Friday, we told you about a spate of new books on Scientology that are in various states of publication. We’re happy to say that there’s even more on the way, and we wanted to highlight one you can get into your e-book reader right now.
If you read our stories about Scientology, you’ve seen how much respect we have for Jefferson Hawkins. Hawkins was a longtime member of the church, and many give him credit for Scientology’s greatest growth in the 1980s thanks to his major television ad campaign that marketed L. Ron Hubbard’s book Dianetics.
Hawkins left Scientology in 2005, and his account of his time in the church, Counterfeit Dreams, is one of the best memoirs by ex-members we’ve read.
But Jeff is also known for a blog, Leaving Scientology, that delivered sensible advice about how a deeply indoctrinated Scientologist can throw off his or her conditioning and rejoin normal society. Well written and deeply insightful, that material has now been collected in an e-book.
As Hawkins points out in his preface, he’s written this book for Scientologists, to help them leave the church. Still, for those of us on the outside who are curious about why so many members are getting fed up and leaving, this book is invaluable.
In the first chapter, for example, he confronts his reader, asking him or her to wonder why the church doesn’t trust its members to read about Scientology on the Internet…
Scientology is supposed to increase a person’s intelligence and awareness. The OT Levels are supposed to make one spiritually strong and “free from overwhelm.” The PTS/SP Course is supposed to enable one to “confront and shatter suppression.” Courses like the Student Hat and the Data Series Evaluator’s Course are supposed to give one the ability to easily spot false information or logical fallacies. Well, if all that is true, why couldn’t a Scientologist be trusted to read any information and sort out for himself or herself what is true and what is not? Is a Scientologist’s certainty so tenuous that it will wither before any criticism or challenge? Are Scientology cases so fragile that they cannot stand up to whatever information one might find?
But the Church doesn’t trust Scientologists to freely study anything, make their own investigation and come to their own conclusions.
Are they afraid that their members will come into contact with entheta?
Or are they worried that they’ll find some truths?
As you can see, Jeff’s writing is powerful stuff, and has already helped hundreds of members take off their blinders.
For another taste of Jeff’s smart style of writing, take a look at this entry from his blog, one of my personal favorites: “So How Big is the Church of Scientology Really?”
When I did my own story about the dwindling size of the church and looked at various sources of information about it, in the end I judged that it was Hawkins who has the most persuasive, first-hand information to peg church membership at only about 40,000 active participants.
As Hawkins says in the introduction to his blog, “The Church, as far as I am concerned, is dead. It is a small, minor cult which today influences only a few thousand people at most, and has zero impact on the world.”
Well, sure, it may be small in size, but it’s still so fun to watch! Amirite?!
Speaking of keeping an eye on things, we wanted to put out another high alert to our librarian friends.
In February, we explained how librarians around the country put up with constant badgering by Scientologists who try their best to get copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s preposterous books onto precious shelf space and refuse to take no for an answer.
In that story, we featured the brave and clever stand made by a librarian in the Detroit area, Alan Naldrett, who got pretty creative with his resistance efforts.
Well, Alan and his harried colleagues around the country are in for another wave of deliveries — and we have the photographic evidence!
Behold, the worker drones at Scientology’s Bridge Publications, boxing up and shipping copies of the new Ron Encyclopedia to a library near you!
That frightening image was part of an e-mail appeal that asks Scientologists to donate money so even more copies can be disseminated. Here’s another inspiring photo from the same e-mail:
Our previous story about libraries being constantly sent Hubbard books sparked a great conversation in our comments section. And I wanted to reprint here one of the best things we learned from the man who we mentioned at the outset of this post, Jefferson Hawkins:
Scientology’s management really doesn’t care if these end up on the shelves or even get to the libraries, they have made their money. Their whole “Library Donation Program” is a massive scam. Here’s how it works: the individual Scientologist is pressured to buy (at FULL price, mind you), multiple sets of Hubbard’s complete works so that these can be “gotten into libraries all over the world.” This way, Scientologists can be pressured to buy, not just one full set of Hubbard’s materials, but many, many sets. All at full price. This is how they manage to profit from book sales even with a dwindling membership. Hit them up again, over and over. It also helps to pad their book sales statistics. Scientologists think these are actually getting into libraries. Even lower-level staff and sales people are fired up about “getting LRH books into libraries.” But the upper level management and finance people have no interest in that. If they did, they would allow Scientologists to donate these sets at a deep discount – or even at cost. Or Scientology as an organization would simply donate these books to libraries. Why don’t they? No profit in it. As to actually getting these books into the hands of people who visit libraries? They don’t care. They have the same arrogant, condescending attitude as we’ve seen here in the comments: people who go to libraries are downstats and bums – they have no money, so why bother with them? Scientology goes after the rich. And once they have a rich mark, they hit them up to buy the same books, courses and levels over and over and over again, constantly repackaging to get rid of the “past errors.” And that includes these big “Library Donation Packages.”
Thanks again for that insight, Jeff.
Scientology Sunday Funnies!
Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.
There’s something so earnest and almost naive about the mailers that come out of Saint Hill, isn’t there? Why not join us in clearing this planet, by Jove! Hip, hip!
In Hollywood, meanwhile, the safaris and theme parties and petting zoos never fail to be precious.
