This fluff piece [blatant CYA here] is not intended to be an expose on Scientology, Cruise, or anything. The subject is not one that either fasinates me (except for the Star Org perhaps) or goes against anything I believe (which is just about nothing). It is merely an overview of a recent brouhaha, which, because of the SF type origins of the Scientology core beliefs (about galactic civilizations and Xenu) drew my eye. It may jump around, but then, it’s hard to pin this subject down.
What is Scientology? Who better, but the Church itself to answer that?
“The word Scientology literally means ‘the study of truth.’ It comes from the Latin word ‘scio’ meaning ‘knowing in the fullest sense of the word’ and the Greek word ‘logos’ meaning study of.’
Scientology is the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life. The Scientology religion comprises a body of knowledge extending from certain fundamental truths. Prime among these:
Man is an immortal, spiritual being. His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime. His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized — and those capabilities can be realized. He is able to not only solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability. ” http://www.scientology.org/index.html
This FAQ statement below, from the Church Of Scientology International, the official arm liscensed to use Scientology and Hubbard’s works, sums it up best:
“What is Scientology?
Scientology, which means ‘knowing how to know,’ is a religion based on the works of L Ron Hubbard (1911-1986).
Scientology addresses man as a spiritual being and gives people tools they can apply to their lives to improve conditions. Among these are the techniques for alleviating spiritual trauma contained in the book Dianetics, by L. Ron Hubbard. [there is also a Child Dianetics, and a picture book “The Basic Dianetics Picture Book” by. L. Ron Hubbard- scary…]
Scientologists believe that the ‘reactive mind’ (that portion of the mind that works on a totally stimulus-response basis, not under the volitional control of the individual) exerts force and the power of command over one’s awareness, purposes, thoughts, body and action.
Through spiritual counseling called ‘auditing,’ Scientologists reduce and ultimately erase the power of the reactive mind. The reactive mind is of no benefit to the individual and is a source of irrationality, fears and nightmares. Its eradication achieves the State of Clear and brings to view the individual himself and is a landmark step in the full discovery of one’s true nature and in ultimately achieving full spiritual awareness and freedom.
The first Scientology church was established in Los Angeles in 1954, and today there are more than 6,000 Scientology churches, missions and groups in 159 countries around the world. ” http://www.scientology.org/html/en_US/news-media/index.html
And although the church says that celebrities are not the focus, the fact that they have Celebrity Centers is in oppostion to their stated position:
“What does the Church have to say about the many celebrities who are Scientologists?
An individual’s religion is a private matter and it is not the Church’s duty or desire to publicly discuss the religious choices of any individual Scientologist. Obviously many Scientology celebrities have been outspoken in their support of the Church. But that is exclusively their own choice.
The fact is, people from all walks of life receive Scientology services and many artists and professionals are attracted by what Scientology has to offer. Artists are respected because they have an important role in society. As public figures and role models, they help set social and moral standards. Good or bad, what an artist does in life is often widely reported by media. Celebrities who are Scientologists live happy, successful and moral lives, which set a positive example for the rest of the world. In addition, their support for social betterment activities, which seek to improve society, is of great value. ” http://www.scientology.org/html/en_US/news-media/index.html
But, these centers exist: http://www.scientology.cc/en_US/index.html
And according to some former members, money is diverted to these centers, and that non-celebrity members are forced to work (even manual labor) on behalf of the celebrity members:
“Former Scientologists say that celebrity practitioners get more attention than noncelebrity practitioners. For example, former Scientologist Maureen Bolstad noted that a couple of dozen Scientologists including herself were put to work on a rainy night through dawn planting grass in order ‘to help Tom impress Nicole.’
