Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
From: jimcat@operators.its.rpi.edu (Jim Kasprzak)
Subject: Some views on Scientology
Message-ID: <cf7l=3Dwb@rpi.edu>
Nntp-Posting-Host: operators.its.rpi.edu
Organization: The Big Wedge 
Date: 20 Jul 91 16:16:54 GMT
Lines: 84

For some reason I notice that L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology have been getting a fair bit more press coverage lately than they have since Hubbard's death. There was the Time magazine article, the re-release of a couple of his books, the color suplement that found its way into a lot of Sunday papers, and now the creation of this newsgroup... could it be a conspiracy? (-: Nah. Seriously, though, I just recently read Russell Miller's _Bare-Faced Messiah_, a well-researched biography of Hubbard with very little bias. It traces the development of the Dianetics movement and the Church of Scientology, and I'm left with several impressions of Scientology, some positive and some negative. To wit: - As far as L. Ron Hubbard was concerned, the primary purpose of Scientology and Dianetics was to make money for Hubbard. Whether or not he actualy made the infamous bet with another author about founding a new religion (no mention of this is made in the book, which seemed quite thorough in its research, so I'm more inclined to think that the bet story was apocryphal), there is no doubt that the whole thing was a money-making scheme. - Hubbard was no dummy, though. If he wanted to make money off the public and _keep_ making it, not just a take-the-money-and-run con, he had to give them something for it. And ideally, the people had to be so satisfied with what he gave them that they'd want to convince other people to buy it as well. - Scientology and Dianetics did give people something. Hubbard picked up on a trend which was just starting in the 1950's but has kept gaining steam to this day: the dissatisfaction of many people with "traditional" religion as a means of spiritual fulfillment. But people haven't stopped needing spiritual fulfillment, and Scientology gave them an alternative. - Scientology seems to be one of the more expensive religions to join. Unless my impressions are mistaken (and there are a few Scientologists here, I'd like to hear what they say about it), almost all of the things that the Church of Scientology does to help people are given as "treatments" which require a fee. Not that this is inherently bad; no one is being forced to pay for something they don't want, as far as I can see. But most other religious groups I know of provide some counseling and support to their members without charging them for it. - Hubbard was a good storyteller who wrote in a manner aimed at the "common people". He could spin a yarn out of half-truths and outright fiction and make it believable - his accounts of his own life before the founding of Scientology as opposed to what he really did are a good example. When he started his religion, he applied this talent to making up such things as thetans, engrams, and the effects of past lives. A little science fiction, a little common sense and the impression that "this is a smart but basically ordinary guy whom you can trust" go a long way towards convincing the average late 20th-century person. - The upper ranks of the Church of Scientology seem more concerned with gaining personal power than anything else. While Hubbard was alive, the key thing was to be in his favor; now the struggle is to take the top spot that Hubbard occupied or get as close to it as possible. But this is something common to almost all large organizations, and certainly to many religions. - Hubbard was quite likely insane by the last decades of his life. His actions in the 1970's with the "Sea Org" and his paranoid retreat to California in the 80's hardly seem like rational actions. Many of the more wacko beliefs of Scientology seem to have been written during this time. By late in his life, Hubbard was even believing some of the more fantastic tales he'd told about himself - for example, he sent a letter to the US Navy requesting that they send him the medals he claimed to have earned during the Second World War, almost all of which he'd never actually been given. (The Navy was not fooled.) That's one person's impression of Scientology based on Hubbard's biography. By all means I reccomend reading _Bare-Faced Messiah_ if you're interested in learning about Hubbard - good or bad, he certainly was a fascinating person. The book may be difficult to find due to the Scientologists' lawsuit against the author (or maybe it was the publisher), but there are still some copies available. ------------------------------------------------------------------ __ Live from Capitaland, heart of the Empire State... ___/ | Jim Kasprzak, computer operator @ RPI, Troy, NY, USA /____ *| Disclaimer: RPI pays me to work, not to think. \_| "A spirit with a vision is a dream with a mission" -Rush =3D=3D=3D=3D e-mail: jimcat@rpi.edu or kasprzak@mts.rpi.edu

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