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#21 Robert Campbell

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 10:34 AM

Jerry,

Thank you for the reference to Bare-Faced Messiah. I've started in on it, and it's fascinating.

The "Boo Hoo" business is a reminder that, long after recapitulationism was ruled out as a scientific account of evolution, it's become a favorite among the cranks.

Robert Campbell

#22 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:49 PM

Jerry,

Thank you for the reference to Bare-Faced Messiah. I've started in on it, and it's fascinating.

The "Boo Hoo" business is a reminder that, long after recapitulationism was ruled out as a scientific account of evolution, it's become a favorite among the cranks.

Robert Campbell

Somehow, I don't think that the reputation of recapitulationism as an explanatory factor in evolution was improved much by Hubbard's "Boo Hoo" theory!

It's been awhile since I read The Bare-Faced Messiah, but it is clear that Russell Miller did a prodigious amount of research into Hubbard's life. As wild and crazy as the postulates of scientology are, they are almost matched by the account that Miller gives of Hubbard's actual life. My conclusion after reading this book is that Hubbard was a highly intelligent, extremely energetic (manic?), and imaginative writer who never let ethics get in the way of a "good yarn" (his term), Maybe for sheer mischief or to see just how far he could get, he was probably surprised himself that so many people would take his new religion seriously. And how far some of his followers were ready to go to advance it.

I have this fantasy of Hubbard, sitting on his yacht, downing a number of beers, and typing furiously away (he was reputed to be an extremely fast typist), and thinking to himself, "I can't believe I got away with that last yarn! But they ate it up! Now let's see just what fanciful ridiculous b.s. I can think up here this time!"

Miller's account of apparently serious, but ill-fated, attempts by scientologists to influence or gain control of several African countries (in the 1970s) through conversion of their respective leaders, is quite fascinating. Also, his account of how scientologists infiltrated the I.R.S. in order to get access to government records on the Church's finances.

I am not surprised that a number of entertainment celebrities (e.g., Cruise, Travolta, Anne Archer, etc.) have bought into scientology. Critical thinking and common sense do not seem to be needed to be successful in that field. However, I am surprised that a small but significant number of business and technology leaders claim to be devotees of scientology. I would have thought that that would not be a place where success and fanciful nonsense could coexist. But perhaps it is still possible to believe "six impossible things before breakfast" and not be "wiped-out by reality," (as someone else once said about the fate of those who attempt to fake reality).

#23 jeffrey smith

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 07:02 PM

It's been awhile since I read The Bare-Faced Messiah, but it is clear that Russell Miller did a prodigious amount of research into Hubbard's life. As wild and crazy as the postulates of scientology are, they are almost matched by the account that Miller gives of Hubbard's actual life. My conclusion after reading this book is that Hubbard was a highly intelligent, extremely energetic (manic?), and imaginative writer who never let ethics get in the way of a "good yarn" (his term), Maybe for sheer mischief or to see just how far he could get, he was probably surprised himself that so many people would take his new religion seriously. And how far some of his followers were ready to go to advance it.


Having read the portion of the book which relates to Parsons, and therefore with material that I'm already familiar with from other sources, my impression is that it is indeed heavily researched in matters relating directly to Hubbard, but only sketchily researched in ancillary matters (quick point of evidence being his use of the terms "black magic" and "black magicians" in relation to Crowley and Parsons--which is based on nothing more than the fact that Crowley used the terms for the purpose of getting publicity and shocking people, and was seriously believed by the popular press of the time--but otherwise has nothing to do with what Crowley, the OTO and Parsons were actually doing).
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#24 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:45 PM

Jeff,
O.K., I'll bite (even though this is somewhat diverging from the topic of this thread, which is Hubbard and scientology). What exactly are you alluding to by downplaying the references to 'black magic' and claiming that it "... has nothing to do with what Crowley, the OTO, and Parsons were actually doing" (emphasis added). Are you saying that they were not involved in promoting or practicing something that they called "black magic," or to use Crowley's term, "magick"?

I do not know enough about Parsons to form any conclusions, other than he is reputed to have made some actual contributions in the development of rocket propellants., but I do not see any comparable contributions to science (or anything else) that were made by Crowley or Hubbard, neither of which can be taken seriously in any philosophical or literary sense. Psychologically, they may serve as "ideal types," exemplifying sociopathy and other character disorders.

Edited by Jerry Biggers, 01 September 2009 - 11:54 PM.


#25 Robert Campbell

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 04:32 PM

Jeff,

Having read a couple of fair-to-middlin' articles on Aleister Crowley (and remained ignorant of Jack Parsons until he came up on this thread), I'm also curious.

