Note: We’ll have a special St. Patrick’s Day report at 1pm this afternoon. Please come back for that after you check out these comments of the week!
We went to Mecca and back this week — Scientology’s Mecca that is, the town of Clearwater, Florida to celebrate L. Ron Hubbard’s 101st birthday. And did we have a hip, hip, hooray time.
But now we’re back in the underground bunker, bolstering ourselves for massive amounts of drinking tonight to celebrate the fact that Ireland has the sense to require its body-thetan-removal businesses to report their income. (More about that later today.)
This week started out with another installment of Sunday Funnies, which introduced us all to the concept of “soul duds.’
On Monday we had our big investigative piece of the week with our story that connected Scientology’s Writers of the Future contest with the abuse allegedly happening at the church’s international base east of Los Angeles.
Tuesday was L. Ron Hubbard’s big 101st birthday, and we celebrated with a surprise. You’ll have to go there to see what it was!
The next morning we put together a quick post with highlights of our visit to Scientology’s mecca in Clearwater, Florida. It turned out to be more emotional than we expected!
On Thursday, we spiced up our weekly press roundup with a really strange and wonderful vision of the year 2010 that appeared in a 1969 Scientology magazine. Mothar rules!
Yesterday, we paid our weekly visit to Hubbard on the high seas, and included yet another wacky example of “OT Phenomena.”
So let’s get to the awards!
Many readers cringed at the mailer in our Sunday Funnies about the Inglewood Ideal Org sending its “soul” to the OC org, and urging OC members to show up in their “soul duds.” DMSTCC captured some of the hilarity…
Why do they have to go to the Orange County org to Learn how Inglewood org is elevating its community? Perhaps showing up in your Soul Duds in Inglewood might get your thetan kicked.
Meanwhile, Jefferson Hawkins noticed something on the flier that beckoned Clearwater Scientologists to come to the big LRH birthday event…
“The event will be held at Ruth Eckerd Hall and we want to see every Scientologist there.” The Ruth Eckerd Hall seats 2180. That just about says it all.
In our Monday feature about the Writers of the Future contest, we made some connections between Author Services and the alleged abuse in The Hole. But will writers have doubts about taking part in the contest or the ceremony?
Gina Smith had this to say…
Everyone has a price, which is what this boils down to. Some writers and illustrators will desperately keep burying their heads in the sand to try and justify their continuing involvement in this contest.
And TheHoleDoesNotExist raised that question in an even more pointed way…
I wonder if these judges and artists would support a similar contest operation if it was run by the KKK, or a Neo-Nazi front, or Westboro Baptists, or a North Korean slave camp, as long as they weren’t pressured to join. All they would have to do is click their heels together 3 times and repeat “The Hole Does Not Exist”.
Once again, we were thankful for perspective from Jefferson Hawkins…
Tony, from my own experience I can tell you that any supposed “firewall” between ASI and the Church of Scientology is non-existent. When Miscavige first came to power in about 1982, he used ASI as his base of operations and styled himself as “Chairman of the Board ASI.” Officially, it was “L. Ron Hubbard’s literary agency” and had “nothing to do with the Church.” In fact, all of international Scientology was being run directly from ASI in the early 1980s. They were also funneling millions of dollars to Hubbard, particularly through royalties on high-priced “limited editions” and “autographed editions” of his books. They were also exacting royalty payments from Scientology orgs for the use of his works. It was a high-powered money machine. Miscavige moved on and became “Chairman of the Board RTC,” but still kept ASI very firmly under his thumb and, as described in your article, has used it as his LA base ever since. As late as December 2004, just months before I left the Church, I was part of a group of executives – including the top managers of Scientology – who were called to ASI to meet with Miscavige. We were there for several weeks, set up with desks in the ground floor lobby of the Author Services building. We were virtual prisoners there, not allowed to leave the lobby. Miscavige would hold daily haranguing meetings, threatening, degrading and humiliating these executives. Executives were even beaten there. All of this was happening right in the lobby of Author Services, right where many of the Writers of the Future events were staged. As to ASI Executive Director Barbara Ruiz, she was directly under Miscavige’s thumb and operating on his microscopic orders. In my experience, she was cruel and abusive in her own right, following her dear leader’s lead. ASI is an inseparable part of the Scientology criminal enterprise and, however benign their writer’s contest is (and I think it has done good things), it cannot be separated from the abusive record of the Church of Scientology, and responsible writers should have nothing to do with it. Yes, by participating, you ARE supporting abuse.
