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Scientology and Christianity

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It was yesterday eve whilst I was listening to the new System of a Down album that an acquaintance of mine came up to me. This acquaintance began (rather randomly I might state) by saying how he had previously viewed Tom Cruise as a decent, fun-loving, and easy-going kind of guy, but now, he says, it turns out he’s into all that Scientology crap. He then goes on to say what a load of nonsense it is and that he has lost any hitherto existent respect for Mr Cruise.

Knowing this acquaintance’s religious disposition I reply the following: “Sure Scientology is just as valid as Christianity, is it not?” This only led him to strenuous denial and weak attempts to justify an absent rationality.

“Hey as long as they’re happy participating, and it is doing no harm to anyone else, then who’s to negate them that?” His ingrained narrow-minded stubbornness would, however, not be breeched, no matter what logic I could lather upon him.

This leads me to postulate that there is a great hypocritical irreverence aimed at Scientology from many fronts, the sort of irreverence that might be best pointed inward. I am mainly speaking in respect to organised religion here. I don’t mean to single out Christianity from the cauldron here, but do so because of its hegemonic status in the west and (in many ways a corollary of that) I am more knowledgeable about it than others.

Why is Scientology just as valid (or invalid) as Christianity?

One of the criticisms aimed towards Scientology from a Christian standpoint (and I’ve witnessed this) is that it is wrong because it doesn’t follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Surely it doesn’t take a huge step into the objective to realise that the simple reply from a Scientologist here is that Christianity is wrong because it doesn’t follow the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. Simple my word against yours conundrum here.

Scientology contains similar elements of abstract mysticism present in Christianity. Scientologists believe they are spiritual beings, and that life does not end at death, just like the Christian conceptualisation of an afterlife. (You could say that both are ostentatious enough to call themselves immortal.)

Does the short lifetime of Scientology make it invalid? Well Christianity had to begin some time; it was young once too. Is Christianity more valid because it has been around for a duo of millennia? Does this train of thought lead to a hierarchy of validity based on time? Does that make ancient Greek religions more valid than Christianity?

You could argue that Christianity has a good message and it is beneficial to live your life by its values. To believe that entire sentence would be highly erroneous, but I will admit that the life of Jesus is surely a moralistic, righteous one that I wouldn’t castigate anyone for following fully and properly. (Although could the same not be said for honourable fictional characters such as Batman?). Scientology also has many principled facets such as the belief that all people are good and only certain aberrations leads them away from that point; this is basically a mass equality idea.

The main argument against Scientology is to do with the fact that a lot of celebrities enlist themselves into the doctrine and spend huge amounts of their huge amounts of money on it. Again, going back to an earlier postulation, if it makes them happy who cares? Let me highlight an example of the double standards here by stating one word: consumerism. I may go out and purchase a DVD; it’s not necessary to my survival, but I give money for it, and it makes me happy to have it and to watch it. Is this not the same thing as the financial exchange for mental beatitude present in Scientology?

What’s that? Scientology is a corrupt unethical entity just out for people’s money? How’s that make it different from corporations? Is Scientology different because it advertises itself as a non-profit organisation? Perhaps it’s just the same as corporations advertising their products as necessary and beneficial when they clearly are not?

Scientology also has the dogma of abstinence that Christianity is well known for. For one it is very vocal on the subject of drugs and their iniquitousness. Funnily enough this is in direct contradiction with the Scientology ideas on freedom; I quote the following from the official Scientology website: “Through Scientology, people all over the world are achieving the long-sought goal of true spiritual release and freedom.” Freedom to take as many drugs as they possibly can take?

Well my comparison wouldn’t be complete without the elucidation of doctrinal contradictions now would it.

How about the sources of each religion’s belief system? The Scientology ‘bible’ is of course L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics, published in 1950. Does it have more validity than a book that has been constantly revised and interpreted for over a thousand years, and even whose origins are highly open to question?

Now don’t go thinking I’m some Scientologist now. I’m nothing of the sort; I’m just trying to raise a few questions. In fact I view the religion as nothing more than a fallacious cult that only reinforces mystical faiths in a world overrun with them. But I do contend that its chastisement from Christianity is extremely hypocritical and that the argument thrown towards Scientology would be better served directed inward coupled with an open-mind.

For more meanderings visit Generic Mugwump.
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About Aaron Fleming

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Both are belief systems that make sense only in the frame of reference of the believer.

