All religions on the level

Like many, I can’t abide the solipsistic Gwyneth Paltrow, but I’m not here (well, not completely) to criticize her. I simply want to show one of the eight “shortlisted” items that Gwynnie “can’t live without,” as detailed in the September Issue of Elle Decor.  The slideshow list, which begins here, includes hand-painted wallpaper, star shaped lanterns, a designer bathtub in her bedroom, and this item (Photo credit: Mike and Maaike Inc.):

What is it?  Gwynnie describes it:

6. Juxtaposed: Religion Shelf.  Built-in slots hold holy books—including the Qur’an, Bible, and Tao Te Ching—all at the same level (which is how I like to think about religion).

Oy, I need a Master Cleanse! Some poor carpenter had to make this to ensure that no faith was higher than any other.  Somehow I’m thinking that this isn’t supposed to show that all religions are equally bad.


  1. Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    I agree with Gwennie on this one. All religions are equal.

    We do have mathematical proof that zero always equals zero, don’t we?

    • Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      So sink them into the shelf, never to be removed again…

      • Claimthehighground
        Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Nice that the carpenter chose a piece of wood with some pretty obvious knots and that visible crack. He probably told her it was the cross piece from the original cross. So she put the books in it to confirm that no one comes to the father unless he comes through J.C.

    • Dr. I. Needtob Athe
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I agree. To paraphrase Gunny Ermey, “here, your religions are all EQUALLY worthless.”

  2. Duncan
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Surely an early/late April Fool joke?

    If not I wonder how Ms Paltrow will subsequently feel when her copy of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ towers above them all

  3. BilBy
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    And if you DON’T agree with her, the hefty block of wood is so she can hammer you over the head.

  4. george higinbotham
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    I think you are being a bit critical. As much as you’d like them to disappear, just saying they amount to the same thing is plenty dismissing.

  5. bric
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    We have ‘celebrity’ poes now?

  6. daveau
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    As a glass half empty type of person, I notice that The Qur’an, 3rd from the left, is closest to hell.

  7. jeff j
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Don’t miss #8. FYI, it “cuts down on cellphone radiation.”

  8. litchik
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    It is this kind of piece that makes me wonder why the riot shave not yet hit the U.S. – She can’t live without hand-painted wallpaper? perhaps she should put down the holy books and peek out at the real world. People are living without decent housing an schools in her own state. Not that she doesn’t care – she may even lead a yoga class of celebs as a means of helping.

    • Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:12 am | Permalink

      That was my reaction, too. Eight things she can’t live without, and #1 is hand-painted wallpaper? At a time when the “good news” headline here in Phoenix is that the foreclosure rate fell below 30% for the first time in years?

      Let them eat cake, indeed!


      • Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:22 am | Permalink

        I should add — I don’t begrudge her her luxuries. Almost everybody indulges in luxuries, even those in poverty that’s not extreme — how many American homeless families have never given their kids a candy bar? But common decency demands that she acknowledge her extravagances as luxuries, and not essentials she can’t live without.

        When access to food, water, shelter, and medical care are as universal and free as access to air, then we can start talking about the luxuries as necessities. But until then, these sorts of things are as insultingly insensitive as they come.


        • Marella
          Posted August 13, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink

          What amazes me is not so much that she’s this shallow and self indulgent, but that she’s prepared to admit it in public! If I were asked a question of this sort with the answers to, I would at least pretend to be a little more aware of reality.

  9. gayle
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    some religions appear to be lower than others

    • Steersman
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      Further into a-basement, one might say …

      • Claimthehighground
        Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        They are best cellars after all.

  10. IW
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    daveau pre-empted me – I was going to observe that although none were higher than any other, one was definitely lower than all the others! I guess no one told her that she could have bought all the books at the same size….

    @litchik: this is what happens when a person has literally more money than sense. I wonder how she lives with herself when she’s paying for hand-painted wallpaper and children are starving in Somalia? Perhaps this is why she won’t be in next year’s ‘The Avengers’ movie – they would want to take out their vengeance on her instead of on the standard bad guy?

  11. SWH
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    I was wondering why you pity the carpenter. I would have thought that it’s a good thing that a craftsman is getting paid (hopefully a decent rate) and redistributing some of the wealth.

    A bit more thought might have suggested that the tomes should have been aligned vertically on center, not on top! Can probably be fixed in Photoshop, which might fit the virtual reality that anyone who needs hand painted wallpaper lives in (the concept of hand painted wall paper recalls my mother’s reaction to my younger brother’s efforts as a small child). It seems that the FSM gospel is missing, a major oversight.

  12. John K.
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    My book is bigger than yours, so what it says has to be better. Don’t think you can cheat with tricky shelves.

    Now I realize that all the e-books on my Kindle must not say anything worthwhile at all, since they don’t occupy any significant space.

    • bric
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      Well she does seem to think her ‘cloth-bound Penguin classics’ are some kind of exercise device “The ultimate cure for sore muscles”

  13. Posted August 12, 2011 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    What’s hilarious is that she styles herself some sort of progressive, while swaddling herself in such “necessities.” No surprise she buys the usual well-meaning liberal “all religions are one and equal and true(ish)” line too; one good delusion deserves another!

