How Becoming Catholic Saved My Life And Soul, But Cost Me A Career

by Testimonies

My Catholic journey began when I was 8 years old and being raised in a Methodist church. It started with a something of a supernatural experience. There was a voice in my head that head that kept speaking up whenever I was in church. The voice said, “Something is wrong.” 

The voice matched the thoughts I had begun to have. I had started to wonder if my lifelong experience of God was going to be sitting on a hard bench listening to some man talk for forty-five minutes. For all the supernatural splendor I had read about in the Bible, my own experience of God seemed way too mundane. I kept wondering, “Isn’t there something more than this?”

“Isn’t there something more than this?”

The answer to my questions came when I was a senior in high school and started dating a Catholic boy. There was no Catholic Church in my hometown but Chris (who is now my husband) went to the church in the next town over. After we had been dating for a few weeks, he invited me to attend Mass with him. I was a terrified, but I agreed.

I was terrified because of the things I had heard about Catholics. My mother wouldn’t even say “Catholics” out loud. When I told her at age 9 that I wanted to be nun (I had just seen The Sound of Music) she said, “You can’t. You’d have to be (in a whisper) Catholic.” Then she told me that Catholics didn’t pray to God, they only prayed to Mary, and she passed it along to God for them. Also, they worshipped statues. I asked Chris about these strange practices, and he quickly assured me that my mother had been greatly misinformed. And when he explained transubstantiation to me, I thought, “That’s IT!” That was the thing that I had been craving – an experience of God that was tangible and transcendent!

So, I immediately signed up for RCIA class, right? Not so much. Chris and I chose different colleges and went our separate ways. For a while I kept going to Mass, but then a former-Jesuit religion professor told my Intro to Western Religion class that Christianity was a fairy-tale, the Bible was put together by a quarelling committee, and everything our parents had taught us was a lot of silly superstition. The former-Jesuit was charming, funny, and smart, which happens to be my kryptonite. So, I declared myself an agnostic. I figured that if God existed, He could explain it all to me when I got there and in the meantime, I didn’t need Him cramping my style.

A Second Chance

That lasted for fifteen years. Then, happily for me, my life blew up. It turns out that the trajectory of Original Sin does not lead to Nirvana, whether you believe in it or not. When my life became an unmanageable mess, I gave God a second chance. Halfway through my career I joined the Catholic Church. I knew that God had been calling me there since childhood. (I wrote about my conversion experience in detail in my new book The Sound of Silence: The Life and Canceling of a Heroic Jesuit Priest. (Yes, it took a Jesuit to save me from a Jesuit.)

Becoming Catholic Cost My Career

Becoming Catholic saved my life and my soul, but it cost me a career. As you have no doubt figured out, Hollywood is not a fan of faith and is specifically down on Christianity. I could have kept my mouth shut about it and my career would have continued its track, where every job I got was bigger and better and paid more than the one before. But I am incapable of keeping quiet about pretty much anything, so I became an out-the-closet Christian. In the first half of my career, I worked on many of the greatest shows in the history of television (M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, Moonlighting, Northern Exposure, etc.) I was nominated for seven Emmys and six WGA (Writers Guild of America) awards and many more awards. After I joined the Church in 1994 for a few more years because that was a during a brief period when “spirituality” was cool, even Christian spirituality. That era was cut short by all things LGBTQ+ and Christianity no longer counted as “spirituality.” Christians – especially Catholics — were bigots and hate mongers and many other choice adjectives.  

After my conversion I had a series of part-time jobs, but not enough of them to afford to live in Los Angeles. I also had a baby when I was 45 years old (after Chris had returned and married me) and I did not want that baby to grow up in Los Angeles. I bailed on what was left of my career and we moved back to the southeast.  

I spent about a decade grieving my career before I discovered that I love writing nonfiction. I plan to do that from now on. It doesn’t have any of the glamour or glitz (or money) of show business, but it gives me time to devote my life to the thing that God called me to be, a Catholic. I wouldn’t trade that for all the Emmys in the world. 

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Image: Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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