Here’s an e-mailed flier with yet another recent example of health claims being made for auditing. Is it just me, or are these becoming more common again? It was claims for healing that got Hubbard into trouble with governments to begin with way back in the 1950s, and sent him running for “the religion angle.” Just recently, we’re starting to see more of these claims that auditing can relieve pain or cure disease. Is Scientology so sure that the government, as toothless as it has been, won’t lift a finger if they make such blatant and unscientific claims?
Another amazing week of Scientology mailers. Thank you, tipsters, for getting them to us!
Commenters of the Week!
We managed only a couple of posts this week, but each of them generated the usual cornucopia of wisdom from our great commenting community.
On Sunday, we had some fun with Scientology’s latest boasting about winning an impressive-sounding award. We also congratulated Fox 25 in Oklahoma City for its ongoing Narconon coverage, and posted another diverting package of Sunday Funnies as well as commenters of the week — which included a mention of Luka Magnotta, who claimed in Internet postings to be a Scientologist. We pointed out that several of our commenters urged caution about those postings, saying that even Hubbard didn’t advocate the kinds of monstrous things Magnotta is accused of.
In reference to that, Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack shared this wry observation…
When I told a friend that Hubbard never advocated sending body parts to the offices of federal political parties he shot back, “Only because he never thought of a way to make it pay”.
Several readers were struck by the hyperbole in one of the mailers we included in Sunday Funnies. Jean found the claims too hard to believe…
It’s hard to imagine how someone’s life could “totally change” twenty times in two weeks. That means your life “totally changed” twice a day for 6 of those days. Or perhaps his life totally changed 20 times in the course of 10 minutes. Either way, there should be some rule about this. Something that restricts you from claiming a radical life change more frequently than bowel movements.
Another mailer featured a poem by Hubbard. We found this bit of literary criticism by Gerard Plourde to be instructive…
If this poem is by Hubbard, he’s as accomplished at poetry as he is at prose. The meter changes throughout. (for example – line three goes from eight syllables in the first stanza to nine in the second stanza to seven in the third, then to six in the fourth and finally back to seven in the fifth.) Maybe he was trying for free verse, in which case why the effort to have the couplets rhyme?
And we can usually count on Ivy Mapother to knock us out…
I see the Continental Liaison Office is still wearing the pretend navy uniforms. Their FAX machine must be down because the rest of the Sea Org has gone for the Best Buy employee look. Downtown Clearwater has gone from Fleet Week every day to an open air Mall of America. Come on CLO, it’s khakis and polos.. you’re making them look strange.
And as long as it’s Jefferson Hawkins day here at the blog, we’ll also recognize his fine jab…
I wonder why Scientology would bother with the International Book Awards. It’s basically a flossy scam that charges people money for glorified status that has very little substance behind it, aimed at people with more money than common sense. Oh, I think I just answered my own question.
On Friday, we noted that Marty Rathbun and Jesse Prince both announced that they are close to publishing books, while Paul Morantz has finished his and sent us a copy. We also made our weekly trip to the yacht Apollo circa 1970, and looked inside another vintage issue of Advance! magazine.
John P. was one of several readers who took exception with the way Rathbun described Jason Beghe in the intro to his book (which he read aloud in a video)…
Interesting that Marty characterizes Jason Beghe as a “tortured soul.” Beghe doesn’t sound tortured in the Mark Bunker video interview; he sounds pissed at the degree to which he was conned and he sounds like he’s completely rehabilitated from the influence of the cult. He doesn’t sound “reduced to a painful, cynical tirade of protest.” In other words, Marty is trying to paint Beghe as a poor, lost soul, open to auditing.
Chocolate Velvet amused us with this reflection on the Apollo dispatches…
Sometimes, in the middle of reading the OODs, I suddenly wonder if I have had a stroke. Because what I am reading is in my native tongue, but seems oddly like a foreign language. The words are familiar, but it doesn’t make sense, as if I am suffering from aphasia. One thing is certain, L. Ron Hubbard could toss up a giant word-salad at will. Impressive! Reading this stuff is truly a window into the mind of a disturbed person.
Finally, there was another fine piece of analysis that we want to recognize, and maybe it’s only fitting that it is, once again, our person of the week, Jefferson Hawkins…
I have to agree with John P. about Marty’s characterization of Jason Beghe as a “tortured soul” who was “madly striking back” with a “painful, cynical tirade of protest.” I think this is unfair to Jason. That wasn’t my impression of Jason’s interview at all – I saw a guy speaking his mind honestly and without fear and I — like many people — cheered him on. Interesting that Marty’s first impulse was to reject him and “not empathize,” based on his Scientology training. What kind of “religion” teaches people NOT to empathize? But Jason was criticizing the subject of Scientology, which is a no-no in the Indie movement. It’s good that Marty and Jason got to hang out — they are both very likeable guys. To me it just shows that when people get together and talk openly, without an agenda, they tend to get along.
As a note, that ad, “Clear, it’s up to you,” is an original Hawkins painting!
Hey, Jeff, thanks for pointing that out. And so, we’ll finish up today’s post with another look at that Hawkins original!
Several good stories are coming together and we should have something for Tuesday morning. Please check our Facebook author page for schedules and updates. And please keep those tips coming!
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, 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 hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was 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.