If you’re ever in the market for a bit of harmless revenge or a rather cruel practical joke, I highly recommend making use of the Scientology mailing list. Sign your friend up under a hilarious name, and 20 years later (assuming the church is still around) they'll still be receiving mail for “Laura Rockemsockem Huntsman.” Scientology staffers, many of whom work for the church in order to obtain its expensive coursework, have quotas to meet, and must contact a certain number of people by mail or phone in an attempt get them into the church and spending money. Even the [...]
It’s not something I put on my CV but it’s true: I have a top-notch Scientology pedigree. My paternal grandparents got into Dianetics in the early '50s; I’ve read notes from meetings they hosted in their affluent Midwestern suburb to discuss the “new mental science” and audit one another. They were early adopters, to be sure, but from the notes their meetings sound more like a book club gatherings than outposts of a burgeoning cult. My grandfather discovered Dianetics via articles in Astounding Science Fiction, a magazine whose editor was friendly with L. Ron Hubbard and for a time a strong proponent of his ideas.
It gets a little tiring being the only former Scientologist everyone you meet has ever known, or to be asked on a first date whether you were raised religiously and know that if you answer honestly you’re in for 25 minutes of Q&A. Not only do you start to wonder if the most interesting thing about yourself is something you had nothing to do with, but you began to refine and embellish this narrative over dozens and dozens of tellings. Which eventually begins to restructure your actual recollections, highlighting some memories while pushing others — no less important — into the [...]
[image from my personal collection – I couldn’t find one with the OT t-shirt!]
Previously: Part One, Growing Up in the Church.
As a child of two Scientologist parents, a child born into a room quieted in preparation for the return of a reincarnated thetan, I grew up fluent in the Church's specialized vocabulary. As a toddler I accompanied my mother during her training at the Flag Land base in Clearwater, Florida, and at the Los Angeles center, wearing a t-shirt that read “future OT,” a bit of gobbledygook that any Scientologist worth their salt could immediately translate as indicating that I was destined to rid myself [...]
Like many of us, I was a miserable and angst-ridden adolescent, and the way the Church of Scientology had divided my family in half seemed like just another teenage burden. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realized with surprise that my family’s history in Scientology gave me pop culture cool points, that it was a factoid I could deploy to make me instantly more interesting to just about anyone. While occasionally useful at parties or when trying to impress dudes, talking about the church also felt like treachery against my father, still a faithful church [...]
I was about the age Suri Cruise is now when I had my first session. Mickey, my first-grade teacher at the non-traditional school I attended, had announced that day that he would soon be leaving for a new job somewhere in California. All I remember now of Mickey is his warmth, and his soft, crinkly eyes and thick black beard, but the day he made his announcement, I was devastated in the way only a six-year-old can be – someone I loved was leaving me! The world had turned cruel. I trudged home to my mother, sobbing, and though I’m not sure who brought up [...]