I will start off by telling you I am a Pagan. An eclectic Wiccan, if you need me to be more pigeonholed. I have been ensconced in my polytheist religion for more than 13 years, worshipping Earth Mother and Sky Father, sometimes known as Diana and Cernunnos, my personal choices. My belief does not recognize Satan, so please don’t associate me with Satanists, and I do not worship deities that demand I fear them. In my belief system I am partners with the God and Goddess, making up a true trinity in which my energy is connected to the universal deity energies. I am part of the universe and the universe is part of me.
I have tried to be open and accepting of other religions, except for Muslim and Christian extremists both of which advocate my death, believing there are many paths to spirituality and finding our connection to the universe.
Now that you know something of my beliefs, whether or not you believe in them, let’s suppose for a moment that we’re all wrong and Scientologists are right. Now don’t click that back button or head off in search of porn without entertaining the notion that maybe your own beliefs might not be the be all and end all you might think they are. After all Muslim and Christian extremists think only their beliefs are correct, so isn’t it possible Scientologists think their beliefs are the true path to enlightenment and Heaven, or some other planet.
I wanted to learn more about Scientology, aside from the little I already learned from South Park and the ravings of Tom Cruise, so I went to the place I always go when I want to learn something new; Wikipedia.com. Wikipedia is sort of the hitchhiker’s guide to Internet knowledge, without the whole blowing up the planet thing.
Now as far as Scientology goes I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Bob, how could Scientology be right when it isn’t even one of the old religions?”
Before you dismiss anything simply because it’s new remember the Mormon religion is a little over 100 years old, and look how it spread. Granted it helped that misogynistic men took too the idea of multiple wives and impregnated as many as they could in order to rapidly spread their religion, but it still shouldn’t be dismissed because it hasn’t been around for a few thousand years.
So Scientology has only been around since the 1950s. This doesn’t mean the church, and its founder science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, aren’t legitimate. After all, just because Hubbard isn’t Jesus, and just because he wasn’t sacrificed on a cross doesn’t mean he’s any less of a deity-like figure than say, oh, Madonna; the singer not the virgin.
Now back in the beginning, BC (before Cruise), Scientology wasn’t a legitimate religion. No, it started out as the self-help book Dianetics. Now what religion isn’t based on some level on a self-help book? Isn’t the Bible, that book of stories by so-called prophets of their time, pieced together for easy reading, considered a self-help book in that the stories are sometimes described as life examples and are not to be taken literally, by most, unless it involves the domination of one group of people by another? Aren’t the Koran and Torah just self-help books?
Anyway, back to Scientology. Dianetics, the ultimate Scientology self-help book took off in the 60s and 70s, and word spread throughout the land of the new religion. Interesting thing about this new religion, instead of just joining and learning about your new god, members paid to move up in the religious learning levels kind of like buying your way to Heaven or Heavenly enlightenment.
This new religion, like many religions, preaches of a soul. Okay, so in Scientology the soul is called a Thetan and it is, according to Wikipedia, an all-knowing being that inhabits the bodies of every human being. Well, in some ways this is akin to my own belief that the higher being of God, or energy, is part of every living thing. It kind of separates from my own beliefs when it is learned, in what Scientology refers to as the OT III level of belief, that Thetans are the victims of Xenu, you know, the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy who brought billions of Thetans to earth 75 million years ago in DC-8 airplanes, sorry, spacecrafts, placed these hapless Thetans around a volcano and blew it up causing their consciousness to cluster together and cling to the living.
Okay, I’m not making this up, nor am I mocking Scientology. I swear I’m not mocking Scientology, especially considering my own religion comes under fire very often because many of the Gods and Goddesses I and my fellow Pagans worship come from the ancient Earth mythologies. I give Scientology a pass on mocking in a sort of ‘crystal cathedrals’ way.
However, when one of the key text of a religion, titled Scientology: A History of Man, claims to be an accurate history of human evolution for the last 60 trillion years, and much of it was written, according the founder L. Ron Hubbard’s own son, under the influence of amphetamines, I do begin to question certain elements of the religion. Interesting side note, according to that handy Wikipedia, Hubbard fed his son the amphetamines and wrote down what his son said while tripping. Can you say “bad father?”
Okay, now I’ll admit some vision quest and paths to Pagan enlightenment involve hallucinogenic materials, and the Catholic religion believes in transubstantiation, the literal changing of wine in to blood and bread into flesh when the wafer and wine are placed in the mouth, so passing a peace pipe, partaking of holy sacrament or popping uppers, there is a religious basis to fall back on.
