Show of hands who can’t tell that Tom Cruise has replaced his long time publicist with a new one: his sister. Just as I thought. Even if you didn’t know what was up, precisely, you knew that something was up, and it stank worse than shoes after a marathon.
Seriously, the display Tom presented on Oprah, earlier this year, had a lot of those former teeny-bopper groupies (many of whom I went to school with), who had been able to ignore the homosexuality jokes, the short jokes and the Tooth jokes, wincing and carefully burning those old Top Gun posters. And I can’t blame them a bit.
I never had a Tom Cruise fascination. When reflecting on Top Gun, I liked Val Kilmer’s Iceman: cool, competent, deadly. That’s what I want in my pilots. Maverick paved the way for hundreds of idiot role-players to be the modern era Han Solo. Rakish, good with women, and … sorry, I’m gagging over here. Lesbian or not, Tom Cruise is a short egomaniacal twit. By the way, Napoleon was 5’8″, and in his era was considered quite tall.
Scientology aside for the moment, and oh yes, I plan on getting back to that, Tom is creeping the hell out of people. First of all, no one who hasn’t given birth gets any room to talk about if Post Partum is real or not. I don’t have the background to talk about it in detail, but I have a brain. Thinking about it logically, you have a whole other person carried around inside you for 10 months or so, and then they’re out on their own? Everyone, sit back and remember when you left home (for good, for college, whatever) and how it felt. Scary, a little, for you and your parents/guardians. They were letting you go. It’s probably just as bad.
Now, of course, I expect Tom to rant about how Empty Nest Syndrome isn’t real either.
Whether or not these are real diseases isn’t the point. They are felt by people who, after a while, realize they need help and they get it. Brooke Shields took anti-depressants. While I don’t like the use of drugs to control emotion, I can see their point as a way to help get you on an even enough keel that you can start taking care of yourself. I’m not a big proponent of psychopharmaceuticals, but they have their place.
If you’re not a doctor and you’re not a mother, you don’t get to decide what’s right or wrong, regarding how someone feels after their baby’s born. So lay the fuck off Brooke Shields, Tom.
The only people I see backing Tom up about that are his co-stars, and I think we can rest assured knowing they do that to win a buck in the box office.
I’m going to drop back and point out the fact that Tom and I are both against the over use of prescription medication in people today. Yes, I think it’s a bad thing, and I wish more people could find help other ways, or that more doctors used a mix of the drugs and therapy, to help people be themselves. But for every moderation there are the extremes, and I support doctors like my Uncle Arthur doing what they can to help. After all, they’re doctors. They’ve been trained to do that sort of thing. I’ve been trained on computers, writing and anthropology with a paltry two years of college under my belt. Tom? Dropped out of Franciscan seminary school and went to NYC at 18.
Tom’s also a member of the Church of Scientologist.
I’m going to be a little careful in what I right, since Scientology has a rather offensive defense to things. I’m not attacking anyone, but I want to point out why I don’t fancy Scientology. I also oppose some tenets of the Church of Scientology.
Okay, the first thing I need to say about Scientology is that it is a made up religion. L. Ron Hubbard wrote about Dianetics in the 1940s, and in 1949 his stories about it were published in a magazine called Astounding Science Fiction. Now, there are opposing arguments about why he did this. On one hand, Hubbard had been rather unsuccessful at getting the book published and getting any interest in it from medical professionals. Obviously, the need to make a buck overrode any possible ‘this is just for religion’ thoughts at the time. On the other, he saw this as a way to get his word out there. Given that one of the first books published by machine was the Guttenberg Bible (the first was a school book in Latin), I think we can say that this sort of thing happens a lot. Money for G-d and all that.
And the word was that inside all people is an immortal spirit called a thetan and a lesser sort of genetic entity. The thetan has lived many past lives, which can cause problems in the present day by remembering things that didn’t happen to your genetic entity. The thetans, and there are levels to this, and most of their details are kept secret. The most well known story about they is that of Xenu, a galactic tyrant who was the Hitler of 75 million years ago, blowing up billions of people by stacking their frozen bodies around volcanoes and then blowing them up with an H bomb. On top that that, he brainwashed them with a 3D movie for over a month. The surviving thetans surrounded humans (75 million years ago) and acted as spiritual parasites. They’re called Body Thetans and can only be removed by Scientology, which is indeed the mission of Scientology.
