Archive for November, 2009

In terms of religion, I find modern-day TV Christianity to be disturbing on several different levels, being very greedy.

At the top of my list would be Benny Hinn.  His tv programs feature him and others asking for money, over and over again.  I attended one of his healing crusades with a friend and was not impressed.  In a stadium in Minneapolis, nothing about this seemed spiritual.  A large, quiet crowd watched and people were brought up to the stage.  At one point I was so bored and uninspired I went outside to look around the city I had once lived in. 

The part of his ministry I find destructive is the promises he makes are unreasonable.  Do I believe in miracles?  Yes.  Have I seen any miracles come out of this healing ministry? No.  His inaccurate predictions about “God destroying the gay community in 1995” never came true.  I found this to be cringe-worthy;  what does the rest of the world think of us Christians now?  I don’t want anyone to be destroyed.  The very idea that this would be considered a good thing is disturbing to me.  The story of Sodom and Gomorrah to me was more about sexual immorality, not about homosexuality.  However, all religious writings are open to interpretations.

The worst of all is the target audience: homebound people.  In modern America, we have older people are unable to leave their homes due to illness, location, lack of transportation, among other reasons.  These folks may have mental disorders (Alzheimer’s, agoraphobia, MS, e.g.), and take what’s said on these programs literally.  Many shell out a great deal of money, because a lot of it is guilt-tripping the audience.  

One day, I made myself watch Christian tv programming all day, and in the end  I felt like I had been the victim of a lobotomy.  Some of it did make sense, but it was common sense stuff I already knew.   I came away from it, thinking about money and salvation, what is the relationship with one another?

To me the newest theology contradictory to the Bible would be; prosperity theology.  In the most basic terms, it’s about God favoring people and bestowing on them material wealth.  This is in polar opposite to the practice of being a Monk, a Nun, or a Priest.  It’s called a vow of poverty, which is also known as perfect charity and obedience. 

I can’t pick up a Italian-leather sectional and say “God favors me because I have this”.  That’s not a sign of a miracle, that’s obtaining what you have earned through hard work and responsible spending.  To prove my point, here’s a scripture quote: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”.  That’s found at Matthew 19:24   Not to say rich people cannot or do not get into heaven, but they have to walk the straight and narrow.  Also, I would point to one of the Ten Commandments:  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  Exodus 20:17   

Is the money ministry breaking one of the biggest laws of the Bible by perpetuating the idea that material things are so important?  How do we, as Christians, define coveting?  If you would like to see the Merriam-Webster definition, click here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/covet

Does Godliness cause prosperity?  In my opinion, no.  It’s unreasonable to expect material wealth out of something you can neither prove nor disprove.   In literal terms, the Protestant view would mirror my own:  to be charitable to one’s neighbor, thankfulness for what you have already, and prohibits any grief over the betterment of your neighbor’s home.

This brings me to the biggest question of all: how much are TV Evangelists really worth?  How much money do they bring?  How do they live?  Well ladies and gentlemen, I have found those answers.  Let’s take Trinity Broadcasting for instance, they annually generate $200 million.  They do not belong to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is a self-regulating watch dog group.  In June of 2007, they purchased the Holy Land Experience for $37 million.  The owners, the Crouches, are paid around $900,000 yearly, and finally the big number, TBN earned $188,152,079 in 2007.  As a final note on TBN, they refuse to disclose their net worth. 

Creflo Dollar hasn’t got a sparkling reputation either, one watchdog group gave him an F grade in financial transparency.  The website can be found here: http://www.ministrywatch.com/profile/creflo-dollar-ministries.aspx   Some of my fellow Christians mind find the site to be useful overall, as it discusses important information regarding church financial records.  You can find the church mission statement also, which I don’t agree with.

With all due respect to my fellow believers, Christians, I implore you to explore your charity or your church before you give.


