Chillin’ with the Penguins

Lately I’ve gotten in a few requests for a sample of what’s in my book, “Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang: Why I Do the Things I Do,” by God (as told to John Shore). Here, then, is the dedication, Table of Contents, and introduction (or what, in this book, is called the “Opening Part”) of that book.

Dedication

To you, the reader. And to all other humans. Well, to all mammals. And birds, too. And fish — we can’t forget the fish. Okay: to every single living entity or physical form that ever has, or ever will, spend one moment on earth.

Also, to John’s wife, Catherine. How she does what she does is anyone’s guess.

Table of Contents

OPENING PART

THE CONVERSATION JOHN OVERHEARD

But Wait! There’s More

BEING OBJECTIONABLE

[In the book, these are the questions that "God" directly answers.]

Q. I just don’t believe in God, period.

Q. If you really exist, why don’t you prove it?

Q. What’s the deal with evil, anyway? Why does a God who is all-powerful and all-compassionate allow evil to exist? He either wills evil to exist — 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?

Q. Why are so many Christians so obnoxious and mean-spirited? 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 that they forget to be kind. What’s up with that?

Q. What’s that whole “Atonement” thing actually mean?

Q. Isn’t it enough that I believe in God? Why do I have to narrow it down to the Christian God?

Q. 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?

Q. Even if I do believe in Christ, do I really have to go to church every Sunday? Yuck.

Q. So how would being a Christian actually improve my life? What would it really do for me?

AFTERWORD by John Shore

OPENING PART

Hi, there. I’m God — the Christian God, to be precise.

No, really. It’s me. I’m not kidding.

Hey, I can write. I’ve written before. As you know. As everyone knows.

Though of course it’s true that this is hardly my usual means of communicating. I definitely prefer a much more … intimate approach. This is something you also know — whether you think you know it or not.

Which is a whole other topic of conversation.

Anyway, I’m now sitting here in the early morning light, typing these words onto a computer screen. (Typing! Computers! What will you people think up next? I shudder to imagine!) The reason I’m doing this began about three minutes ago, when I noticed that the fellow whose body and mind I’m now occupying, John Shore [Hello! John here! Hi!], had leapt out of bed, and veritably dashed to his computer.

Now John is not a man prone to dashing anywhere — and certainly not upon waking; on most days I can barely get the boy to move until about noon. And yet there he was, before he’d even had his morning cup of whatever it is he’s currently drinking in his never-ending quest to have it not be coffee, typing with such fervor that for a moment I actually found myself wishing that I’d given him a few extra fingers.

Because I’m invariably interested whenever any human being gets excited about anything (especially if it involves anything new to them — and especially if it involves any sort of creative act), I came up behind John, and looked over his shoulder to see what he was writing.

And I saw that what he was writing was a little two-person play.

And I saw that one of the characters in that play was I — and that the other was the angel Michael, whom I am sometimes pleased to call Mickey.

And (believe me) it didn’t take me long at all to realize that John was typing what amounted to the transcript of an actual, private conversation Mickey and I once had a very long time ago.

Try to imagine my surprise.

For verily is that just so very, very wrong.

It’s also not the kind of thing that’s anywhere near as rare as it should be. Turns out it’s a lot more complicated than you’d think to construct and keep perfectly foolproof a three-dimensional universe in which fully independent, fully conscious beings wander around doing all kinds of things, like … well, like sleeping, for one.

Sleeping. What an intense, complicated design feature that turned out to be. You just wouldn’t believe some of the things you people do, see, and think when you’re asleep.

The key word, of course, being “asleep.” As in “not awake.”

As in Totally Unique and Separate Form of Consciousness.

The bottom line? What happens in Dreamland is supposed to stay in Dreamland.

That said, what happened last night isn’t supposed to happen under any circumstances. But, alas, it did: What amounts to the consciousness of our little Curious John ended up wandering into a place it wasn’t supposed to be, and seeing a (hmm . . . how to put this?) replay of something it wasn’t supposed to see — or that at the very least John wasn’t supposed to remember seeing the next morning.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Well, whaddaya gonna’ do? Stuff happens.

But here’s the thing: The conversation John’s Essence inadvertently came upon happened to be a truly key one in the development of Youse Peoples. And as I watched John typing his remembrance of that interaction, I saw that he was here and there getting a word of it wrong. Which isn’t that big a deal — it’s not like he’s a stenographer or anything — but it did occur to me that if just about any conversation I’ve ever had should be preserved for posterity (um … any that I didn’t actually have on earth, that is), it’s probably this one.

So, suddenly inspired to Get It Right, I moved in, and went Eminent Domain on John’s glutes.

And now here I am inside of John, controlling his arms and legs and thoughts, and generally just being … well, him!

Corporeal existence is suuuuuuuuch a trip.

But look who I’m telling!

Gravity. It’s so … amazingly innovative  — if I do say so myself.

Speaking of major innovations that absolutely define life for humans on earth, please allow me to now present to you the following verbatim re-creation of an Actual, Heavenly Duo Confab, courtesy of the interactively coordinated team of John Shore and me, the original Mr. Big. (Though, let’s face it, in any working relationship it’s always more efficient to have one person functioning as the Supreme Commander–and you can trust that John feels entirely comfortable with me in that role.)

And here we go:

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If you’re interested in purchasing an autographed and/or inscribed copy of “Penguins,” please see the “Purchase/Donate” button near the top of the column on the right.

Here is an interview Writer’s Digest did with me about “Penguins”: “My (Unpublished!) Interview with Writer’s Digest

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.whitenoisemetal.com Brian Shields

    I will admit when I first read this, I pictured you as John Denver listening to George Burns in the vegetable aisle.


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