Monday, June 27, 2005

Freaky Cult or Blossoming Religion?

This morning, Salon has part one of a four part series exploring Scientology. It goes a touch farther in demonstrating how nutty it is than my Pinter analogy from last week.

The piece got me to thinking. Hear me out on this. Scientology seems crazy, but is it possible that it just seems crazy because it’s only been around a little while? Think about it. Say you grew up in a bomb shelter, came out at 30 years old, you’d never been exposed to any religious theory at all in your whole life and you had to choose a religion. Do either of these sound more plausible than the other?

  • About 75 million years ago, a nefarious intergalactic warlord called Xenu rounded up the inhabitants of numerous planets, killed them, and brought them to Earth, then set off a chain reaction of cataclysmic volcanoes (the volcano pictured on the "Dianetics" cover was Hubbard's favorite symbol for the notion of breakthrough and self-actualization), which dispersed their thetans into the atmosphere. These thetans now fester inside the bodies of all humans. They are to be located in specific body parts and summoned out.
  • or
  • An invisible man living in the clouds who was previously so violent and so vengeful that he wiped out almost all life on earth by way of a massive flood chose a new path of peace, so he sent his son to earth to be born to a married virgin impregnated by his ghost sidekick. This man walked the earth preaching, walking on water, turning water into wine, healing the sick, until eventually he was brutally tortured and murdered. After three days lying in some grave, he came back to life and physically rose up into the sky, never to be seen again except in mildew stains and potato chips.
  • I don’t mean to offend everyone, but think about it. Does the one sound more reasonable only because you've heard that story all your life? Maybe all it takes for a creepy cult to become a religion is a few hundred years...

    Ugh, imagine our ancestors discussing L. Ron Hubbard, the prophet.


    Anonymous said...

    Three Cheers for Tom Cruise!
    Now that the Michael Jackson trial is over. We can all focus on this new nut. Way to take up the mantel of Hollywood's Top Flake. Go ahead Tom, make our summer!

    allgood2 said...

    I think all religions to some degrees are cult-like. They require belief, and those who truly believe rarely understand those who don't.

    A very good book, "God Against Gods" by Jonathan Kirsch, discussed the rise of Christianity from cult status to primary religion for a growing portion of the world. It's very easy for us to believe that Christianity always exist, and is the way (even if we don't believe in it), because it is part of our make-up. It makes it so easy to forget that there were thousands of years of life before a "one God" and his son.

    Religions that recruit and condemn always seem to have the advantage over those that don't.

    Take a look a paganism, it promoted the belief that individuals could choose their spiritual path and it was a decision between them and their god(s). It even allows for Christianity, because that's just your individual belief.

    Now look at Christianity, who has managed to practically obliterate paganism; with it's denigration of paganism, and its push that religion/spirituality can ONLY be practiced one way. That a belief in anything beside the "one God" is heinous, punishable by death.

    I don't know where I fall on the religious scale. I've heard "thou shall have no other gods before me" so many times, its embedded in my basic psych, but I've never understood how society could believe, wholeheartedly, in a violent and vengeful god.

    Of course that doesn't put me any closer to believing in Scientology either. But that maybe because I have problems believing in any many that tries so hard to elevate themselves to godlike status.