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To the best of my knowledge, “Blown For Good” is Marc Headley’s first book.   As a person that loves literature, this is staying on my book shelves for years to come, and here’s why.

The forward, written by Mr. Rathbun, demonstrates how vastly different experiences can be in Scientology.  I’ve always said “Experiences may vary”, when talking about religion.  Former and current members of any other religion/school of though/philosophy would tell you the same thing.

The book immediately grabs your attention, with a stark story of escape.  It’s so unfathomable that this is happening in America, it makes you wonder what else has gone on under the radar.  Danny Dunagin, I just don’t know what to even say or think about this guy.  I feel kinda sorry for him, because in YouTube videos he seems tough and girly at the same time.   See also:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHOqzYQHufA , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR7iaOyz3MY&NR=1   I know I shouldn’t because he attacked AnonOrange and other people, but I wonder what tales he would have to tell. 

So, Mr. Headley explains the structure and how he became a Scientologist to begin with.  It’s a lesson that fact can be stranger than fiction: this is not how your average American grows up.  His descriptions of being at the schools, and in particular the Complex evoked laughter at times, deep sadness at others.  At one point, he describes a 8-year-old girl standing in a pot to clean it because she is too small to stand at the sink to get it cleaned. 

In describing life at Golden Era Productions, I was surprised but not.  I knew it was bad, but some interesting details were revealed.  I’d say what they are, but that would kill the surprise for future readers.

The ending made the book impossible to put down.  It reminded me of the ending of “Valley of the Dolls”, just enthralling.  Claire Headley appears in the book at first as a great wife, and in the end you can see how clever and brave she is.  Good prevails over evil, what a story book ending!

I’m hoping Mr. Headley continues to write, he has a natural talent for it.  Here’s my review on youtube, which didn’t convey all I wanted to say:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy8OcoGnHd4   After the holidays are over, I will be getting Nancy Many’s book “My Billion Year Contract”.

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Scientology has reminded me of a lot of things, and all I ever read was Dianetics.  It’s not because I’m a Scientologist, it’s by observing the many groups surrounding this semi-mysterious, controversial group.  As someone who tries to study every religion, I find myself on a middle road in terms of opinion.  People are entitled to believe what they want, but there ought to be limits to actions perpetuated in the name of religion.  History should have taught us this.

Like almost every other religion, Scientology has gone under a lot of scrutiny.  I think it is justified and logical, as part of the human reasoning process, we should question the validity of everything that comes our way.  From its inception, it was not well-received by governments because of its activity.  Most famously, Scientology was convicted of making the largest government infiltration in American History.  It should be also noted, that Paulette Cooper and the Mayor of Clearwater were “fair gamed” before David Miscavige came along.   The publication of a book about this was banned because of Scientology lawyers.  Lisa McPherson changed a lot of things, and now reading Marc Headley’s new book, I realize her passing made a lot of lives miserable.  It wasn’t just her family like I thought, everyone but the person responsible got punished, and this makes my flesh crawl.  It’s wrong in so many ways, I have a hard time coming up with words to describe it.  Lisa suffered, her family did, and so did Scientologists.  It’s odd this woman, who cannot speak, still resonates with purpose.

Fast forward past the tax exempt status to January of 2008.  Then Anonymous arrived, like a Calvary out of the dark midst of the internet.  They caught someone smacking a cat against the wall and made sure that person was punished for this heinous act.  Also, our awesome Canadian friends to the north from Anonymous caught a pedophile by using their brains and computers alone.  They went out to protest this semi-mysterious group, and all of a sudden the flood gates opened.  Information from left and right, and I had to buy Dianetics.  I had to know what I was talking about, the fundamentals.  It was boring to me, but someone else could find it interesting.  Anyway, I realize now that it’s a heck of a lot more complicated than that. 

