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Scientology ads

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Huh! I say "They are very nice ads--but they are advertising Scientology!" Perfect definition of propaganda. This one, frex, as described by the LA Times:
QUOTE
"We're all looking for it. . . . " Again, a series of quick cuts of young people who seem to have been drafted out of the Ford modeling catalog. "Some of us have been looking for it our whole lives. Some think they can buy it, some think they can wear it. Some travel the world in search of it. . . . " Here there are shots of people doing amazing things, cave-diving, mountain climbing, which seem to be counterposed to suggest vain and misguided attempts at self-fulfillment. "Most don't even know what they are looking for. But we all feel it, that aching desire, that unexplainable emptiness that can only be filled by one thing. . . . " A woman standing looking in awe at a star-filled firmament. " . . . The Truth."

Well, it IS true that we're all looking for The Truth, but how unfortunate for those who go looking at scientology.org!

The "Foundation for a Better Life" spots are less loaded.

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The South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet" (AKA the reason Isaac Hayes left the show) is still the best summary (and critique) of Scientology I've ever seen.

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I must admit that the scientology ads, irksome as they are, are more straightforward than the charming thewaytohappiness.org ads and website, which never admit any links to the organization, except that their free book was written by L. Ron Hubbard. Nice.

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[url=http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?showtopic=6346]Link[/url] to our thread on Scientology (Aug 2005 - Apr 2008) in the now-locked 'Religion' section.

- - -

[b][url=http://gawker.com/5725832/the-scientology-expose-weve-been-waiting-for]The Scientology Expose We've Been Waiting For[/url][/b]
New Yorker staff writer and Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright is writing what his agent calls "the most profound reckoning to date" with Scientology, told through the eyes of director and apostate Paul Haggis. This should be good.
Haggis spent 35 years as a Scientologist before angrily and publicly ditching the cult in 2009 after he became convinced that leader David Miscavige is a violent nut. He hasn't spoken publicly about Scientology since, but a "blown" celebrity (to use the Scientological term for leaving the fold) like Haggis is Scientology's worst possible nightmare—it can smear and threaten rank-and-file detractors all it wants, but when one of its former leading lights is making the charges, it's harder to strike back. . . .
Gawker, January 5

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[quote name='Peter T Chattaway' date='07 January 2011 - 02:27 AM' timestamp='1294385275' post='239298']
[url=http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?showtopic=6346]Link[/url] to our thread on Scientology (Aug 2005 - Apr 2008) in the now-locked 'Religion' section.

- - -

[b][url=http://gawker.com/5725832/the-scientology-expose-weve-been-waiting-for]The Scientology Expose We've Been Waiting For[/url][/b]
New Yorker staff writer and Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright is writing what his agent calls "the most profound reckoning to date" with Scientology, told through the eyes of director and apostate Paul Haggis. This should be good.
Haggis spent 35 years as a Scientologist before angrily and publicly ditching the cult in 2009 after he became convinced that leader David Miscavige is a violent nut. He hasn't spoken publicly about Scientology since, but a "blown" celebrity (to use the Scientological term for leaving the fold) like Haggis is Scientology's worst possible nightmare—it can smear and threaten rank-and-file detractors all it wants, but when one of its former leading lights is making the charges, it's harder to strike back. . . .
Gawker, January 5
[/quote]
Fantastic news! Wright is such a great writer.

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[b][url=http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/2011/01/13/paul_haggis_disavows_involvement_with_scientology_book_project/]Paul Haggis Disavows Involvement with Scientology Book Project[/url][/b]
While Paul Haggis is the subject of an upcoming New Yorker profile by Lawrence Wright, the writer-director (Crash) insists that he is not collaborating on Wright’s book on the Church of Scientology in any way. His interview for the magazine article may be used in the book, however. . . .
Anne Thompson, January 13

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I haven't booked the vacation time it would take to actually READ this article yet, but FWIW, here it is:

- - -

[b][url=http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/02/14/110214fa_fact_wright?currentPage=all]The Apostate[/url][/b]
Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.
[i]New Yorker[/i], February 14

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This is the best essay I have read on Scientology.

