|Man Without Qualities|
Thursday, June 23, 2005
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):
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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