Monday, February 21, 2011

True Believers

Paul Haggis, uber Hollywood writer, is more or less officially an apostate from Scientology. Great work by the New Yorker in writing up this story, and investigating several specific charges against the Church.

I was struck by the fact that Haggis now says he never quite believed the "highest teachings" of the Church, accessible only to initiates who have climbed through several levels of awareness by way of expensive courses.

Privately, he told me, he remained troubled by the church’s theology, which struck him as “intergalactic spirituality.” He was grateful, however, to have an auditor who was “really smart, sweet, thoughtful. I could always go to talk to him.” The confessionals were helpful. “It just felt better to get things off my chest.” Even after his incredulous reaction to O.T. III, he continued to “move up” the Bridge. He saw so many intelligent people on the path, and expected that his concerns would be addressed in future levels. He told himself, “Maybe there is something, and I’m just missing it.” He felt unsettled by the lack of irony among many fellow-Scientologists—an inability to laugh at themselves, which seemed at odds with the character of Hubbard himself. When Haggis felt doubts about the religion, he recalled 16-mm. films he had seen of Hubbard’s lectures from the fifties and sixties. “He had this amazing buoyancy,” Haggis says. “He had a deadpan humor and this sense of himself that seemed to say, ‘Yes, I am fully aware that I might be mad, but I also might be on to something.’ ”
Haggis finally reached the top of the Operating Thetan pyramid. According to documents obtained by WikiLeaks, the activist group run by Julian Assange, the final exercise is: “Go out to a park, train station or other busy area. Practice placing an intention into individuals until you can successfully and easily place an intention into or on a Being and/or a body.”
Haggis expected that, as an O.T. VII, he would feel a sense of accomplishment, but he remained confused and unsatisfied. He thought that Hubbard was “brilliant in so many ways,” and that the failing must be his. At one point, he confided to a minister in the church that he didn’t think he should be a Scientologist. She told him, “There are all sorts of Scientologists,” just as there are all sorts of Jews and Christians, with varying levels of faith. The implication, Haggis said, was that he could “pick and choose” which tenets of Scientology to believe.

I was reminded of a line in the Father Ted series, but I can't find it on line. It's one of the times when Ted wonders how Dougal, his young sidekick, ever made it through the seminary. Dougal says something like: "Well, I could see that no one could believe what we were being told, so I looked around to see how the other fellows were taking it. They were obviously prepared to pretend they believed it, so I decided to pretend as well."

Another comparison: Scott Carrier on Brian David Mitchell, the man who kidnapped and repeatedly raped Elizabeth Smart.

Temple Square [in Salt Lake City] attracts religious wackos like moths to a flame. They stand outside the wall yelling condemnations, calling for repentance, quoting from the Bible. Or they pose quietly in costumes, such as the young man with his face painted silver and dressed as Little Bo Peep. Or Worm, who sat naked below the Brigham Young statue with the letters W-O-R-M tattooed across his forehead. Or Brian David Mitchell, the man who dressed like Jesus Christ and stole 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart from her bed in the middle of the night. We knew him as a temple moth and thought he was crazy but harmless. This is why we didn't suspect him, even when he walked around downtown with Elizabeth in tow, her face covered by a veil. It's about the strangest thing that's ever happened in Salt Lake City, and it could only have happened here, in this place and time, perhaps caused by the aura emanating from the temple itself.

I can't help thinking of Life of Brian. Link.

Prophet I: And the bison shall be huge and black, and the
eyes still of red, with the blood of living creatures! And
the whore
of Babylon, shall ride forth on a red-headed serpent, and
throughout the land shall be a great rubbing of parts. He
and wib...
Prophet II: ...the demon shell carry a nine-bladed sword!
Nine-bladed! Not two, or five, or seven, but nine, which he
wield on all wretched sinner-sinners, just like you sir,
there! And the horns shall be on the head...
Prophet III: ...through Hebediah, his servants. There shall
in that time be rumours, of things going astray. Ehm...and
shall be a great confusion as to where things really are.
And nobody will really know where lieth those little things
wi...with a
sort of rackey work base, that has an attachment. At this
time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer, and the young
shall not
know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers, that
their fathers put there only just the night before, 'bout
Prophet IV: Yea, it is written in the Book of Cyril: "That
in that time shall the turds"...

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