What, in your opinion, were Messrs. Crowley and Parsons and OTO really about?

Robert Campbell

#26 jeffrey smith

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 07:35 PM

Jeff,
O.K., I'll bite (even though this is somewhat diverging from the topic of this thread, which is Hubbard and scientology). What exactly are you alluding to by downplaying the references to 'black magic' and claiming that it "... has nothing to do with what Crowley, the OTO, and Parsons were actually doing" (emphasis added). Are you saying that they were not involved in promoting or practicing something that they called "black magic," or to use Crowley's term, "magick"?

I do not know enough about Parsons to form any conclusions, other than he is reputed to have made some actual contributions in the development of rocket propellants., but I do not see any comparable contributions to science (or anything else) that were made by Crowley or Hubbard, neither of which can be taken seriously in any philosophical or literary sense. Psychologically, they may serve as "ideal types," exemplifying sociopathy and other character disorders.


Jerry and Robert:

Crowley is a very complicated subject, because he was a very complicated person. Hubbard was a sociopath; Crowley was a psychopath, or well on the way to being one. Part of that was his childhood: raised by parents who belonged to a Christian sect that even by the standards of the day (late Victorian) was extremely puritanical and repressive. As an adult, he tended to go to the other extreme.
Purely for publicity purposes, he used to claim he worshiped the devil and was a black magician; but what he actually did was very different. It's probably fair to say that of the three (Crowley, Parson and Hubbard) Hubbard was the black magician. But to seriously believe Crowley was involved in "black magic" is to seriously not understand him. For Crowley and Parsons, magic(k) was a spiritual path ending in total integration of the human psyche. If they worshiped the devil, it was because they thought of the devil as being a liberator, in Gnostic fashion. He was essentially a forerunner of the New Age, but he managed an intellectual rigor that later New Agers couldn't even hope for. Also he had a strong sense of humor which he could turn on himself as much as on anyone else, and a very good writing style. It's sometimes hard to tell when he had his tongue in his cheek, and when he was being extremely earnest. And sometimes he was being both. He tried to combine Buddhism and Western Hermetic tradition, infused with a "holy book" he claimed to have received from the Egyptian gods (the Liber AL). He believed that having a healthy, even massive, ego was necessary to spiritual advance. The person who lacks self esteem could never use his system (Thelema). In terms of science, naturally he made no contributions--but then he never claimed to have done so. Philosophically, because of his importance to the New Age movements, he has left a long lived legacy. He was an expert mountain climber in addition to everything else, but all that did not keep him from becoming at the end of his life a heroin addicted dependent on the charity of others for every penney he had. The OTO, essentially, is the formal group dedicated to keeping his teachings alive and expanding on them. Because Crowley encouraged, and sometimes demanded, a flourishing individualism, it has had its history of factions and schism, including a long quarrel over who has the right to claim to be his "intellectual heir". The legal rights belong to the OTO group which is named, semi-facetiously, the "Caliphate" OTO, but other groups claim the name, and yet more claim the ideas without bothering about the name. There was never any possibility of Thelema developing into a Scientology-type cult, even though Crowley built himself up as a Prophet and Guru. His best exposition of his ideas is a book called "Magick Without Tears", which can be read here:
http://www.luckymojo.../000mwtears.txt
And, to get an idea of his individualist ethos, here is something he called the Liber OZ
(albeit what Crowley meant by "will" here is not quite the same as the usual meaning).

"the law of
the strong:
this is our law
and the joy
of the world." AL. II. 2

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." --AL. I. 40

"thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no other shall say nay." --AL. I. 42-3

"Every man and every woman is a star." --AL. I. 3
There is no god but man.

1. Man has the right to live by his own law--
to live in the way that he wills to do:
to work as he will:
to play as he will:
to rest as he will:
to die when and how he will.
2. Man has the right to eat what he will:
to drink what he will:
to dwell where he will:
to move as he will on the face of the earth.
3. Man has the right to think what he will:
to speak what he will:
to write what he will:
to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as he will:
to dress as he will.
4. Man has the right to love as he will:--
"take your fill and will of love as ye will,
when, where, and with whom ye will." --AL. I. 51
5. Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights.
"the slaves shall serve." --AL. II. 58

"Love is the law, love under will." --AL. I. 57

Copyright © O.T.O.