Andre Tabayoyon, a former Scientologist and Sea Org staffer, testified in a 1994 affidavit that money from non-profit Scientology organizations and labor from those organizations (including the Rehabilitation Project Force) had gone to provide special facilities for Scientology celebrities, which were not available to other Scientologists. ‘A Sea Org staffer was taken along to do personal cooking for Tom Cruise and Miscavige at the expense of Scientology non-profit religious organizations. This left only 3 cooks at [Gold Base] to cook for 800 people three times a day. . . . Apartment cottages were built for the use of John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Edgar Winter, Priscilla Presley and other Scientology celebrities who are carefully prevented from finding out the real truth about the Scientology organization. . . . Miscavige decided to redo the meadow in beautiful flowers; tens of thousands of dollars were spent on the project so that Cruise and Kidman could romp there. However, Miscavige inspected the project and didn’t like it. So the whole meadow was plowed up, destroyed, replowed and sown with plain grass.’ Diana Canova, who experienced Scientology both before and during her period of TV stardom, expressed it in a September 1993 interview: ‘When I started, I wasn’t in television yet. I was a nobody—I’d done some TV, but I was not one of the elite, not by a long shot—until I did Soap. Then it became…I mean, you really are treated like royalty.'” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology – Scientology and Celebrities section. See also his full affidavit from Church of Scientology v. Fish (1994): http://www.whyaretheydead.net/krasel/aff_at.html
Gold Base is the headquarters in Hemet, Ca, and Miscavige is one of the top leaders.
Now here comes the “scary” part to me – Sea Org:
“On 1 September 1966, L. Ron Hubbard officially resigned from all directorships and management of Scientology churches. He then formed the ‘Sea Project,’ which he claimed would assist him with researching tests regarding past life recollections. Called the ‘Sea Project,’ because it operated on ships and was intended as a temporary project, it was made up of a small group of Scientologists … He declared himself ‘Commodore’ and organized the Scientologists with titles and uniforms similar to US Navy design, the Sea Org subsequently became the upper management group within the Church of Scientology. It operated for eight years in the Mediterranean Sea and over this time controlled a number of ships (hence the term ‘Commodore’).
In 1975, they sold the ships they were working from and moved to ‘land bases’ that now operate around the world. In 1987 they purchased a ship called ‘La Boheme,’ which they later renamed to ‘Freewinds.’ The highest levels of Scientology are taught on this ship. The Sea Org acts as goodwill representatives and administrators of Scientology with the stated purpose to “get ethics in on the planet” (Scientology Ethics rather than ethics in the conventional sense.) Another primary function is ‘To safeguard the advanced levels of Scientology.’ According to the church, the Sea Org is a fraternal religious order rather than an incorporated entity.
In more recent times, the Sea Org is primarily based on land; however, the highest levels of Scientology are still delivered at sea on board the Sea Org’s vessel, the Freewinds, and the Sea Org still maintains its naval uniforms and character. Only Sea Org members are staff members in Scientology’s Advanced Organisations.
Space Opera and the Sea Org
According to Hubbard’s teachings, the Galactic Confederacy was the political unit formerly ruled by the tyrant Xenu. It ruled a broad swath of the galaxy, and lasted for ‘eighty trillion years,’ a fact disputed by scientists who place the age of the universe at around 13.7 billion years. 75 million years ago, at the time of Xenu’s mass murder, the Galactic Confederacy comprised 26 stars and 76 planets, including Earth (then called Teegeeack).
The Church of Scientology consciously models itself on aspects of the Galactic Confederacy. The Sea Org’s insignia has a laurel wreath said by Hubbard to be based on the symbol of the ‘Loyal Officers,’ an anti-Xenu faction within the Galactic Confederacy. Each of the leaves on the laurel wreath is said to represent one of the Galactic Confederacy’s stars. According to the Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary, ‘the Sea Org symbol, adopted and used as the symbol of a Galactic Confederacy far back in the history of this sector, derives much of its power and authority from that association.'”
