Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Questions Borne of "Going Clear"

Island of Souls - Sting (mp3)

Going Clear
is the in-depth lascivious history of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, as meticulously reported by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. It is 400-plus pages of perversity, and for anyone fascinated by religion, cults and matters of faith and absurdity, it’s worth every moment spent swimming through. The book is especially harsh on L. Ron Hubbard, current “Chairman of the Board” David Miscavige, and Tom Cruise.

Anyone who read and enjoyed Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer’s in-depth and damning look into the Church of Latter-Day Saints and the even-wackier FLDS would be doing themselves a tragic disservice not reading this one. For better but mostly worse, LDS and Scientology are what can best be called The Most Successful American-Born Religions.

Observations and Questions Borne of Reading “Going Clear”:

1. Thank F*&king God We Know Nothing of Jesus’ Youth
Perhaps the single biggest benefit to the power and sustainability of Christianity as a religion is the absence of any information of his young adulthood. For those who are dispassionate enough to see it, the evolution of both Joseph Smith and LRH from shyster to zealot (or from shyster to religious shyster) is, while fascinating, terribly disillusioning.

If I were to even attempt to break down the number of lies and half-truths in the life and writings of LRH, I couldn’t possibly keep under my 800-word limit. The best way I can summarize his gift of bullshit is thus: He clearly lost the ability to separate his own imagination from that of reality; thus, all things in reality and his imagination merged into something he believed to be true.

Between his war wounds, his foreign travels, and his marital and extramarital relations, the lies he weaves are beyond bullshit. To call them “bullshit” is to insult bulls. It’s also insulting to his creativity. If nothing else, what I’ve discovered from reading books on LDS and Scientology is that the line between brilliant fiction and founding a religion is thinner than Karen Carpenter. And I mean Karen Carpenter circa 2013.

2. Just a fraction of my favorite passages, Scientology lexicon included:
(a) “Bored thetans had created (universes based in Matter, Energy, Space and Time) where they could frolic and play games; eventually they became so absorbed in their distractions they forgot their true immortal natures.”

(b) “Science fiction invites the writer to grandly explore alternative worlds and pose questions about meaning and destiny. Inventing plausible new realities is what the genre is all about.”

(c) “It was the larval stage of Hubbard’s astonishing transformation -- from the depressed, rejected, impoverished, creatively exhausted figure he paints in the Affirmations, to his nearly overnight success as a thinker and founder of an internation amovement when his book Dianetics was finally published. He wrote his friend Robert Heinlein, “I will soon, I hope give you a book risen from the ashes of the old Excalibur which details in full the mathematics of thehuman mind, solves all problems of the ages, and gives six recipes for aphrodisiacs and plays the mouth organ with the left foot.”

3. Aleister Crowley and Anyone Who Riffs Off Him Are Fuuuuuuu&#ked Uuuuup
When I was a KISS-lovin’ elementary school student, I mocked and scoffed at the idiot adults who insisted that KISS stood for “Knights In Satan’s Service” or any other acronym that would connect the makeup-clad band to the Devil. I mocked them because I somehow managed to listen to their music while still going to church. While at church, I was never struck by lightning, or was I ever excommunicated.

Still, the fact that Jay-Z and Beyonce are currently riffing off the same vibe that once propelled Aleister Crowley’s “Do What Thou Wilt” hedonistic cult freaks me out a bit. Is it marketing? Is it a legitimate religious thing? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but it freaks me out. My fear of this occult movement suggests that it has more power and holds more sway over me than it should. I would be far more at peace with myself if I were able to ignore it. Like I could the demonic accusations flung on KISS.

That L. Ron Hubbard and Tom Cruise have both found themselves at crucial formative moments wrapped up in The Crowley Hubbub is no kwinky-dink. That celebrities in general would flock to any religion that promised them greater success without any guilt or sense of responsibility makes total sense. But any religion that caters more to the need for self-affirmation than to anything resembling The Greater Good should be feared. That goes for LRH and Ayn Rand and the long list.

If saving yourself becomes more central than saving everyone else, I don’t care if it’s a false religion; it’s a dangerous one and one that deserves extinction.

1 comment:

G. B. Miller said...

I'll probably pass on the book. I can hear about the other inner workings of Scientology from my boss, whose brother used to a high ranking member out in California before deciding to leave the organization.