This is not a Scientology blog, so apologies to those of you hoping for some history-type stuff for yet another entry on the subject. I didn’t want to do it either. But I think you’ll agree that this one is justified.
At the end of the day’s work, I was feeling rather knackered. I needed to visit an art shop, and was looking to get home ASAP. My route into Fitzrovia took me down Tottenham Court Road where, as you may know, the Church of Scientology has a shop. Regular readers will recall that I was given a personality test there shortly before Christmas, and I’d singularly failed to be convinced into purchasing Dianetics, going on a course and cutting myself off from family and friends. I figured that was it, done, I’d looked into it and seen that it was shite.
Unfortunately, regular readers may also recall me lamenting the fact that I am quite a recognisable person. I was lost in thought as I passed the Scientology shop front and barely even noticed where I was until someone greeted me. I turned.
It was the woman who’d gone through my personality test with me – a young lady of diminutive stature with red hair. Unfortunately, having turned around, I couldn’t pretend not to have seen her. She asked me if I’d been online to check the Scientology website out. Ah, well, here was an out for sure. I explained that I had, but I’d also seen quite a lot of other stuff online… quite a lot of negative stuff. She replied that it was all lies. I said that, in fact, it seemed to me that just about every website not owned by the Church of Scientology was fiercely critical of the Church in one way or another. All lies. All? All.
She then asked if I’d been to the actual Scientology website. I said that I had, and it all seemed rather vague to me. She asked me to elaborate. I said that there was a lot of stuff about what Scientologists claim to do, but almost nothing about what they believe in. She said there was nothing – Scientology doesn’t have gods or anything like that. I said that that led me to a question I was rather hoping not to have to ask, namely the Xenu thing. She dismissed this as a lot of nonsense that someone made up.
I have noticed a little conjuring trick you can do with Scientologists. Ask them a couple of awkward questions and a second Scientologist will appear, as if by magic, and stand very casually a couple of feet away. Not particularly doing anything, just sort of staring into space. The Scientologist you’re talking to will occasionally throw a nervous glance at them. This might be because, according to the doctrine sent out by L. Ron Hubbard, anyone critical of Scientology is a “Suppressive Person,” and anyone in contact with them is a “Potential Trouble Source” that must be cleansed.
Anyway, yes, we both noticed the dark-haired guy in the long black coat, and I figured I should probably persist with the Xenu thing. I mentioned that I’d heard a recording of L. Ron Hubbard talking about the Xenu story on YouTube. It’s actually been posted several times, and here’s one copy.
This, my former examiner and now examinee told me, was fake. I said that it sounded an awful lot like Mr Hubbard, but was informed otherwise. So then I asked the big question. Namely, why, if the Xenu story is fake, does the book Dianetics have a picture of a volcano on the cover? To illustrate my point, I tapped the stack of Dianeticses on the table next to us. She gently led me a couple of steps over at this point, moving us actually away from the shop front – this will become significant. A blonde-haired young woman stuck her head out and looked at us curiously before withdrawing.
The Scientologist said that she had read all of L. Ron Hubbard’s writings, every single one, and seen nothing about Xenu whatsoever. I was tempted to point out that obviously she had not seen L. Ron’s screenplay Revolt in the Stars, the science fiction film dramatising the Xenu story that he tried to get made in the late ’70s to squeeze yet more money out of Scientology and which failed to take off due to the discovery of some highly questionable funding. But, well, I figured I was on a roll already. So then I asked the next Xenu-related question, namely that given the amount of ridicule the Church has received as a result of the Xenu story, and given that according to the Church it isn’t true, why have they not sued the likes of South Park for heinous libel? Why have legal actions regarding the story only been for copyright and trade secret violations? Why, for that matter, is a story the cult denies actually copyrighted by them? There was no response other than a repetition of the volcano being nothing to do with Xenu.
She asked me if there were any other questions. For Christ’s sake, woman, stay down! I asked her about the Oxford Capacity Analysis Test and why it was so called. She said it was because it was devised in Oxford. By the university, I asked? No. But it was definitely devised in Oxford. I said that attaching the name Oxford does rather suggest that they were trying to associate it with the university, and whether intentional or not, it’s highly misleading. I expressed my belief that it’s not possible to get a good score, and the reply was that, of course, my new-found friend had a perfect score. I also demanded to know what sort of peer reviews it had had, and was told to check the website.