One could argue that all religions are made up. The most well known example of that would be the Anglican Church, which we all know was created so Henry VII could divorce his wife. It’s been tradition for years to, if you disagree with the teachings of one church or sect of your religion, and enough other people agree with you, to split off and make your own. And by in large, we’re all okay with that. Just don’t get me started on Jews for Jesus.
What makes Scientology different? Why do people lambaste it and fear it and loathe it? To a degree it’s because Scientology scares us. It’s different, and different things mean a change for the status quo and that makes the majority of Americans uneasy. Just look at how they freak about gay marriage. It’s a change.
Last night I watched The Truman Show and I said to Ipstenit that Truman had to be some sort of an idiot not to notice things for years. She smiled at me and said “A lot of people accept the reality that’s been given to them.” She’s very right. We’re handed a reality by our parents and teachers, and we’re taught to accept it. One plus one is two. That’s real because we all believe it. Because the symbol for one and one objects is two (2). It’s that way because of consensual reality. Not to get all philosophical on you.
Let me take a moment to speak of a made up religion that involved an impending war. The founder of this religion was so concerned about this war, than he took efforts to make sure it happened when he was ready for it so that he could protect his followers. He said that war was immanent, and the next one would be as large as “all the wars that have ever been fought, piled on top of each other.” He offered to lead his people to safety in the desert, and prepared by stocking up food and supplies to wait out the war. After a time, he started to say that the war was not beginning as planned, and he would have to teach people how to start it.
His name was Charles Manson.
Manson’s religion, The Family, was scary as all fuck, and not just because he got his followers to kill people (though that helped, I’m sure). His methodology was well chosen to induct people. When you joined, you gave up all your money, any photos you had of your family was destroyed, your personal items like clothes were shared out to everyone. In a peculiar way, it acted like a Kibbutz, or communal living, except that on the Kibbutz, you shared. For Manson, things were taken from you. It’s a thin distinction, but it’s one of the most important. Children were also taken away so they could be raised free of the ego of the parent. On the outset, that’s a good idea on many levels. Then you can no longer contact your previous life. It’s over.
Slightly similarly, Scientology asks that you sever all contact with people who don’t believe you about (or at least respect your views on) Scientology. This is called Disconnection. Now, this is only to happen in severe circumstances. There are also claims of brain washing.
I’d like to call your attention to a young woman, raised a strict Catholic. She was well known actor, and had just moved to a big city. On a certain day, she was seen at a Broadway play. Three days later, she went to a charity event. Another three days and she went to a concert. Then she vanished for 16 days, during which time she fired her manager and agent, both of whom had been with her for years. The next thing anyone heard about her was from her newly minted boyfriend, who was jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch, declaring his love for her. Katie Holmes, for it is she, dumped her childhood friend, not an actor, from her circle of friends and replaced her with the daughter of a Scientologist. Katie’s claimed that her favorite actor as a young girl was Tom Cruise. Thanks to the power of the internet, we can tell you that her fan sites have claimed, since Dawson’s Creek was new, that she idolized Tom Hanks.
The Saga of Katie is disturbing when looked at from that angle, and it should be, just as we should fear the tale of and feel sorry for Paulette Cooper. When people make a complete personality switch like that, we’re raised not to think of it as normal. Are we wrong? Possibly, but evolution is made of small, tiny changes that grow to affect the whole. The same, logically, should be said of our personalities. When Ipstenit and I started becoming more religious, we decided to take baby steps. As a whole, changing your view on the world is daunting and overwhelming. But one step at a time, well. Anyone can handle that.
So what, specifically, do I stand in opposition with, in regards to Scientology? In a word: Narconon.
To quote Tom Cruise, “Scientology [has] … the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world .. called Narconon.” The day he said that, you could hear the whiplash from places like Betty Ford. Narconon (don’t confuse it with Narcanon, aka Narcotics Anonymous) is Scientology’s rehabilitation and learning program.
