I watched HBO’s documentary, ‘Going Clear’, the other day and have since developed a strange fixation with the ‘religion’ otherwise known as Scientology. My interests do not lie in the spiritual, self-help virtues promoted by this organisation, nor in joining Scientology itself, but rather in the morbid, potentially dangerous aspects involved when conjoining what this documentary characterises as a ‘cult’.
I entered the Celebrity Headquarters yesterday at around 2:00pm. The building itself is an impressive structure. If it weren’t for the massive plaques plastered on the granite facade, it could quite easily be mistaken for a 5 star hotel. The hallways are outfitted with elegant oriental runners, ornate chandeliers and vintage wallpaper. Even in spite of the upscale architecture, I felt an unsettling presence come over me, as though I was being watched closely. I could feel its associates out of my peripherals, sizing me up as though I was fresh meat.
I was greeted by what looked to be a butler, a mid 40’s gaunt looking man, who possessed this disquieting, robotic demeanour. He grinned at me, somewhat sinisterly and said in an overzealous tone, “Welcome to the Celebrity Center, sir. Would you like a tour?”
I accepted the offer. The man told me to wait here, and proceeded up the staircase. Not being able to contain myself, I began exploring. There were shrines of L. Ron Hubbard’s book, “Dianetics”, colossal posters promoting their version of the 10 to 20 something commandments, and a footpath that eventually led me to a small tabletop, upon which Hubbard’s “E-meter” sat; a device that I will otherwise refer to as “the tin cans”. I picked up the cans and began pressing buttons, spinning knobs, listening to see if I could hear the ocean, all of which went unappreciated by the tour guide who miraculously appeared behind me out of left field. Without speaking a word, she yanked the tin cans from my hands and asked me to follow her.
I was led into a common room with a large flat screen TV. There was another man present promoting “Dianetics” to who looked to be two new visitors to the Celebrity Center. She immediately asked them to leave. She handed me a small spreadsheet that asked for all my personal information and my interests in Scientology. I took the sheet, filled out a bunch of phoney information, stating that I have never heard of Scientology before in my life, that I was fascinated by the building and wandered in.
She put on an introductory film for me to view. As the film began to play, I noticed that she had plopped down at a computer station behind me and was plugging all my information into the system. The filmed continued, showcasing testimonials about how Scientology saved their lives. I wasn’t really paying attention to the video. My primary focus was on the guide and their computer data base.
When the film wrapped she led me down a series of hallways, paying homage to Hubbard and his great achievements over the years, ultimately ending at the tin cans. I took the light weight cans in my hand. They felt like some cheap, Cracker Jack toy for toddlers. I smirked at her. “You mean to tell me these are going to define all my life’s problems?”
She ignored my sarcastic remark and asked me to think about a life event that was troublesome and traumatic. I thought about my dog, ‘Blue’ chasing squirrels. The needle pulsed. “That right there! What were you thinking about?!” I told her I was recalling the times in high school, getting bullied in lunch rooms and beaten up at school. She asked me to dig deeper. I thought about Blue humping my neighbours’ dogs along with any female I have ever invited to my house. The needle pulsed violently. “That right there! What was that?!” I told her about the times I was sexually abused as a child and how difficult my life has become. She took the cans and asked me to come with her.
She led me into a small 8×8 cube like room, outfitted with 2 chairs and a coffee table. She sat me down across from her. Another woman entered the room to offer me coffee. Just cream, I said. She left. There I sat, across from the tour guide in solitude, confined by the daunting walls of a room that resembled an asylum holding cell. She looked at me as though I was some poor troubled soul, easy for the plucking. She handed me a few dopey pamphlets and explained their educational courses to enlightenment. Telling me that by becoming one of them, and following this 12…20 step program I could rid myself of the demonic entities unnaturally present in my being and therefore achieve the state of “clear”, and the first step was to sign up for these 3 introductory level courses for a nominal fee of $500.