Added bonus: It provides even more anecdotal evidence that Scientology really is the greatest Role Playing Game ever. Successive levels are purchased with financial resources and the completion of tasks. At each level, participants receive the ability to do cooler stuff.

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[quote name='M. Leary' date='08 February 2011 - 02:01 PM' timestamp='1297191699' post='242897']
Added bonus: It provides even more anecdotal evidence that Scientology really is the greatest Role Playing Game ever. Successive levels are purchased with financial resources and the completion of tasks. At each level, participants receive the ability to do cooler stuff.
[/quote]

Funny you say this, since some friends and I were saying the same thing not too long ago. It's maybe more akin to a LARPing experience, for a variety of reasons.

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I sometimes use the Role Playing Game metaphor to teach certain concepts in religious studies. I am always tempted to use Scientology as the primary material for this exercise, but have always felt that it would be a bit unfair given the general lack of info on Scientology ritual. I no longer feel that doubt. Edited by M. Leary

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[quote name='M. Leary' date='08 February 2011 - 02:01 PM' timestamp='1297191699' post='242897']This is the best essay I have read on Scientology.[/quote]
It's pretty terrific.

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Agreed--well worth the read. What a mess.

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FWIW, I'm only partway into the article myself (I can't quite say that I'm partway "through" the article yet), but here's an interesting supplement:

- - -

[b][url=http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133561256/the-church-of-scientology-fact-checked]The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked[/url][/b]
Wright tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the detailed fact-checking process his article went through — The New Yorker assigned five fact checkers to the story and sent the Church of Scientology 971 fact-checking queries before publication.
In September 2010, Wright, his editor, the New Yorker fact-checking team and the magazine's editor-in-chief, David Remnick, met for eight hours with the spokesman for the Church of Scientology, Tommy Davis, along with Davis' wife and four lawyers representing the church, to discuss the facts in the piece.
Wright says that one of the most interesting parts of the meeting came when he asked Davis about L. Ron Hubbard's medical records. Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, had maintained that he was blind and a 'hopeless cripple' at the end of World War II — and that he had healed himself through measures that later became the basis of Dianetics, the 1950 book that became the basis for Scientology. . . .
"In one very interesting moment, Davis said, 'Of course, if it's true that Mr. Hubbard was never injured during the war, then he never did heal himself using Dianetics principles, then Dianetics is based on a lie, and then Scientology is based on a lie. The truth is that Mr. Hubbard was a war hero.' And the way he phrased that, that everything depended on whether Hubbard had sustained these injuries and healed himself was like a wager on the table." . . .
NPR, February 8

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Great supplementary link, Peter.

All of this makes me even more bummed that Paul Thomas Anderson's THE MASTER has been scrapped.

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[quote name='Peter T Chattaway' date='09 February 2011 - 01:09 PM' timestamp='1297274990' post='243031']
FWIW, I'm only partway into the article myself (I can't quite say that I'm partway "through" the article yet), but here's an interesting supplement:

- - -

[b][url="http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133561256/the-church-of-scientology-fact-checked"]The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked[/url][/b]
Wright tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the detailed fact-checking process his article went through — The New Yorker assigned five fact checkers to the story and sent the Church of Scientology 971 fact-checking queries before publication.
In September 2010, Wright, his editor, the New Yorker fact-checking team and the magazine's editor-in-chief, David Remnick, met for eight hours with the spokesman for the Church of Scientology, Tommy Davis, along with Davis' wife and four lawyers representing the church, to discuss the facts in the piece.
Wright says that one of the most interesting parts of the meeting came when he asked Davis about L. Ron Hubbard's medical records. Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, had maintained that he was blind and a 'hopeless cripple' at the end of World War II — and that he had healed himself through measures that later became the basis of Dianetics, the 1950 book that became the basis for Scientology. . . .
"In one very interesting moment, Davis said, 'Of course, if it's true that Mr. Hubbard was never injured during the war, then he never did heal himself using Dianetics principles, then Dianetics is based on a lie, and then Scientology is based on a lie. The truth is that Mr. Hubbard was a war hero.' And the way he phrased that, that everything depended on whether Hubbard had sustained these injuries and healed himself was like a wager on the table." . . .
NPR, February 8
[/quote]

