This is the fourteenth installment of the account of a journey into and out of scientology — written by one of our long-term readers. I hope you enjoy her insights, humor and style.
Lili also provided a glossary of terms.
Through the Bubble – Lili’s Adventures in Scientologyland
This is my quirky recollection of events. Others may remember things differently. Lingo is italicized on the first mention, capitalized after that. I’ve compressed complexities in the cult to simplify your reading pleasure.
Let’s Get Deadly Bored, I Mean Serious and Clear This Planet
The higher-ups in Scientology discovered the joy of embracing modern technology. Sort of. And soon, the Events came to our Organization on video. This was groovy because if someone coughed or deviated from the script, they could be killed. Oh, not that. Their gaff could be edited out to reach a peak percentage of boredom. But don’t worry about falling asleep in your chair. You’d wake back up when the crowd jumped to its feet around you and clapped with their hands over their heads. Because the audience was also being videoed, and that’s not creepy.
I thought these Events had sunk to the bottom in the sea of misery. Alas, I’d misjudged. It could and did get worse. The Event attendee’s glacial silences between frantic clapping outbreaks, due to a lack of jokes or anything interesting enough to get even a head nod, set the tone of fear and control that Upper Management sought. The robotic performances of the videoed, perfectly coifed speakers morphed purposes.
It was no longer good enough to make an Event you couldn’t bring a prospect to. And for damn sure, you wouldn’t take a friend to one of those Events, cuz you’d lose that friend. In the latest incarnation of great ideas for Events, you now had to donate money to the Planetary Clearing Program.
This new Planetary Clearing Program was supposed to bring in a whole new, next level of wild enthusiastic demand for L Ron Hubbard’s towering, pithy bits of wisdom. Cough. The jostling converts would blow the doors off the hinges in their zeal to learn the truth. Did the higher-ups not notice that we’d had a pretty workable program for getting new people in? Evidently, if the ex-Franchise Holder started a successful program that aligned perfectly with Scientology’s grand purpose, it was a shitty program.
Scientology’s tremendously far-reaching Planetary Clearing Program from the genius minds in Sea Org Upper Management was supposed to give us this shared destiny. This shining purpose. Somehow it would mean an end to war, insanity, illness, and other pie-in-the-sky crap. This rallying purpose was the star-high goal. We were deputized to save the planet from the aberrated, the deluded, the non-Scientologists.
Having given myself a stomach ache already swallowing the last batch of reasons I disagreed with Scientology, my eyes glazed over. In some sick survival mode, I bought into it. Middle-aged people who said I was special in the communes were sincere. And awesome. The ones at Scientology who said I was special were just doing a Drill. Doing “what needed to be done.” Lying for the glorious expansion of Scientology. And lying about how special I was to get me to volunteer to make snacks for their next Event to Clear the Planet, which would be a Registrar-infested bloodbath.
As if paying exorbitant sums of borrowed money for your next spiritual step on the Bridge to Total Freedom wasn’t enough. And that sounds real-religious, right? You now had to show your “support” and “On-Purpose-ness” to the cherch by donating more borrowed money toward their world-domination-expansion plan. Money that no named executive accounted for, except in carefully videoed statements, of rah-rah misdirection.
This new Planetary Clearing Program was a peachy idea. Scientology’s brilliant idea was causing the cherch to grow by leaps and bounds. Somewhere else. At our Org, our Course Rooms echoed with near-emptiness. Student Scientologists were on the endangered species list. But that was all going to change when the Planetary-promotional program of spiritual truth and ads at half-time during the Superbowl were released.
Desperate newbies would flood into the Orgs, and we had to be prepared. But it would only happen if you ponied up. This massive influx of, Bodies-in-the-Shop, was just around the corner. Yup, that was one of the Org’s Statistics. I kid you not.
Even though I’d learned I was a glorious immortal spiritual being called a Thetan, who used up bodies like sandwich bags along my quadrillion-year time track, they still counted me as a Body-in-the-Shop. I wondered how high up the Bridge to Total Freedom I’d need to rise to be counted as a Thetan-in-the-Shop.
Getting Out of the Dog House and My Terrible Idea
After Scientology Santa Barbara got all grim and serious, became an Organization, and Events became a torturous trial, I decided to plan an Event myself. This bright idea was my proposal of a non-toilet-scrubbing Amends project for some ill-considered grievous Ethical infraction. That I don’t remember. Auditing all those past-life wars on Mars, and the pillaging of Arcturus, did nothing to improve my memory.
I decided to plan a good, old-fashioned Event. No video, no script, leave your wallet at home, talk from your heart, fun Event. My idea was well-received since it was like pulling teeth to get the faithful to attend these latest grimace-inducing debt-fests.
I got ahold of the Los Angeles Scientologist-Magician, funny-joke guy. He and his merry band of old-school-Scientology-Coffee-Shop-Auditing pals (see the glossary) agreed to drive their cars farther than between their home, work, and the Course Room. They’d tell stories from the streets about the effects of L Ron Hubbard’s original Old-School Auditing on Raw Meat. And how some of those same Raw Meat bodies actually walked themselves into cherch Courses after their Big Wins.
