Reflections On “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”

I finally got around to watching Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, the HBO documentary about Scientology.  It was everything everyone said it was.  The truth really is stranger than fiction.  I’m not going to do a full review, there have been plenty of others, and the film is still too new in my head to give it any kind of overall analysis.  There are just a few quick points and questions I wanted to address:

  1.  Watching the movie you see an alternative reality, where people believe things that can only be described as batshit insane.  Yet, many of these people are highly functioning members of society.  What widely held beliefs do we hold in our society that appear absolutely ridiculous to those viewing us from afar?  I don’t mean ones that differ from other societies, there are plenty of those, but ones that are provably false, yet a great deal of Americans put faith in them.
  2. Many of the people interviewed, the high ranking former Scientologists, that now have retired from the church, look back upon their former life with disbelief.  If we were to be removed from our current station in life are there things that we would view as absurd?
  3. When something looks and feels like a propagandist rally, it probably is.  There are creepy spectacles where the leader of the modern church, David Miscavige, and Tom Cruise speak to a stadium full of people in tuxedos and ball gowns.  Fireworks go off, people wave flags, inspirational videos are shown.  It looks like a megachurch combined with a political party convention combined with a sports rally.  All of these things are things in which every day America people have to suspend disbelief to participate in.  Sure, a sports rally is largely harmless, but you are essentially pretending that the action on the field somehow matters in your life, which unless you have money on the game, it doesn’t.  I think the other two examples are self-explanatory.

My point is that the church of Scientology is ridiculously absurd.  But at the same time, it is just an exaggerated version of many of the things that inhabit everyday life.  In fact when compared to some of the televangelists that John Oliver recently spoofed, it really isn’t any more absurd.  People in this documentary do horrible things to other people in the name of belief.  So many of the ills of mankind are based on a belief of some kind, but because they are more accepted, are not recognized as absurd.  The prison of belief.  One of the things that makes the documentary so powerful is that it is explicitly about Scientology, but it is also implicitly about the way that people get carried away by belief.  I would bet that even those of us that think we have a realistic view of the world have some pretty ridiculous notions if we look hard enough.  Hopefully this documentary will make people look at their own lives and not just the lives of the freaks on view.  That being said, the things Scientologists believe in are really, really, really fucking insane!

True Detective On Religion

Ever since finishing True Detective Season 2 recently, I have been rewetting scenes from Season 1.  This is a great scene where the two main characters discuss religion and its role in society.  Even if you are not a fan of either season, there is a great philosophical discussion at the heart of this scene.

More Posts On True Detective Include: True Detective Season 2 Review

John Oliver Tonight: Televangelists

I spent last night catching up on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.  It’s consistently amazing.  Last night he took on televangelists, even going as far to create a tax-exempt organization in the name of “religion”.

I have seen some of these televangelists on TV late at night while I was out on tour.  They are even more unbelievable when you encounter them in their natural habitat, not expecting them, wondering if they are a parody.  In Oklahoma I saw like three of them on television in one night.  Holy shitballs!

More Posts On John Oliver Include: John Oliver On Torture

Mormon Church Releases Photos of “Scared Stone”

Mormon Church Releases First Photos of The “Sacred Stone”

 Mormons believe that 185 years ago, Smith found gold plates engraved with writing in ancient Egyptian in upstate New York. They say that God helped him translate the text using the stone and other tools, which became known as the Book of Mormon.

The Mormon Church has released, for the first time, photos of the stone that is mentioned in the above passage from the article I linked to.

I find these kinds of things humorous due to humanity’s sheer gullibility.  Once when I was in New Mexico I stopped off at El Santuario de Chimayo Shrine.  In a small Church in Chimayo, New Mexico, there is a room a sand (or dirt depending on how you look at it) pit is supposed to have healing properties. Of course I had to check it out on my way back to the airport from Taos on a trip I took with my girlfriend.  It’s a neat place to visit, just for the pure visual strangeness of the church.  There is a room full of baby shoes and some really violent crucifixion art as well!  The sand, even magical religious sand, surely doesn’t last forever.  While I was checking out the sacred sand, a noticed a janitor bringing a bucket in from outside.  When he saw people watching him, he quickly kicked the bucket under a table in the room.  I also enjoyed how they were selling containers for the sand in the gift shop, as a tourist item.  Religion will never pass up a chance to make a buck.  As a tourist destination it was a really neat place that I would recommend stopping at if you are headed that way, even if it falls extremely short in the realm of miracles.

More Posts On Religion Include:  Brendan Behan On Religion

More Posts On Religion Include: The Comedy of Religion


Pope Francis Condemns Corruption and Unbridled Capitalism

Pope Francis Condemns Corruption and Unbridled Capitalism

Pope Francis is truly a remarkable figure.  My favorite quote from the above Huffington Post article:

He urged politicians and business leaders “not to yield to an economic model which is idolatrous, which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit.”

I wish I had more to write, but I am somewhat speechless.  I’m extremely glad to see such a powerful figure speaking truth and standing up for human rights.  Statements like the above shouldn’t be surprising, it’s basic common sense, but unfortunately we live in a world where people all too often put money and profit above others.

George Carlin On Abortion

Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers.