Members of the Sea Org sign an employment contract with the organization for one billion years. Sea Org members, in accordance with Scientology beliefs, are expected to return to the Sea Org when they are reborn. The motto of the Sea Org is, ‘Revenimus’ or ‘We Come Back’ in Latin. Official statements from the Church of Scientology contend the contract is merely symbolic of the dedication members are expected to hold to the organization, and that members are free to leave if they wish. It has, however, been alleged by former Sea Org personnel that members are restricted from leaving. Members who do leave are issued a ‘Freeloader’s bill,’ retroactively billing them for any auditing or training they have received. These Scientologists may not receive any services at any Scientology organizations until they pay off this bill and perform an amends project.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Org
And the Rehabilitation Project mentioned above?:
Rehabilitation Project Force
“The Rehabilitation Project Force, or RPF, is a system of work camps set up by the Church of Scientology Sea Organization, intended to rehabilitate members who have not lived up to CoS expectations, failed Security checks or have violated certain policies.
Many ex-Sea Org members have reported grueling and torturous treatment, including Gerry Armstrong, who, during his time in the Sea Org, spent over two years banished to the RPF as a punishment. Says Armstrong:
‘It was essentially a prison to which crew who were considered nonproducers, security risks, or just wanted to leave the Sea Org, were assigned. Hubbard’s RPF policies established the conditions. RPF members were segregated and not allowed to communicate to anyone else. They had their own spaces and were not allowed in normal crew areas of the ship. They ate after normal crew had eaten, and only whatever was left over from the crew meal. Their berthing was the worst on board, in a roach-infested, filthy and unventilated cargo hold. They wore black boilersuits, even in the hottest weather. They were required to run everywhere. Discipline was harsh and bizarre, with running laps of the ship assigned for the slightest infraction like failing to address a senior with ‘Sir.’ Work was hard and the schedule rigid with seven hours sleep time from lights out to lights on, short meal breaks, no liberties and no free time… When one young woman ordered into the RPF took the assignment too lightly, Hubbard created the RPF’s RPF and assigned her to it, an even more degrading experience, cut off even from the RPF, kept under guard, forced to clean the ship’s bilges, and allowed even less sleep.'”
Tom Cruise on Scientology full 9 minute video (which I tried to put directly on the blog, but failed in my puny attempts: http://defamer.com/344987/the-tom-cruise-indoctrination-video-scientologists-dont-want-you-to-see. For a transcipt see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3199668.ece
For the complete video set (6), see this URL: http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/19413610.html
A Showbiz Tonight discussion of the video is available at: http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/17/cruise.video/index.html#cnnSTCVideo and a CNN artilce that gives the bare bones on the video, not it’s content is at the same link.
Also, MTV features a “Glossary” for the video: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1579963/20080118/index.jhtml, where some of the more obscure terms and abbreviations are “defined.”
See also, CBS’ Early Show article on the terms, and a video about it: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/17/earlyshow/leisure/celebspot/main3723838.shtml?source=mostpop_story
A Reuters article on the video, Cruise, and Scientology, appearing in PC Magazine Online, is available at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,2250071,00.asp
In the LA Times interview, Cruise’s significant contributions are mentioned:
“More than any other celebrity, Cruise has helped fuel the growth of the church, which claims a worldwide membership of 10 million and in the last two years has opened major centers in South Africa, Russia, Britain and Venezuela. Cruise joined Miscavige last year for the opening of a church in Madrid.
In his own spiritual life, Cruise has continued to climb the ‘Bridge to Total Freedom,’ Scientology’s path to enlightenment. International Scientology News, a church magazine, reported last year that the actor had embarked on one of the highest levels of training, ‘OT VII’ — for Operating Thetan VII.
At these higher levels — and at a potential cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars — Scientologists learn Hubbard’s secret theory of human suffering, which he traces to a galactic battle waged 75 million years ago by an evil tyrant named Xenu.
According to court documents made public by The Times in the 1980s, Hubbard espoused the belief that Xenu captured the souls, or thetans, of enemies and electronically implanted false concepts in them to keep them confused about his dirty work. The goal of these advanced courses is to become aware of the trauma and free of its effects.
