I've not had a letter from the Scientology crowd on Abbey Street in months. They used to pester me all the time, sending me leaflets about becoming 'clear' and such nonsense. I was easy prey, to be fair, back in the day, scurrying past them to get my bus, a worried-looking teenager clutching a Forbidden Planet bag. Would I like a free personality test? Well, okay, I suppose...
Did I know who L. Ron Hubbard* was? Well, of course, I'd read Fear, which was brilliant, and Battlefield Earth, which wasn't, and had been working my way through Mission Earth, which I was enjoying massively in a way that makes very little sense in retrospect. Well, I was told, L. Ron had written other stuff too -- more serious stuff. And so I was introduced to Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
The whole thing struck me as peculiar. Were these people renting a whole floor on a city centre building just to sell a book? Really? Still, I was curious, so I did the test, and I bought the book, and I went home and read it, and then I was called back. I needed auditing, apparently, and I needed it like I needed air.
All very well, but with me not being able even to afford one session, and not being comfortable in any case with the form I'd have had to fill out, I mumbled my excuses and went and got my bus. I got a few letters from them that year, and a few the following one, but they've kind of tailed off since then.
You'll note that no mention was ever made to me of Scientology, Hubbard's ingenious attempt to establish that the inestimable Mr Barnum was indeed correct when he opined that there was a sucker born every minute.
I think I came across that ludicrous pseudo-religion in a magazine article a few years later, shortly afterwards racing through Russell Miller's Bare-Faced Messiah in a Dublin library. Frankly, I was amazed. I had difficult believing that that seedy little Dublin office, manned by some rather pathetic-seeming people was just one tentacle of a massive international organization. That's not even getting into the embarrassing science fantasy that passes for Scientological theology. I'm not even going there.
Anyway, as the years have passed and the letters have appeared less and less often, I've often been bemused to watch the same pathetic-looking people lurking on Abbey Street, pouncing on vulnerable-looking passers by. What do these have in common with the likes of Tom Cruise? Sadly, they didn't show up to tell the crowds in UCD back in November, so I'm afraid I'm none the wiser.
As for Mr Cruise, his ecstatic rantings on the subject have been plastered all over the web for the last few days, but most clips just show highlights of him wittering about Scientologists being the authorities on the mind, or about how only Scientologists can help when there's been an accident. Gavin Sheridan, usefully, has posted links to the entire Cruise video, so you can get it all in context. I doubt the videos will stay online for long, so in expectation of them being pulled, here's how the Scientologists introduce Mr Cruise, our modern messiah:
There is a worldwide arena where the game is played for the fate of whole populations . . . where one side schedules entire generations for psychiatric drugging, and marks five million more for lethal toxic exposure . . . Also on the board, scores of nations where no workable technology will even be permitted . . . and plans in play to keep people so restimulated they can barely envision a future, much less consider the eternal scope of Scientology.Wonderful, eh? Someday I hope I'll get such introductions, though if I do I'll make damn sure I wear a cloak and have the theme to The Mission playing when I stride onstage. Oh yes.
But there‘s someone on the other side of that global arena . . . Someone advancing Scientology on a fully epic scale to a very different future . . . And he is Class 4 OT7 Platinum Meritorious and IAS Freedom Medal of Valor Winner . . . Tom Cruise!
* By the way, in case you're curious, the picture's a screenshot from Muppets Tonight -- the Cindy Crawford episode. The key bit is just over six minutes in. Aside from featuring Ms Crawford and, er, L. Ron as childhood Frogeteers together, the episode's highlights include the Irish Rodents, and Andy and Randy asking Ms Crawford what -- if she was a supermodel -- were her superpowers. Kieran Healy wrote about it way back when on Crooked Timber.