About 75 million years ago, a nefarious intergalactic warlord called Xenu rounded up the inhabitants of numerous planets, killed them, and brought them to Earth, then set off a chain reaction of cataclysmic volcanoes, which dispersed their thetans into the atmosphere. These thetans now fester inside the bodies of all humans. They are to be located in specific body parts and summoned out.

The creator of this scenario was, not surprisingly, a science-fiction novelist. But that man, L. Ron Hubbard, is known primarily as the founder of Scientology, and the above passage -- the church's version of creation as described in a four-pronged Salon scornication that began yesterday -- almost makes Genesis I[i, ii...n] appear plausible in comparison. Here's what Ed "Parallel" Parkin, vice president of cultural affairs for the Church of Scientology, had to say in the piece:

"'I am aware that a small cadre of anti-religious extremists are trying to generate hostility against Scientology by disseminating lies about it,' Parkin wrote in response to questions about the OT teachings and church policy. 'This little group of insignificant people are the only ones in the world who are obsessed with extracting and altering out of context bits of esoteric data about Scientology and using it to create prejudice against Scientology through reporters such as yourself who buy into their agenda.'"

This kind of rabid, clumsy and accusatory posturing -- a fetid stew of inexplicable condescension, paranoia, and transparent bullshitting -- is reminiscent of Jerry Falwell, Marion Jones (or any other demonstrated or purported druggard) and of course Cruise himself. I like this better:

"I am aware that a small cadre of mentally challenged but wealthy extremists are trying to generate credibility on behalf of Scientology by disseminating typical cult-inspired bullshit," Beck wrote in response to Erb's e-mail. "This little group of 'A-list' alien-life-form-embracing egomaniacs are the only ones in the world who believe in the utility of something as inane as a fucking 'E-meter' and using it to create larger bank accounts for douchebags such as Parkin himself who successfully peddle their agenda."

A sneak preview from today's Salon installment:

"It's not your garden-variety crank who can take a crackpot rant, turn it into a creepy gazillion-dollar church with the scariest lawyers around, and set himself up as the 'Commodore' of a small fleet of ships, waited on hand and foot by teenage girls in white hot pants."

Indeed, based on Laura Miller's playfully sour invective, anyone reading this tome when it was first published and endowed with a whiff of foresight could have predicted that only the world's richest, most grandiose performorons would one day be convinced to adopt Dianetics' bastard offspring, Scientology, as their personal religion. All that remains to be revealed is the extent to which the notoriously vengeful outfit (some of you may remember its full-page, darkly satirical Time Magazine-blasting ads in USA Today and its failed libel lawsuit in the early 1990s following Time's evisceration of the Church; summary here) strikes back this time.

An amusing sidebar to all of this is watching Christian bloggers take umbrage at Cruise's remarks about the compatibility of the two religions or otherwise deride the tenets of Scientology. For all of their other failings, at least Scientologists aren't known for their incessant attempts to disseminate their bizarro bullshit throughout every aspect of Western society, although even the Southern Baptist Convention might curb its stridently mistarded ways if its existing flock members' median annual income suddenly shot into the $500K range. Watching a fundie rip into Scientology is like listening to one top American male sprinter lambaste another for being cocky.


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