    Scientology is closer to the dualist forms of Christianity than the current version, call it v2.0, or more likely v1234124.432452.234543.43543

  • Alethinos

    There is no “versus” here. Scientology is a joke. I believe in a speech good old L. Ron made about 5 years before he founded this thing: (paraphrase) “If you really want power and money start a religion.” If I remember correctly he made the speech at a Science Fiction Conference…

    Scientology lacks any proof of a genuine spiritual movement.

    Alethinos

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    But surely the proof is that folks are, indeed, getting closer to whatever it is they think they want to find, no? If it’s helping folks, like Sir Fleming states in this wonderful article, then most likely the sentiments of Ron himself mean next to nothing.

    I was reading Last Temptation Of Christ last night, and the bit that always sticks with me is when, in the midst of the dream sequence at the end, Saul / Paul arrives at Jesus’ home telling him all about this great revealtion he had, the son of man calling to him on yonder road. Jesus gets all upset at this, “lies!” he shouts, and Saul counters with talk along the lines of “I don’t care WHO you are, what matters is what you mean for people, and if i have to crucify you and ressurect you to keep that meaning alive, thats what i’ll do.”

    Obviously i’m just flingin the jist out there, no direct quote or nothin. But it always gets me thinkin how the actuality of these organised religions or whatever name they wanna adopt, how it matters little. If folks are getting what they need from it, then fine, let them get it, i say. Unless there’s bloodshed or hurt being inflicted on the practictioners as part of the doctrine, well, then i’m all for it. let them have their chant-fests, if it makes them better people.

    Again, great article, man.

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    Thanks Duke.

    Alethinos – the ‘versus’ was actually a Blogcritics editorialisation and not my original title, it has subsequently been altered.
    But you speak of ‘proof’? There is no ‘proof’ in faith, that is the underlining problem. In fact the lack of proof, the mystery, often only accentuates the faith.
    You’re right, Scientology lacks any hint of rational thinking in it’s mysticism, but so does Christianity. That’s the point in case you missed it.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    very interesting.

    one strange thing contradiction about scientology (and i’ve brought it up before) is that though they’re very strongly against ‘drugs’, many of them are heavily into smoking cigarettes.

    kinda weird if ya ask me.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Scientology also thinks Kirstie Alley might be a good idea- not sure what The Bible has to say on the subject.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    DJ, the Bible, if i recall, makes it clear that Look Who’s Talking Too is a masterpiece. Moses dug it, i’d wager. but plenty gnashing when the one with the dogs arrived.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Now, you forgot about the passage in Leviticus:

    “Consider my servent Shelly Long, for she is worthy.”

    I think The Bible takes a dim view of Kirsty Alley. You must be thinking of Edwin Moses.

  • http://www.dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    I think Sir Fleming raises some good points. However, I basically get the creeps when I think of Scientology. I think of L.Ron Hubbard’s claims about humans being abducted and having false memories implanted — well, hard to take it seriously as a religion. Sure, some could say that claims of a man obviously dead rising again a couple days later are a bit ‘out-there’ as well. But what also bothers me is the whole secrecy thing. Much like the Masons, in that certain things cannot be revealed until someone reaches a certain ‘cleared’or higher status – ick. Spare me. (of course, the Masons are not calling Freemasonry a religion, but rather a fraternal order)

    Also, Seems to me that Katie Holmes seemed to turn a bit robotic once she got with Tommy boy

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Katie Holmes’ acting always seemed robotic.

  • Mary K. Williams

    “Katie Holmes’ acting always seemed robotic”

    Actually DJ – kind of funny you say that. I was watching her recently in that movie where she is the president’s daughter..and I kept thinking how she wasn’t really all that good. Oh she’s very likable. I Do like her, she’s cute as a damn button. But like on Dawsons’ Creek – which I enjoy – you still have to wonder.. could HS kids really be all that …smart/cute/hip/
    I never had great dialogue like that when I was in HS. : ) (I still don’t)

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    i useta like dawson’s creek until somebody made mention of the fact that james vanderbeek’s head was too big for his body.

    ruined the whole thing for me.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Never watched an episode of “DC” on account of I was well out of high school and just didn’t give a fuck bout the trials and tribulations of teenage angst and shit. Same reason I didn’t watch “Beverly Hills 902dumb0″ or “My So-Called Life” or any such silly shit.