The social structure within is absolutely filled with acronyms.  I’m studying medical terminology, and from this perspective one rivals the others in groups of letters, I swear.  The corporate structure of shell groups is not so amazing when you find out how it’s done.  RadioPaul1 of youtube has done a number of videos on this very subject, of closed down orgs, mailbox organizations, and orgs in strange places.  At the cable store in Hudson Valley, NY there’s a Scientology sign inside a cable payment center.  Scientology reminded me fact can be stranger than fiction.  There was a quote about the tone scale: 

  • In any event, any person from 2.0 down on the Tone Scale should not have, in any thinking society, any civil rights of any kind, because by abusing those rights he brings into being arduous and strenuous laws which are oppressive to those who need no such restraints.
    • The “Tone Scale” is Scientology’s measure of mental and spiritual health; p. 145
  • No Scientologist has ever really been able to adequately explain this quote to me.  I would appreciate it if anyone could give it a shot.

    My interpretation would be this: There are a lot of people who are 2.2 on the tone scale, more than most people know.  This would also adjust with changes times, like “The Great Depression”.  You think people weren’t depressed?  Because of these natural fluctuations, I would be innocently assuming that LRH didn’t mean it literally,  but then I read the following:

  • Unfortunately, it is all too often true that suppressors to a creative action must be removed before construction and creation takes place. Any person very high on the Tone Scale may level destruction toward a suppressor.
    • p. 159
  • There are only two answers for the handling of people from 2.0 down on the Tone Scale, neither one of which has anything to do with reasoning with them or listening to their justification of their acts. The first is to raise them on the Tone Scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without sorrow.
    • p. 170
  • The sudden and abrupt deletion of all individuals occupying the lower bands of the Tone Scale from the social order would result in an almost instant rise in the cultural tone and would interrupt the dwindling spiral into which any society may have entered.
    • p. 170
  • A Venezuelan dictator once decided to stop leprosy. He saw that most lepers in his country were also beggars. By the simple expedient of collecting and destroying all the beggars in Venezuela an end was put to leprosy in that country.
    • p. 171
  • Scientology is not fluff, butterflies, daydreams, or making shapes out of clouds.  It’s not tea-leaf reading crapola, Scientologists fiercely defend this mode of thought, philosophy, religion.  They are dedicated, hard-working, cut-throat at times, creative, debaters, and I also found they can be great people.

    Paul Haggis recently gave up the Church of Scientology after 35 years because of the church’s support of Prop 8.  Sherry Katz and Mary-Jo Leavitt both wrote KRs (Knowledge Reports) that brought for the reality of what it is like to work under David Miscavige-Era Scientology.  It is not an “Ice Cream Social” or anything of the sort.  When Mr. Rathbun, along with other people such as Amy Scobee, Sinar Parman, Jackie Wolff, Gary Morehead, Mike Rinder came out with shocking stories also, of what it is like to serve someone who seems to, by many accounts, has an issue with megalomania.  Beating, unusual punishment, imprisonment is no laughing matter and is completely unacceptable.  You can’t call something a religion to abuse people, religion doesn’t work that way.   These folks had some great words when faced with irrelevant and silly pieces of information the church used to make itself look like the victim. 

    Tommy Davis, the newest spokesthing, sent a response to the Times, which is quite telling.  See it here: http://www.tampabay.com/news/scientology/article1012575.ece  My favorite part is where Tommy said Rinder was resentful because he couldn’t roam with dogs in the big grass anymore or some crap like that.  His response was:  “I don’t want to run in toxic grass with rabid dogs”.  I think that was well said.

