Confessions of an Anonymous Coward

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ask Not, And Ye Shall Receive

Okay, as I think I've mentioned, I've been going through some financial difficulties recently. Well, in searching for jobs to remedy that situation, I've been spreading out my net rather widely. Since I'm still working on my doctoral dissertation, I've been looking for part-time jobs that would allow me to still put in time on my research, but I've been looking into just about any kind of part-time job I feel I might be remotely qualified for.

In particular, I seem to have stumbled into acting.

I say "stumbled into" because, well, I ran across a call for actors for a corporate promotional video on craigslist, and I thought, what the hey, no harm in trying. And, rather to my surprise, I got a part. Getting a part in my first audition ever encouraged me enough that I figured I may as well keep at it, and so I began to look into acting a little more. And a few days later I got an audition for a part in a commercial for a major company. I didn't think the audition had gone well, but apparently it went better than I thought, because I got a callback.

By this point, I was really wanting to get this part. Not only did it pay better than the part in the corporate promotional video, but it was...well, more visible (it may even be a commercial intended to air on national TV--I didn't ask, and I'm not sure), and it would no doubt look much better on my résumé if I decide to keep acting (and at this point, I'm pretty sure I will; based on the reactions I've gotten, I actually seem to be pretty good at it). I wasn't sure what my chances were--sure, I got a callback, but so did at least half a dozen others, and I had no prior professional acting experience (the corporate promotional video not having been shot yet at that point)--but I really wanted this part.

Now. As those who've been reading this blog know, I was raised in the Mormon church. I don't believe in it anymore, of course, but I was a faithful Mormon for more than thirty years (if you count my early childhood when I didn't really understand anything about it). And...even though I don't believe in it anymore, or rather I've accepted that I never really had any reason to believe in it in the first place, and even though on at least one level I've come to terms with that, thirty-odd years of indoctrination leaves marks that don't come off easily. At some levels, there's still a lot of deprogramming to be done.

One of the things that I was raised to believe, of course, is that if you really want something, you should pray to God for help. And somewhere in the back of my mind, in the areas that haven't fully overcome the religious brainwashing yet, part of me wanted to pray that I'd get this part.

With only a little dramatic license, I can cast my thought processes in terms of an argument with myself:

You really want this part. You ought to pray about it.

I'm not going to pray about it. I don't believe in prayer anymore.

Still, you feel like you ought to be doing something about it, right? Go ahead. Pray about it.

That wouldn't be doing anything effective. I'm not going to pray about it. I don't believe in God.

Okay, sure, you don't believe in God, but...why not pray about it, just in case? Sure, you may not believe it'll help, but it can't hurt, right?

I'm not going to pray about it "just in case". I don't believe in God. I have no reason to believe prayer can accomplish anything.

But even if God doesn't exist, prayer isn't going to hurt anything.

It's the principle of the thing. I have to try to get over old habits like that, and I don't need to feel like I'm doing something useful when I'm not. I'm not going to pray about it.

So, despite a bit of an inner struggle with my old self, I stuck to my guns and didn't pray about it.

I got the part.

I'm not saying this proves anything, of course. But I thought it might be worth mentioning.


At 5/18/2007 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting the part! Acting sounds like great fun. And congrats on leaving out the praying. Yes, habits are hard to break. But with practice (like auditioning for lots of parts and NOT praying for divine intervention), habits can be replaced with other things -- like trusting in your own talents and accepting that some things go our way and some things don't.

At 5/19/2007 11:58 AM, Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

URA! Congratulations on the part and I hope the new career works out.

At 5/21/2007 8:52 AM, Blogger Lifewish said...


One approach that might work is substituting some other activity for prayer. For example, in this case, you could satisfy your urge to be doing something by getting a book on acting from the library and practising in front of a mirror.

At 5/21/2007 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, I'm amazed at just how much what you write reflects the experiences I'm going through in my own "deconversion." Not too long ago, my daughter was fairly sick - nothing really serious or unusual; I'm just a parent and I worry. And part of me really wanted to pray to ask for help, but another part of me said to stick to my ideals. I didn't go out and become an atheist on a whim; it was a long thought out, considered decision. So in the end, I didn't pray, and my daughter's fine.

At 5/22/2007 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been struggling with a recent issue lately. We listed our house for sale--a situation guaranteed to make you feel completely helpless in the best of situations--and had to ride the merry-go-round of showings, offers, inspections and so on. I kept having that same nagging feeling "I should pray about this"--and like you, I resisted, and our house is closing in next week.

Glad to know I'm not the only atheist with these "treacherous" feelings. Seems significant that the urge to think magically surfaces precisely in those situations where you can no longer do anything tangible to affect their outcome.

At 5/22/2007 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

derrr, "recent" s/b "similar" and "closing in" s/b "closing"... blame the six-year-old at my elbow requesting attention.

At 5/22/2007 5:05 PM, Blogger Ross said...

I love your description of the internal dialog that came with the temptation to pray. I have experienced this in the past, too, and you articulated it perfectly. Don't worry, it goes away. My niece is currently going through problems, and I had an awkward moment talking with my dad and step mom when they suggested that they were praying, but that I don't believe in that sort of thing. My dad suggested that I rub Buddha's belly or send positive vibes. I responded, "I don't believe in that crap, ei-". I caught myself mid-sentence, to avoid being offensive. It's tough when people act like you don't care because you won't perform a superstitious ritual in lieu of any real contributions. I often offer to pray in the name of an arbitrary entity like Zeus or Odin, just to make a point. Congrats again on the acting jobs, by the way.

At 5/23/2007 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last time my parents recommended I pray over an issue (I was looking for a job too) I told them that I had it covered -- I had promised Odin that I would buy a goat with my first check and sacrifice it to him. They don't bring religion up much anymore.

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