Tag Archives: pope

An Open Letter to Penn Jillette From an Appreciative Young Catholic

Dear Mr. Jillette,

Before ever reading The Royal Road to Card Magic or learning how to do a pass, I was introduced to magic by yourself and Mr. Teller on THIS television special. Not only was I hooked on magic from then on, I also remember being impressed by your duo’s willingness to “reveal” one way in which an illusion might be done. There was an honesty in the unveiling that actually made me appreciate the piece more.

The next time I remember taking note of you was in 2003, when Showtime began airing your series, “Penn and Teller: Bullshit”. Beneath the bravado and aggressive language, I could plainly see an admirable pursuit of truth vs. the modern, selfish, emotion-based acceptance of “truthiness“.

You popped up on my radar a third time by a post on “Penn Says” about a man who gave you a Bible after a show. Though I was refreshed at your open willingness to speak of the man–whom you intrinsically disagreed with–as “kind, and nice, and sane,” I was most impacted by the following statement:

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize…If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life…and you think that …it’s not really worth telling…because it would make it socially awkward…how much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

In a few, short, hastily-recorded words, you had put the impetus behind Matthew 28’s “Great Commission” into layman’s terms, all without actually believing any of it, and, yet again, I was impressed. Regardless of how vocal and sarcastic you could appear to be at times, you also seemed to possess a relatively rare docility to honesty and truth, even if it was found in a standpoint you found laughable.

Then, on March 7, you appeared in an interview with Piers Morgan and, among other things, relayed such a succinct, yet adequate, exposition of the Catholic Church’s belief in the Papacy that I had to write this letter.

Thank you, Mr. Jillette. Thank you for being the unusual type of person who realizes that you can’t truly disagree with someone until you understand their position. More specifically, thank you for being a man of such backbone and character that you will defend a tenet of the Catholic Church from misrepresentation and error, even though you disagree with said tenet.

Furthermore, thank you for seeing through the flimsy, theologically absurd belief that Christianity should bend to the whims of culture, which change by the minute and are generally dictated by the selfish desire for immediate gratification of any and all wants. If real, eternal, objective truth can be found in the Catholic Church and her members, then, as you so beautifully put it, “why would society move them?” Instead of bowing to a given population’s estimated value of the dollar, Christians are supposed to “impregnate culture and human works with a moral value” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 909). You said it best, yet again, “There’s not supposed to be modernizing, it’s supposed to be the Word of God.”

I joined the Catholic Church in 2008 after growing up in an Evangelical denomination, attending Bible College, becoming atheist, and spending a few years floundering in the choppy sea of personal opinion applied to Scripture. I found myself unable to swallow the inherent chaos which very clearly resulted from the belief that “your interpretation is as good as mine” and “if it works for you, then great!”

I came to agree that, as you put it, “if you have someone who is a conduit to God…even if you can’t understand exactly what God’s plan is…that still doesn’t mean you get to vote on what God actually believes.” It didn’t seem to me that truth, religious or otherwise, should–or could–be relegated to the anarchic realm of personal opinion. It seemed more logical and right to embrace Aquinas’ statement that “if there is anything true, there must be truth,” and then approach that truth with the beautiful philosophy of Mr. Penn Jillette and say, “You either agree or you don’t.”

There is a desperate, pressing need for more people like you to hold the line against the subversive gibberish and rhetoric of a culture which says you don’t have mean what you say or be what you are. The Church is rife with thousands who loudly profess to be Catholic and, in the same breath, unequivocally deny teachings which are intrinsic to Catholicism. Thank you for being one person who won’t stand for the paradox and contradiction.

I hope, and my heart prays, that you soon leave the ranks of those who believe “in the pope’s position more than most Catholics”, and join the merry band of actual Catholics who truly believe what the Church teaches. I desire this, not so that we have one more notch on our theological belt, but that your restless heart, starving for and relentlessly pursuing truth, may rest in the Truth that is Christ and His Church.

Thank you, again, Mr. Jillette.


Nic Davidson

Davidson Family

***This open letter can also be found published at Ignitum Today***

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Things I Didn’t Know

Until the nineteenth century, all Christians agreed that the Church being “caught up” –the rapture, though it was not called that at the time—would occur immediately before the Second Coming, at the close of the period of persecution, and that there are NO Christian writings of ANY kind that fully and blatantly support the concept of “The Rapture” as taught by modern Evangelical Protestantism.  I had no clue.

-When Christ is speaking specifically, and in the singular tense, to Peter in Matthew 16, he is quoting almost word-for-word from Isaiah 22, where the king is leaving his kingdom in the hands of one man, who will possess the keys to the kingdom and be able to bind and loose with the king’s authority.

-There is an easily discernable, unbroken line of apostolic succession leading from Peter to Pope Benedict XVI.

– The 7 books of the Old Testament that Protestants removed were included in the original canon of Scripture AND in the ol’ King James Bible.  There are, at a minimum 75 references to these 7 in the New Testament, whereas Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah are NEVER quoted.

– I Peter 3:21 explicitly states that, just as Noah was saved through water, “so now baptism saves you”.

– The Word of God as we know it was compiled by a bunch of priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes in a legalized Church that was supposedly invented by Constantine.

-One of the first things Jesus says to His disciples after He rises from the dead is: “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven”(John 20:23)

-Not only are the Greek words in the New Testament all very, very literal WHENEVER they reference the Eucharist (John 6, especially), but the earliest Christian writings are very, very clear on what they believed regarding communion. (And they aren’t “Evangelical-friendly”)

– The words “faith” and “alone” never appear together in Scripture, except in James when he says, “It is not by faith alone”.  Martin Luther knew this, but still added the word “alone” after “faith” in Romans 3:28 in his translation of the Scriptures.

– Every, single issue that I used to have with the Catholic Church was 100% accepted by every, single generation of Christians, from Golgotha to today.  Who knew?

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