Yes, yes, yes--when I read this anecdote I was like--1 Cor 15, 1 Cor 15! But I think Davis had no sense of this.

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I just listened to Terry Gross's interview with Wright, and it's quite good (day-later Fresh Air podcasts FTW!) Wright stays on the whole 40-some minutes, though he switches his topic to the Muslim Brotherhood less than halfway through. I was hoping for more!

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Wow. That is a fascinating read. It's the weird strain of sadism running through the whole thing that creeps me out the most. M, I will be quoting your "Role Playing Game" metaphor from now on whenever this subject comes up.

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[quote name='Jason Panella' date='09 February 2011 - 02:30 PM' timestamp='1297279858' post='243064']
I just listened to Terry Gross's interview with Wright, and it's quite good (day-later Fresh Air podcasts FTW!) Wright stays on the whole 40-some minutes, though he switches his topic to the Muslim Brotherhood less than halfway through. I was hoping for more!
[/quote]
I would love to hear Wright on the Muslim Brotherhood. I'll check it out.

Have I mentioned that he wrote an amazing book about modern-day Islam? [url=http://ArtsAndFaith.com/index.php?showtopic=23240&view=findpost&p=201173]Yeah, I have.[/url]

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[quote name='Darren H' date='09 February 2011 - 04:24 PM' timestamp='1297283041' post='243079']
M, I will be quoting your "Role Playing Game" metaphor from now on whenever this subject comes up.
[/quote]

I have always had a hard time articulating what I think the appeal of Scientology really is, given its flagrantly vicious structure. But it has the same appeal as any RPG. It provides a definitive, concrete plan for achieving a feeling of existential success that is attained through relatively simple (albeit expensive), repetitive tasks. And this success is marked by a series of labels and skills that correspond to the level you have achieved. Rehearsing Haggis' experience of Scientology from the ground up seems to validate this intuition.

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[quote name='M. Leary' date='09 February 2011 - 10:50 PM' timestamp='1297309844' post='243185']
I have always had a hard time articulating what I think the appeal of Scientology really is, given its flagrantly vicious structure. But it has the same appeal as any RPG. It provides a definitive, concrete plan for achieving a feeling of existential success that is attained through relatively simple (albeit expensive), repetitive tasks.
[/quote]

Just to help you clarify your metaphor, not all RPGs are like this. In fact, in the past decade, there's been a move away from the whole leveling system approach (or even "improve-through-doing-stuff" approach). That is assuming you're talking about pencil and paper games.

Regardless, it's a great metaphor. I love it.

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[quote name='Peter T Chattaway' date='09 February 2011 - 01:09 PM' timestamp='1297274990' post='243031']
FWIW, I'm only partway into the article myself (I can't quite say that I'm partway "through" the article yet), but here's an interesting supplement:

- - -

[b][url="http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133561256/the-church-of-scientology-fact-checked"]The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked[/url][/b]
Wright tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the detailed fact-checking process his article went through — The New Yorker assigned five fact checkers to the story and sent the Church of Scientology 971 fact-checking queries before publication.
In September 2010, Wright, his editor, the New Yorker fact-checking team and the magazine's editor-in-chief, David Remnick, met for eight hours with the spokesman for the Church of Scientology, Tommy Davis, along with Davis' wife and four lawyers representing the church, to discuss the facts in the piece.
Wright says that one of the most interesting parts of the meeting came when he asked Davis about L. Ron Hubbard's medical records. Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, had maintained that he was blind and a 'hopeless cripple' at the end of World War II — and that he had healed himself through measures that later became the basis of Dianetics, the 1950 book that became the basis for Scientology. . . .
"In one very interesting moment, Davis said, 'Of course, if it's true that Mr. Hubbard was never injured during the war, then he never did heal himself using Dianetics principles, then Dianetics is based on a lie, and then Scientology is based on a lie. The truth is that Mr. Hubbard was a war hero.' And the way he phrased that, that everything depended on whether Hubbard had sustained these injuries and healed himself was like a wager on the table." . . .
NPR, February 8
[/quote]

