Thursday, June 14, 2012

"What's better than telling people a stupid story and having them believe it? Having them pay you for it, stupid!"*

    Every now and then I feel like I’m a naïve, little mid-western girl living in a great, big, sprawling metropolis. On these occasions I feel like I would give my left ovary (or both ovaries—who needs ‘em?) to walk across the street from my parents’ house in Omaha to Memorial Park and just lay down under a big old fir tree and think about nothing (not that I ever did that when I lived in Omaha. At least not between the months of September and June). Or drive all the way across town in under 20 minutes to hang out with a friend who lives on the “West Side.” Or drink a glass of wine downtown by myself and not have anyone use my aloneness as an opportunity to ask me to contribute to their film, play, charity or gas fund.
    Sometimes I get bogged down in traffic and smog and noise and I start to think maybe Los Angeles has it in for me. Why would they make it so hard to get places if they weren’t hoping you would just pack up and leave one day?
    But today I had great luck all over town. I got where I needed to be in a (relatively) timely fashion and didn’t contend with (too much) unnecessary road construction. So I was feeling pretty great when I got to my apartment and checked my mailbox.
    And I felt even better when I found this:
    What can I do about it? Seriously, what?!??
    Luckily the answer was right on the opposite page:
I can join the Church of Scientology!
    Scientology is the answer!
    For those of you who don’t know much about Scientology, let me give you some background. L. Ron Hubbard (the “L” stands for “Lafayette”) was, humorously (ironically? Coincidentally?) enough, from Nebraska. Tilden, NE, to be exact.** Check it out!
Looks fun!
    After he failed out of George Washington University in his second year, he started writing penny-a-word pulp fiction. He joined the Navy during WWII, but never saw combat and ended up in treatment in Oakland, CA, for ulcers. He made his way to Pasadena, later saying that he’d suffered from blindness and crippling ailments, which he was able to overcome with the techniques he eventually espoused in Dianetics. I’m a firm believer that when you have a make-believe problem you can make-believe a solution. So I back him 100%.
   Anywho, he ended up working as an assistant to John Whiteside Parsons, a person of some renown (read: money and connections) in Pasadena society and a co-founder of Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons was a disciple of Aleister Crowley, a famed occultist. And most likely the subject of his very own post one day because check him out:

   And who knows what happened from there? But if you want to read more about it, check out this Rolling Stone article.
   Here’s the part you really need to know. The basic premise upon which this "religion" is founded:
   “These materials, which the Church of Scientology has long struggled to keep secret, were published online by a former member in 1995 and have been widely circulated in the mainstream media, ranging from The New York Times to last year's South Park episode. They assert that 75 million years ago, an evil galactic warlord named Xenu controlled seventy-six planets in this corner of the galaxy, each of which was severely overpopulated. To solve this problem, Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and then flew them to Earth, where they were dumped into volcanoes around the globe and vaporized with bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, until they were caught in electronic traps set up around the atmosphere and "implanted" with a number of false ideas -- including the concepts of God, Christ and organized religion. Scientologists later learn that many of these entities attached themselves to human beings, where they remain to this day, creating not just the root of all of our emotional and physical problems but the root of all problems of the modern world. “**
South Park's take on Scientology's Lord Xenu. (Trey Parker and Matt Stone, 2005)
    So obviously, Scientology came to my mailbox at the perfect time. I’m clearly stressed out and in need of some sort of spiritual component in my life. This sounds like a reasonable and perfect opportunity to get all my higher-plane shit together!
    I know, I’m being sarcastic and nasty. So I’ll be fair(ish). The whole Jesus Christ and the miracles (or similar elements found in Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism) aren’t entirely believable either. But at least, as far as I know, none of these religions require a hefty fee for the privilege of participating (we’re talking a starting rate of $750 for an “auditing” session in which they read your Thetan level--with what can only be described as a version of the hyper-color t-shirt in machine form--and determine your next course of action). That being said, if the Scientologists are willing to make me into the next Tom Cruise or John Travolta, I say “Sign me up!” I’d just rather pay after the fact. You know, like an agent fee. I really don’t want to pay up front.
    When I moved to LA 12 years ago, my mom was angst-ridden about the potential for me to be “brainwashed” by the Scientologists. I laughed at the time and asked her if she’d ever met me before. First of all, I’m not a huge fan of religion for myself (or in general) because I'm incredibly lazy and would rather sleep than worship and second of all, did she think I could afford Scientology?
    Then, while I was living in this really cute part of Los Feliz, they opened another Church of Scientology right next to this gelato place I really liked. And the cute little accolades would stand outside waiting for loners to walk by--preferably loners that were eating their weight in expensive ice cream. And then I started to get a little nervous.
Right behind that Mission Los Feliz sign is my gelato joint.
    Here, it looks like this:
Doing the Lord's true work. (Photo)
    But now I think, what’s the worst that could happen? So I join a cult: big deal! At least it’s not one of those hippie-dippy cults where they make you wear sandals and live in a dirty commune in the middle of nowhere and drink the Kool-Aid at the end. This cult has a castle with restaurants and movie stars! Look:
Seriously, where do I sign?
    But don't worry, Mom. I'm not joining up. I still can't afford it.
*South Park. "Trapped in the Closet." (Trey Parker and Matt Stone, 2005).
**Janet Reitman for Rolling Stone Magazine. "Inside Scientology: Unlocking the Complex Code of America's Most Mysterious Religion." February 23, 2006.

1 comment:

  1. Darling Bear: When we sent you off to college in 2000, I was more worried about the USC clubs for Wiccans and Mormons than the Scientologists! DB and I made our best effort to indoctrinate you in our own religious philosophy, but you demonstrated that you have a brain and a focus not chained to popular beliefs. And now, many years later, I applaud you for it!