Then I went on to mention that I had actually read Dianetics, having bought a second-hand copy from Oxfam (I’d rather make a donation to a charitable organisation that doesn’t spend £24 million on an empty City of London HQ, thanks). This was a half-truth, in that I’d got halfway through reading it. I mentioned one of the earlier claims by Hubbard, namely that Dianetics could cure defective vision. I said that I was very sceptical about this, as visual troubles are not “psychosomatic”. Well, luckily for sceptical me, my Scientologist friend had previously had astigmatism and now had perfect 20/20 vision, so she said.
Okay, being serious for the moment, how fucking dare the Church of Scientology try to exploit my sight problems to make me sign up to their half-arsed Mafia cult? And I’m just short-sighted. Makes you wonder how low they’d go. “Terminal cancer? Well, I had it, and after one auditing session I was cured! Give me your money!” Actually, there have been a number of deaths as a result of people renouncing conventional medicine in favour of Dianetics. Anti-psychotic drugs ain’t just Tic-Tacs, sweetheart.
Anyway, I said that astigmatism is a physical thing, often genetic. She rallied and said that yeah, but Dianetic auditing allowed her to conquer the thing that was preventing her getting better (the fact that astigmatism isn’t affected by the body’s healing process?) and now her vision was perfect. She said that she too had been sceptical, but if I would just experience auditing for myself, then I’d be astonished.
We have an old saying where I come from. Never enter an arse-kicking contest with a centipede.
So, my next question. How much would that cost? Because, I said, I had heard that Scientology was very expensive. She told me that if I bought the book-and-DVD set for the low, low morals price of £20, I’d get a FREE auditing session! Wow, I said. And what about the rest of the courses? I’d heard they cost a lot more. She said that there was no pressure whatsoever to go on any further courses, so really I had nothing to lose.
So I said that yeah, but I was reluctant to hand myself over like that, because I’d seen a lot of footage, both online and on TV, that suggests the Church is a little bit controlling. She said, “Which footage? Panorama?” witheringly. Yes, I replied (and so can you, in that link).
“And there was that bit where those two guys in a car are following them around, and the fact that they were filming the BBC as they were filming – that seemed odd to me -”
At this point, my new friend interrupted me and said that she had been here when they were filming, and they hadn’t even asked for an interview, so the whole thing was totally biased. Is there anything this woman hasn’t experienced? But I persisted. I asked her why the CoS had been filming the BBC, and in that bit when the guy lost it –
“Which guy?” she interrupted. Oh yes, I’d quite forgotten. While there’s a lot spoken about John Sweeney losing it in that documentary, he’s not the only one. Take a look at Tommy Davis, the cult’s loyal spokesdroid and spoilt brat extraordinaire.
There are a lot of clips on YouTube of Tommy losing his temper, suggesting to me that he’d make a better PR man if he just didn’t show up. Ever. I’d quite forgotten about all that, but thanks for reminding me, Scientology lady!
Anyway, I clarified that it was John Sweeney losing his temper, and said again that it’s a bit creepy that the CoS was filming him, it seems strange for an organisation that’s good and open to be so paranoid, and –
And at that point, ladies and gentlemen, I was subject to the worst get-out excuse I have ever witnessed in my entire life. I feel privileged in a way. My would-be saviour interrupted me and said, “Oh, there’s a phone call for me.”
We were standing outside. She wasn’t in front of the shop window, so she couldn’t have seen inside. I was closer to the door, so if the phone had gone, or someone had called for her, I would have heard – I pointed this out, but she dashed past me towards the door, and called to someone inside, “There’s a call for me, isn’t there?” Christ, I didn’t think anyone did that in real life. In the things-you-can-say-that-give-away-the-fact-that-you’re-lying charts, the only way she could have been more blatant would have been if she’d said, “There’s a call for me. Yeah, that’s it, a call.”
As she disappeared in, she told me that I should go to the main centre in Blackfriars, and they’d be able to answer my questions. This is unlikely, as the last time we’d spoken, she’d told me that both centres were staffed by the same people. Weeeell, etiquette demands that I take the invitation up. I mean, what are they going to do – kill me? Good luck, they believe in reincarnation.
https://londonparticulars.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/what-a-cult/ – This was the Scientology-related post I put up less than two weeks ago.