The Junk Food of Writing

Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Afternoon at the Scientology Center of Boston


The sacred Scientology center of Boston -- which bears an uncanny resemblance to 111 Archer Ave. from The Royal Tenenbaums.

Two of my friends and I attended the service at 11:00, and it slowly evolved into a 'day at the center,' where we stayed for the next four hours.


We walked into the service a few minutes late. As we passed through the white doors, a man was playing folk-y songs on his guitar. We entered during a Moody Blues song, and then we were greeted to all of Simon and Garfunkel's "America."

Once the music ended, and we clapped, a middle-aged woman approached the podium. Before I go into detail on her reading, let me describe the audience she was speaking to. The room was rather small -- at least in comparison to other services I have been to -- and there were only about twenty-two scientologists occupying the metal, fold-out chairs. A few were dressed in their 'Sunday best' (including my friend and I), and a few were dressed in more bohemian-style hippie clothes. Behind the speaker was a fireplace, and a portrait of L. Ron Hubbard (who was amusingly referred to as LRH -- I, of course, was on an initial-based relationship with him by the end of my four hours, also) hung above it. To the left of the fireplace stood a podium with a sculpture of the bust of LRH. Obviously, they like this guy.

After perusing the room, I began to listen to the woman at the podium. She read a creed of sorts, which was very open-minded. I paraphrase: "We accept anyone despite their gender, race, color or religious affiliation to help discover their spirit." She subsequently read from an LRH essay entitled 'Personal Integrity' which implicitly (and occasionally VERY explicitly) spoke about pacifism and community. The woman, who had an eerily soothing voice, said that the way to understand yourself is to observe everyone else (we shouldn't only look into our own cranium, but also look at our neighbor, who is also looking into his own cranium). Afterwards, I found out that Paul Haggis practices scientology; my friend and I promptly created a thesis which proved Crash as scientologist propaganda.

We watched a video named "This is Scientology" which was a recording of a speaker (Mr. David Miscavige, if I recall correctly) at a large, celebrity-filled event (therefore, there were random cuts to Kelly Preston) that condemned 'the four horsemen': drugs, illiteracy, immorality and crime. Apparently, Scientologists have funded and built centers which aid to help cure wayward individuals of these four vices -- and these centers are open in 57 countries (Cut to a shot of a bunch of little African kids holding up a picture book with the yellow title printed on the top in big letters: "Learning to Learn"). They claim that drugs are bad and children are educated in the wrong manner (and, unsurprisingly, they offer no alternatives).

Next, we moved into another private screening room and watched a 20 minute orientation film on 16mm, which essentially starred the cast of Look Who's Talking (minus half of the swimming sperms). Luckily, the audio and visual began to move at different speeds and Kirstie Alley began speaking in Isaac Hayes' (who had testified right before her about his dedication to scientology) deep voice. Pretty funny.

After that reel malfunction, we headed downstairs and took personality surveys. It said I was a critical, neurotic, open-minded, outspoken, unhappy and unstable individual. Essentially, it told me I am a terrible human being and should seek improvement through the answers which Scientology will provide for me -- so, I am a perfect candidate. One of my other friends got rather similar results, and one was considered 'normal,' 'agreeable' and 'happy.' We made fun of him later.

After being told that I don't appreciate people, they hooked me up to a stress test. I had to hold the aluminum bars and think. Whenever the needle jumped, they asked me what I was thinking. I could never remember the thought. I was inadvertently making it very difficult to read me. Ultimately, I told him that the needle jumped at one point because I had a headache in the shower this morning, and I thought it might be a tumor (unbeknownst to me at the time, I was making a really witty allusion to Hannah and Her Sisters).

They never gave us an opportunity to leave, but I told them -- as I briefly sighed -- that I had a previous engagement at 3:30.

They were big on etymology -- always defining terms and their origins to shed 'light' on a topic. These details, however, rarely shed insight into the situation. That seemed to be the big problem with this organization: they gloated about having the answers -- yet they did not disclose the slightest bit of information on what these 'answers' may be. I think they just liked hearing themselves claim that THEY had the answers.

Yeah, it is basically a cult, but they did not make me wears Nike sneakers or drink Kool-Aid -- and they seemed like personable and well-intending individuals -- so they are A-OK with me. I would like to borrow one of their home theaters to watch films, though.

7 Comments:

  • Sounds creepy, if only because it doesn't seem creepy at all! Hmmm... something tells me I would have fun over there!

    By Blogger JavierAG, at 9:44 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger RaaoolDook, at 8:15 PM  

  • yeah there four bad things are all easy to buy except that "immorality" thing... whose immorality? who determines it? Therein lies the catch that makes them like other non-progressive religions

    they're very anti-gay. and it's immoral to me to be anti-gay.

    C-R-E-E-P-Y cult.

    not that any cults escape being creepy but still...

    By Blogger NATHANIEL R, at 11:48 PM  

  • Here are some links that I believe will be interested

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 AM  

  • "and they seemed like personable and well-intending individuals"

    Thanks, we are and we do not not pray to the sign outside. It appears to me that you may have walked in having already decide to mock us. Which I find sad since I have spent 25 years helping people improve their lives. Volunteering, teaching reading and helping people through grief and pain. I hope you find such a calling in your life and continue to find the good in people and idea and leave the critical jokes to those few who are trying to make a living by attacking my religion, The least people could do is respect the religious beliefs of others. Next time you decide you are interested go to your library or local bookstore a get Scientology: Fundamental of Thought

    By Blogger Kelly Riley, Director YHRI, Boston, at 1:20 AM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:23 PM  

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