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#27 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 09:44 PM

Jeff,

Your summary on Crowley generally seems consistent with the entry about Crowley on Wikipedia and elsewhere. There is no lack of material about Crowley on the internet and in many other published accounts. Crowley, himself, was a voluminous writer and authored many books and articles. But as you said, he was a publicity seeker and often said outrageous things and did (or claims he did) acts designed to scandalize the society of his time in order to gain attention. He certainly was a colorful character and some of his beliefs can be seen as an anticipation of the "New Age" mystics of the late 20th century. This is a two-edged sword, and does not speak well either of Crowley or of the New Agers.

His most famous statement, often quoted, is listed in your sampling of his writings: "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law." He repeated that in many of his books and wanted to be known for that statement. Let us take him for his word on this (if nothing else). What that statement means is quite clear: Do anything you want, whenever you want, without regard for the rights of others. This is not even an ethical position, it is the negation of ethics. Kindness, benevolence, consideration of others is o.k. - if it leads to your goal. But, so is brute force,lying, trickery, deception, fraud, coercion, threats, violence - these also are all o.k. Anything goes, so long as it is your will. Note also, his statement, "Man has the right to kill those who thwart these rights. 'The slaves shall serve'"

Whether Crowley actually consistently practiced what he preached, is highly doubtful. If he had, he would have likely ended up in prison. On an insane asylum. That that did not happen is evidence that people did not take him seriously. What he really wanted to be was another Marquis de Sade,who did spend a stretch in an asylum. He tried, but he didn't really have de Sade's style.

Crowley's writings were certainly not advocating "individualism," or for that matter, any coherent system of any philosophy (with the possible exception of nihilism). He was not concerned with individual liberty and the rights of others. He expected his followers in his "Order" to obey him, not practice their individuality (assuming they had any left). He was certainly well read and apparently familiar with most religious cults, alleged "secret societies" and fraternal orders and other mystical traditions of his time. But his own "system" (and I use that word very loosely)is a contradictory and jumbled mess.

Edited by Jerry Biggers, 02 September 2009 - 09:58 PM.


#28 jeffrey smith

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 10:21 PM

Jeff,

Your summary on Crowley generally seems consistent with the entry about Crowley on Wikipedia and elsewhere. There is no lack of material about Crowley on the internet and in many other published accounts. Crowley, himself, was a voluminous writer and authored many books and articles. But as you said, he was a publicity seeker and often said outrageous things and did (or claims he did) acts designed to scandalize the society of his time in order to gain attention. He certainly was a colorful character and some of his beliefs can be seen as an anticipation of the "New Age" mystics of the late 20th century. This is a two-edged sword, and does not speak well either of Crowley or of the New Agers.

His most famous statement, often quoted, is listed in your sampling of his writings: "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law." He repeated that in many of his books and wanted to be known for that statement. Let us take him for his word on this (if nothing else). What that statement means is quite clear: Do anything you want, whenever you want, without regard for the rights of others. This is not even an ethical position, it is the negation of ethics. Kindness, benevolence, consideration of others is o.k. - if it leads to your goal. But, so is brute force,lying, trickery, deception, fraud, coercion, threats, violence - these also are all o.k. Anything goes, so long as it is your will.

Whether Crowley actually consistently practiced what he preached, is highly doubtful. If he had, he would have likely ended up in prison. What he really wanted to be was another Marquis de Sade, a dubious role model. He tried, but he didn't really have de Sade's style.

Crowley's writings were certainly not advocating "individualism," or for that matter, any coherent system of any philosophy (with the possible exception of nihilism). He was not concerned with individual liberty and the rights of others. He expected his followers in his "Order" to obey him, not practice their individuality (assuming they had any left). He was certainly well read and apparently familiar with most religious cults, alleged "secret societies" and fraternal orders and other mystical traditions of his time. But his own "system" (and I use that word very loosely)is a contradictory and jumbled mess.


Thelema may appear a contradictory and jumbled mess. But it's actually a fairly logical and coherent system, with only one major entanglement.

Your opinion of his motto (Do what you will, etc.) is probably founded on the assumption that he's using "Will" in its normal sense. Actually, what he meant was something that he called (in his fuller terminology) "True Will". To illustrate by examples from Rand's fiction: it was the True Will of Howard Roark to build and be an architect; it was the True Will of Dagny Taggart to run railroads; it was the True Will of John Galt to invent and to initiate others in the meaning of freedom and capitalism. "Do what you will" really means, "Do what you must do to be the person that you should be"--and does anyone doubt that those three cases did not apply Crowley's maxim almost to the letter? And True Will is not simplistically focused on one thing. It was Ayn Rand's True Will to supply a moral philosophical basis for capitalism, but also her True Will to be a novelist, and also her True Will to love Frank O'Connor. And how do you figure out what your True Will is? Mostly by self examination, to see where your mind is pushing you. Crowley would have added in the universe as another force pushing you to fulfill your Will--one which can help you do so even if you have no idea of what your True Will is.

