Man Without Qualities

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flicking Thetans

In Alex Cox's film Repo Man one person instructs another to read "Diaretics - The Science Of Matter Over Mind" - a semi-subtle reference to one of Scientology's foundational books by L. Ron Hubbard (the secular philosophy of Dianetics was eventually expanded and reworked into the religion of Scientology). But the cross references between the new Spielberg/Cruise fuss-flick War of the Worlds and Scientology go way beyond that kind of thing.

There's been a lot of reporting in connection with War of the Worlds regarding its star's increasingly overt links to Scientology. There was, for example, that Scientology "information tent" on the set, Mr. Cruise's overexcited enthusiasm for the movie and his faith coincidentally emerging at the same time. And so on.

But the Man Without Qualities thinks all that is just picking. It makes perfect sense for Mr. Cruise, as a Scientologist, to be more excited about War of the Worlds than he was about his other movies simply because Scientology is largely derived from the original H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds. In fact, to practice Scientology is largely to engage in an ongoing war of the worlds with nearly defunct aliens. Scientology goes to great lengths to keep its more advanced principles from the uninitiated, so the following summary of the core belief in the religion known as Scientology is on the snarky side (the reader may or may not want to read around the snarkier bits, but the basic facts are correct):

Once upon a time (75 million years ago to be more precise) there was an alien galactic ruler named Xenu. Xenu was in charge of all the planets in this part of the galaxy including our own planet Earth, except in those days it was called Teegeeack.

Now Xenu had a problem. All of the 76 planets he controlled were overpopulated. Each planet had on average 178 billion people. He wanted to get rid of all the overpopulation so he had a plan.

Xenu took over complete control with the help of renegades to defeat the good people and the Loyal Officers. Then with the help of psychiatrists he called in billions of people for income tax inspections where they were instead given injections of alcohol and glycol mixed to paralyse them. Then they were put into space planes that looked exactly like DC8s (except they had rocket motors instead of propellers).

These DC8 space planes then flew to planet Earth where the paralysed people were stacked around the bases of volcanoes in their hundreds of billions. When they had finished stacking them around then H-bombs were lowered into the volcanoes. Xenu then detonated all the H-bombs at the same time and everyone was killed.

The story doesn't end there though. Since everyone has a soul (called a "thetan" in this story) then you have to trick souls into not coming back again. So while the hundreds of billions of souls were being blown around by the nuclear winds he had special electronic traps that caught all the souls in electronic beams (the electronic beams were sticky like fly-paper).

After he had captured all these souls he had them packed into boxes and taken to a few huge cinemas. There all the souls had to spend days watching special 3D motion pictures that told them what life should be like and many confusing things. In this film they were shown false pictures and told they were God, The Devil and Christ. In the story this process is called "implanting".

When the films ended and the souls left the cinema these souls started to stick together because since they had all seen the same film they thought they were the same people. They clustered in groups of a few thousand. Now because there were only a few living bodies left they stayed as clusters and inhabited these bodies.

As for Xenu, the Loyal Officers finally overthrew him and they locked him away in a mountain on one of the planets. He is kept in by a force-field powered by an eternal battery and Xenu is still alive today.

That is the end of the story. And so today everyone is full of these clusters of souls called "body thetans". And if we are to be a free soul then we have to remove all these "body thetans" and pay lots of money to do so. And the only reason people believe in God and Christ was because it was in the film their body thetans saw 75 million years ago.

One is of course free to accept Scientology or not. Indeed, the abode of the Man Without Qualities is quite near the Scientology mother church in Hollywood, which means that I have known quite a few Scientologists (or former Scientologists) over the years. But I still found it odd that CNN yesterday featured a little item in which an attractive female reporter described how she had gone to a Scientology center in New York to "learn about Scientology." While she did say that her CNN report was occasioned by Mr. Cruise's involvement in War of the Worlds and Scientology, and she did talk about how nice the people at the center had been to her, and how a center big-shot had come down to talk to her, and how Scientology has "practical approaches to real life problems" ( a reference to techniques for flicking off those nasty Thetans?) - she didn't mention anything at all about the Scientology aliens.

L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer before founding his religion. Like all science fiction writers concerned with alien invasions of earth, he had a huge debt to H. G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds. Hubbard's debt pertained to both his literary and religious output. For example, Wells' aliens feed on human flesh; Hubbard's aliens (Thetans) feed on human minds and souls. So why didn't CNN mention any of that? Isn't it newsworthy that the Scientology center - the place one goes to "learn about Scientology," as CNN put it - doesn't mention the core beliefs at all - even though they directly relate to the premises of War of the Worlds? And isn't it newsworthy that Scientology systematically withholds information about its core beliefs for quite some time, and only discloses those core beliefs after one has paid quite a lot of money? As the skeptics who scribed the above summary put it:

If people knew about this story then most people would never get involved in it. This story is told to you when you reach one of their secret levels called OT III. After that you are supposed to telepathically communicate with these body thetans to make them go away. You have to pay a lot of money to get to this level and do this (or you have to work very hard for the organisation on extremely low pay for many years).

Strange it was. Passing strange. Personally, I have no interest in seeing War of the Worlds - I'm still smarting from the dreadful Minority Report. But I may pop a DVD of Repo Man into the machine if I get some down time.


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