Monday, October 28, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman

Where have I been lately? Here and there. I had a business trip to Colorado that took some of my time, and the rest has been a blur. There have been quite a few pretty late nights at work, though, and that's the main culprit.

But while I was traveling I did make time to read Paddle Your Own Canoe by Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman, or at least the first third of it.

It started out pretty good in that it was basically just an autobiography of Nick's life growing up on a farm in rural Illinois. He intersperses each chapter with a philosophical 3-4 page essay on some basic life lessons. And like his Parks and Rec character, Nick seems to be mostly libertarian in his politics, which means that he's economically conservative and socially very liberal, and he mixes in a healthy dose of Adam Carolla-like 'the modern generation is a bunch of wimps, real men and women know how to make things (i.e. he built the canoe and oar he's using on the book cover) and do things for themselves.'

He lost me when he got to creationists, who he casually dismissed as something like 'retarded fools' or something like that. It was really mean spirited and it pulled me right out of the book. I wasn't sure if he 'meant' it or not, and kept reading for a while longer. And then I got to his chapter on religion and found out he definitely meant it. He seems to think creationists are basically deluded zombie morons who foolishly try to govern from our own ignorance.

I had a big defense of creationism planned here, but eh. If you think that the monstrous insanity of the complexity of existence all just happened at random, nothing I can say will make any difference to you. You can look at conscious thought or the inner drive in people to seek out a higher power, or to feel shame or guilt, or any other combination of emotions that have no evolutionary or biological purpose and go 'huh, that's weird. Better to not dwell on that too much.' And that's fine, as far as 'willful ignorance' goes.

But if you can't at least be respectful of differences of opinion, if you can't tolerate opposing viewpoints without disparaging the intelligence or character of those with whom you disagree, then why should I finish your book?

"Some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, “Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?”

-Elder Russel M. Nelson

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