“Going Clear”, and pissing off Scientologists

Short version of what I’m about to say: read this great blog post by Phoenyxrose about how just about everyone and anyone can be entrapped into a cult of some kind. Don’t read further until you read that. Long Version: As much fun as people may be having with being horrified by Scientology (and don’t get me wrong, Scientology is fucking horrifying), you’re all full of shit…as am I.

I read Lawrence Wright’s “Going Clear” not too long ago and holy shit. Just…holy shit. Granted, some of the stuff detailed is already known to me (remember Chanology? Good times…), but “Going Clear” is the kind of stuff glossy “non-fiction” published works wish they could be when they grow up. And now there’s a feature-length documentary coming out. On HBO, of all places (and also a theatrical release). I know movie critics are currently gushing over “It Follows”, but I can’t imagine a more bone-chilling movie coming out to theaters this year (ok, maybe “Crimson Peak” could top it). But you know something? As fucked up, stupid and dangerous this cult is, there is a harsh lesson I believe too many people are missing.

Sure, us having the dead bodies of millions of really pissed off aliens that can only be expelled with loads of money and a shitload of isolation from loved ones is laughable…but what parts of the bible do you believe to be literally true? For the more secular ones out there: do you laugh at Scientology’s Billion Year Sea Org Pledge while singing the National Anthem of Your Country of Non-Choice and/or quoting the words of Ayn Rand like they’re magical talismans? Let me be more explicit: as much as you like to laugh at the outside world, it has its claws into you before you even realize it. Maybe they’re not as harmful as L. Ron Hubbard’s intellectual excrement. Maybe.

Now, I’m not saying there’s an equivalent between Scientology and literally everything else. To say so would be to ignore…well, everything else. I mean, jesus, when Charles Manson thinks your ideas are too ridiculous, you know you’ve done fucked up. At the same time…how much work does one have to do to ensure that they’re not ensnared in bullshit? Do you read books, cry, “[citation needed]” at every claim, read every review on Metacritic, or read the list of ingredients in your favorite Whole Foods/Trader Joes foodstuffs to make sure it’s actually organic (which, well, good luck with that)? The point is: it takes a lot of work to scrutinize and think about shit. Work can be taxing, kids can be taxing, love can be taxing, hell LIFE is taxing. It’s almost like life itself is just a giant science project made to shove people into various intellectual boxes like cattle…no, it’s more like a game of Pachinko, and you’re the ball. Sure, it SEEMS random, it has enough elements for stuff to happen…and yet there’s a structure, a pattern. Only one is too deep inside to know what that pattern actually is. And then, SHWOMP, into a hole you go, while a supposedly benevolent, mystical being looks at you from outside the glass pane, waiting for fortune to rain.

Depressing? Certainly. But like the central point of Synecdoche, New York, it’s better to recognize that one isn’t invincible NOW and work to do something about it…rather than later on when one crashes into a wall and the airbags fail. That goes for fucking everything. Oh, you read Richard Dawkins and Christopher Htichens? Fuck off, I bet you can’t even think for yourself. You call yourself a Radical Feminist (or a Male Feminist)? Nice job, now do something about the blood materials in your phone you self-righteous fuck. Are you a black dude (like me), but also a Black Panther? Ok, but maybe you should try listening to bell hooks and Alice Walker just a little more (yes, I know about what the latter did to their daughter Rebecca Walker. bell hooks is still cool, though…for now). Member of Gamergate? Suck a fat dick and choke on it like Phil Fish told you to.

Basically…it doesn’t matter what you believe. Whatever you think you are…you most likely are not. The contents of your mind are one thing, but as J. Krishnamurti and David Bohm demonstrated, there are limits to that. Fuck what you believe in, focus on what you actually DO (or, at the very least, who you actually help). Or do you think laughing at the mentally ill homeless person down the street makes you the more sane person? Do you honestly believe the church you go to or the candidate you vote for demonstrates who you really are? Will you even remember the protest you joined 2 days from now? Have your fun, watch your Anti-Scientologist stuff, hell I will join you mothafuckas with a gallon tub of popcorn (I’m quite partial to “The Master” as an anti-scientologist movie, myself, though I’m just arty and weird). Just remember that the perils of belief affect all of us, for good and ill. Does recognizing those perils take a lot of work and humility? Of course. At least you’ll decrease your chances of being fucked over like Paul Haggis was.


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