A Scientology-influenced Science Fiction Story From 1954, Penned by a Minor Scientology ‘Celebrity’

Authentic Science Fiction #41 (Jan 1954) coverAuthentic Science Fiction Monthly No 41 | Jan 1954  | Featured Novel: The Phoenix Nest | Richard DeMille | Download Issue as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

If you mention Scientology today, to anyone who who has not looked into it, a typical response will be: “Isn’t that the cult Tom Cruise is involved with?”

Scientology has cultivated celebrities for years, now and treats celebrity members like royalty. They are one of the few means that the Church has left to project a positive image and attract attention to its message. Tom Cruise is the Jewel in Scientology’s tarnished crown, but they also count a number of minor celebrities and fading stars among their members.

This obsession isn’t new. In early1955, an article in the Scientology periodical “Ability” by L Ron Hubbard offered a reward to any Scientologist who recruited anyone on a list of named celebrities .

That article is probably the first written evidence of such a policy, but Hubbard recruited minor celebrities before it became a fixed doctrine, and exploited the resources they provided him with and  interest they drew.

One of the early Scientology celebrities was Richard deMille who was, for many years, presented as the son of the film director Cecil B deMille. Among other things, he wrote for science fiction pulp magazines (as did L Ron Hubbard).

Although he was probably valued by Hubbard as much for his potential to influence his famous father as for himself, deMille did subtly promote Scientology in his writing, as we can see in the story featured in this post

Appearing in the British pulp science fiction magazine “Authentic Science Fiction” its plot depended crucially on Scientology concepts (principally the incorporeal ‘Thetan’) and developed a theme of personal immortality through Science. Continue reading

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

sci-and-the-aftermathLeah Remini is an US actress, known to the public for various roles, principally as one of the leads in the TV series, “King of Queens.”

She was ‘born into’ Scientology and participated for many years. Recently, however, she left the organisation.

The details of ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ are bizarre. A decade ago, after a dispute with her husband, the wife of the current leader of Scientology disappeared. In 2013 Leah Remini wanted to know where her friend had gone – and was aggressively blocked. The fact that she did so during a celebrity wedding which Miscavige was attending made matters worse.

Eventually, Remini filed a missing persons report with the Los Angeles police. Informed sources place Shelley in an isolated Scientology facility, which includes an underground bunker. This place is dedicated to preserving he writings of the founder of Scientology L Ron Hubbard.  The police cast no light on Shelley’s whereabouts. They  claimed to have determined that she was not under duress, and therefore her location was confidential.

After leaving Scientology shortly after these events (with her family, who refused to ‘disconnect’ from her, as per Scientology policy) Leah Remini produced a eight-part critical TV series about Scientology, which is now being broadcast. This is different from previous examinations (e.g. “Going Clear”) . It does not take a documentary approach, but is based upon first hand experience and interviews with ex-Scientologists. It promises to bring the abusive behaviour of the Church of Scientology to a new, wider audience, and add a human dimension.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ for links enabling you to watch the first seven episodes (so far) a bonus episode (which includes some incredible interviews) entitled “Ask me Anything” and coverage by the ABC New programme 20/20. Continue reading

September 1950 – The Irony Issue: Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Part 10)

September 1950

Download Issue as .pdf

ASF september 1950The September 1950 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction” provides a wonderful insight into how the most intelligent, capable and educated people can let wishful thinking run away with their critical faculties.

This month, in the same magazine that he was still using to actively promote L Ron Hubbard’s dianetics, the editor, John W Campbell, published a sceptical article and a book  review by L Sprague De Camp. Both were excellent.

The article concerned religious, literary and scientific hoaxes and misinformation. It included an extended passage about medical quackery. It is a compendium of fringe ideas which De Camp proceeds to debunk. He even analyses how it is that some scientists fall for such nonsense, and offers advice on how to spot pseudo-science. He describes Campbell, Hubbard and dianetics to a tee, without ever referring to any of them.

De Camp’s book review examined Emmanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision“. This was based on the scientifically illiterate ‘theory’ the world’s history and mythology were influenced by catastrophes brought  by a wandering comet (which has since settled down and become the planet Venus). De Camp took Velikovsy apart.

It is a terrible irony that, at the very same time Campbell published De Camps sceptical articles, the most influential pseudo-science of the last 65 years – dianetics – was right under Campbell’s nose and he could not see it for what it was.  Instead, he was enthusiastically promoting Hubbard’s invention in “Astounding”, and would continue to do so. Continue reading

A Letter from L Ron Hubbard: Dianetics and Scientology in “Astounding Science Fiction” (Part 9)

Hubb quillIn the previous post in this series we discussed the August 1950 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”

Despite John W Campbell (the editor of “Astounding) promising to host a lively debate about dianetics, airing both pros and cons, the letters page proved disappointing.

Four of the seven letters that appeared there were published were by people with vested interests in the success of dianetics – and the longest by far was written by L Ron Hubbard himself.

I thought Hubbard’s letter was worth examining in detail, because it demonstrates how he was already well-practised in the rhetorical tactics he would later use to defend Dianetics and Scientology without actually addressing the issues.