    I think Katie Holmes projects a nice enough persona but she doesn’t seem to have any real chops as an actress.

  • Alethinos

    Can Scientology “explain” Katie Holmes? No! But I believe the Bible can: “Suffer the superficial, the ‘pretty ones’ the untalented, the uber-untalented, to come unto ET or EXTRA and do enough photo shoots and LO! they shall appear to have some cachet, which will wisely be used by their hyena PR folk to propel them to the next photo op…”
    (Duderwherarodomy 4:11)

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    I must say I found Katie Holmes very wooden in Batman Begins.

  • Alethinos

    Yes Aaron, and that’s after they spent hours trying to “loosen” her up with a superior quality leather oil…

    Alethinos

  • http://www.gschoppe.com/ Greg Schoppe

    The main issue is that Scientology shows some extremely frightening faces that I have not seen recently in other religions.

    a. they threaten/sue anyone who mentions anything about them, even if its public knowledge

    b. they pass off scientific instuments as Mystical objects… e.g. the simple polygraph they claim measures your spirit, or such crap

    c. they don’t let you out. celebrities get blacklisted if they try to leave.

    There is a proffessor, David Turretski, at my university (CMU) who suffers an amazing amount of abuse from scientology for a website he keeps.

    I’m not even getting into the fact that if was publically recognized by L Ron Hubbard himself as having been created as a tax shelter.

    There is no comparison… if I wanted to make people pay to be in a secret organization that believes eating live cats is the way to salvation, I hope no one would compare that to Christianity. There are some belief systems that you can dismiss out of hand. Scientology is one of them. I’d argue Christianity is not.

  • http://www.midnitcafe.blogspot.com Mat Brewster

    I must say I found Katie Holmes very wooden in Batman Begins.

    And I must say I get a little wooden every time I see Katie Holmes. Yowza!

    I’m sorry, really I am.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    THAT was awesome, Brewster. This conversation almost flowed back to Sir Fleming’s points and we can’t have that when we could instead be talking about woodenness.

  • Alethinos

    Well DJ there are times when the audience is funnier than the act – or more interesting… You can’t take Scientology seriously… Or Katie H. Or Mat popping a woody at Katie… Or…

    Alethinos

  • Mary K. Williams

    “they don’t let you out. celebrities get blacklisted if they try to leave.”

    this also sounds like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Greg. Scary stuff.

    I belonged to a group in the past that since has been called a ‘cult’. It was supposed to be a Christian group, but there was some weird shit going on. Ahh, college life.

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    “Well DJ there are times when the audience is funnier than the act – or more interesting”

    Haha, thanks man for the vote of confidence.

  • DJRadiohead

    Sir Fleming, I think you are riotously funny. I just liked Mat’s flamboyant use of woodenness.

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    Mary – why do you make the distinction between a Christian group and a cult?

    Christianity is in-grained in our (western) societal cultural as normal, and it’s those other entities that are labelled as ‘other’, ‘different’, and viewed negatively (as they usually should be, but not at the expense of ignoring the ‘faith’ right in front of us).

    And I found Mr Brewster’s comment a laugh riot also (and certainly wouldn’t disagree with his sentiments).

  • Alethinos

    Oh Aaron don’t go getting your panties in a twist… No one takes Scientology seriously! It’s even more ridiculous than AM-WAY and that’s saying something. It has nothing to do with Christianity being “ingrained” at all. There is NO spiritual energy in Scientology. It is – quite literally – a CULT of PERSONALITY.

    When you have Tom Cruise glaring at Matt L on the TODAY SHOW and proclaiming himself to be the end all expert in matters of the mind… Well… It makes the ‘couch” incident pale by comparison…

    Don’t get me wrong – I am not a defender of Christianity wholesale. Jesus Christ’s message is the key there – but Lord knows the “religion” that sprang up around that message was and is terribly flawed in certain areas…

    Alethinos

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    You’re right Alethinos. And don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t defend Scientology for a second, of course it is indeed mystical absurdity.

    “There is NO spiritual energy in Scientology.”

    Fair enough, but you’d have to agree that replacing Scientology with Christianity in this context would also be acceptable.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    I don’t honestly know if the story is true or not, but an account I heard was that Scientology arose out of a bet that Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubberd had back int he 50’s on how difficult it was to create your own religion….Scientology was the result and Hubbard was so successful that it eventually turned around and, well, for lack of a better term, ate him.