I’d been asked to ensure that my event would encourage parishioners to bring in their own Raw Meat prospects. This was because the Communication Course Course Room was big and mostly empty of students. The upstairs Course Room for advanced students was increasingly peopled by, A: students re-doing courses they’d already done. B: children of aging Scientologists. Or C: the same tired roster of Kool-Aid-drinking true believers. The local Scientology Org needed some new blood. New blood that hadn’t already maxed out their credit cards.
The Thankless Joy of Volunteering for a Cult
I wrote a letter on my house cleaning business letterhead extolling the virtues of this wonderful upcoming Event. I thought if it came from me, Miss Fun, instead of the Org, people might actually consider attending. The wording had to get approved first by the cherch’s Authority and Verifications Unit. I had to leave out the, leave your wallet at home, thing. And other breathy wording. If it wasn’t serious and hard-hitting, they weren’t fans.
I finally got approval, and a date was set for my event. Oh, happy-happy, joy-joy, I was allowed access to the highly confidential mailing list. For the Santa Barbara area. It was freaking huge. I’d have gone bankrupt buying stamps if I planned to mail letters to all the dead people and fake names the college kids gave when they got roped in to talk to the Test Evaluator.
The roper-inners of these college students were often attractive female staff members called Body Routers. I know, it sounds like the aliens from the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I Body Routed a few times to dodge toilet scrubbing for some amends project or other. And I was a pretty good Body Router.
With a clipboard clutched in my arm, I’d walk the streets near the Org and ask bullshit questions to lure the unsuspecting prospects in for Scientology’s Free Personality Test. Mocking up that cheery, friendly vibe to mislead the trusting passersby made me feel like a human Venus Fly Trap.
I squinted at the giant mailing list printed out from the aged dot matrix printer and picked out the names I recognized. I hand addressed and licked every stamp I paid for. Then I presented the envelopes to the Org staff member in charge of promotion. To mail. Because, even though I was now a trained Auditor, I wasn’t capable of being trusted to mail those freaking envelopes.
The staff member was so hopeful about my upcoming event, and the follow-on predicted boost in Raw Meat arrivals that they decided to share the super-secret Ventura mailing list with me as well. That was unfortunate. I’d need to order more business letterhead and envelopes, which I wouldn’t be reimbursed for. But I put my foot down on buying stamps for those Ventura Scientologists.
We all, me and a few mouthy Santa Barbara staff members during a bitch-fest off-site, cursed those freaking Ventura Scientologists. (Turns out Scientologists do Natter. And share confidential and embarrassing things parishioners say in Auditing Sessions.) Those blasted Venturians still had a Franchise Holder. I guess they didn’t do the sketchy loan thing. They were still a small-town Scientology Center. Pantywaist dilettantes. And they still had fun Events. I’d gone to one and loved it. Secretly.
Ex-Christian-Scientologists and Free Babysitting
A bunch of the Ventura Scientology parishioners were ex-Christians. They’d been doing the Christianity thing for the free babysitting and potlucks. Where the parents could drink wine spritzers and let their kids run wild for hours at some park or beach. They also loved the camping trips the Christians took their kids on, so the parents could finish a sentence, clean their house, and let it look nice for more than five minutes.
When the Christians defected to Scientology’s new brand of spirituality, with no Hell to worry about, they brought their demand for food, sweets, and free childcare with them. They mobbed the Ventura Events, had babysitters for each age group of child, multiple age-appropriate Disney toys and games, and massive spreads of food, brought by the faithful. They probably did their Course times during the week so they could do their heavy drinking on the weekends. In other words, they had their shit together.
In the epic fail department, I had missed this crucial, free-babysitting key to Event success. The Santa Barbara Org shipped my deficient letter about my great Event far and wide to the Ventura Field. In Scientologese, the Field, is whatever Upper Management says your area of Raw-Meat-procurement geography is.
Not only did I fail to plan for child care, but I also forgot to add the magic word – Refreshments. When the Event Day arrived, none of the busloads of Venturian ex-Christian-Scientologists showed up. Frantic last-minute calls were made to people in Ethics or about to be in Ethics. And anyone else in Santa Barbara who would answer their phone without listening on their answering machine first to make sure it wasn’t a call from Scientology. Parishioners were begged to get down to the Org straightaway. They didn’t want the panel of speakers to outnumber the attendees.
Staff members were plucked off Post to sit in the audience. A guy sitting down to dinner, staring down the barrel of Ethics, for some horrible transgression, like missing a course time to be with his sick daughter, was talked into driving down. This would prove how On-Purpose he was and stave off any toilet scrubbing in his near future. Yay, happy to help, dude.
The final desperate stratagem to conceal the yawning emptiness of the Event space was to escort the two students on the Communication Course and the three old fossils from the upper Course Room into chairs in different rows.
In the good news department, everyone loved the event. Instead of pretending they had to pee and bolting out the back door before the Event finished, everyone stayed after it ended. We all wanted to chat with the magician and his merry band. They were real people. They seemed to be making a difference. And for me, it renewed my pledge to soldier on, despite the challenge of it all.
I never organized a Scientology Event again.