Monday, June 27, 2005


I'm a rube, I know it. Seeing all this crap in the media about Tom Cruise and his adherence to Scientology got me wondering about the church -- which it was doubtless intended to do.

As a kid, I recall seeing commercials on TV for the book Dianetics. These ads featured some guy who went to the trouble of climbing a mountain only to whip out the book, which he sat down and read on the spot, as though wondering, "All right, what the hell do I do once I climb the goddamned mountain?" In later years, this reminded me of the old Tampax joke about the young boy going into the pharmacy and asking for a box of Tampax. An embarrassed, bewildered pharmacist asks the boy what in the world he could possibly want with Tampax, to which the boy says that the commercials for Tampax said he could go swimming, horseback riding, and all these other fun things with Tampax.

Some friends of mine were involved in Scientology for a couple of decades. They are great people whom we still see. They were apparently very advanced in Scientology, having been on L. Ron Hubbard's yacht more than once (the equivalent to being invited to the Vatican by the Pope). Thing is, these people never spoke of Scientology to us, and there was a kind of unspoken vibe at times that it was best not to ask. In the past few years, I've had the sense that they have broken away from Scientology.

Anyhow, I thought I would satisfy my curiosity and look at the Scientology official Web site. Man, one bit of information really jumped out at me:
"Through spiritual counseling called “auditing,” Scientologists reduce and ultimately erase the power of the reactive mind. The reactive mind is of no benefit to the individual and is a source of irrationality, fears and nightmares. Its eradication achieves the State of Clear and brings to view the individual himself and is a landmark step in the full discovery of one’s true nature and in ultimately achieving full spiritual awareness and freedom."
Sure, I can be accused of taking this out of context, but there are some things being said here that bother me. "The reactive mind is of no benefit to the individual and is a source of irrationality, fears and nightmares." That's a pretty sweeping statement, and a pretty slanted one, too. Isn't the reactive mind also a vehicle toward creating art? Sure, all people should strive to be as rational as possible in their lives, but don't we also need flights of imagination, or that "irrational" sense of discernment that sometimes tells us something is fishy even when we can't put our fingers on what is wrong? Ideas for stories and characters and verbiage come to me in a very reactive manner. The above sounds like a description of psychic lobotomy, and its casual wording makes this creepy process sound all the more chilling.

It's not my intention to take on all of Scientology in this blog. I'm sure whole libraries of books taking Scientology to task have been written.

Another thing I do know is that the practice of Scientology within the church is predicated on money. Adherents are educated through an unending series of seminars that cost thousands of dollars. When a friend of the family was having doubt about Scientology, some time ago, he was ordered to take a series of seminars to convince him to stay -- and he was to foot the bill. A king's ransom from what I understand.

Obviously, Scientology isn't the only religion predicated on money. Evangelical Christianity may as well list itself on the New York Stock Exchange. It's a glaring redflag when organizations that purport to be of a spiritual nature start grabbing for my wallet with one hand and my soul with the other. I'm not loose with either.

In the end, the ceaseless publicity stunt that is Tom Cruise is a pretty poor billboard for Scientology. He is the embodiment of this woeful time in human culture, being the face (in my mind) for all that is superficial, venal, arrogant and worthy of contempt. I've only caught glimpses of his latest rounds in the media from the corner of my eye, but it's been more than enough to make me want to congratulate Nicole Kidman on escaping this boy-maniac with the titanic ego.

For my own part, to address my spiritual needs, I suppose I should get back to basics and approach my local white-haired, mustachioed pharmacist for a box of Tampax so that I can begin living life to the fullest.

Knowledge is Power -- for further reading:

Official Web site of the Church of Scientology

Suppressive Person Defense League

Page with other links both pro and con

1 comment:

Jas... said...

Matt, I once attended a Scientology meeting with a friend of mine who was heavily into it. The first thing everyone did was give a standing ovation to a statue of L. Ron Hubbard, that was before the "pastor" or "evil leader", or whatever they are called gave a half-hour's long sermon on why we should consider Mr. Hubbard a god. I was nearly stoned to death when I asked the question, "Isn't he just a science fiction writer?"

Excellent post, as always. BTW, my gratitude for adding me to your list of writers. I am humbled.