I sat in silence for several moments, put my finger to forehead as though I was pondering deep thoughts. After several moments I spoke. “You mean to tell me that I give you money and you make my problems go away?” She beat around the bush for several moments and formulated some half-assed analogy that basically stated exactly that. “Okay” I said, followed by another long pause. I could almost see the sweat dripping down her temples. “Well, I’m gonna have to take a day or two to think about this”. She immediately blurted out, “Think about what?! You have nothing to think about until you take the courses!” and continued with some nonsensical banter about why we needed to “get me paid” so I can be on my way to enlightenment.
This continued for at least another 30 minutes. I could feel her frustration growing due to my unwillingness to cough up the money. “You have heard something about us…haven’t you?” she asked in an accusatory tone. I could almost cut the tension with a knife. The woman from before entered with the coffee, handed it to me and left. I took a long haul from the cup. It was lukewarm but I gave the indication that “this is a damn good cup of coffee.” I smiled and kicked my legs up on the coffee table. I could tell she was eagerly awaiting my response.
“As a matter of fact…I have heard something about you guys.” She shifted uncomfortably in her chair and began scratching her neck, fidgeting left and right. “I sensed that this was the case. That’s fine. I want you to tell me everything you know. Everything.” I took another long sip from the cup, smacked my chops and said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I heard that you guys are a cult.”
Her eyes widened. “I heard that you guys are a big financial shake down, and that you try and tap into peoples darkest secrets and use this information to blackmail people if they try to leave.” There was a long silence.
She forced out this maniacal, ear piercing laughter. “What?! Don’t be ridiculous!” she cackled. “Oh yes…” I replied. “I should also mention that I have seen the HBO documentary… ‘Going Clear’, was it?” She then proceeded down this 30 minute rant about how everything in the documentary was false, even though she admitted to not having seen it, and concluded by forcefully encouraging that I pay her the money and take the courses to find out for myself.
After over an hour of being confined to this small room, listening to her unrelenting banter, I began to feel truly uncomfortable and said I needed to be on my way, that I have my dog waiting in the car and I needed to check up on him. She stood up and said “I’ll walk you to your car and direct you to our private parking lot where you can keep him in the shade.” It was at this point that I truly realised these people are off their fucking rocker and will do anything to turn a buck. Annoyed, yet intrigued by her desperation, I agreed. She followed me out to my car and directed me to the parking lot.
I drove around the back and saw her anxiously awaiting me at the entrance of the parking lot. It was when I pulled up to the driveway that she caught a glimpse of my shit-box car. It took her a minute to recognise me, as though she was expecting a Porsche or Lamborghini. I watched her heart sink, in thinking that I was some high roller based on my blazer and shoes. Sorry to disappoint you, lady, I thought to myself with a magnificent shit eating grin on my face. I rattled into the parking spot. I could taste her embarrassment. She had the VIP section blocked off for me and everything. It was truly a hilarious sight.
She led me around the facilities, introducing me to Jimmy and Johnny and who knows what, all of whom possessed a very similar robotic demeanour to the butler. The meet and greet ultimately ended in the bookstore, displaying the publications of L. Ron Hubbard’s work of bullshit, available to guys like me for a pretty penny. I kindly turned down their offer, shook their hands and thanked them for their time.
I had chills running through my body walking back to my car. It was mind boggling to even begin to imagine such an amazingly brilliant and sinister con-job this whole operation is, and perhaps all religions for that matter. I walk into a joint and offer up a bag of fallacious personal defects and they tell me that if I give them all my money they will make my problems go away, and boy were they relentless in doing that.
For those of you still with me, I strongly encourage you to view the HBO documentary, “Going Clear” and if you dare, pay a visit to the Scientology Celebrity Headquarters Asylum so you can formulate your own decision. My conclusions are as follows. Talk about a colossal crock of shit. I’m just glad I gave them a phony email address.