Penn Jillette is the “talkative” half of Penn and Teller, the Las Vegas comedy-illusion team, now with their own program on Showtime titled Penn and Teller: Bulls***! Penn has been an outspoken atheist. But he posted a video blog on his personal website about a man who gave him a Bible, which has much, I believe, to teach Christians:
At the end of the show as I’ve mentioned before, we go out and we talk to folks, you know, sign an occasional autograph and shake hands and so on. And there was one guy waiting over to the side in what I call the “hover position”...he had been the guy who picks the joke during our psychic comedian section of the show. So he had the props from that in his hand because we give those away, the joke book, the envelope, and the paper, and stuff...
And he walked over to me and he said, “I was here last night at the show, and I saw the show and I liked the show...” he was very complimentary about my use of language and complimentary about honesty and stuff. He said nice stuff, no need to go into it, he said nice stuff.
And then he said, “I brought this for you,” and he handed me a Gideon pocket edition. I thought it said from the New Testament but also, Psalms is from the New Testament right?..Little book...And he said, “I wrote in the front of it and I wanted you to have this, I’m kind of proselytizing.” And then he said, “I’m a business man. I’m sane, I’m not crazy.” And he looked me right in the eye and did all of this. And it was really wonderful.
I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive. And he looked me right in the eyes. And he was truly complimentary,...it didn’t seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible. And I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there is a heaven and hell and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward...How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
I mean if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, but that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that. And I’ve always thought that and I’ve written about that and I’ve thought of it conceptually.
This guy was a really good guy. He was polite, and honest, and sane and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible. Which he had written in it a little note to me...just like, liked your show and so on. And then like five phone numbers for him and an email address if I wanted to get in touch. Now, I know there’s no God. And one polite person living his life right doesn’t change that. But I’ll tell ya, he was a very, very, very good man. And that’s real important. And with that kind of goodness its ok to have that deep of a disagreement. I still think that religion does a lot of bad stuff. But man, that was a really good man who gave me that book. That’s all I wanted to say.”
James Emery White
Jillette, Penn Jillette (2008, December 8), Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible. Retrieved from http://crackle.com/c/Penn_Says/A_Gift_of_a_Bible/2415037.
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About Dr. James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
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