  • Mary K. Williams

    “Mary – why do you make the distinction between a Christian group and a cult?”

    Aaron, I’m sorry, I’m not really sure how to answer, I don’t quite understand your question.

    All I was saying that all this talk of religion, fringe or otherwise, reminded me that I was involved in a cult when I was in college. I hadn’t thought about that in a while. I joined because I thought it was going to be involving bible study – which it did. It was set forth as a Christian org, it wasn’t until later that I found out it was a lot more shady than I knew.

    lemme know if you have other questions

  • http://www.midnitcafe.blogspot.com Mat Brewster

    I just liked Mat’s flamboyant use of woodenness.

    You should see me on a Saturday night with a bottle of tequilla. Talk about flamboyant use of woodenness.

  • Alethinos

    Aaron, the proof is in the pudding. Setting aside the harm that is done in ANY major religion by zelots… The life that Christ led has inspired hundreds of millions of humans to better themselves and the world around them. The same can be said for Moses and Jews and yes, Mohammad and and Muslims, Buddha and Buddhists, Krishna and Hindus, Baha’u’llah and Baha’is, those that follow the old ways among the Native Americans (where I’ve spent many of my years) and so forth.

    There is a MORAL FORCE there that has a life of its own. Scientology is lacking this. It is no better, certainly, than a charasmatic “club”. Occasionally you might hear of one of it’s rich, celebrity adherents doing some good deed – but that’s about it.

    This was my point. Does that clarify it?

    Alethinos

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    Alethinos – perhaps I am focusing too much on the negative aspects of religiosity, and your point is indeed clarified, I get what you mean.

    Interesting, moral force, this is something I will ponder. Although negativity such as abstinence has at least a balancing effect on those perceived virtues.

    Mary – your language gave me the impression you were thinking along the lines of “here’s Christianity and here’s cults”, separate like. I would argue otherwise, although there are varying levels of harmfulness. Being involved in cults ain’t a good thing, but at least it can provide some humorous stories in the future.

  • Mary K. Williams

    “your language gave me the impression you were thinking along the lines of “here’s Christianity and here’s cults”, separate like”

    OK Aaron, I think I understand your question. Yeah, I happen to think of them seperate, because my own personal experience, outside of that couple months in The Way International, is that Christianity is a Good Thing, And Cults are Not. What can I say, it’s what I know.

    However I will freely admit that many beliefs spring up under the guise of Christianity that are – at the very least, questionable. From the hard line stance on certian issues that the Catholic Church takes – to the more bizarre and scary shit of Fred Phelps school of poison, or the strange practices of the Jehoviah’s Witnesses – I can see why folks might not want to embrace Christianity.

    As far as involvement in cults, for me (even though I do have a sense of humor, and try to see the humor in everything, cuz if you don’t you’ll go mad)it’s much more sad than humorous.

    Religion is such a touchy subject eh? When can we talk about sex?

    : )

  • Alethinos

    Aaron… What I was suggesting here, in rather quick, terse language – a fault of mine – is that DESPITE the evils DONE in the name of religion, the SPIRITUAL MESSAGE is an amazing, powerful and moving force – “moving” in the sense of a extra-dimensional power.

    ON the other hand… I am all for ANY movement if it truly helps another human being BE a better human being. Scientology seems to have done this for some people.

    I would suggest to them though that it isn’t the end all… Spiritual growth in infinite.

    Aaron, you’ve been amazingly patient and a good sport! I look forward to your other posts!

    Alethinos

  • Mary K. Williams

    “the SPIRITUAL MESSAGE is an amazing, powerful and moving force – “moving” in the sense of a extra-dimensional power.”

    Yeah, what Alethinos said. : )

  • Mary K. Williams

    oh and yeah, Sir Flemming is being a super good sport.

  • http://www.genericmugwump.blogspot.com/ Aaron Fleming

    Ah Alethinos I think we’re coming together on this one here. I agree there can be that spiritual message that can result in a form of good, and for personal self-fulfilment in any movement.

    But I think it comes down to a simple difference of opinion, I don’t think people should kid themselves with any kind of mysticism (Scientology, Christianity or whatever). But that’s just my view and I respect yours.

    Mary – the definition of the word cult warrants it’s own thesis, personal experience excluded.

  • Mary K. Williams

    “Mary – the definition of the word cult warrants it’s own thesis”

    You are right Sir Flemming. And you’re just the one to do it!