Monday, May 6, 2013

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief

Thanks to the Foxx for hosting BC. It was such a lovely evening that we will even forgive her for being an SP (see below). We started out with Salsa di Parmigiano, a ridiculously savory blend of chunks of parmesan and Asiago pureed in olive oil with scallions, garlic and red pepper flakes, to be slathered atop crostini (it was almost embarrassing how many of these El Jefe inhaled in the first two minutes upon arrival). Next, a hearty, healthy and delicious stew of kale, cannellini beans and turkey sausage with cornbread to dunk, and brownies with salted caramel sauce a la' mode.  Deee lish.

Michael Chiarellos' Salsa di Parmigiano

On to Lawrence Wright's Going Clear, which garnered a 7.4 rating. In the Scientology world, this is a truly impressive score. After all, OT VII is the second highest level on the Bridge to Total Freedom--well beyond Preclear, and rapidly progressing from Clear to Operating Thetan.  

Not that a suppressive person such as the Foxx would appreciate that.  She described this book as "creepy," "crazy" and "nutty"-- stark evidence of antisocial pathology. Logan's Run, also an SP, compared the devout souls depicted in this book to the real nut jobs in The 19th Wife and Under the Banner of Heaven. Red--another SP--simply put it:  "cray cray!" Finally, the Doctor, in a kind of paranoid twist on the SP, became afraid of getting snatched off her bed while reading the book. Ok, so there was an across the board consensus that Scientology is a cult:  the terminology, the way it sucked in the vulnerable and destroyed their lives, the all-absorbing focus on a single charismatic individual... the way people get snatched off their beds? But let's turn to the book itself. Clearly (ha ha) the author researched this book to the nitty gritty end, as attested to by the dozens of pages of footnotes. However, as is often the case with non-fiction, it's difficult to walk that line between thoroughness and, well, boring your reader to tears. Despite the wacky theology and the star-studded cast of characters, Going Clear could be painfully boring at times, with one person commenting that the subject matter could have been adequately covered in half the pages. After all, this book is being marketed to the public for their reading pleasure, not as a scholarly treatise. Even the Highlander thought there was too much detail on the celebrities. (Wait, surely that sequence of words has never before been typed together, nor will it ever be in the future.) Yet this book raised some interesting questions for discussion. Such as, how could LRH, who was a wife beater and overall horrible man, become the central figure of a worldwide movement whose followers adored and emulated him? How and why is Scientology different from established religions, particularly Catholicism, which is all about mysteries, hierarchy and awesome outfits? To this last question, our group gave a lot of weight to the fact that Catholicism (and Judaism and Islam, etc.) is old (not to mention the Pope-- he is always old, too). Those religions pre-date modern means of communication, or really, almost any means of communication other than oral storytelling and writing on scrolls, and thus it's understandable that the religions' adherents could have accepted the religions' "truths"--whereas today it seems preposterous for some guy to try and convince people that he can multiply loaves and fishes. In any event, the IRS does not agree with our book club, and El Jefe's not going to argue with that.

See you mañana at Ms. K's house to discuss Wool!  xoej