Keep on reading. Near the end, Wright compares Hubbard's official military records with what Scientology claims are his files.

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[quote name='Jason Panella' date='10 February 2011 - 06:44 AM' timestamp='1297334680' post='243216']
Just to help you clarify your metaphor, not all RPGs are like this. In fact, in the past decade, there's been a move away from the whole leveling system approach (or even "improve-through-doing-stuff" approach). That is assuming you're talking about pencil and paper games.

Regardless, it's a great metaphor. I love it.
[/quote]

Good point. I was thinking more of computer RPG gaming, but I guess grinding isn't the norm there anymore either. And maybe the Sea Org is better described as a guild in the more recent WoW sense anyway.

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I'm still working my way through the original [i]New Yorker[/i] article, but in the meantime, [url=http://www.getreligion.org/2011/02/scientologys-apostates/]GetReligion.org[/url] rounds up some responses, and then there is this:

- - -

[b][url=http://killingthebuddha.com/mag/exegesis/killing-the-thetan/]Killing the Thetan[/url][/b]
As I read “The Apostate,” I found myself quibbling with lots of things. Why no mention of the Hubbard museums? Or the sites where Hubbard’s writings are buried in case of doomsday? Or the fact that many Hubbard “bestsellers” achieved their status only due to manipulation of the lists (so that journalists like Wright would one day list them as “bestsellers”)? Or the punishments and crimes committed (allegedly!) in the Sea Org? Having struggled through my own long chapter on Scientology, and having fought to get the organization’s whole story inside a manageable narrative (making cuts for the sake of structure that I knew might later be perceived as oversights), I could sympathize with Wright’s predicament in sword-fighting a hydra with a thousand heads. But I couldn’t stop myself, either, from fussing with it, from wishing he’d included those facts I’d thought essential.
Then I started quibbling with my quibbling. . . .
You have to be wary when you write about religion. The “weirder” a religion seems, the more readers will expect you not to sympathize with it. Even James suffered in some eyes for not standing far enough apart from that which he hoped to describe—in other words, for having made himself emotionally available to his subject. In The Devil is a Gentleman, I rejected the whole idea of Scientology, not merely because I thought it was a cult, but because the entirety of it began to seem preposterous to me. I had climbed inside the thing to fathom its dictates. I made myself available to it, and that immersion enabled me to assert its preposterousness, a preposterousness that speaks to human frailty and need. But Wright chose to stand apart from his subject, so he can’t assert anything.
Which is the ultimate weakness of “The Apostate.” Paul Haggis, the film director at the heart of the article, says at one point that he fell into Scientology because he was drawn to stuff outside the mainstream. I heard a lot of stories like that when I was exploring unusual religions. And the funny thing is, “The Apostate” is exactly the kind of article that might get someone interested in Scientology. There’s just enough doubt thrown in, just enough caveats and deniability and dropped threads, and just enough intrigue to make it all seem like a grand adventure. If you’re frail and needy, and if you’re a seeker, then you’re not going to listen for what Wright is suggesting between the lines of this piece, when he appears to be writing not for readers but for a judge and jury. Instead, you’ll listen to the quiet evangelism that Scientology knows creeps through all accounts like this, and is the only reason they’re willing to sit down with The New Yorker.
J. C. Hallman, Killing the Buddha, February 11

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[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K_QLUWM3X4[/media]

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