how to rule the world

I heard a few months ago that Tom Cruise had, somewhat suddenly, fired his long-time publicist, Pat Kingsley. What I hadn’t heard at that time, however, is that he had replaced her with someone from the Church of Scientology. (This new person, Lee Anne De Vette, also happens to be the actor’s sister.) This, I think, helps put some of his recent actions into context… Either he’s willingly handing over more control to the “church,” or they’re taking it. Here’s a clip from the New York Times:

Increasingly public about his long association with Scientology, Mr. Cruise a few weeks ago invited film executives involved in distributing his summer movie, “The War of the Worlds,” on a four-hour tour of three different Scientology facilities in Los Angeles. About 20 managers from United International Pictures, which is distributing the Steven Spielberg-directed film abroad for Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks SKG, took him up on the offer in late January. That required some of the executives to extend their stay for a day, according to several who took part…

The encounter came after Mr. Cruise had sponsored a “Scientology tent,” offering what his spokeswoman, Lee Anne De Vette, called “assists” – a kind of massage administered by volunteer ministers – along with religious literature, on the “War of the Worlds” set. Also, the star had recently sent out a holiday greeting that included Scientological precepts on a plastic plaque. Notwithstanding Mel Gibson’s very public declaration of faith with his “Passion of the Christ,” Hollywood insiders typically shy away from open discussion of their religious beliefs. But Ms. De Vette, who is Mr. Cruise’s sister, said he had been inviting colleagues to learn more about his religion in order to combat what he viewed as prejudice against a group that some critics have branded an exploitative cult…

Founded in 1954 by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology has long had a close connection with celebrity. Contending that artists “are a cut above man” – according to a church Web site, www.celebritycentre.org – Hubbard said, “He who can truly communicate to others is a higher being who builds new worlds.”

As long as we’re on the subject of Scientology, someone in the comments section (attached to my “Beck is a Scientologist” post) just left an interesting link concerning Narcon, the drug rehab program which, many suspect, serves as a recruiting tool for the secretive organization.

I personally don’t much care what Tom Cruise chooses to believe in (as long as he keeps making those wonderful movies!) I just bring this up because I’m constantly amazed by the Church of Scientology and the brilliance of their strategy. In less than 50 years they’ve taken something that may have started as a joke and they’ve created something that appears to be, at least on the surface, almost legitimate.

With an army of attorneys on one hand (suing anyone who dares to question them) and an army of “higher beings” like Travolta and Crusie on the other, shaping the message, they’re making huge strides to win hearts and minds. They, perhaps better than any religion, seem to understand the media, its power, and its promise. They knew to invest in celebrity early on, in the 1970’s, and it’s paying dividends now. (Even if just one in ten thousand “make it,” they still get instant credibility. All they need are one or two, a beachhead.) It’s truly inspired. It gives them access, an opening into popular culture.

Nothing they’ve done, however, is probably more brilliant than their move, through Narcon’s outreach programs, to insinuate the precepts of the organization (i.e. their ideas concerning “cleansing”) into the mainstream. (Narcon, it appears, is presently attempting to take their message into the public schools of America.) Of course, it’s evil as hell, but you have to admire them for their moxy. In an age that has seen a precipitous drop in church attendance, they are growing like a cancer. They are investing wisely and they are reaping the rewards of their work. Bravo.

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15 Comments

  1. chris
    Posted March 22, 2005 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Never has one link linked the names of so many that helped shape me during my formative years…Heinlan, Ellison, and THAN Sturgeon. The latter whose “Microcosmic God” was so artfully spoofed in one of the Simpsons’ haoween episodes. Which by the way does anyone know are thee available on DVD?

    That said, I believe that I just might actually join the Church of Scientology esp if they can help me lose this last postnatal 20 pounds. I tried to get into the church of Mormon to see the big golden bull at the alter but staved off one I realized that their head deity’s name is one letter away from macaroni, ok 2 letters.

    mark, have you ever thought of starting a church? Maybe one wose tenents had something to do with mutual respect, love of mother earth, brotherly love (and yeah that includes brotherly marriage)…where the embrace of evolution and for that matter all other post enlightenment scientific discoveries, won’t damn us to hell or at least another four years of GOP mob rule. Maybe the plunger could be some kind of secret symbol suggesting that in order to flush the impurities from your soul you’ve got free yourself from the clog of inhumanity. Sounds easier than confession. What would our prayer be?

    If you build it they will tithe. I will tithe to the church .00001% of my gross.

  2. Stella
    Posted March 22, 2005 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    They also sponsor and conduct literacy programs, primarily in prisons but are making inroads into cash strapped schools in some areas…….

  3. mark
    Posted March 22, 2005 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I didn’t get into that particular aspect in my post, but it occurred to me that poorly funded schools would be particularly at risk as they wouldn’t have the funds to provide services like these on their own… What good fortune that there’s a group willing to come in and teach about the danger of drugs (and the threat of body thetans) for free, right?

  4. Posted March 23, 2005 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    You should include this painting of Elron Hubbard in all upcoming Co$ posts. Funyuns are the path to a good e-meter reading.

  5. be OH be
    Posted March 23, 2005 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    OT, but regular readers should also check out this painting from the same site.

