What should agnostics and/or atheists say when someone requests a prayer? "Pray for me," a self-centered friend asks on many occasions. Sometimes it is to overcome her dread of dining with the ancient ballet teacher who once criticized her pas de bourré. Other times she has lost her favorite socks.
"How horrible for you!" we say sympathetically. But we dodge the prayer question. In the first place, to whom should agnostics and atheists pray? Does Terpsichore, the Muse of Dancing, look after very old ballet teachers? "O Terpsichore, hear my prayer." The god of the Washing Machine has never given back a single sock. "O Washing Machine, please give us the socks."
|Hal (Rob Morrow) asks Larry David to pray.|
On a recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 11, Episode 5), Larry David attacks the subject of prayer hilariously and obnoxiously. He is at the club when Saul Berman has a heart attack. Everyone stands awkwardly, waiting for the ambulance to come - except Larry, who sits down to finish his lunch. Saul's son Hal glares at Larry. But a few days later, when Larry asks Hal how Saul is doing, Hal says Saul is not doing well, and asks Larry to pray for him. Larry refuses.
I found this transcript on the web, and it may be accurate.
Larry: I can't do that. How do you even do it? Do you get on your knees? Do you put your hands together?
Hal: No, you don't have to... Just say, "God, please make Saul Berman live."
Larry: I can't do that.... I would submit it's as big a waste of time as watching The Kardashians.
Now that made me laugh. Larry goes further and further with his impiety - way too far, and it is very funny. He acts out and speaks up while the rest of us diplomatically hedge around the requested prayers. I hope my sympathetic comments to friends are equal to signing a prayer contract - but I do not pray. Nor does Larry David - or rather his persona in Curb Your Enthusiasm does not.
Our friend's ballet teacher did not recognize her - a good
outcome. Thank you, Terpsichore! On the other hand, praying to inanimate objects is a waste of time. The socks are still missing.