In honor, no defiance, of the latest court ruling in Texas concerning Abortion clinics, here is George Carlin on abortions.  From his album Back in Town:

Why, why, why, why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place, huh? Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.
Conservatives don’t give a shit about you until you reach “military age”. Then they think you are just fine. Just what they’ve been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life… pro-life… These people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? What, they’ll do anything they can to save a fetus but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it’They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women.They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.
Pro-life… You don’t see many of these white anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do. And, you won’t see alot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, moraly committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a goddamn demonstration, didn’t they?! They knew how to put on a fucking protest. Light yourself on FIRE!! C’mon, you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke. To match that fire in your belly.
Here’s another question I have: how come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden? When did this happen, that we passed chickens in goodness? Name six ways we’re better than chickens… See, nobody can do it! You know why? ‘Cuz chickens are decent people. You don’t see chickens hanging around in drug gangs, do you? No, you don’t see a chicken strapping some guy to a chair and hooking up his nuts to a car battery, do you? When’s the last chicken you heard about came home from work and beat the shit out of his hen, huh? Doesn’t happen. ‘Cuz chickens are decent people.
But let’s get back to this abortion shit. Now, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say “we have two children and one on the way” instead of saying “we have three children?” People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along. Rolling, rolling, rolling along.
And say you know something? Listen, you can go back further than that. What about the carbon atoms? Hah? Human life could not exist without carbon. So is it just possible that maybe we shouldn’t be burning all this coal? Just looking for a little consistency here in these anti-abortion arguments. See the really hardcore people will tell you life begins at fertilization. Fertilization, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Which is usually a few moments after the man says “Gee, honey, I was going to pull out but the phone rang and it startled me.” Fertilization.
But even after the egg is fertilized, it’s still six or seven days before it reaches the uterus and pregnancy begins, and not every egg makes it that far. Eighty percent of a woman’s fertilized eggs are rinsed and flushed out of her body once a month during those delightful few days she has. They wind up on sanitary napkins, and yet they are fertilized eggs. So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who’s had more than more than one period is a serial killer! Consistency. Consistency. Hey, hey, if they really want to get serious, what about all the sperm that are wasted when the state executes a condemned man, one of these pro-life guys who’s watching cums in his pants, huh? Here’s a guy standing over there with his jockey shorts full of little Vinnies and Debbies, and nobody’s saying a word to the guy. Not every ejaculation deserves a name.
Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason, Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals?! Leave these fucking people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion! And the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion. And speaking of my friends the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Enlightening, too. But, in the meantime what they ought to be doing is telling these priests who took a vow of chastity to keep their hands off the altar boys! Keep your hands to yourself, Father! You know? When Jesus said “Suffer the little children come unto me”, that’s not what he was talking about!
So you know what I tell these anti-abortion people? I say “Hey. Hey. If you think a fetus is more important that a woman, try getting a fetus to wash the shit stains out of your underwear. For no pay and no pension.” I tell them “Think of an abortion as term limits. That’s all it is. Bioligical term limits.

Most Texas Abortion Clinics Likely to Close

Most Texas Abortion Clinics Likely to Close

Along with the article I posted before this one and others, there is all kinds of depressing news in Texas right now.  I find it despicable that others should be telling women what to do with their own bodies.  I don’t understand the mind frame of those in the power structure that want to control women, minorities, etc.  I mean I understand their goals, but I don’t understand the actual way their brains work, unless they are sociopaths.  Those without power who back them are depressingly comedic fools, clinging to nothing but illusion.  The urge to control others is in our society, in our makeup.  We must resist the urge if possible.

Scott Walker Wants to Amend Constitution to Allow Same Sex Marriage Bans

Scott Walker Wants to Amend Constitution to Allow Same Sex Marriage Bans

This is what the modern GOP has come to:  Wanting to amend the Constitution to actually deprive people of the pursuit of happiness.  All the meanwhile sliding money out the backdoor to multinational corporations.  This is backwoods barbarity combined with snake oil salesmanship.   They distract people from what is really destroying their quality of life with archaic notions of morality.  It’s cruel and stupid.  Don’t let them dupe you. Love is the only engine of our survival.   Only through kindness and tolerance can we move forward to better days. 

Gay Marriage Approved In Ireland

Ireland has just voted in favor of gay marriage.  This is a victory for sanity, dignity, and love.  Ireland, a country that was oppressed by the Church for many years, is now officially more progressive than parts of our country on this issue.  Although I know we will get there eventually, it is shameful that so many people here in the USA are still firmly rooted in the ideas of the past.  All sane people know that those who were against Civil Rights in the 60’s will look eternally foolish when remembered in history books.  So will those that oppose gay marriage now.  However, today is a day to celebrate.  Today brings the world one step closer to justice and equality.

The Pope On The Military Industrial Complex

The Pope On The Military Industrial Complex

From the article at Daily Kos

Pope Francis said Monday that “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war”. The Argentine pontiff made the hard-hitting comment in response to a question from one of the 7,000 children taking part in an audience held with the Peace Factory organisation. “This is serious,” Francis told the children.

“Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms.

“It’s the industry of death”.

Pope Francis has said so many things that make sense.  Although I’m not joining anytime soon, or any other religious organization, he has made me think of the Catholic Church in a new light.  Although I know there are still views that he has that I don’t agree with, he seems by and large a true force for good, someone that is striving for economic justice, environmental sanity, and peace.

A note to people of other sects and faiths:  If you want to be taken seriously outside of your bubble of fellow believers, do things in the name of your religion that actually bring about a better world.

Why should it be that Pope Francis seems to tower above so many religious leaders?  Why is it such a shock that an extremely high ranking religious leader is actually standing against so many of the things that cause human suffering?