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June 29, 2005

I'm Not A Scientologist, But...

Here's the thing. Well, two things.

Kelly Preston is f'n' hot. Not just hot, but cute-hot, the best kind of hot.

Tom Cruise (and John Travolta, etc.) really believe in this newish sci-fi based religion of theirs.

So.

Yes, it's all sort of weird. And yes, weirdness makes for good humor. But... I just see a lot of people taking shots at Scientology. Is it a goofy and strange religion? Yes, but to outsiders, most religions are goofy and strange, aren't they? There are few religions that don't have some "Oh, you can't be possibly be serious" aspects to them.

Noah's Ark, anyone?

Christians and devout Jews get knocked around a lot for their beliefs. I'm just not sure it's proper for people of faith -- and faithless people who sympathize with people of fatih, like me -- to do too much bashing of a religion, even if, and let's be honest, the religion in question is goofier than most.

I'm not nearly the fan of Tom Cruise that, say, Rosie O'Donnell, um, is. But the guy has some strong beliefs; he's pretty honest about them; the rest of the world thinks he's a kook, and isn't shy about saying so.

I know a lot of religious people resent being thought of as "kooks" just because they believe in some implausible stuff.

Anyway, parodies like this and
snarks like this are fun and all, but I just wonder if we shouldn't give Scientologists a bit of a break.

Let's say one thing: They really aren't hurting anyone. No one has ever, to my knowledge, killed or bombed in the name of L. Ron Hubbard.

The anti-psychiatry and anti-psychiatric-medication thing? Sort of a useful critique, if obviously extremist. (Tom, I need klonopin, and I assure you that vitamins will not cure me of chronic panic attacks... I've tried that.) But still-- essentially a harmless religion.

I guess part of the reason this bothers me is that the politically-correct liberal establishment has deemed it proper and safe to bash believing Christians, which is annoying and smugly superior and hostile to people of faith.

Scientologists seem to have been similarly deemed by almost everyone to be fair targets for derision.

I just don't like that sort of herd-mentality. It's a bit too fourth-grade, where kids figure out whom the fourth-grade collective has deemed it proper to pick on and bully.

And Yes... I know it's really, really weird. I strongly suspect L. Ron Hubbard created it as a very large (and amazingly successful) ironic point about religion, a grand practical joke to demonstrate that any set of somewhat-irrational and implausible premises, combined with a bit of psychic reassurance about one's place in the cosmos, could become a "religion."

And he did it with a bit Lovecraftian flair. Lovecraft introduced (or popularized, I guess) the odd twentieth-century cosmos and science-fiction tropes into the horror genre, with Fungi from Yuggoth (better known as Pluto) taking the place of werewolves and such. And it was weird at first -- shouldn't something supernatural be, well, ancient and having to do with castles and scrolls and such rather than interdimensional space-mead? -- and Hubbard similarly introduced "cutting edge" techonogy (well, cutting edge nineteen fiftees technology, like a modified polygraph called an "e-meter") and sci-fi tropes into his invented religion.

Very odd. I'll give you that. "Thetans" and such-- weird stuff. Weirder than ghosts and angels, because at least we're accustomed (even if irreligious) to the idea of ghosts and agnels.

But still. Whether it was a scam or collosal joke at first, it's a genuine religion now, it seems, at least to its believers. Maybe we ought to be more forgiving of daffy, though harmless, beliefs.

I Sit Corrected: Apparently it's not true they're not harming anyone.

Thanks to Master of None.

And Allah reminds me of the nasty attempts to silence critics of Scientology.

There may be some, um, light brainwashing going on.

I guess I'm now not really sure of my point. Except perhaps to say that even if one believes this "church" is corrupt and a gigantic scam, the church itself should be the object of derision, not its (assumedly duped) adherents.

Okay... A bit off-the-cuff, I guess. Hey, it happens. I shot my mouth off a little too quickly, forgetting the stuff I'd previously heard about and not bothering to do a google search.

But Tom Cruise and John Travolta seem, to me, to be basically good people. They don't seem to get into trouble.

And, let me repeat something we can all agree on: Kelly Preston is f'n' hhhhot.

If they're dupes, they're dupes, and therefore innocent. I assume they're not part of the conspiracy, at least not in a conscious way.

How Many Ways Can I Say "I Erred"?: Yes, cult, and not harmless.

Kind of off the subject but... Mormonism is still considered a cult by many as well. And-- I just think this is interesting -- it seems to include science-fiction tropes too. Retro-sci-fi, you understand; the "sci-fi" of the 1870's or whenever. Kind of Ambrose Bierce-ish retro sci-fi.

Although I've got to say I know nothing about The Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints (kid's voice: The Mormons!) except what I know from that vicious South Park episode.

It Gets Worse And Worse: Lots of interesting, and alarming, stuff in the comments.


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posted by Ace at 03:33 PM

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