Scientology needs a little bit of an overhaul.
In terms of generating appeal, and the manipulation of how the public receives it, Scientology needs a little bit of an overhaul. One of the religion’s major issues is the cultural hazing that new religions seem to always experience. Kill on sight orders were issued by the state government for Mormons in the early days of that religion. Christians were heavily persecuted in the early period of the church. Scientology has the same appeal of any religion, the offering of a way to a better existence, and also it has the appeal of a new belief system. The shelf life of large religions is apparently quite a long time. Once a belief system sets down roots, they tend to stick around for a long time and grow stronger through persecution. It remains to be seen if Scientology is a religion that attracts people because it is the new product on the shelf if it will fracture into a variety of sub-sects, if there will be a Scientology 2, just like Vatican 2 and Coke 2, or if it will disappear because people just don’t buy it anymore. Maybe people will miss it if it is gone. I wish they still sold Crystal Clear Pepsi. Maybe my adopted children, reaching their midlife crisis, will wish there was someone who could instruct them on how to become Alpha-Clear.
Sitting in the Scientology center in Austen, what kept me conversing so long about the test I’d taken was not the mystery of the organization that brought me in or my odd fascination with religions, but the attractive young man assigned to go over my results with me. Never mind that the organization suggested my homosexuality is worse than raping a woman or abusing children, he had such pretty eyes. I just had to stay and chat a little while longer.
Scientology has a bad wrap
Even though I am always game for a romp into new religions, Scientology has a bad wrap. I’ve spent time with people in religious sects known to kill people and keep their skulls for midnight rituals, but their company did not make me as uncomfortable as the idea of getting involved with Scientology. The problem with the fledgling religion is not only that the media portrays them in a bad light, but also that they have a reputation for trying to ruin your life if you oppose them. This does not prevent them from getting new members, nor did it stop me from following up the hour-long conversation with the attractive young man in the Scientology center with a trip to L. Ron Hubbard’s house in Phoenix.
Scientology’s Strange Appeal
Scientology has a strange appeal much like a combination of Free Masonry and a self-help Guru’s weekend seminars. There is the awing suggestion of great, secret power, and the offering of a chance to understand how to better oneself and one’s life. So many people want to be happier. Droves are searching for guidance in what seems like an eternally complicating and trying world. The religion says, “We have the solution.”
What aids Scientology more so is the value imparted on their teachings by the money they charge to learn them.
A classic marketing trick is to overcharge for an item that does not cost that much to make because a person will believe it of higher quality, will, in fact, be more satisfied with their luxury purchase, if it costs just a little more. When you pay for something, the money you spend on it imparts it with value. You are more inclined to appreciate something if you feel like it cost you to get it. Here is the glamor appeal of the religion. The celebrities that follow its teachings do a great service for the image of the religion. Scientology has something of glitz to it. It presents itself as a luxury item. After 9/11, Scientology helped the rescue workers detox from the hazardous materials they encountered during the World Trade Center collapse, by offering the use of saunas.
What is also appealing to some people about Scientology is that the religion is looked at by the general population as a cult. It has an outsider status. For someone who themselves feel they are an outsider, for people who are disenfranchised with their lives and their spiritual practices, who feel alienated from the institutions that are supposed to help them feel grounded and with direction, Scientology appears to be a way home. The person who feels alien to the world around them sees Scientology, and it seems as if the alienated organization might just understand how they feel.
Once part of the organization, like the addictive constant playing of video games in order to perfect scores or gain levels, Scientology offers a system by which one can measure their progress and continually strive to be better. The feedback through testing and mechanized observation, Scientology offers a way to measure within their own system precisely where you fall in their equivalent of the holiness spectrum. While providing the formula and minutia of a way to live, they proclaim that one must take control of one’s life in order to better their position in the world. This acts as a way to place a person within a framework of constant reaffirmation of their principals in a way that while still offering the promise of deepening mystery contained in higher levels of training, but also to bequest the constant self-reminder of Scientology from its practitioners.
Not to downplay or undermine the belief system in any way, but I see little difference in the appeal Scientology has versus any other religion. Like Buddhism, it does not desire to contend with your previous belief system. As in Catholicism, there is a strong tiered structure resembling hierarchy. Much like Hindu practices and guru discipleship, there is a system to monitor one’s mental activity. For me, the most interesting offering of religion is their original mythology. L. Ron Hubbard, beyond being an explorer, an archaeologist, a sailor, a civil engineer, was best at telling a good tale.