LIONEL PODCAST: Scientology, Cults & the Paralysis of Faith

A cult is defined as a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object or a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing. Any questions?

What is a cult? According to the HBO documentary “Going Clear” and Alex Gibney Scientology is. It’s not a religion, clearly. At least that’s what it suggests. And what’s a religion? Dunno. When is a faith system bogus? Not sure. How does Scientology compare with others? Hard to say. But don’t let these great questions get in the way of a mediocre documentary. You see, collectively we all agree that it’s OK to pile on these folks. And just for the record, yeah, I think they’re nuts. Not Scientologists, all religions. But nuts or not, it’s their right. And how the IRS is to apply a series of rational criteria to determine what is and isn’t valid is beyond me. Note how just some religions are mocked. Certainly never climate change fanaticism. And, yes, that’s a cult also.

Scientology allegedly makes its money as a nonprofit and not paying its workers a salary. Sound familiar?

Be very careful of the definition you craft.  The notion of compulsory behavior and brainwashing would apply to a host of behaviors and areas of our world, viz. the military. Look at a group of Marines at Parris Island. Heads shaved, dehumanized, broken down and built up. But that’s different, right? That’s for a noble cause. And speaking of draconian servitude, did anyone mention the NCAA? Be very careful when you a charismatic group or cause is labeled over-the-line. I would submit that under this very tenuous definition, more organizations, upon closer inspection, would qualify as cult.

What do you call this? Fealty, obeisance. The cult of personality. Devotion has no parameters or rules. It’s a wave that pours over people. There’s a collective mentality, an organic collective that absorbs people. And its been studied and perfected since time immemorial. What HBO did was chronicle the obvious, in all its no-scheiße splendor. But don’t expect anything similar to cover Muslims or the ultra-ultra-Orthodox Jews. Not on your life. Catholics, I submit, are always fair game, but I digrees.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Where have I heard that before?

Behold the psychology of the rally. Before Nuremberg and Goebbels, who said, ““The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” It’s axiomatic. It takes people over. Why are churches en masse? There’s a Catholic pun there. It’s the psychology of the event. Sports, pep rallies, concerts. Are you seeing what’s happening here?

He is risen. Hat’s off to Obama’s people. Now compare this with that of Scientology. No difference. Not since the referenced infra can I remember an eye-fluttering swooning over a figure, political or otherwise. I mean, we’re talking Beatles quality vapors. And I still see it. And it shows you the brilliance of recruiting this man, in particular. It’s fanaticism, tribal. Leagues, factions, persuasions and demographics. Yankees, Manu, FOX, MSNBC, left-right. There’s nothing special about Scientology, there’s something special about our brain.

Fanaticism knows no party affiliation. And the professional Right is not off the hook. Their apotheosis and deification of St. Ronald of Reagan knows no equal. What we’re seeing here is the psychology of humans, not a cult or phony religion. Had we not the hardware intellectually and emotionally, it would have no success. With Reagan and Obama and God, not in that particular order, the human penchant for irrational belief, cultivated and developed through fear, indecision and a desire for the appropriate locus of control, is the foundation upon which everything is based. And the First Amendment is our attempt to codify and protect our unique penchant.

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