Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
April 11th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Engagement, “Going Clear, Scientology and the Prison of Belief”

L. Ron Hubbard

Cover of L. Ron Hubbard

I, with my trust HBO NOW subscription, sat down to watch “Going Clear, Scientology and the Prison of Belief” the other night. By now, if you are interested in these certain things, you will have seen the reviews and basic plot lines.

It details the story for 8 former Scientologists, each with their own unique story that somehow ends up being the same. Many of them were high level executives of the organization. We are introduced too briefly to the genesis of the cult, that of L. Ron Hubbard (or LRH). Watching the brief clips of him, you can see the sadistic hold this man had on life. I think he suspected that of himself as well, given that he did at one time ask the VA for psychiatric help. We are also told of some of the belief systems — and reminded that only only top level Scientologists get to really find these out.

Jamie DeWolf, the great-grandson of LRH, has a video of the family’s secrets – The Son of Scientology.

They are tax-exempt, for some unknown reason… The IRS simply surrendered.

There is abuse, there is torture. There is the prison of belief. There were mind games and simple acquiesces of the human spirit. I cannot fault them, as I too consented to have my humanity disparaged and destroyed. One of the more striking things, as a continuous believer, is that a recovering cult member, could tell you the difference between religion and Scientology. One person compared “the bridge” to Christianity’s Hell. It was a small quote, but nothing added to that. But it reminded me of what Einstein said, “You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.”

One of the things that become apparent to me, especially as one who has moved out of a (Christian) cult and experienced many of the psychological wars these people face, is how the sense of shame permeates every bit of one’s being. Further, they understand their role in it. They were abused and in turn passed that abuse on to someone else. When they got out, they have attempted to build a life with a huge black hole where their normal development should have been.

I can tell them that there should not be a sense of shame, but I wouldn’t and still do not listen to myself. Those who move out of abusive cults — and especially those who participated in them — maybe want that sense of shame.

Something else that became clear — each had their own breaking point. For some, it was the forced loss of family. For others, it was the realization that they were the victims of systematic abuse. In watching the actor Jason Beghe speak, there is something else. He has not left. Or rather, he has not learned how to cover in the hole that exists in his life. He looked to be on drugs. This, I think, is understandable. When you have your life, your entire belief system, ripped away from you — the natural, human, instinct is to find something to replace it. For some, it is drugs and alcohol. For others, as Einstein said, it is atheism (and by atheism, I mean more like a-theism, an anti-theist position).

There is another quote. Someone asks a survivor about why they think they could believe that. They said something about the mind turning itself off to that which would hurt it. This, the theory of motivated reasoning, is what drives many of us, I think. Or maybe, prevents us from exploring anything not directly supportive of our current belief system. This is the prison of belief. But, we find this in total atheism, in total Christianity, in total Islam. When we lock ourselves up in our minds, we will stay there and be destroyed, led around by our captivity.

I would encourage you to read the book and to watch the movie.

I’m going to watch it again.

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

One Response to “Engagement, “Going Clear, Scientology and the Prison of Belief””
  1. Remarkable resemblance, in looks and philosophy:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iyp9fh-u4w8

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