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#21 Jason Panella

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 05:44 AM

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.


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.

#22 BethR

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 09:47 AM

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:

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The Church Of Scientology, Fact-Checked
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


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

#23 M. Leary

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 09:52 AM

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.


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.

#24 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 02:42 PM

I'm still working my way through the original New Yorker article, but in the meantime, GetReligion.org rounds up some responses, and then there is this:

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Killing the Thetan
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

#25 Tyler

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:14 PM



#26 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 01:37 PM

Tom Cruise’s Scientology Marriages: The Secret Wife-Auditioning Process Before Katie Holmes, Revealed
In the October issue, Vanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth reports that in 2004 Scientology embarked on a top-secret project headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige, which involved finding a girlfriend for Tom Cruise. According to several sources, the organization devised an elaborate auditioning process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: “What do you think of Tom Cruise?” Marc Headley, a Scientologist from age seven, who says he watched a number of the audition videotapes when he was head of Scientology’s in-house studio, tells Orth, “It’s not like you only have to please your husband—you have to toe the line for Scientology.” . . .
Vanity Fair, September 1

Scientology, Katie Holmes, and Tom Cruise: Who Is Nazanin Boniadi?
Because it is Katie Holmes’s name—and not Boniadi’s—that you read about this summer in the tabloids, you know the relationship between Tom and his Scientology-approved partner ended. But who exactly is Nazanin Boniadi, and what about her caught the eye of theorganization?
Vanity Fair, September 1

Exclusive: Oscar Winner Paul Haggis on Tom Cruise Scientology Girlfriend: “I’m appalled that any church would treat its parishioners this way”
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winning “Crash” writer-director Paul Haggis has confirmed for me the story of Naz Boniadi, the beautiful Iranian born actress whom Scientology tried to groom as Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in 2004-2005. Vanity Fair has just released a teaser of their extraordinary story (kudos to Graydon Carter) about Cruise’s auditioning of women to be his wife in the months leading up to his choosing of Katie Holmes in April 2005. Haggis left Scientology two years ago, which I wrote about extensively. His exit was then chronicled in the New Yorker. Haggis confirms Boniadi’s saga, and tells me that she, too, has left the cult. Here’s his email to me from Rome, where he ‘s prepping a film. Haggis says he will have no other comment on this situation beyond this: . . .
Roger Friedman, September 2

- - -

And here's a link to a story that Friedman wrote way back in June 2005 about the bizarre circumstances surrounding Tom and Katie's coming-together; this might have been the first public hint about the odd process by which Cruise found his mate.

#27 Kinch

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 04:38 PM

It was a little while ago, but I remember seeing Internet ads that made an unsettling impression in how they hagiographized Hubbard.

 

I would think that the LAST thing you'd want to do when selling Scientology is focus on him.

 

My grandmother-in-law expressed some interest in the church about a decade ago, and though this is the one example I know, what she was attracted to was the promise of spiritual fulfillment (as well as, possibly, the aforementioned LARP-like structure of the church), not the sci-fi author who somehow knew he was the youngest Eagle Scout when records of the sort weren't really being kept. This is just me being hypothetical, but it would possibly be a more effective pitch if advertising focused on the self rather than the saint (since targets may be a little uneasy about belief systems that hang (or appear to) on the crux of who to them are just these dead guys, and a contrast may have a higher chance of catching their eye). Or it's just a bid for legitimacy, since Scientology hasn't had any tragic martyrs of note. (I'll admit, imagining one is a little entertaining.)


Edited by Kinch, 12 May 2014 - 04:39 PM.