Good morning, y’all. A positive force has invaded our news cycle. The Olympics have begun down in Rio. In spite of a lot of negative press, it looks like the games are going to be broadcast in the spirit in which they were intended, the celebration of our athletes. While we can get caught up in the doping scandals, cost overruns and local crime, the real focus is on the people who train and endure and seek perfection in their chosen discipline. It is fun to celebrate the best of what we as humans can accomplish.
Speaking of the best of what we can accomplish bring us back to our retelling of the history of The Full Gospel Original Church of God. Elder Diggum slid into the booth at Wednesday’s unofficial meeting of the church board of directors held weekly at the IHOP in Blairsville.
“Hot off the presses”, he said as he handed the latest copy of the North Georgia Gazette to Elder Cheatum.
“Thanks”, said Elder Cheatum, “I went ahead and ordered for you; pages one through four of the menu”. Elder Cheatum raised his arm to call the waitress over as he grinned at Elder Diggum.
“Just kidding”, he said as he began rummaging through the paper. Elder Cheatum found the religion column and had completed reading it by the time that Elder Diggum had finished giving his order to the waitress. “Well, they haven’t picked up our move yet, or they’re ignoring it”, he said as he handed this week’s epistle to Elder Wiley. The article by Howard Doohan read:
I took a look inside of the belly of the beast of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the other day. It was not a pretty sight. The pictures of men with their families, where you couldn’t tell his children from his wives, was very disturbing. I will never get those images out of mind, and I’m glad that there are none of those folks in our area. Even the main stream Mormon’s couldn’t make a foothold in our area. I think there’s a group holding meetings in a trailer somewhere, but for the most part, they are not a player in the salvation market here.
Another non-player in our area are the Scientologists. I think they tend to setup where there’s a preponderance of rich folks, and, who can blame them? The original premise for their religion came from a science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard. L. Ron posited that if a fellow really wanted to get rich in life, he’d start a religion. He wrote a book called, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” in 1952, that detailed his thinking about how people should live their lives. The book went into great detail about how people could psychoanalyze themselves and be able to cure themselves without the aid of doctors trained in the field. Mood altering drugs were not allowed, but it appears that mind altering drugs were. There were also people trained as “auditors”, who could help guide people in gaining “clarity”. The auditors would use something called an electropsychometer, or E-meter for short. The auditor would strap you into the E-meter and give you a reading about traumas you’ve experienced in this life, and previous ones, to help get you “clear”.
Obviously, the American Medical Authority was not happy about the Scientologists practicing medicine without a license, and they went after L. Ron and his followers. After Dianetics went into bankruptcy, L. Ron reformulated it as a religion called the Church of Scientology. With tax exempt status, and free from the attacks from the medical community, L.Ron was on his way to stardom. All he needed was a population looking for something other than a “traditional” religious experience, and he would have the road to riches paved for him. Turns out the road was paved in gold.
It’s easy to see how a science fiction writer could formulate a dialog of Creation that would blend in parts of science, and parts of fantasy, to make the Genesis appealing to people who were burned out on traditional religion. The story of Xenu, a tyrannical ruler of the “Galactic Confederacy”, who brought billions of people to Earth in spaceships 75 million years ago, is a pretty good start for a science fiction novel. Or a religion, apparently. It gets weirder from there, and I encourage further reading.
What is more interesting to me is that the Scientologists don’t seem to have a lot of moral scruples when confronted with opposition. “Do unto others as ye would have done unto you”, does not appear to be one of their tenets. There are a host of misdeeds and crimes listed on the internet for perusal. I think the attack on the IRS stands out the most to me. Maybe because it’s called the “Operation Snow White” affair, which conjures up Disney and Hollywood. A religion infiltrating the government is kind of science fiction stuff, but I guess it’s just the Scientologists getting back to their roots. They’d probably get Tom Cruise to play the lead in the movie, that is if they ever wanted the rest of the world to know what’s going on behind their closed doors. Sounds like a real Mission Impossible to me.
There are many lists of the famous Scientologists, and I guess there would be no reason to publish the non famous names. There is one name that jumps out past Tom Cruise and John Travolta to me, and that is Greta Van Susteren. I can see how a bunch of Hollywood types might get caught up in a foolish endeavor because it was trendy. I am surprised that a lawyer and journalist would not feel compelled to seek the truth about her religion. I guess, like they say, you just take some things on faith.
“Well, it’s not about us, so it’s a good column in my opinion”, said Elder Wiley as he handed the paper back to Elder Cheatum, “the young squire can continue to expose every religion in the world as far as I’m concerned, he just needs to leave us alone.”
“I hear you”, said Elder Cheatum, “I just don’t see how we’re going to get left out once we move into the Crystal Palace”.
“I’d consider bribery”, said Elder Diggum between mouthfuls,”I just don’t know if anybody knows who he is.” “I think Doohan is a nom de plume.”
“Well…. if we were considering bribery”, began Elder Wiley, “I bet somebody knows who he is.”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen”, interjected Elder Cheatum, “Such talk is disturbing, may I suggest that we adjourn to the parking lot?” “That is if Barry doesn’t require another hog to be butchered to slake his appetite for bacon.”
Elder Diggum carefully wrapped his side order of bacon in a napkin before putting it in his jacket pocket. Once in the parking lot, the Elders agreed to not get carried away by perceived threats, but only to respond to actual threats to their mission. The three best friends bid each other goodbye as they left to perform their ‘real’ professions. In less than eight hours they would be together again, conducting church business.