"Public" prayer
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19-06-2017, 08:36 PM
"Public" prayer
Hi. I am new here. And still new to being more openly true to myself and others as being atheist. And I could sure use some advice or at least a sounding board. So thanks for being here.

Recently I got back into community and college theatre after a several years absence. It used to feel like it was a place where people truly accepted each other and all their differences. Race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. a place where we could be ourselves in our own skins while portraying roles of someone else. I used to say that I never felt more comfortable in my own skin than when I was onstage being someone else.

My situation that I want to put out to others here involves a venue that was neither church related, government related or school related.

So this weekend just minutes before a show at the very end of cast call, after the director had dismissed us and before calling us to "places," someone shouted "Wait! Wait!" and stopped the cast and crew from parting for their various directions to ask the director if we could all pray together before starting. The director hesitated before reluctantly agreeing that 'as long as no one has any objections I guess it's okay.' Now let me start by saying I SUPPOSE I should give him credit for at least hesitating. But c'mon now, you're in charge here, don't put us in the position of having to voice objections. Especially not just a few moments before the curtain rises. And mind you, I knew beyond any doubt that we were referring to a Christian prayer, one in which we would undoubtedly be expected to pray "in Jesus' name."

I also want to point out that this was a fairly large cast and crew of both adults and children and I know for a fact that there was at least one Jewish person, one probably a Muslim, and (based on the reaction) several other non-Christians as well, whose religion (or lack of religion) I could not personally attest to.

Now here is where I have been kicking myself for the past several days. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20. I chose, as a good half dozen others of all ages did, to politely step back and attempt to quietly leave the area to return to the dressing rooms as the person called for us to "all join hands." Let me sidetrack at this moment to say the "separation" of Christians from non-Christians contained a few that kinda surprised me. But that is not the point here.

Soooooo, as I tried to unobtrusively ease my way around some of my very favorite people in the cast, one of them reached for my hand, called me by name and asked me to join hands with him. I withdrew my hand and quietly stated "I am an atheist" and kept walking. I could see by his face that this threw him, which was mildly surprising since his beloved girlfriend is Jewish. So I know he is at least accepting of alternative points of view. And although he did look a bit like I had just slapped him, at least he didn't look at me (and yes, I have experienced THIS in the past) as though I had just told him that I like to burn the private parts off of puppies and skin babies to wear their skin as underwear.

Now, I am 50+ years old. I feel like I SHOULD be able to stay out of the *religion closet* without feeling like a pariah. And I think I could/would be more open with it if I were pushed into a corner and forced to "defend" my position. In fact I find myself fully capable of being open about being an atheist whenever it involves strangers knocking on my door trying to sell me their religion. But as one of the "adults" there when this happened I am angry with myself for NOT openly objecting. I suppose my self-censorship came from a desire to NOT make anyone else uncomfortable BY objecting, especially so close to the start of the production. But looking back (here's that 20/20 thing finally) I truly wish I had said "Considering the statistical likelihood that not everyone here shares the same religious beliefs or worships the same deities, I think a moment of silence during which we can focus on anything we each wish to would be more appropriate." I feel relatively certain that would have gotten a positive reaction without overly ostracizing myself or anyone else. Well, fairly certain. Okay, maybe not. I am right in the heart of the Bible-belt.

I came here to relate this story because I fully expect to find myself in this same position again in the not too distant future. So NEXT time I want to be truly, fully prepared. Being in the theatre I obviously have the ability to memorize and rehearse whatever I decide to say. So I open it to all of you now....would you please help me write my script?Facepalm

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams
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19-06-2017, 09:07 PM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2017 09:20 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: "Public" prayer
(19-06-2017 08:36 PM)outtathereligioncloset Wrote:  Hi. I am new here. And still new to being more openly true to myself and others as being atheist. And I could sure use some advice or at least a sounding board. So thanks for being here.

Recently I got back into community and college theatre after a several years absence. It used to feel like it was a place where people truly accepted each other and all their differences. Race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. a place where we could be ourselves in our own skins while portraying roles of someone else. I used to say that I never felt more comfortable in my own skin than when I was onstage being someone else.

My situation that I want to put out to others here involves a venue that was neither church related, government related or school related.