Scientology, like many religions including my own, but apparently not Christianity, teaches belief in past lives. We have lived before, and according to my own beliefs, each past life is a lesson for the current life if we can unlock the memories of those lives and learn from our past mistakes. Things like Karma come into play with past lives. Scientology takes past lives to a different level, taking the whole universe into consideration. So a person living on Earth now could have experienced a past life on a far off planet on the other side of the universe.
Okay, this isn’t so far fetched, if we are suspending all of our beliefs anyway and accepting Scientology as the one true religion. After all, do we know how far is Heaven? Do any of our religions give us clear directions on how to get there? Muslim extremists can go directly to Heaven and collect 70 virgins if they blow themselves up and kill as many non-Muslim extremists as possible, but most other religions don’t give such clear cut directions on getting to Heaven. In fact, the majority of religions want us to be good in order to get to Heaven.
Be good. I mean, come on. So if I don’t kill anybody in this lifetime, and eat all my veggies, and don’t mock other peoples’ beliefs, oops, I guess I’m headed for that other place. Too bad I don’t believe in Hell.
Sorry, sidetracked, back to SciFi, um, Scientology. Thanks to the publicity Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and others have brought to Scientology, the religion has gotten more publicity in recent years. Well, every time the Pope says something controversial Catholicism gets a publicity boost, and Wiccan and Paganism have been around for 20,000 years in one form or another, according to archeologists, and pretty much spreads by word of mouth, so publicity and a belief in a higher being is readily accepted by the masses.
Still, Scientology leaves me feeling a little empty. Granted it can cure the common cold, according to founder L. Ron Hubbard, through the process of ridding one’s self of their reactive mind, a hypothetical portion of the mind that causes psychosomatic illnesses, but a good cup of herbal tea or a shot of whiskey can do the same thing and I don’t have to pay an astronomical fee to a church to learn my soul has been around the universe more than once and it’s pissed at me so it causes me all sorts of problems.
I would like to jump on Matt Lauer and tell Oprah’s couch it doesn’t know the history of psychiatry or something like that, but I don’t need to worship Tom Cruise to do so. I guess I’ll stick to my own beliefs and interpretations of spirituality, and allow others to also do so, as long as we live in a world where we have freedom of religious choice and the right to claim religious tax exemption when we become ministers of our faith. So just refer to me as High Priest Robert, and give me my tax break.
Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.
ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.21.06 @ 3:31p
What? No discussion yet? Maybe we're all still dizzy from the pagan eclectic wiccan pigeon thing. Me, I don't care so much about Scientology (thanks to its loudest proponents), but I found your first paragraph quite interesting. I'd like to know more about how you came to your beliefs.
I started off in Christianity, so I can't imagine abanding that for something with even more gods (and goddesses too!). But I guess I can see moving to more spirituality just like most of us move to less spirituality.
9.22.06 @ 12:09a
oh. I read "electric wiccan pigeon."
9.22.06 @ 12:30a
Ken, I was raised Methodist and more then ready to finally accept Jesus Christ etc. except I didn't believe in a religion that rejected me based on my sexuality. I was willing to try to live with that, to try to fit in to something just to be part of a religion because I felt I needed to believe in something, then a close friend told me about a book by Scott Cunningham and it changed my life. It explained a religion that made sense. It didn't just ask us to suspend belief and accept immaculate conception (I personally believe all conception should be messy and fun, and if its immaculate then it was boring and you could've phoned it in).
A religion that is based on male and female energy made more sense to me, because in order to create life you need male and female energy.
Russ, I need that recipe.
9.22.06 @ 2:54a
“Bob, how could Scientology be right when it isn’t even one of the old religions?”
Neither is Wicca, which is a 20th century construct. In fact, Paganism as we know it today is pretty new.
Ken, I can't answer for Bobby, but I'm also Pagan and I can tell you what brought me here. One of the most basic tenets of Paganism is personal responsibility - there ain't no "the devil made me do it" or "it's God's will" around here. While the Rede serves as a guideline, just as the Bible does, our number one commandment is "An' it harm none, do as ye will." That does NOT mean do whatever you want; it does mean that we are each responsible for the consequences of our actions and we must be aware that we affect everything else. If I choose to do something that harms another, it's a wrong thing and I need to make amends. I don't get to go to confession or eat a wafer and get absolved. Pagans MUST walk the walk.
Paganism by its very nature is eclectic. We base much of what we believe on mythological example - think "parable" and you're on the right track. The difference is that we acknowledge that it IS mythology. (And no, we don't believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn.)
9.22.06 @ 3:51a
Juli, you're right about the modern Pagan movement being only since around the 1950s, but for the purposes of comparison to Scientology modern Paganism is based on known practices going back throughout history.
Scientology is pretty much based on an idea in L. Ron Hubbard's mind.
I thought unicorns were white? There's a pink one?