Sunday, March 1, 2009
It’s Sunday today and naturally my thoughts are tending towards all matters spiritual. As part of my on-going quest to decide whether or not there is a God, I’ve covered some of the classic religions: Voodoo, Islam and Christianity. Today though, I’d like to share with you the fruits of my labours regarding an avant garde new religion that you might not have heard of.
Wtf? It doesn’t even sound like a religion. It sounds like one of the options you get at schools these days. In my day, you did chemistry, physics and biology. From what Amber was telling me these days they all get lumped together, if I had to guess at a decent name for this lumping together of all the sciences, I’d guess at Scientology. But I’d be wrong. You’d be much more likely to stumble across Scientology as part of your religious education.
Then again, when I did RE at school we tended to focus mainly on Christianity. No one mentioned Scientology – not once. Which is bit odd, because it’s been around since 1953 when the religion’s founder L Ron Hubbard made it all up. That said, the religion only gained its tax-free status in the 1990s. This was an important breakthrough for the Church of Scientology, which basically rewards its followers with something called ‘Tech’ according to their levels of financial contributions.
In short, Tech is knowledge. The more Tech you acquire, the more you understand the religion and the more in tune with God you become. Unlike pretty much every other religion in the world, the followers of Scientology aren’t given the full low down from the word go. They have to invest in Tech. Some people are critical of this religious business model, but I think it makes a lot of sense, particularly in today’s non-stop hectic world. Sometimes you haven’t got time to sit around reading about theology. If you do it by stages, you’ve got a better chance of understanding it all. Like the Open University.
There’s lots of stuff on the internet about Scientology. Lots of people are openly critical of Scientology because, frankly, it promotes some fairly ‘out there’ view points. Do you remember the TV show V? Well, that’s basically Scientology in a nutshell. Man is immortal, and his soul is called a Thetan. Thetans have lived on other planets before coming to live on Earth. They’re just using our bodies as soul storage facilities.
It sounds totally mental, right? Well, yeah, I suppose it does a little bit, but if you think about the tall tales you're expected to swallow with all the other religions, then maybe it's not so mental afterall. I suppose there's just as much chance of us all being Immportal Lizard Men as there is of the whole world being created in just seven days 6000 years ago by some all-seeing, all-powerful dude who lives in a place called Heaven where we all go when we die.
I’d better be careful about just how much information I present here readers. The Scientologists are pretty touchy when it comes to copyright infringements and they’ve been known to use some fairly strong-arm techniques when it comes to getting their message across.
That said, you might well see Scientologists on your local High Street. They sometimes set up shop offering Free Stress Tests. Which sounds pretty nice to me. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, as Mum always says.
Scientology is probably the sexiest religion going at the moment, and as such it attracts famous actors from Hollywood. Tom Cruise, John Travolta and David Beckham are all famous Scientologists. You're much more likely to see those guys in the Metro than you are the Pope. And if you're looking to attract youngsters to your religion you stand a much better chance if its followers are in the Metro.
You can certainly see why Scientology is so popular at the moment. It attracts genuine Hollywood followers, it offers up the belief that we’re all immortal Lizard Gods from Outer Space, and you can buy your way in. So it offers up a level of exclusivity that you just don’t seem to find with all the boring old fashioned religions.
If you’ve got the cash, you can be a Scientologist pretty much anywhere in the world. One place you can’t be a Scientologist though is Germany. Those guys have banned it. I’m disappointed in the Germans' lack of religious tolerance. Disappointed, but not that surprised!
Gotta go now readers, I’m starving. If I was back in Lincoln Mum’d be cooking me a lovely roast dinner. As it is, all I’ve got are beans and broccoli. Think I’ll have that on toast, washed down with a can of Cobra. Natch*.