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#1 Darrel Manson

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 09:54 AM

Dan Neil writes in the LA Times business section today about the new set of Scientology ads. They are very nice ads, even if they are advertising Scientology.

#2 BethR

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 07:08 PM

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.

#3 Tyler

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Posted 10 August 2009 - 10:21 AM

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.

#4 BethR

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 12:04 PM

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.

#5 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 02:27 AM

Link to our thread on Scientology (Aug 2005 - Apr 2008) in the now-locked 'Religion' section.

- - -

The Scientology Expose We've Been Waiting For
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

#6 Christian

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 09:47 AM

Link to our thread on Scientology (Aug 2005 - Apr 2008) in the now-locked 'Religion' section.

- - -

The Scientology Expose We've Been Waiting For
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

Fantastic news! Wright is such a great writer.

#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:22 AM

Paul Haggis Disavows Involvement with Scientology Book Project
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

#8 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 12:46 PM

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

- - -

The Apostate
Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.
New Yorker, February 14

#9 M. Leary

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 02:01 PM

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.

#10 Jason Panella

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 02:21 PM

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.


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.

#11 M. Leary

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 02:29 PM

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, 08 February 2011 - 02:29 PM.


#12 Ryan H.

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 08:37 AM

This is the best essay I have read on Scientology.

It's pretty terrific.

#13 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:33 AM

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

#14 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 01:09 PM

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:

- - -

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

#15 Ryan H.

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 01:22 PM

Great supplementary link, Peter.

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

#16 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 01:34 PM

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:

- - -

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


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.

#17 Jason Panella

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 02:30 PM

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!

#18 Darren H

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 03:24 PM

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.

#19 Christian

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 05:04 PM

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!

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? Yeah, I have.

#20 M. Leary

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 10:50 PM

M, I will be quoting your "Role Playing Game" metaphor from now on whenever this subject comes up.


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.