Yesterday, I tweeted about how curious I got about The New Yorker’s piece on Scientology, enough to check if it has infiltrated the Philippines.
As it turned out, there have been attempts to do so, with David Pomeranz as its ambassador. (There was a time when he seemed to have been here for so long with no concerts or an album to promote; I thought it was charming. Now we know the motive.) In a smart move, which I’m glad did not take off (because again, there was a hidden agenda), Scientologists proselytized under the guise of an anti-drug movement.
The Scientology – Philippines website has not been updated in years, so I’m not sure how unsuccessful or successful its efforts have been.
* * * *
The New Yorker piece, written by Lawrence Wright, is 27 pages and nearly 25,000-word long: it took me close to an hour to read it, and that was without distractions. It centers on director Paul Haggis’s (Million Dollar Baby, Crash) decision to resign from the Church, where he has been in the top hierarchy of believers.
It’s a fascinating read in that Scientology is a religious movement that has managed to attract the likes of Tom Cruise and John Travolta despite this:
Fifteen hundred Scientologists crowded into the courthouse, trying to block access to the documents. The church, which considers it sacrilegious for the uninitiated to read its confidential scriptures, got a restraining order, but the Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of the material and printed a summary. Suddenly, the secrets that had stunned Paul Haggis in a locked room were public knowledge.
“A major cause of mankind’s problems began 75 million years ago,” the Times wrote, when the planet Earth, then called Teegeeack, was part of a confederation of ninety planets under the leadership of a despotic ruler named Xenu. “Then, as now, the materials state, the chief problem was overpopulation.” Xenu decided “to take radical measures.” The documents explained that surplus beings were transported to volcanoes on Earth. “The documents state that H-bombs far more powerful than any in existence today were dropped on these volcanoes, destroying the people but freeing their spirits—called thetans—which attached themselves to one another in clusters.” Those spirits were “trapped in a compound of frozen alcohol and glycol,” then “implanted” with “the seed of aberrant behavior.” The Times account concluded, “When people die, these clusters attach to other humans and keep perpetuating themselves.”
* * * *
In Lawrence’s interview with National Public Radio after the publication of the article, he mentioned that it took him 10 months to write the article. Also, The New Yorker’s fact-checking department sent the church an astounding 971 queries for verification.
That kicks ass.