The major entanglement comes from the fact that Crowley never adequately considered the possibility that the True Will of one person may put him or her into conflict with another person who was also fulfilling their True Will.
If both have the full right to do what they Will, how do you resolve the conflict. AFAIK, no one in Thelema has gone beyond acknowledging the problem exists. And he never expressly faced the idea that his system allows one to cheat, steal and kill in fulfilling one's True Will. Given how he was himself prone to lie and cheat, he probably had no problem accepting such behavior--as long as you were sure you were fulfilling your True Will. There was almost certainly an Ubermensch tendency in his ideas. And people have from time to time attempted to use his ideas as justification for their own bad actions. That shouldn't surprise you. After all, some people have tried to use Objectivist principles from time to time to justify their own bad actions.

And if Crowley was concerned with being a controlling manipulative focus of adoration, his death allowed that to quickly disappear. I don't have a wide acquaintance among Thelemites, but those I know are intelligent, prone to challenging authority, and in general self reliant people who don't have time to waste on Gurus.

Edited by jeffrey smith, 02 September 2009 - 10:27 PM.

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#29 Robert Campbell

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 07:42 AM

Jeffrey,

Since Crowley claimed to have gotten his basic ideas from Ancient Egypt (not exactly a "do your own thing" kind of culture...), how did he respond to questions about the name Thelema and the motto "Do what thou wilt"?

Both are from Rabelais.

Robert Campbell

#30 jeffrey smith

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 06:10 PM

Jeffrey,

Since Crowley claimed to have gotten his basic ideas from Ancient Egypt (not exactly a "do your own thing" kind of culture...), how did he respond to questions about the name Thelema and the motto "Do what thou wilt"?

Both are from Rabelais.

Robert Campbell


1)Crowley (and his fellow occultists/New Agers) had ideas about what the Egyptians taught and practiced which vary significantly from what the Egyptians actually taught and practiced, and were focused on the supposed esoteric teachings of the Egyptian priests, not the public religion. However, Egypt has been viewed for a long time as one of the places where secret knowledge flourished, especially in Hellenistic times and later (the word alchemy is derived from the Arabic name for Egypt), so he was just following an extremely old tradition in doing so, and he merely extended the practices of the Golden Dawn, which is stuffed full with false Egyptianisms.
2)His actual claim was that actual Egyptians gods communicated with him--not that he was reviving Egyptian religion in some form--and the term Thelema and the motto both appear in the text he "received" from them. (You'll also find a partial quote of Nicholas of Cusa's description of God in the Liber AL, the one which says God is the circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.)
3) He cribbed from whatever source he liked. The Rabelais connection was not only admitted, but vaunted. Rabelais appears in the list of saints Crowley compiled for his Gnostic Mass.
4)And Crowley's life and attitude has a distinctly Rabelaisan flavor to it, anyway...
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#31 Robert Campbell

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 07:08 PM

I've finished Bare-Faced Messiah.

What a story!

Judging from Russell Miller's account, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was both sociopathic and bipolar (manic-depressive). A classic portrait of a cult leader.

Robert Campbell

PS. No wonder the "Boo Hoo" story was so preposterous. Apparently Hubbard's entire understanding of evolution was based on "auditing" his own "past lives."

#32 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:44 AM

I've finished Bare-Faced Messiah.

What a story!

Judging from Russell Miller's account, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was both sociopathic and bipolar (manic-depressive). A classic portrait of a cult leader.

Robert Campbell

PS. No wonder the "Boo Hoo" story was so preposterous. Apparently Hubbard's entire understanding of evolution was based on "auditing" his own "past lives."

Some subsequent critical articles and books about scientology have recounted the fate of The Bare-Faced Messiah and of Russell Miller, himself, after publication of his book. Reportedly, both he and his publishers were subjected to legal (and not-so legal) harassment from supporters of scientology.

In this country, not only did his publisher delete or revise certain passages, it ceased to publicize the book and did not issue other printings or a paperback edition. The book did receive a number of favorable reviews in the press.

I have heard that it is also hard to find copies of this book, and others, that were critical of Hubbard and scientology in public libraries. It seems that copies have "disappeared" from many library collections. It is, however, still available online or as a download from the site that I previously listed.

Edited by Jerry Biggers, 10 September 2009 - 08:45 AM.


