Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Penn Jillette acts "beastly" toward Cardinal

In an interview with BBC's Roger Bolton recently, British Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster and former President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales had this to say:

Now view this video response, posted on YouTube, by Penn Jillette, an entertainer whose magic tricks show an intelligence not apparent in his public statements on the Catholic faith. This is his latest profane rant:

Obviously, if human beings are made in the image of God, then a person’s denial of God means that they won’t become all they were created to be. This is a form of poverty. As I keep stressing, a mark of intellectual maturity is the ability to represent one’s opponent’s position in a way that your opponent would recognize as fair and accurate. Until Penn Jillette and others like him learn to do this it will be hard to maintain any serious discussion with them. Choosing adolescent rants over reasonable dialogue really is an impoverishment.

Al responds on youtube.

We encourage our listeners and readers to respectfully engage in the discussions that are developing below these videos on youtube.


  1. Hello Al,
    Mr. Jillette's attitude is so infantile, yet so common today. This "in your face, but saying nothing" approach to debate is meaningless, yet many seem to think this is the way to dialogue or discuss serious matters such as who are we, what are we made for etc. I just wonder which world people would rather live in, the profanity-laden, shallow and vicious world of Jillette or the more reflected and thoughtful, profanity-free world of respectful dialogue as exemplified by the good Cardinal? Unfortunately, many in the Jillette camp seem to think that the profanities etc only will be aimed at those they disapprove of, but of course, if one usually uses profanity and sarcasm to deal with things one disagrees with, it creeps into all aspects of life. Words matter! Thanks for putting this up and for all the work you and Nick do!

  2. I doubt Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor believes that merely searching for the transcendent makes one fully human. It won't be enough only to seek the transcendent, one must find the transcendent in Christ. And even that's not enough. One needs the Catholic Church to find the fullness of transcendent faith in Christ.

    Father John Riccardo, in one of his podcasts, outdoes the Cardinal in this regard.

    In his podcast "RCIA for Catholics - Session 2 - Jesus: God or a Bad Man?" Father Riccardo starts out with a prayer to the Heavenly Father. In the prayer he says the following:

    "We believe that in Your great love and mercy You sent Your only Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary -- a man like us in all things but sin. We believe that He is the fullness of the revelation of who You are -- that He makes known Your face. We believe that He is also the fullness of the revelation of who we are, and only in knowing Him can we truly know what it means to be authentically human, and how to live."

    So according to Father Riccardo, not only do atheists like Penn Jillette not truly know what it means to be authentically human, and how to live, the same can be said of all non-Christians, including Jews like radio talk show host Dennis Prager. Forget about Jillette. Let's look a Prager's situation. Those of you familiar with Prager already recognize the problem.

    You see, Mr. Prager, by his own account, has been blessed by God with an abundance of wisdom and moral clarity. He is not shy about this. He's wonderfully generous; always happy to share his special gift for the benefit of all. However, even though he is bursting at the seams with wisdom and moral clarity, he remains a non-Christian. Hence Dennis Prager, because he does not know the Son, cannot truly know what it means to be authentically human, and how to live. I think that would come as news to Dennis.

    Let's apply Al Kresta's clarifying language to Dennis's situation. Since Dennis was made for God, his heart will be restless until he finds himself in Him. (Jesus told Thomas, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." So Dennis has a problem.) The Catholic Church teaches that Dennis will fulfill his nature as he comes to understand his Creator (i.e. the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Sadly, not to understand this is a form of poverty for Dennis, his profound wisdom notwithstanding.

    Perhaps there is no chance for Al and Penn, what with his adolescent rants, to have a reasonable discussion about Penn's current status of not being fully human, or not being authentically human -- take your pick. But I would love to see Al discuss the matter with Dennis Prager.