On Tuesday, for Hubbard’s big birthday, we had fun reminding everyone of the 2004 IAS gala and the performance of Tom Cruise that night. Kim O’Brien had this to say…
Oh. My. God…the stupid emanating from Tom Cruise just hurts at this point . I am embarrassed for him . Hell …i am embarrassed BY him at this point . Is there ANY chance of a revelation that he is Canadian or something? Any chance we could deport him?
(You’re close, Kim. Though he was born in New York State, Tom spent much of his childhood in Ottawa…)
We also enjoyed this comment from wannabeclear…
Finally viewed that whole video (up until Tom Cruise and his overinflated, cult-addled, hyper-masculine bullshit infested acceptance speech) and the creepiness of it just sent chills up my spine. Watching the whole thing is far worse than the edited versions I’ve seen before. But the thing that jumped out at me, (besides the ridiculously over the top fabricated statistics of how many people Tom Cruise has reached with his adulation of Scientology), was early on in the video. They are flashing newspaper headlines and stories across the page and at about 5:42 they show what purports to be an actual article, but the masthead reads “Houston Chronical.” Either that newspaper in Houston doesn’t know how to spell the word chronicle, or someone wanting to bolster the Tom Cruise PR mystique has been making shit up (again). Made me laugh my head off. The telling part is that with all of this “knowing how to know” and “learning how to learn” and “having the answers” and other “tech” crap, it seems no one caught it the spelling error, including the micromanaging mini dictator. But, it’s no wonder since he never graduated from high school and has only had Scientology tech as his “formal” education.
Hey, wannabeclear is right! Check it out…
On Wednesday, we reported on our day in Clearwater, and also included still shots that Darth Xander had taken over the weekend showing some very young Sea Org recruits — they looked like they couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. That prompted this reaction from Kate Bornstein…
I’ve heard that my grandchildren have signed sea org contracts. I thought that would have made them at least over sixteen or eighteen years old. Seeing the pictures of the little ones has made me rethink that. Damn, damn, damn.
We also told the emotional story of a woman who disconnected from her son, only to lose him in an auto accident. She told us that she’d foolishly thought that disconnecting from him would actually help her son, something she no longer believes. John P. gave us some interesting thoughts on that…
The observation that disconnecting is “supposed to snap [the person you’re disconnecting from] back into your life” is a new perspective on this evil and destructive Scientology cult practice.
I have always wondered how somebody manages to push down their own emotions so far that they can rationalize going from a functioning relationship with a spouse, child or parent to instantly ceasing all contact as if it were merely a matter of hanging up on a persistent telemarketer who calls when “American Idol” is on. If you believe it’s therapy, that must make it somewhat easier.
This shows the absurd logic that underlies so much of the craziness and cruelty of cult behavior. When somebody does something you like, don’t actually tell them what they have done or how it affects you. Instead, simply disconnect from them. Somehow, they will miraculously know what they have done, will come to understand that whatever they did was wrong, will then realize that it is they who needs to change, and then will inevitably do whatever you have decided they need to do in order to get back into your good graces, without further attempts from you to explain your side of the situation.
We also appreciated these words from Quickpen…
This is exactly why I follow Scientology. I miss my family, trapped behind a dead man’s words. And you’re right, it’s not the silly space opera stuff which matters, it’s the turning a cold shoulder to any who would question or gainsay their policies. I keep hoping if Berlin’s Wall could come down, so can Scientology’s.
And Mat Pesch is always good for some strong words…
At this point, the fear of disconnection is all that holds the “church” of Scientology together. The longer a person belongs to this “church”, the more they are socially and financially tied up in it. If the fear of disconnection didn’t exist and these people were free to look, think and act freely, this “church” would disappear within a year.
