Monday, March 06, 2006

First Contact

It started with an email out of the blue. Here it is;

"Dear Les,
I have been reading your posting for quite a while and I am intrigued by your view and "cosmic" viewpoint.You seem to be all over the place,, global warming, religion , philosophy etc... I also noted that you are quite proficient in expressing yourself even with fortitude and good vocabulary when necessary :-)I tend to agree with your viewpoint on education. And how, many characters are taking advantage of the disinformation, which is rampant in this society.Maybe when I come to work in Maidstone one of these days I'll pay you a visit a buy you a beer.What do you say?
Best X"

The reason I call him "X" will become apparant later on. Now, I was pretty suprised, flattered and intrigued. What's the worst that could happen? We got to the thought it was the CIA and we could end up in Guantanamo and never be heard of again. A true worst case scenario. Or millitant creationists or some other irate theist. Or could just be a some chap who wanted to buy the beer and waffle for a few hours. I think the free beer clinched it ;o)

The upshot of this mail is we will meet at a pub last Saturday afternoon. We arrive, no X to be seen. get a text saying he'll be a few mins. We buy a beer and wait. I'd asked if he could wear a pink carnation for easy identification. Sensibly, he refused and offered "Look for a black leather jacket." My mobile rings, X says "Look in front of you...." and there he was! We shook hands and he anounces "I'm a psychologist!" Ms. Morpheus and I are quite interested in many aspects of psychology and the prospect of a few hours drinking beer and talking psychology appealed greatly. "Brilliant!" we said, let us get the first round. "We always wanted to meet a tame psychologist!"
X looked a tad nonplussed. "No! I'm a Scientologist!" I think we managed to hide the brief flash of dissapointment and bought him a beer anyway. The thought highest in my mind at this point was why didn't he say so in his email? We would still have met him. Only a little thing perhaps, but an email saying "I'm a Scientologist and would like to offer you the view from the inside." would still have had us going through with the meeting.
Basically, he was there to ask what has Scientology done to us that we post against it in here and at alt.religion.scientolog and http://www.xenu.net/. And that he wanted us to respect his choice of following the "religion" of his choosing. I tried to point out that i'm not predjudiced against any one particular religion or cult. I dislike all of them equally and would be happy to explain why. His cult really hadn't been singled out by me and that if he had read my blog he might have know this. His argument at this point was this. If I had no experience of actually meeting any active Scientologists and had never been on the inside, how could I form a valid opinion of his "church". I tried to explain with the following.
I've read quite a lot about Mussolini the Italian fascist dictator. Seen a few documentaries and listened to a fascinating radio programme with some first hand memoirs of him as a father and his family life. Now, all I can do, seeing as I will never meet him, can never experience Italy under fascism, is to absorb, from as many different sources as i can, what others say about him and read his own writings. From all of this input i form an opinion. I may be wrong or very far from the truth, but it seems about the best i can do. I proffered that Il Duce was, on the whole, a frightening, callous dictator. Enamoured of violence, Italy and the world is probably better off without him. (At this point X offered that at least the buses ran on time under Mussolini!)
This is the standard view of the man, but i'm also aware of some very tender moments when his daughter played piano for him. The last time this happened he interupted her playing and said a very earnest goodbye to his daughter. It was just 2 days before he met his grizzly end and was the last time his daughter saw her father. So i have tried to get beneath the normally accepted view of the dictator.
Now, I can do the same with Scientology. And indeed I have. I have read quite widely both online and some of the books printed on the subject. Have read and taken part in active public forums where ex Scientologists, active members of the cult and interested bystanders like myself engage conversation. And after learning what ex members have to say and learning of the idea of "Fair Game" and other manifold forms of nastiness. Reading their "secret OTIII material" and a host of other equally whacky nonsense i have formed an opinion. That Scientology is a cult as bad as any other, be it the catholic church or the Moonies and a thousand other groups that divert humanity's rescources, people, thought and whole damned generations into the slavish worship or adherance to fiction. And a damned dangerous fiction normally too. Religion in all it's forms has caused more wars, death and misery than any other single invention by man. And just like any other cult Scientology saps peoples money, relationships and hopes and spits them out at the end when they finally realise that this "Bridge to Total Freedom" is just about the biggest, most expensive fiction ever foistered on humanity perhaps excepting christianity and islam. My own feeling is that when you have invested so much time, money and effort and they finally reveal the OTIII materials people are too damned embarrassed to say "Hang on! This is Bollocks!"
But look, this is just my view. I may be wrong. Please, don't let me sway you. Chase down your own information and look for yourself. X had prepared for our meeting in the pub by bringing some photocopied newspaper clippings on Cyril Vosper. I can only imagine he did this because I have mentioned elswhere in my blog that I had read Mr.Vospers book "The Mindbenders" and that had the book that sparked my interest.
Back to the pub. I left MsMorpheus with X whilst I went to the toilet. Now, with me out of the way he fixed her with a steely OTIV TR zero stare and demanded "And what are you doing to save the planet?" Funny he tried this though. Not least because it is a little underhanded of him to wait untill i was out of the way, but also because my erstwhile partner had been fixing him with her best TR zero stare all night. Perhaps because we're not yet declared SP he managed to do the whole eye contact thing pretty well. We gave him full marks for effort on that one. He declined all knowlege of "Fair Game", admitted that his auditing for the whole Xenu incident had really helped him deal with problems and memories he had from being blown up by H bombs 75 milion years ago. He also said that perhaps the church had some bad practices in the past and that L Ron Hubbard, the cults founder, may not have been right about everything. Now this is pretty strange. Scientologists are told that if they still have questions or don't believe something it is their fault. To go back to before the part you don't understand and read it again. Hubbard can not be at fault, it is the student who has missed something. So X's leeway is pretty strange here.
X said he may be able to swing it that we can visit St.Hill for a day. Now, this is where Vospers book is set in the main, and MsMorpheus has wanted to see a cult from the inside since reading about the Moonies at age 12. So we both accepted his offer. Hopefully, sometime soon, I can write "A Day on the Hill" and pass on what happens. Looking forward to it.
So that was it pretty much. More wierdness than you can shake a stick at but fun and interesting none the less. We liked X and would like to get to know him if he ever gets out. Now that would be interesting.
When we got home I started to think how i was going to write about this. Out of courtesy i called X and asked if he had any objections to me writing about the meeting. He was worried about us slandering him in public but we arrived at a workable compromise. If i took down the huge banner (second one down) for www.xenu.net atop this blog and didn't mention him by name then he would be happy for me to write about the afternoon. All in all a very interesting time. Thank you X, for the beer, the exchange of views and the odd laugh. Not what we expected and perhaps even a little better than a psychologist in the end :o)

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