  6. brett
    Posted March 23, 2005 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    thanks, be-oh-be. as you might imagine, i set that as my wallpaper instantly.

    the thing that got me most upset about mark’s initial post was the fact that they’re remaking war of the worlds. that guy from ‘all the right moves’ being in it is just icing on the cake.

    in a slightly off-topic but vaguely related to ‘religious movements’ post, I thought i’d point out that while doing some research i learned that the “Headlee” behind the “Headlee amendment” (which is a law slowly bankrupting all the cities in michigan, including mark’s beloved ypsi) was actually a Mormon, and when he died a couple years ago his body was flown to Utah for burial. Mormons are generally pro-business, and always anti-government, so the whole thing makes slightly more sense to me now.

  7. dave morris
    Posted March 23, 2005 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I like the latin translation of relig – to tie together. Kinda like fasci.

    If the idea of religion is to reconnect us then the difference between a cult and a religion would be how they fail. A cult would eventually admit failure to reconnect by destroying themselves en masse or by dissolution. A religion would make a distinction between true believers who reconnect and infidels that don’t, and then kill off the infidels en masse or convert them.

    I think a successful religion would be one that unites everyone. I think one possible way might be to take everything and turn it into nonsense – a deligion through devolution.

    Mark- you could start one here. You could order a hundred or so gold plated tuning forks and send them out to the faithful and at 3 set times each day – synchronized to the atomic clock at the naval reserve in washington DC – strike the fork, stare upwards with fingers in each ear, and for 5 minutes say “lalalalalalalalal..” in whatever the selected fork note is.

    We could call the movement Lala, have our holy land called LaLaLand, and refer to ourselves as the LaLas.

    We could start the movement by driving around in pick-ups, stopping in the parking lots of walmarts around the country on Saturday afternoons, handing out tuning forks with a 3×5 card with instructions and a simple radio device tuned to the atomic clock pulse frequncy with a chime that goes off 3 times a day.

  8. Posted March 23, 2005 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m interested in involving the war between Slyphs and Chemtrails. Apparantly Slyphs have been observed absorbing dispursed chemtrails for the benefit of mankind. Who knew?

  9. chris
    Posted March 23, 2005 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Would someone please tell me what Elron Hubbard is doing with a painting of me rasselin’ raptors? Well me with bad hair anyways.

  10. mark
    Posted May 4, 2005 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Tom Cruise responding to a refreshingly aggressive reporter

  11. dorothy
    Posted May 4, 2005 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    i missed this post while i was away visiting friends, so i’m responding to it now. i think the idea of an mm religion is brilliant!! i’ll join at once. may we have a special handshake and hand signs like the gangs? this’ll be so much fun. great idea chris.

  12. Stella
    Posted May 4, 2005 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    And yet when asked why they were essentially recruiting in prisons some scientology spokesperson says (slight paraphrase) “We’re not recruiting there, do you really think we would want to fill our church with those types of people, those criminals” with such an air of disdain. To my view deliberately calculated to use our own classist fears to throw off the scent.
    Which is that an organization that uses the tactics it does, to retain and silence people, would certainly need people to act as enforcers and do its dirty work. For front line infantry and such, while the handlers give the orders. The prisons offer a potential wealth of people to exploit for these purposes.
    Especially as after incarceration services dwindle and you can offer someone a place to live and “work” upon release.
    So to my view they are working in collusion with a system of slaveholders to assure that when the sentence of retributive slavery is completed, to seamlessly transfer the control of the slave to their own stable by use of various psychological ploys resembling stockholm syndrome and other known techniques.
    Obviously this is all my own opinion. Do I have strong feelings about cults? Yes I do. As well as the lucrative prison industry. As well as the culture of fear Cruise (and Travolta) seem to have no qualms about repeatedly exploiting.

  13. mark
    Posted May 6, 2005 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn’t life be easier if we all just joined? Maybe we’d get a discounted rate if we all went in together.

  14. Posted June 2, 2005 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  15. Posted June 2, 2005 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    hello jeff,

    i think you’re referring to a comment i made, so i’ll try to explain my point.

    first, i’m a non-“saint”, speaking to an audience of primarily other non-saints, so it’s completely accepted for us outsiders to use the colloquial term ‘mormon’ in discussing the generic group.

    yes, there are several different sects of mormonism, but i was simply talking about the group as a whole, including all the variants descending from Smith’s initial efforts.

    specifically, you seem to be taking exception to my comment about the mormons being anti-government. I would point you to the early years of the church, going up through to the admission of utah statehood, as a period in which they had a quite well-justified disdain for the united states and local/state governments, which either failed to protect them from mobs or else were outright hostile themselves, employing militias and physical force against them.

    the mormons were repeatedly evicted from each attempt at permanent settlement, from new york to ohio to illinois, and ended up having to basically leave the country alltogether (moving to the ‘state of deseret’ as they called it), to avoid further persecution.

    throughout the period, they were growing increasingly unhappy with the government, and like many religions regarded everyone else as a ‘gentile’ condemned to hell anyway, so speeches frequently reference things like the blood of americans filling rivers to atone for the sins against the group.

    after statehood was secured (only after the main church partly gave up the practice of polygamy), they DID enter into governmental politics, both in utah and nationally.

    Many mormons now serve in all branches of the fed govt, but i personally think the mormon cosmology and respect for history would suggest they have not forgotten the past events which their ancestors suffered through.

    and you’re right about moroni’s supposed lineage, but you ignore the fact that he did make a supernatural appearance or two to smith in new york, so i would say that in church doctrine he runs slightly higher than simple ‘prophet’, and comes closer to ‘angel’.

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