After that day of emotion, we lightened things up on Thursday by digging up a 1969 Advance! magazine vision of the year 2010 and how Scientology would spread to the planet Mothar. There were plenty of laughs, but we really appreciated how Axiom142 personalized that reaction!
Oh dear, how embarrassing! Not just for the cult — although I’m not sure any ‘churchies’ can even FEEL such a basic emotion nowadays — but for me as well. You see, when I joined the Sea Org in 1986 I really did think that my future would involve bringing the wondrous technology of Scientology to other planets and civilizations. Not metaphorically, but literally. In a spaceship. Boy, do I feel stupid right now.
And once again, Jefferson Hawkins brings us the benefit of his personal experience…
Tony, thanks for digging up this gem, “Scientology Mothar!” Reminds me of the “high weirdness” factor in early Scientology that fascinated me – and I think many others. Past lives! Other planets! Ancient rocket ships! For a generation that grew up on Heinlein, Azimov and The Twilight Zone, it seemed to promise a universe that was not quite as ordinary, boring and suburban middle-class as the one we were used to. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Scientology’s freak flag was a plus with many young people. And everyone seemed to be an artist or writer – Advance Mag used to be flooded with this kind of home-grown amateur fiction, poems, illustrations and even cartoons. Well, say what you want, but at least they flaunted their freakiness with some panache. Now, in the interest of “blending in” and seeming “just like your ordinary Church,” they keep all the weird stuff hidden until you get way up the line. I wonder what would happen if, instead of hiding and denying the Xenu stuff, they embraced it?
Friday’s post brought another great example of “OT Phenomenon,” and with it a great question from BroekerBroekerBroeker…
There’s a lot of inconsistency on the question of picking up a new body. I’ve seen other references to maternity wards and the idea that a thetan inhabits the new body only around the time of birth. But if that’s the case, how does the thetan’s reactive mind know about all the attempted abortions and pre-natal sex adventures that we learn about in DMSMH? And what about the GE? When does the GE develop in the fetus/baby? Yes, I recognize that there’s a certain amount of ridiculousness in trying to find consistency in the fever dreams of a drugged grifter. But it’s a hobby.
I loved that question, and I think we’re going to have to, at some point in the future, set down the mechanics of thetans for the record.
Finally, a new reader asked a general question about the nature of this blog and its comments section, and we just wanted to share this response from Chocolate Velvet, which I think reflects well on everyone who has been taking part. We really do have a good thing going…
Actually, any reporter reading this comments section would be surprised to find it is not the typical Internet cesspool that most comment threads can be. People here tend to discuss the topic at hand, make points instead of lobbing insults, and interact with each other, the subjects of the story, and the reporter with humanity and sensitivity. No spam, few trolls, no political/social hot-button firebombs. When talking about some of the terrible things reported on this blog, people do get upset, because they care; but rabid? I’m here every day, and I don’t see anything that even comes close to “rabid”.
The fact that people reading a blog about Scientology have strong and definite opinions about Scientology should not be a surprise to anyone. The Internet provides a place for affinity groups of all kinds; people with a common interest or a common point of view. A cult is something else entirely, a specific group process with specific characteristics. Educate yourself about that. In the mean time, I wouldn’t change the discussion here one iota because of what some mythical reporter “might think”.
Like always, there were many other great comments this week, and I wish I could highlight them all. But please come back at 1 pm today for a special St. Patrick’s Day report that I think you’ll find very interesting!
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he’ll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories, which tend to come out each and every morning at 8 am, but can suddenly appear at any time of the day. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, “What is Scientology?” Another good overview is our series from last summer, “Top 25 People Crippling Scientology.” At the top of every story, you’ll see the “Scientology” category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories. As for our regular features, on Thursdays we do a roundup of world press, on Fridays we visit L. Ron Hubbard on the yacht Apollo circa 1969-1971, on Saturdays we celebrate the week’s best comments, and on Sundays we publish Scientology’s wacky and tacky advertising mailers that people send us.
As for hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology’s “Mecca,” whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology’s policy of “disconnection” that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We’ve also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there’s plenty more coming.