So I’ve been reading about Scientology. I went to their web site and tried to figure out what they believe, exactly. All I could gather was that what they practice makes a man totally free and what a man believes to be true is true. “Scientology is not authoritarian. There is no enforced belief or ‘faith.’” (From their web site.) I assume the quotes around faith are there to indicate the Church of Scientology’s view of faith. Faith is silly. Man is the ultimate ideal (this idea wasn’t singular to L. Ron Hubbard, the religion’s founder. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he’d been influenced by the philosophies espoused in Ayn Rand’s books. See a timeline). At least, that’s what I’ve found out from preliminary readings on Scientology.
I’m not necessarily trying to knock the religion. I really want to know what it’s all about and not because I’m interested in joining up—I’m very satisfied where I’m at, religiously. It’s Tom Cruise. He’s out there in the media shooting his mouth off, telling Matt Lauer that Matt doesn’t know anything about psychiatry, Tom has studied it, and he’s studied drugs and everything. His antics are embarrassing and I sort of see them as attention-getting devices.
But then, maybe Tom truly does know what he’s talking about. I don’t care, really. If some sad American somewhere stops taking their lithium or Paxil because of what Tom Cruise says, they have a bigger problem than depression or schizophrenia. And anyway, from the little concrete information available about Scientology on their web site, Scientology teaches a man to think for himself. So Tom’s opinions shouldn’t sway anyone. Right?
I don’t really have enough knowledge of Scientology to poke fun at it. I can only say that I think they’re kind of manipulative and duplicitous in a very amusing way. I used to live in Sugar House, the Bohemian part of Salt Lake. Some might call it a borough (except once I had a native New Yorker tell me the only boroughs were in New York City. Try telling a native Londoner that). Along 11th East, just before 21st South, where Stoker and I used to walk, is a non-descript office building. Glass windows, a glass door, a desk and chairs like a real reception room would have—you know, like your tax attorney’s office. All this is completely visible through those windows. The glass door bears a permanent sign reading “Now Hiring.” Big sticker-letters. Very permanent. Seeing as how the topic of this entry is Scientology, you’ll be surprised to know that this is the Scientology building.
And what better way to recruit? The Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City couldn’t really put a marquis out front with black, block letters reading “Now Hiring.” No one would fall for it. That goes for the Greek Orthodox churches and the Presbyterian cathedral (a few doors away from the other cathedral).
It’s just hilarious, that’s all. I’m sure plenty of people have walked into the Scientology “church” looking for a job and been given a tour and some brochures, maybe even been talked into buying one of L. Ron Hubbard’s books, a little light reading, if you will. Luckily, I wasn’t looking for a job and anyway, I figured out that the “Now Hiring” sign never came down in the five or six months I lived on 11th East. I bet if I drove by today, it would still be there.
Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I am making fun of it. A little. I simply want to know the precepts of the religion, but all I can find is an ephemeral sense of believing man is the ultimate creation and that drugs, illiteracy, crime, violence and intolerance are the ills of society that Scientology is trying to eradicate. And I agree with them. Those things are horrible.
But I find that with Scientology, I don’t really get a solid sense of anything. I look at it and think, “Okay, drugs are bad. But what beliefs do you really cling to?” You look at Catholicism and you basically know what you’re getting, “Original sin, purgatory, the 10 commandments. Right. I’m with you.” You look at Judaism and think, “Hell yes, a very old religion. It’s got the Talmud, Rabbis, undergarments, and a very invigorating style of arguing it all out. I follow you.”
With Scientology I feel like I’m falling through a mist. I have no lighthouse. No frame of reference other than L. Ron Hubbard (who was buried in a pyramid in the Mojave Desert with all his billions of dollars. I made that up, as a joke about how rich he must have been, what with establishing a religion and all, and all those expensive books you have to buy in order to join, not to mention reading his entire catalogue of books, so you really feel like you’re a part of it all) and Thomas Cruise Mapother, IV (that’s Tom Cruise, for all you laypeople).
In my opinion (and that’s all it is), truth is everywhere. No single person has the market on truth. In Self Reliance Emerson said, and I’m sure he was another influence on Hubbard, that the truth speaks for itself. When you hear it, you’ll know. As far as I’m concerned, religion should be more than ‘teaching people to think for themselves.’ I want a religion that has a basic infrastructure and a strong code to live by. If I choose to follow it, then am I not thinking for myself? I think so. Choosing to live by a code drawn up by a religion does not automatically spell out sheep.
And anyway, in the end, most people are seeking happiness, and I guess that’s what Tom Cruise is doing. But he still looks like a bumbling idiot doing it. (See also Access Hollywood Tom and Today Show Tom.)