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Friday, May 19, 2017

Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology

By: Marc Headley (with a foreward by Mark "Marty" Rathbun)

Publisher: BFG Books Inc; BFG 1st Edition Paperback edition (2010)

Softcover 396

Finished 5/18/2017

Amazon Listing


          In this book we get a different perspective of the cult known as Scientology. When a person is mistreated by a cult, either religious or political, often we have the mentality that it was partially the person’s own fault for being stupid enough to hook up with such obvious psychos and frauds. But what happens when a person is born into a cult? Or is indoctrinated into one before they are old enough to take control of their life? With no other options, they have to go along with it. This is such a story. The author entered Scientology at 13 and did not escape until he was 32.
          Scientology is a religion of money! Perhaps this is true with all faiths, but Scientology has refined it down to an art. Those who give big are treated as royalty- pampered, sucked up to, given access to slave labor. The rest below, especially those who sign the billion year contract and join their Sea Org, are worker drones, scuttling about to fulfill their duties, cast aside when they were useless. One line from L. Ron Hubbard quoted in the text sums up their attitude, “We’d rather have you dead than incapacitated.”
          The book shows the Scientology body in a high level of disorganization and incompetence. This makes sense as the people were given positions, technical and administrative, based on their willingness to put up with mental abuse, exhaustion, malnourishment, and adhere to the rules, rather than any ability. I say rules here, rather than doctrine, because for lower level Scientologists there seems to be a lack of ability to learn more on their own faith. For a person to rise in the ranks they have to pay for a series of courses. If you can’t afford it, well sucks to be you asshole. You’re stuck were you are. And in an organization where being paid minimum wage is a premium job, it isn’t likely that you will advance any time soon.
Author Marc Headley

          As the Scientology higher-ups were too paranoid to hire the necessary technical workers from the unwashed, their organization was strung together by a series of jury rigging and few mechanically minded people who kind of knew what they were doing. This constantly left them behind, technologically speaking. For example, they were still using the old VAX/VMS computer systems, the huge wall units with magnetic tape and punch cards into the 1990s. Additionally they continued to mass produce their audio propaganda on cassette tapes well after CDs had become the staple. This was mostly due to no one “cleared” by Scientology knowing how to convert the mediums over.
          I’ve often wondered how so many people could fall for the Xenu story which form the core of Scientology’s mythology. The one about the people of the overcrowded confederation of planets being sent to Earth (then known as Teegeeack) aboard ships that were subconsciously expressed in the design of the Douglas DC-8, the only difference being that "the DC8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't". Then using H-Bombs they were killed, their souls vacuumed up and brainwashed using “three-D, super colossal motion picture" for thirty-six days. The souls were then merged and implanted in prisons made of flesh- that’s us by the way. Only through Scientology can one strip off these souls and become “clear”. It’s so obviously schlocky science fiction. But this book illuminates that most of the lower level drones never heard it. The story is only for OTIII types, big spenders who have already sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars into the organization. People who aren’t willing to throw everything away on some silly story that couldn’t possibly be true.
          Most the venom is directed at David Miscavage, the psychotic pope of Scientology, heir to L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy, and best pals with Tom Cruise. Miscavage is depicted as a person who manipulated his way into power and then suppressed all those who could challenge him, like a miniature Joseph Stalin. Using the threat of his power to send any one who disagrees with him to the Rehabilitation Project Force (Scientology punishment and “re-education” cells and gulags), he has created a communist dictatorship within the Scientology community. With the religion running just as efficiently as its counterpart. 
Scientology COO David Miscavage
          He is characterized as a violent, incompetent, sadistic, unable to handle the pressures of power, a perfectionist without the ability to properly communicate what he wants, with no ability to actually advance what he wants. He is presented as an incompetent who believes he is the smartest guy in the room with no organizational skills, orders everything at the last minute, causes disasters and havoc, while blaming everyone else for his mistakes. 
          The author’s bitterness comes across in every page, having spent a decade and a half amongst an organization that he sacrificed and gave more to than any other, only to realize how he was abused is a harsh pill to swallow.  Over this time he saw hardworking dedicated people who had worked longer than him crushed down and destroyed by Miscavage and his ilk. Decades of service meant nothing, all of their successes would be invalidated in a heartbeat over minor disagreements or executive fiat. It was not an atmosphere where one could thrive.
          A few celebrities are mentioned along the way, the author Neil Gaiman being one. Apparently he was listed as a “suppressive person” until he became famous, then the label was quickly revoked. As is no surprise to anyone, Tom Cruise pops up a lot. He had nothing to do with the day to day running, but was a good friend of Miscavage (the latter being his best man at Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes) and the highest contribute to Scientology in the world. Much of their financing comes from helping to produce his films. There is also an amusing story where the crew at Int base (a Scientology headquarters) were piecing together clips and headshots of Scientology actresses to become Cruise’s girlfriend. After the actor’s bust up with Penelope Cruz over her refusal to join the religion, he realized that he could be with someone in the faith, so they began a pimping process to get him a woman.
Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard
           The book is not the best written and could have used an editor to clean up sentence structure and delete and replace repetitive words. But I was sucked into the story immediately. The plot overriding any minor technical issues. The day I picked it up, I chowed down eighty pages in one gulp. Scientology has a large vocabulary built into its structure, which seems to mostly consist of abbreviations of Scientology terms, so the author includes a glossary. However it is somewhat inadequate, largely missing many terms such as “preclear”, “suppressive person”, and so on. But I supposed being raised in a cult these idioms become second nature and the author doesn’t think to explain them. Luckily the internet is around to fill in the gaps.

 

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