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Two *Absolutely Fabulous* TV References to Scientology (from 1996 and 2015)

Abfab2011Absolutely Fabulous | Special | November 1996 | The Last Shout |
View Online | Part One| Part Two

Difficult People | Season 01 episode 4 |2015 | The Courage of a Soldier|
View Online

In a recent post I suggested that television writers seem to using Scientology as a metaphor of ‘bizarre, abusive cult’. I included two examples –  single episodes from the current US drama “Elementary” and the UK comedy “The IT Crowd”. Since things have been a little serious around here lately, here are another two. Continue reading

“The Church of Modern Atomicism” and “Spaceology”: Is TV using Scientology as a Metaphor For ‘Bizarre Abusive Cult’?

A man with a television for a headTelevision writers are increasingly using thinly disguised versions of Scientology as a kind of shorthand for ‘abusive cult with extremely bizarre beliefs’. It’s significant that this is seen in popular programmes, implying that the general population now understand these references.

The Church of Scientology, which would once have sued and harassed everyone involved in such effrontery, no longer even seem to notice. This is likely because today they are handicapped by increasing public awareness, a significant number of outstanding court cases and declining membership –  they no longer have the resources to attack every critic and have to pick their fights more carefully.

As a change of pace, this post links to examples in episodes of two very different television series. The first is an episode of  an updated US version of Sherlock Holmes (which works surprisingly well) entitled, “Elementary”. Holmes now lives in New York City, and Watson is a not only a woman but also a formidable detective in her own right. This episode emphasises the ‘abusive cult’ aspect of Scientology.

The second, is an episode of “The IT Crowd” –  a broad UK comedy about IT support workers which emphasises Scientology’s  bizarre beliefs for comic effect. Continue reading

DiffiCULT to Leave – Scientology as Cabaret

DiffiCULT to leave2013 | Roslyn Cohn | DiffiCULT to Leave
Story by Roslyn Cohn | Joshua Finkel, Co-creator and director | Jake Anthony, Co-creator and musical director

View Online | Download as .mp4

Roslyn Cohn is a an actress. She was a member of the Church of Scientology for no less than 23 years. When she left, she did not write a book about her experience but mounted a one-woman show. This is probably the first dramatic performance which describes the Scientology experience written and performed by person who has been through it.

Cohn’s performance earned her a  nomination for “Best Female Cabaret Artist of the Year” from  Broadway World Los Angeles. Voting recently ended and the result will soon be announced here.

Watch the show (and read some background material) in a video window after the break

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Scientology and “The Mentalist”

visualise logo2010 | The Mentalist Extract from Season 2 Episode 20 (“Red all Over”)

Play extract in video window YouTube | Download File
Full episode Watch Online

The “Visualize Self-realization Church” that occasionally appears in early episodes bears a distinct resemblance to the Church of Scientology.

As a satire, this is great fun. It’s also interesting that the television company which made  the programme is not afraid of retaliation from the Church of Scientology – nor afraid that viewers might complain that its mockery of the Church is unfair.  Video after the break… Continue reading

Scientology vs “South Park”

south parkThe works of Trey Parker and Matt Stone are not for everyone. They specialise in biting satire presented with such creatively bad taste, that it’s in good taste.

They are probably best known for the anarchic cartoon series “South Park”, which has so far seen 247 episodes over 17 seasons.

Of course, “South Park” is featured here because of its conflict with the Church of Scientology. This began with a short film (“The Gauntlet”) followed by the full episode “Trapped in the Closet”. This episode satirised not only the beliefs of the Church, but also the character and  behaviour of its celebrity adherents (notably Tom Cruise, who believes himself to be ‘second in command’ in the Church hierarchy).

Typically, Scientology could not ignore this challenge, and attempted to strike back at South Park Studios in a number of ways – all of which backfired on them by attracting media attention to the very points that they were trying to suppress.

Click ‘continue reading’ to view/download all three South Park  Scientology episodes Continue reading

Scientology and “Millenium” – An Overlooked Satire

selfosophyMillennium: Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defence (series 2, episode 9)

Streaming Video | Download File

“Millenium” was an American television series which ran from 1996 to 1999. It was  created by Chris Carter (best know for “The X-Files”) and follows the investigations of Frank Black, a consultant for the FBI. Black has the ability to see inside the minds of violent criminals, and is a member or the mysterious ‘Millennium group’.

This episode is a wonderful ‘wild card’. It is a funny and merciless send-up of Scientology (AKA Selfosophy) which also mocks the  characters and the series itself.

Juggenaut Onan Goopta (AKA L Ron Hubbard)  fails a basic college biology course, and is later admitted to hospital for a mental breakdown. Here,  he embarks on a new career as a pulp fiction writer. He finds some success, because his detective stories “[…] are so bad that they are mistaken for brilliant parodies”. After the collapse of the magazine that had sustained him,  Goopta takes desperate measures, “In a single feverish night he managed to crank out a book that changed the course of human history”. This is entitled “SELFOSOPHY” (AKA Dianetics). Institutes of Selfolosophy soon appear, managed by elite staff who proudly wear uniforms modelled after those of the US Postal Service (AKA Sea Org).

It gets sillier… and funnier…  as the plot develops. Who knows how they got away with it.