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His comments are dangerous. He should stick to saving the world from aliens.
— Brooke Shields on Tom Cruise
The gossip columnists are compiling their ill-composed scribbles, and their latest find (or non-finding) is working out what is transpiring in the dissolution of the Tom Cruise –Katie Holmes union. Could it be an issue of parenting and religion? Was educating their 6 year-old child Suri central to their parting? ‘Many reports we are hearing is that Tom was very controlling. From everything to the way Katie dressed to the roles that she accepted.’ That is the dirt on tyrannical Tom from US Weekly reporter Jennifer Peros. Diane Falzone of FoxNews.com – the home of ‘fair and balanced’ reporting – is happy to conclude that Holmes, ‘like so many women’ fell into ‘an unhappy, unfulfilled marriage where her identity became muddied.’
For one thing, if this dissolution does become effective, it will result in terminating another one of those popular combines (TomKat) that have strewn the popular landscape like a celebrated venereal disease. In a more specific sense, it has gotten spectators of the public and deluded life curious about the Church of Scientology – and the issue of indoctrinating young minds into it.
The Church of Scientology, whatever nonsense it spouts, causes undue consternation. If Tom Cruise and John Travolta are willing to give money to a religion founded on an alien-based philosophy of existence, let them. Fantasy is the currency of religion, and the only thing revolting about scientology is how appropriately it reflects the pulp culture of moneyed celebrity.
L. Ron Hubbard’s founding of the Church have simulated a scientific base verging on science fiction, but that is hardly surprising given the age he worked in. The electropsychometer is a masterful exercise of pure bollocks, but its use simply serves to show that a religion is as much wedded to faith as it is to lifestyle. Indeed, it might be said that scientology is the religion of the pop tart, the cult of the cult of celebrity.
One has to hand it to Hubbard. Scientology is a combination of Isaac Asimov and Stanley Kubrick, an intergalactic story of delusion that hopes to supplant another delusion. That there are evil beings like Xenu is fairly standard in the religious canon, and if human beings are going to be silly enough to listen to voices from ‘above’ dictating tablets of binding laws and urging means sacrifice to sanction faith, they might as well be alien exiles on earth. Celestial phenomena are, after all, a fundamental fascination of earth bound creatures.
For Hubbard, the implant station is what matters, and implanting fictions into the souls of the not so dearly departed exiles (or to be exact, thetans of those exiles) gave us the Christ story and such creationist errors. Those thetans are rather cheeky and even insidious – they entered the human race and became the ultimate basis of misery. (Shades of Friedrich Nietzsche here – the soul was created to make the body sick.)
To babble on about the merits or demerits of such a doctrine is to assail a philosophy that has simply mined existing doctrines and brought them closer to, there one say it, those in muddled need. Rupert Murdoch might find it ‘creepy, maybe even evil’, but that hardly counts against it. (Scientologists would be happy to have such enemies.) Religious founders are notorious plagiarists. Tinker with a template here and there, and we have a hybrid fit for American living.
In the court proceedings of TomKat’s dissolution, it will be up to the litigants to find an arrangement that accords with their child’s needs. But to brand scientology as insidious is a somewhat futile act, given that its logical home is in the land and civilization of business.
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org