You know those periods in your life where you’re so mindnumbingly bored that you’re willing to do any kind of crazy shit to feel, well, to feel anything whatsoever? Monday was one of those days. Lovely Monday. While killing time between a morning and an evening final, I took to strolling around downtown in the super crisp freezing air. In the midst of my chilly perambulation, I came across this beauty:
Perfection. I had seen the billboards several times around town displaying an attractive blank-eyed woman with the mystical words “What is Scientology?” beside her complacent, definitely-not-creepy face. And I know I had glimpsed the brochure for this Scientology center in the gutter on a few occasions. There are three signs set up on the sidewalk in front of the entrance. They say variations of the same thing: open house today, free informational tour, free personality test, FREE personality test and tour… Peering inside, it was obvious how effective these alluring advertisements were. Except for the handful of
cult members black clad Scientologists walking about doing Xenu knows what, the center was empty.
So on this uneventful Monday afternoon, brandishing the good old “Aw, fuck it” attitude, I took a breath and decided to give
the suckers them something to do.
This cult- goddammit, I meant… cult of Scientology is housed in the beautiful Sherlock Building, which I find rather sad considering how beautiful and historic the building is. It obviously doesn’t get much use. However, while the Church of Scientology is creepy as Hell, they sure know how to decorate. They have a very right-angle modern look and are all spruced up for Christmas with two decorated trees by the front door, another in the corner of the bookstore section and a larger one in the chapel. When you step inside, you are met by a reception desk behind which are the church members all dressed in black. And all around, you overwhelmingly see the face and words of L. Ron Hubbard,
personal lord and savior. To the left are shelves of Hubbard’s books translated into a dozen languages. To the right is a room full of information videos and displays about Hubbard, dianetics, Scientology, Hubbard, dynamics of existence, Hubbard, etc. It’s impressively high quality. And looks curiously expensive.
According to some pictures I had seen of this facility, this was only the tip of the ice berg. The church actually takes up the entire building and contains large offices, meeting rooms, a library, a freaking cafe, a rooftop terrace, exercise and sauna room, and a whole lot more. (You can see a slideshow of it here: Take A Tour, Fellow Thetan!) And this is probably a modest church.
To be transparent, I actually have visited this center before. The last time I was with a friend and we genuinely stumbled across it on an aimless adventure through town. Both being rather irreligious and looking for a good laugh, we went in to see just how strange Scientology was. We were not disappointed. We watched a few of the informational videos. The first one was all about Hubbard and how wonderful, accomplished, and brilliant he was. Another video briefly explained how negative experiences are ingrained into your subconscious (engrams) and are the sources of all your issues today. And then there was something about the different planes of existence with your body and your spirit and your mind and whatnot. It was pretty entertaining.
And an attendant showed me this device that supposedly measured my reaction to certain memories. I think it was an older e-meter audit device. It was pretty dumb. I held onto two rods and the attendant told me to think of a memory. I thought of playing at the park with my 5 year old sister. The needle on the meter bowed to the left, the negative side. He pointed it out, saying I must have thought of something traumatic as I was having such a negative reaction to it.
Scientology: scientia (knowledge) + -logy (study of).
I peaked into the chapel during that visit, as well. It’s a dimly lit room. Black walls with lit panels detailing commandments, tenets, symbols, and something to do with spirit and mind and transcendence or something. I didn’t take the time to understand it. From what I hear, this chapel doesn’t get used very much. A classmate of mine attended a church service here. According to him, he was the only one there aside from a couple of other Scientologists. They showed a video that had Tom Cruise in it and then they started doing their meditation thing. Sounds awkward. It’s on my to-do list.
For this visit, however, I was alone and I was going to take a look at the personality test to see how fucked up of a human being I am.
My visit will be broken into two parts as a post containing all my thoughts on Scientology and my experience would make for a boringly long post. Stay tuned for Part 2.