Prayer's Result: Wet My Pants;
Overall Result: Became Agnostic
by Dan Shanefield
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If you've read my story's title, I think you've already gotten my message. To elaborate a bit, what happened was that, in 1942, I was twelve years old, trying to be a nice Jewish boy. I was almost always quite moral, according to what the Old Testament recommended, and so on. One cold winter day I was waiting for the bus to go to afternoon Hebrew school, preparing to recite my future Bar Mitzvah speech in Hebrew and Aramaic. The bus was delayed, and I realized I'd forgotten to go to the bathroom before leaving home. Standing there in the cold wind, I really had to urinate, more and more. Since I was such a good Jewish boy, I prayed to God to please send the bus soon, because there was a toilet in the Hebrew school. I began to think about how I was almost always a really ethical kid but wasn't rewarded much. The Jews in Europe were getting slaughtered by Hitler, and the older Christian guys in my neighborhood were also getting killed, bravely trying to defend democracy.
The bus didn't come. I peed in my pants. When that bus finally did come, and I arrived at Hebrew school, the teacher was extremely mad at me for being so late, and the other kids laughed because I had wet my pants.
Later, going home on the bus, I thought about how the nicest kids in my Hebrew class had fathers who were scholarly but poor, although the families seemed to get some satisfaction out of helping other people. However, the selfish, pushy kids usually had fathers who were rich business men, and they got their life's satisfaction out of competing with other people in a very tough manner, although they were not punished for this. Later, going home on the bus, there was a thunderstorm. I decided once and for all, "If there's a God, it just doesn't matter. I'll get good feelings out of trying to be constructive, and it won't be necessary to have any particular religious beliefs." No lightning bolts came down to smite me, or even came close to warn me.
During the rest of my life, I mostly ignored religion, and I tried to follow my common-sense moral feelings. Nevertheless, I kept looking for evidence of God or gods, but I never could find any. There's been a little bit of bad luck, and lots of good luck, but it sure does seem to be random, just like tossing a coin. I wasn't any angel or saint --- you can read some of my life's stories, some of them quite funny, if you click on this.
However, don't be put off by the evil-sounding story titles --- they're meant to be humorous. I married a shiksa --- I mean a goyischa woman --- oops, excuse me, I mean a Christian --- but it doesn't seem to have made any difference at all. No lightning bolts have hit me, or even come close. My biggest satisfactions have come from helping other people, among family and friends, and also as an engineer, and later as a professor. That seems to be what's important, as far as I've been able to see.