Narconon delivers a “New Life Program,” consisting for a detoxification and rehabilitation stage, complete with heavy doses of niacin, vitamins, exercise and sauna treatments. Taken as an exercise regime, it doesn’t seem so bad, but the effect is that of breaking down your willpower and ability. Narconon is highly controversial, and many medical associations deem it dangerous. Their use of the theories of drug metabolism is often noted, primarily I feel because it’s still a theory. Narconon cites a 70% success rate. An independent, Swedish research study came up with 7%.
After Tom’s little comment, the American Psychiatric Association turned their phasers to kill. They started with the obvious, calling Tom “irresponsible [...] to use his movie publicity tour to promote his own ideological views and deter people with mental illness from getting the care they need.” Even if you admit, as you should, that doctors still aren’t 100% sure what causes many mental illnesses, you can’t agree that Narconon is the only effective treatment.
By the way, Tom used Narconon to determine that he doesn’t actually have dyslexia, and he never did. Thanks.
I can hear a few of my teachers screaming. His too, probably.
Niacin, which they use to treat people, is also known as vitamin B3, and was originally discovered from the oxidation of nicotine. A small deficiency in it can slow the metabolism, resistance to cold, and cause you to gain weight. I’m assuming that Narconon gives you niacin based on some reading I did, but I couldn’t get a clear answer. Niacin acts as a vasodilator, or a substance that causes blood vessels in the body to become wider by relaxing the smooth muscle in the vessel wall. This can lower your blood pressure and reduce pressure around a clot. In large quantities, it also makes your skin flush (a lot, think sunburn) and itch, and makes for a gastric adventure. Vitamin B3 is used in the treatment of mental illnesses by Orthomoleculars (a medical practice similar to homeopathy, based on the use of vitamins and such).
I should note that Orthomolecular medicine is, as of yet, an unproven theory, and it’s well documented that high doses of certain vitamins can be toxic and cause other problems. Most conventional (Western) doctors will tell you that a balanced diet is a better idea.
Does it seem a little hypocritical, by the way, that these anti-drug, anti-psychiatry Narcononists are okay with niacin? Maybe their just against anything but their drugs and brand of psychiatry. They would probably argue that since niacin is found in the body, it’s a natural treatment. Taken at face value, everything created on Earth is natural, unless someone’s secretly found a way to create matter from nothing, and if so, there’s a Noble prize waiting, or at least, James Randi would throw a cool million their way. Not to mention poor Hubbard was addicted to mood stabilizing drugs near the end of his days.
By the way, I don’t actually like those 12-step programs like AA and NA and such, even when done at the Betty Ford Clinic. While they may work for some people, the ones I know who’ve gone through it (and are willing to talk about it) say that the 12-step system breaks you down. The fact that one of the tenants to AA is that you understand your addiction isn’t your fault makes my eyes cross. Surfing the internet will find you dozens of sites about how AA doesn’t work, same with Narnocon. Oddly, I didn’t find anything anti-Betty Ford, though they’re very pro 12-step.
Is Scientology a religion? By the basest description of a religion (the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance), yes. It’s also a bit of a hoax, but the two aren’t opposing forces. Australia, who does recognize it as a religion, puts it best: “Charlatanism is a necessary price of religious freedom, and if a self-proclaimed teacher persuades others to believe in a religion which he propounds, lack of sincerity or integrity on his part is not incompatible with the religious character of the beliefs, practices and observances accepted by his followers.”
But just because I acknowledge and support everyone’s right to believe in what they want to believe in doesn’t make me like them.
With his disturbingly large fan base, I imagine Tom Cruise will alienate people. Anyone doing a Google on Scientology will hit Operation Clambake as their second hit and maybe, hopefully, they’ll look at all that too.
Thanks to the Internet, more people have access to more information, and lying to people becomes harder and harder. Secrets are secrets anymore, and someone will post the information to their blog, to use net, to Wikipedia, and within an hour, everyone else will hear about it. I hope this means more people will find themselves quoting Eddie Izzard quoting Martin Luther, when they read about Scientology: “Eine Minute, bitte.”
After I wrote this, I read the following: Katie Holmes keeps trying to phone her ex sweetie, Chris Klein, but he’s so annoyed by the calls that he’s changed his number, according to US Weekly.
Second thoughts, Katie?