveting afterword of this book), John Shore reportedly found himself overwhelmed by the desire to write something that Christians could give to non-Christians by way of proving that just because one is Christian doesn’t automatically mean that one is irrational. The result is the delightfully profound “‘Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do,’ by God (as told to John Shore),” in which God (who, it turns out, is excruciatingly funny: who knew?) directly answers the dozen objections to Christianity most typically raised by non-Christians. The book’s opening dialogue between God and the archangel Michael on the eve before God introduces Adam onto planet earth is worth the price alone. No finer, accessible, or creative a Christian apologetic has ever been written. This is the book for which Mr. Shore is most likely to be remembered.
The questions the character of God answers in "Penguins" are:
-- If you really exist, why don’t you prove it?
-- What’s the deal with evil, anyway? Why does a God who is all-powerful an all-compassionate allow evil to exist? He either wills evil to exit—which makes him despicable—or he’s powerless to stop it, which makes him uninspiringly weak, to say the least. Both bite. What’s up?
-- Why are so many Christians so obnoxious and mean-spririted? It seems like Christianity’s mostly about being judgmental, narrow-minded, and having an infuriatingly condescending attitude toward anyone who isn’t a Christian. Christians are so busy being smug about being Christian they forget to be kind.
-- What’s that whole “Atonement” thing actually mean?
-- Isn’t it enough that I believe in God? Why do I have to narrow it down to the Christian God?
-- What’s the deal about God actually writing the Bible? Is it written by God, or people, or people filled with the Holy Spirit, which is somehow supposed to be the same as God, or what? What’s the Scoop, Jackson? (The first thing God answers to this one is, “Did you just call me ‘Jackson’?”)
-- Even if I do believe in Christ, do I really have to go to church every Sunday? Yuck.
-- So how would being a Christian actually improve my life? What would it really do for me?
Praise for Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang:
Winner of the 2006 San Diego Book Award for Best Religion/Spirituality book.
Rob Bell ("Love Wins," "Sex God," "Velvet Elvis,") has declared Mr. Shore "awesome," and "a brilliant writer." Dan Savage ("It Gets Better") has called him "a wonderful writer," and written of his desire for all Christians to read his work. “John Shore is a gadfly," writes John Shelby Spong, "calling the Christian Church everywhere to act the way it says it believes about love and justice, which of course makes him an uncomfortable presence in those churches that do not like to be forced to face reality. So were the prophets of old. So was Jesus of Nazareth.” Tony Jones ("The New Christians") says, "John Shore is funny as hell and smart as hell."
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Meet the Author
John Shore is an award-winning book author. His articles for The Huffington Post's Religion section are among its most popular. His blog, JohnShore.com, is one of the most read and commented upon in the blogosphere. He is the founder of the growing movement known as Unfundamentalist Christians.
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Says it like it is. Got the NookBook for me and the book for my Grandson. Writen in plain English so my Grandson could read it. Writen in a nice manner so my Granson understood what was being said.
This is a short, slightly funny book attempting to answer tough questions concerning Christianity, like the problem of evil, whether or not it is enough to 'just believe', the inerrancy of scripture and such. It's a light read, and it does a decent job with dumbing down some apologetics. It seems to be meant for the already converted Christian audience. It does a decent job at its objective, which was to entertain and to educate, but I found the overly playful setting detrimental to its overall instruction; It was hard to take it seriously.
I have enjoyed the distinct pleasure of growing to know John Shore within the past few months. I have found him to be astutely insightful, wickedly funny and fearlessly true to his understandings of grace through Christ. As such, I have been awaiting the opportunity to clear some books off of my "to read" list so that I could fully enjoy "Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang", expecting it to be filled with John's uniquely wry and humorous insights into the nature of God; and our relationship with God. I was not disappointed. The book is simply stated, a riot. I found myself laughing out loud at several points throughout. I will not spoil a readers' joy by offering too many details, but; the premise of the book is that God took control of John's body so that He could present his side of the story; largely in response to those atheists and agnostics who (with often compelling arguments) do not believe that God exists. As such; the book seems largely intended as a sort of apologetic for God's existence. The surprise is that God has a wicked sense of humor (penguin, anyone?) What I was not expecting though was just how substantial the book is. Many times while reading, I found myself highlighting, dog-earing pages saying "ouch" in response the strong criticism of some of the church's more exclusionary and less gracious actions. There is strong polemic here, have no doubt. And the prophetic tone does not stop at the institutional church, either; but often finds purchase within the individual heart as well. The genius of this work is that it is filled with such moments; and yet that prophetic voice is soon followed by humor. But rather than it seeming to present God as having some serious bipolar mood swings; the work as a whole presents an image of God as love. In "Penguins." God can and does rebuke, but then immediately seeks to bring us back with laughter; often at God's own expense. That is the type of love we can all aspire to; where anger burns quickly and grace abounds. That is the type of God, that we can identify with and love rather than tremble in fear at the thought of. While "Penguins." would seem to have been written to a non-believing audience; the wonderful insights into God's nature found therein have tremendous value to those of faith as well. Do yourself a favor and read this book. You will be both entertained and inspired.