Paddle Your Own Canoe, by Nick Offerman


Three and a half stars, read in November 2015.

This is really enjoyable and I love Nick Offerman, but I’m a bit more than halfway through and have thirteen different books going at once and it’s getting hectic so I need to give it up for now. I fully intend to finish this at some point, and then to read Gumption as well. Offerman (aka Not Ron Swanson, as is one of the primary messages of this book) is hilarious and disgusting and thoughtful, and if I had to pick my favorite part so far it’d be his thoughts on religion, which are excellent. Examples:

As I have asserted, much of the Bible holds excellent lessons in the pursuit of modesty and living as a straight shooter, but I would invite you all to investigate the WHOLE DOCUMENT. Leviticus, for example, is commonly referred to as “easily the most fucked-up book in the Old Testament.” I believe it was none other than the Lord God Almighty who instructed us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Wise words from the King of Kings. Unfortunately, he spake this phrase smack-dab in the middle of the book of Leviticus . . .

The flagrant double standard espoused in Leviticus should surely be enough evidence for us to take the Bible’s trustworthiness out of the equation. When I am instructed by the all-knowing Jehovah to profess an ostensibly “equal” brotherly love within the same pages where I am instructed to murder my fellow man or woman for engaging in a love act, I can’t help but look elsewhere for guidance. I am choosing to enlist instead the book of my own common sense.

I’m going to type this in boldface to try to make it as clear as possible: If you read the Bible and go to church, or subscribe to any other religion, that is fine with me. I like nice people, and if you are endeavoring to be one, I say, “Great!” I, too, am endeavoring to be a nice person. The thing that makes me mad is when a person suggests that I CANNOT be a nice person or live a life of goodness WITHOUT reading the Bible and attending church. To sum up—churchgoers: fine and dandy; those who try to force it on me and my fellow Americans: assholes. Areas in which “they” try to force it on us: premarital sex abstention, abortion laws, birth control, gay marriage. The fact that creationism can even be a conversation is a goddamn shame and blight upon our nation’s character.

Jesus was a great and wise man; we get it. His teachings are an excellent set of guidelines by which to conduct oneself; copy that. But you don’t get to bring your church book into the city, county, state, or national policy discussion! Put that shit away! . . . You use your religious (or not) writing of choice at home, or in a place where people gather to imbibe your religion of choice. Hopefully, this practice teaches you decency, common sense, and goodwill toward your fellow men and women. THEN, you take that decency and put it to good use when drafting legal policy! Leave your church out of it! If I were to coin a phrase, I don’t know, I might suggest A SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, just like old Tommy Jefferson did. Time to re-up that shit. Forgive my eloquence.

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