    Tommy Davis, the poor kid.  He’s so bad at being the fall guy, it’s like watching a train wreck in slow-motion.  He at first said:  “I’m not familiar with that material”, to being offended about Xenu.  He also lied about disconnection.  A lady in Scientology had told a recently left OTVIII’s friends to take her off their Facebook.  That’s disconnection, that’s cutting off communication.  Another irregularity which I found to be sad and amusing at the same time:  Sherry Katz is awaiting her SP Declare because it GOT CLOGGED IN THE INTERNETS.  Meaning, her SP declare was emailed to people she didn’t even know.  Disconnection is part of the SP Declare, which you can read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SP_Declare#Abuse_of_the_.22Suppressive_Person.22_label

    More about the internets, in recent blogs written by Scientologists, I think they perceive Anonymous as a threat or a pack of bullies, which is quite far from the truth.  In getting to know people from Anonymous, they come from almost every walk of life, in all different colors and sizes.  They may make noise, not to be jerks, but to grab attention.  When people like Uwe Stuckenbrock die in the RPF of multiple sclerosis, it’s not about fun and games.  When we find a picture of a man who died in the Fort Harrison Hotel, his skin nearly boiled off his body, the public gets freaked out.  When Tom Cruise went under a drastic personality change in 2004, the world noticed.  I think Scientology’s first big mistake was trying to stop the flow of free information.  One man had said; “The internet will be Scientology’s Waterloo”.  A Dutch woman, Ms. Spaink, was taken to court for 10 years and eventually won her case to post information about Scientology on the internet.  Trying to suppress information makes the public angry, suspicious, and can incite negativity.  Other religions have no problem posting their information for free.

    So, I think the main purposes behind Anonymous would be:  stopping abuses, freedom of information, and at least lowering the cost of (or making it free) Scientology.  That’s been my observation.  Some people take issue with the doctrine itself, and what I would say to that is: all religious text is open to interpretation.  However, because of Scientology closing itself off from the world for such a long time, both sides have an attitude of distrust.

    Anonymous hasn’t assaulted a single Scientologist, but there are incidents of Scientolgists assaulting protesters.  This is strange and unacceptable behavior as well.  Don’t believe me?  Please have a look at:  Lady protesters from Copenhagen gets shoved http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPBpS-TEjug , a minor in London  getting hit in the face by a handler  http://www.youtube.com/user/trapsicle , the infamous starbucks guy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4_b3z2E-0I , Tommy Gorman (Former Scientologist) got assaulted and charges were filed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kpvsB_At_I , news coverage of Nashville assault of college student http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvHpFtjNg_c , the infamous Anon Orange assault at Gold http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTR07SgrXfU , and there are many others.   On the subject of youtube, here’s me:  http://www.youtube.com/user/Shalindriaharam

    To date, no one has shown me a video of Anonymous hurting anyone.   They are not a terrorist group or a cult, it’s a loose collection of individuals who find the behavior of CO$ to be unacceptable.  I concur, and the reason they wear masks is so that they are not “fair gamed” and have their medical privacy violated like The Pope  http://www.angrygaypope.com .  The cameras are used as evidence, CO$ likes to make false accusations.

    All that considered, I’m on the fence in regards to Scientology.  Dianetics wasn’t my cup of tea, but who am I to judge?  I’d be a hypocrite, however making observations is fair.  Scientology itself deeply needs reform.  Mormonism is a modern-day example of religious reformation, but my favorite example was Martin Luther.  He attempted to reform the Catholic church, that brave soul.  They tried to kill him over it, but in the end good prevailed.  We now have the denomination Lutheranism, which is somewhat like Catholicism, just a heck of a lot less dogmatic.  Today Martin Luther’s observations about Catholicism ring true.

    In summation, I would like to refer my favorite David Bowie song, Heroes.   “We can be heroes, even just for one day”. Protesters, Anonymous, Freezoners, Ex Scientologists like Jason Beghe and Tory Christman, Independents, Critics like 13Heathens http://www.youtube.com/user/13Heathens, Writers like Marc Headley (I loved the book) and Paulette Cooper, Apostates like Tommy Gorman, these people are the heroes.  The dethroning of Miscavige should be the primary objective, his behavior has gone too far.  Someday (in a perfect world), I would like to see Scientologists sharing their beliefs in the same manner other religions do.  People fear what they do not understand, this is a big barrier to overcome.  However, it is possible.

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