    More than enough to make one long for a revival of a fiercely secular left…*sigh*

  14. Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    A recent ‘Goop’ quote from Elle magazine:

    When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some… restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris? People know that I know that

    & this is her British English fail [no doubt her English female ‘friends’ must piss themselves laughing at her]:

    I’m just like any other regular mum; cooking, cleaning, wiping butts, picking up after kids, being a wife and helping the kids with their homework. Mind you, I’m terrible at maths. I can’t even do my six-year-old’s maths homework with her

    • daveau
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some… restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine?

      I hate when that happens.

      • Claimthehighground
        Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like she’s having an organic whine.

        • Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          …whine and Jesus, no less….


  15. Kevin
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Gee, she left out “On The Origin of Species”.

    I keep hearing people tell me that’s the atheists’ bible. Seems to me someone should send her a copy and call her carpenter.

    Either that or “The God Delusion”.

    The daughter of privilege who had just enough sense to ply a trade where good looks are valued above all else.

  16. Fred Mounts
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Apparently it wasn’t her head in the box; just her brain.

  17. Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Jesus could have made the shelf!

    • daveau
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      I’m also wondering what kind of exorbitant fee was charged for it. $5K? $10K? Of course, all you really need is a table saw.

      • Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        Sadly, you weren’t that far off the mark….


  18. BradW
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Shallow is as shallow does.

  19. Quidam
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I like the bookshelf as a piece of art. It works

  20. MScott
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Someone should point how to her that now she’s made it so that some religions are “deeper” than others. Maybe she’ll have a breakdown.

  21. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    For a bunch of skeptics, you guys seem pretty eager to take that “can’t live without” quote uncritically at face value. I have no idea what Paltrow’s actual priorities are, but I doubt we’re going to find out from a fashion mag puff piece.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Where might one go to determine her priorities?

  22. Dave Ricks
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Quote mining Elle Decor — why? The phrase “can’t live without” belongs to the editors, not Paltrow.

    I give Paltrow credit for giving her daughter hearing protectors in 2005, before I knew they came in sizes for kids. Since then, I bought a pair for a friend’s daughter before their first IndyCar race together. Then she grew and I got her the next larger model.

    But I digress. Judging Paltrow wrong? Whatever.

  23. murci3lag0
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    As with many other religiously inspired art, I find this to be a very well done piece of carpentry. Simple and to the point. Commanded by a rich celebrity for her religious feelings, the artist captured her sentiments and probably earned good money for it.

  24. Posted August 12, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I’ve been told that my eccentric, a-religious grandfather had a small bookshelf which he called “the religion bookshelf,” on which was a collection of Judaica, I guess. Don’t think he ever referred to it, but seemed to think it was a necessary part of a library.
    I think you’re being a bit hard on Paltrow. She’s just an actress searching for another, more significant sort of role in life.
    We don’t have to pay attention.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I once attempted to get an answer out of a Muslim guy regarding the penalty for apostasy. He replied, “Dude, why do you care?” You don’t live in a Muslim culture/country.

      How about intellectual curiosity? Competence to discuss/analyze/evaluate Islam? Sympathy for and solidarity with Muslims seeking to leave Islam and escape their would-be murderers?

  25. 386sx
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    If she wants to make them all level then she has to saw them off so that they are all the same height. As others have observed, her idea only makes some religions look lower than other religions. She needs to break out the chain saw.

  26. 386sx
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Price $3,000 (all sold out)

    • 386sx
      Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Apparently they sold out the limited edition of 50 of them at $3000 each. If I were them I would make it an unlimited edition. Just sayin. Lol.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        What a ripoff!

        • Claimthehighground
          Posted August 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          Give it some time and they will be on an infomercial for $19.95, but WAIT! if you act now we will send you two for $19.95 – just pay shipping and handling. (But since you don’t have cable Jerry, you don’t know what I’m referring to). By the way, S&H is $2980.05.

    • Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Clearly, I’m in the worng line of work….


  27. Posted August 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Apart for her penchent for naming children after pieces of fruit,I am blissfully unaware of Paltrow’s personal life, a state of affairs I intend to maintain. But to go to that sort of length for a bookshelf strikes me as someone who has way too much money and time on their hands.
    An idiot in other words.

  28. KP
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    This surprises me. Didn’t read the other comments so maybe someone pointed this out, but over here…

    …Gwynnie seems pretty reasonable: “Religion is the cause of all the problems in the world. I don’t believe in organized religion at all. It’s what separates people. One religion just represents fragments, it causes war. More people have died because of religious conflict than any other reason.”

    • Posted August 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      Goop’s full quote, which is from March last year, begins with the words:

      “I don’t believe in religion. I believe in spirituality…”

      Compare & contrast that with the Goop’s statement of four weeks ago: “I’ll raise my children as Jewish”

      The woman dines from a smorgasbord of trendiness ~ thought free

  29. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 13, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    I’m no expert, but here’s what I think happened:

    Paltrow and her decorator decided it was time for a makeover of her apartment. So they had her publicist shop the idea around to various magazine editors. The editor and the decorator worked together to come up with a list of artists and designers they wanted to promote. The artists provided materials and artworks at nominal or no cost in exchange for free publicity. Paltrow got paid (probably much more than $3000) to gush over the chosen items. After the photoshoot, she and her decorator kept the items they actually liked and sent back the rest.

    Again, just guessing, but this is how I’d do it if I were a celeb at Paltrow’s level. So the charge that she’s an idiot with more money than sense who got ripped off by a scam artist doesn’t ring true for me, at least not on the strength of this evidence. More likely she got a free remodel, plus money in the bank as well, for the price of a few airhead quotes.

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