So this weekend just minutes before a show at the very end of cast call, after the director had dismissed us and before calling us to "places," someone shouted "Wait! Wait!" and stopped the cast and crew from parting for their various directions to ask the director if we could all pray together before starting. The director hesitated before reluctantly agreeing that 'as long as no one has any objections I guess it's okay.' Now let me start by saying I SUPPOSE I should give him credit for at least hesitating. But c'mon now, you're in charge here, don't put us in the position of having to voice objections. Especially not just a few moments before the curtain rises. And mind you, I knew beyond any doubt that we were referring to a Christian prayer, one in which we would undoubtedly be expected to pray "in Jesus' name."

I also want to point out that this was a fairly large cast and crew of both adults and children and I know for a fact that there was at least one Jewish person, one probably a Muslim, and (based on the reaction) several other non-Christians as well, whose religion (or lack of religion) I could not personally attest to.

Now here is where I have been kicking myself for the past several days. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20. I chose, as a good half dozen others of all ages did, to politely step back and attempt to quietly leave the area to return to the dressing rooms as the person called for us to "all join hands." Let me sidetrack at this moment to say the "separation" of Christians from non-Christians contained a few that kinda surprised me. But that is not the point here.

Soooooo, as I tried to unobtrusively ease my way around some of my very favorite people in the cast, one of them reached for my hand, called me by name and asked me to join hands with him. I withdrew my hand and quietly stated "I am an atheist" and kept walking. I could see by his face that this threw him, which was mildly surprising since his beloved girlfriend is Jewish. So I know he is at least accepting of alternative points of view. And although he did look a bit like I had just slapped him, at least he didn't look at me (and yes, I have experienced THIS in the past) as though I had just told him that I like to burn the private parts off of puppies and skin babies to wear their skin as underwear.

Now, I am 50+ years old. I feel like I SHOULD be able to stay out of the *religion closet* without feeling like a pariah. And I think I could/would be more open with it if I were pushed into a corner and forced to "defend" my position. In fact I find myself fully capable of being open about being an atheist whenever it involves strangers knocking on my door trying to sell me their religion. But as one of the "adults" there when this happened I am angry with myself for NOT openly objecting. I suppose my self-censorship came from a desire to NOT make anyone else uncomfortable BY objecting, especially so close to the start of the production. But looking back (here's that 20/20 thing finally) I truly wish I had said "Considering the statistical likelihood that not everyone here shares the same religious beliefs or worships the same deities, I think a moment of silence during which we can focus on anything we each wish to would be more appropriate." I feel relatively certain that would have gotten a positive reaction without overly ostracizing myself or anyone else. Well, fairly certain. Okay, maybe not. I am right in the heart of the Bible-belt.

I came here to relate this story because I fully expect to find myself in this same position again in the not too distant future. So NEXT time I want to be truly, fully prepared. Being in the theatre I obviously have the ability to memorize and rehearse whatever I decide to say. So I open it to all of you now....would you please help me write my script?Facepalm

Being taken by surprise, is an excuse for once, (for the Director). After that, no. Sounds like the Director actually understands, already.
It happened to me once, and now if it ever happens, I say "Excuse me, I need to find the restroom" and walk away.
or ... you could quote the Bible, and tell them you do what it says Tongue

Matthew 6:5-6
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.
Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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19-06-2017, 11:46 PM
RE: "Public" prayer
I think your reaction was pretty good anyway. They sprung it as a surprise. Probably deliberately. If you had made a scene everyone would have been jittery just before the performance. Letting them do their thing and politely refusing when requested to join them was probably the best you could do. I think if you wanted to follow up then maybe post-performance you could have cornered the fucker that suggested the public prayer and explained why it was not a nice thing to do, and suggested to them the notion of rather a minute's silence as being more inclusive of those of other faiths and none.

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If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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20-06-2017, 07:58 AM
RE: "Public" prayer
Since the director was initially hesitant, it seems that it is he to whom you should speak. Tell him the truth about how this made you feel and what caused your action to remove yourself from the group prayer and suggest that there are most likely others who feel as you do, but who do not want to offend the devout people who asked for prayer. The director should make this decision for the group.