At Cruise’s high level of training, ex-members say, devotees also are charged with actively spreading the organization’s less secretive beliefs and advancing its crusades, including Hubbard’s deep disdain for psychiatry, a profession that once dismissed his teachings as quackery.
‘When you hear Tom Cruise talking about psychiatrists and drugs,’ said one prominent former Scientologist who knows Cruise, ‘you are hearing from the grave the voice of L. Ron Hubbard speaking.'” http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-scientology18dec18,0,7000009,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Now his claims about “powers” don’t match of the Church’s stated positions, works, or missions, and since it draws on a number of beliefs and psychology, it doesn’t “compute.” So, has he gone off the deep end and mis-interpreted the Church? In an article on the pulling of the video off YouTube (I hope I don’t get into trouble for this blog), they state:
“He is very outspoken in the video about the need for action. Scientologists are in the know according to Cruise, and should therefore do what they can because they know they can help. He goes on to state further that they are the authorities on getting people off of drugs, improving conditions and rehabilitating criminals.” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/543371/tom_cruise_scientology_video_pulled.html
For the other side of the ‘argument” see: http://www.beliefnet.com/whoswho/scientology_couples_intro.html?source=GOOGLE&campaign=057&medium=PPC&nopop=1&WT.mc_id=GSCCO057&WT.srch=1&gclid=CPue7ZzmipECFRUmawod2mwKGQ , a Belief site on faith that details Scientology, Cruise and how it has affected him.
Previous “videos” might suggest that he has that tendency:
Andrew Morton, author of “Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography,” states in an interview with with Alicia Quarles: ” When I saw him jumping on Oprah’s couch in 2005, I realized the mask had slipped. Here is this man who for years has been in control and controlling. He’s been hiding behind the mask.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/18/cruise-biographer-defends_n_82135.html
Tom Cruise on Oprah about Katie Holmes video:
Tom Cruise on David Letterman video:
So, is he a Guru or Goner? It’s not something we can answer, but I do feel that celebrities, with their unique position of national and even international prominence should be held toa higher standard when promoting ideas, religions, and politics. Many people are gullible, and when they see a favorite movie or sports star stand up for something, they tend to believe them. If you or I were to say the same things, we would be ignored. Although my political views are just as well-researched as most celebrities (although I don’t get invitations to dinners and speeches with them), they aren’t given the same credence. Just as I hold the President to a Higher Moral Standard (Clinton is a prime example of that, and one I talked about frequently), I also hold celebrities to that same standard, both in positions/platforms held, and in public behaviour.
The church even acknowledges this power (from a Los Angeles Times article on Cruise and Scientology, 12/18/05):
“‘Across 90 nations, 5,000 people hear his word of Scientology — every hour,’ International Scientology News proclaimed last year. ‘Every minute of every hour someone reaches for LRH technology … simply because they know Tom Cruise is a Scientologist.'” http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-scientology18dec18,0,7000009,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Now that’s power – and power can corrupt.
I know that stardom brings it’s own pressures, but some seem to weather it just fine and others don’t. generations of young girls, who watched Lindsey Lohan in Disney’s remake of The Parent Trap, and looked up to her, now are seeing a role model gone wrong – as so many others have – young girls in particular are so vulnerable, and so few of their stars have kept to a path these girls should emulate. Too many have gone done paths that no parent would want their children follwing, but if that’s what they see, that’s what they’ll do.
So if Cruise has “gone of his rocker,” he needs to be less public, and more introspective. I’m not saying that Scientology has done this to him – most likely it has nothing to do with it – and his “interview, that was never meant to be aired, is his own skewed vision of the importance of himself. It seems more like a cry that “I am more than a star – I am someone who can DO things to help” – to be “important” for who he is, not what his screen persona is. Methinks he just needs some good old couch time.