Letters: Penn Jillette on God, Martha Stewart, Dan Savage

Host Renee Montagne reads from listeners' letters. Listeners weigh in on stories o n Martha Stewart, Dan Savage and magician Penn Jillette's essay earlier in the week on not believing in God.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Time now for your comments.

Last week, Susan Stamberg shared her hot pink pungent cranberry relish recipe with a woman who knows a thing or two about side dishes, Martha Stewart. That interview brought tart responses from some of you. `Lord, help us,' writes Tim Lennox(ph) of Montgomery, Alabama, `I had for some reason thought NPR was a Martha-free zone. There must be a hundred thousand celebrity chefs in the US. Couldn't you find anyone other than a convicted felon?'

But listener Gregory Packnik(ph) writes, `The joy in Susan's voice when Martha said she'd try the cranberry relish is one of those special moments that brings a smile.'

Alexis Howell Kubler(ph) adds, `It may be the only time I've not turned the dial when Martha Stewart was on.'

Even though Al Fitzpatrick in Tomball, Texas, did not turn the dial as he listed to Steve's interview with columnist Dan Savage about being a gay partner and parent, Fitzpatrick declares himself to be `appalled to hear you air the gay marriage segment. The family unit is the foundation of a great nation. Destroy the family unit and you destroy the nation.'

Kevin O'Malley(ph) of Lansing, Michigan, heard it differently. `I never considered finding merit in gay marriage. However, Mr. Savage's well-spoken examination of this issue causes me to open my mind and appreciate those men and women who are trying to do their best to raise their children and fit into society. I would never have thought that one single story would have had such a profound effect on me.'

Speaking of profound effects, we got a huge response to a This I Believe essay from entertainer Penn Jillette. Its title? "There Is No God."

PENN JILLETTE:

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family and indeed all the suffering in the world isn't caused by any omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

MONTAGNE: To that, Bruce Barrens(ph) of Springfield, Virginia, writes, `Amen. Jillette's words are truly inspirational.'

Shawn O'Brien(ph) of Indianapolis writes, `We live in a country that seems to grown more steeped and mired in its own religiosity by the day. Thank you for giving voice to someone with the moxie to say that you can love, be loved and appreciate life without any invisible friends.'

Other comments were more in line with this one.

Mr. LOU CARLOZA(ph): My name is Lou Carloza and I live in Chicago. Just because magician Penn Jillette can make all sorts of nifty things disappear doesn't mean he can do the same with God in a three-minute essay. In a passive-aggressive sort of way, Jillette's manifesto broke the balance of civility by taking a swipe at everyday believers in God. I think of all the good-hearted Christians who volunteer at hospitals, staff crisis lines, host AA meetings. Are they doing this because of, as Jillette puts it, an imaginary friend or is it some deeper, more compelling force that like love itself defies any concrete description?

MONTAGNE: And, listeners, we find all of your comments compelling on MORNING EDITION. So thank you as always for being in touch.

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