Short of his decision change, keep doing what you are doing...but just keep it short. "I am an atheist. I do not pray." seems okay to me.

Or you could engage more and ask why prayer is needed before performance or rehearsal?

Geeze Louise...you wouldn't expect this from theatre trash! LOL.

"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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20-06-2017, 08:23 AM
RE: "Public" prayer
Or you could say "No thanks ... we worked hard on this, I know it will go well, prayer isn't gonna change anything, anyway at this point".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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20-06-2017, 08:29 AM
RE: "Public" prayer
You: “Fine, but then I also want us to say a short prayer to Dionysus right after, OK?”

Or better yet when they finish say you want to add another. Wait till everyone quiets down, bows their head, continues holding hands and in an ever increasing voice pray...

“Oh Dionysus, patron of poetry, song and drama, we here beseech your mercy and pray you look down upon our humble cast and grant us that we may delight the audience tonight. Bestow on us your grace so that we might please you, oh great Dionysus!”

or some such drivel, make sure you say it real loud too. Angel

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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20-06-2017, 10:59 AM
RE: "Public" prayer
I always just excuse myself if Christians feel the need to group-pray. -I only ever see Christians doing that. For Jews (hi, I'm a Jew. I don't think we've met yet), frivolous praying is inappropriate and a violation of Jewish beliefs. I might ask the group to come get me from the bathroom, lobby, or wherever when they're done doing their pray-thing. This way, I've indirectly communicated to them that what they've done crosses a line for me; it's culturally insensitive and unappreciated. For a first offense, I'm very nice about it and -swear it- not passive aggressive at all. Second offense is passive aggression all the way.
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20-06-2017, 02:07 PM
RE: "Public" prayer
(20-06-2017 08:29 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  You: “Fine, but then I also want us to say a short prayer to Dionysus right after, OK?”

Or better yet when they finish say you want to add another. Wait till everyone quiets down, bows their head, continues holding hands and in an ever increasing voice pray...

“Oh Dionysus, patron of poetry, song and drama, we here beseech your mercy and pray you look down upon our humble cast and grant us that we may delight the audience tonight. Bestow on us your grace so that we might please you, oh great Dionysus!”

or some such drivel, make sure you say it real loud too. Angel

That has me kicking myselffor not thinking of something along those lines. I LOVE it. I'm kicking myself because I actually have an elementary understanding of modern Druidism and I'm surprised I didn't think to invoke the aid of "Awen" :
Awen is a Welsh, Cornish and Breton word for "(poetic) inspiration". In the Welsh tradition, awen is the inspiration of the poet bards; or, in its personification, Awen is the inspirational muse of creative artists in general: the inspired individual (often a poet or a soothsayer) is described as an awenydd.

Although using your reference I do see that Dionysus is the ancient Greek god of theatre so I may have to go exactly that route. I'm mildly embarrassed to admit I didn't know that. Or probably knew it once but had forgotten it. Either way, the concept is kind of passive-aggressively PERFECT. Thanks!

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams
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20-06-2017, 02:12 PM
RE: "Public" prayer
(20-06-2017 07:58 AM)Jeanne Wrote:  Since the director was initially hesitant, it seems that it is he to whom you should speak. Tell him the truth about how this made you feel and what caused your action to remove yourself from the group prayer and suggest that there are most likely others who feel as you do, but who do not want to offend the devout people who asked for prayer. The director should make this decision for the group.

Short of his decision change, keep doing what you are doing...but just keep it short. "I am an atheist. I do not pray." seems okay to me.

Or you could engage more and ask why prayer is needed before performance or rehearsal?

Geeze Louise...you wouldn't expect this from theatre trash! LOL.

I would approach the director since we go back several decades, but in this instance there is a pretty high probability that it will be a different director next time. Same basic group of people but different director. And honestly I was a little surprised that he even hesitated since I'm almost certain I've seen him lead such prayers. But that was when he was a director at a Christian-based college, so one would expect to see that there.

Where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?
"Life is not all lovely thorns and singing vultures, you know." ~ Morticia Addams
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20-06-2017, 07:00 PM
RE: "Public" prayer
I really like full circle's response.
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