#33 WillCB

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 11:21 AM

Jeff,

Your summary on Crowley generally seems consistent with the entry about Crowley on Wikipedia and elsewhere. There is no lack of material about Crowley on the internet and in many other published accounts. Crowley, himself, was a voluminous writer and authored many books and articles. But as you said, he was a publicity seeker and often said outrageous things and did (or claims he did) acts designed to scandalize the society of his time in order to gain attention. He certainly was a colorful character and some of his beliefs can be seen as an anticipation of the "New Age" mystics of the late 20th century. This is a two-edged sword, and does not speak well either of Crowley or of the New Agers.

His most famous statement, often quoted, is listed in your sampling of his writings: "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law." He repeated that in many of his books and wanted to be known for that statement. Let us take him for his word on this (if nothing else). What that statement means is quite clear: Do anything you want, whenever you want, without regard for the rights of others. This is not even an ethical position, it is the negation of ethics. Kindness, benevolence, consideration of others is o.k. - if it leads to your goal. But, so is brute force,lying, trickery, deception, fraud, coercion, threats, violence - these also are all o.k. Anything goes, so long as it is your will. Note also, his statement, "Man has the right to kill those who thwart these rights. 'The slaves shall serve'"

Whether Crowley actually consistently practiced what he preached, is highly doubtful. If he had, he would have likely ended up in prison. On an insane asylum. That that did not happen is evidence that people did not take him seriously. What he really wanted to be was another Marquis de Sade,who did spend a stretch in an asylum. He tried, but he didn't really have de Sade's style.

Crowley's writings were certainly not advocating "individualism," or for that matter, any coherent system of any philosophy (with the possible exception of nihilism). He was not concerned with individual liberty and the rights of others. He expected his followers in his "Order" to obey him, not practice their individuality (assuming they had any left). He was certainly well read and apparently familiar with most religious cults, alleged "secret societies" and fraternal orders and other mystical traditions of his time. But his own "system" (and I use that word very loosely)is a contradictory and jumbled mess.


Dear Jerry Biggers,

I recently stumbled upon your entry in this forum about Aleister Crowley's philosophy of Thelema. It is quite a common error in understanding that you have displayed in your entry, so by no means do I intend to throw any criticism on yourself. You said:

"His most famous statement, often quoted, is listed in your sampling of his writings: "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law." He repeated that in many of his books and wanted to be known for that statement. Let us take him for his word on this (if nothing else). What that statement means is quite clear: Do anything you want, whenever you want, without regard for the rights of others. This is not even an ethical position, it is the negation of ethics. Kindness, benevolence, consideration of others is o.k. - if it leads to your goal. But, so is brute force,lying, trickery, deception, fraud, coercion, threats, violence - these also are all o.k. Anything goes, so long as it is your will. Note also, his statement, "Man has the right to kill those who thwart these rights. 'The slaves shall serve'""

The statement "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law." DOES NOT mean do whatever you want. Quite the opposite in fact. It means that the individual must DISCOVER his or her True Will, their 'Divine purpose' you may call it if you will. Then, when they Know what that is , they must carry it out. It is slightly amusing to note that you omitted the second line of Aleister Crowley's central motto which is "Love is the law, love under will". This means that your True Will must be carried out with Love. Indeed, I believe that Aleister would have agreed with you that "brute force,lying, trickery, deception, fraud, coercion ect" may be permissible, but ONLY on the CONDITION that you do not contradict another person's True Will. If it harms no-one, what is the problem? As the wiccans say. If, on the other hand , you intend to lie in order to contradict another person's True Will... in such a way as in fact you have done - you have lied about what Crowley said (omitting the line "Love is the law...") in order to dirty his name. This is very much Anti-Thelemic behaviour and serves no-one.

The final line you mentioned "Man has the right to kill those who thwart these rights. 'The slaves shall serve'". Indeed, if someone intends to contradict my True Will which is to be alive.. i.e. they try to kill me or my family, therefore I have the right to kill this person who would thwart my right to live. Such people are in a way like slaves, and in fact through their vile behaviour they put themselves in a position of servitude.

I urge you, Mr Biggers, to study Crwoley's literature more closely, especially Commentaries on Al, which explains many of the slightly more mysterious phrases that Crowley used. He often intended to jibe at people such as yourself who were not prepared to spend the time actually reading his books but would rather critisize him blindly. It was to these people that he made tongue in cheek statements such as "I sacrificed x babies this year"...etc... meaning in fact that he had ejaculated so many times without a resulting pregnancy. His intelligence quite simply baffled many people who in his period of life were often extremist Christians and so he revelled in displaying himself as the devil that they so desired to see in him.

#34 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 09:22 AM

With the Callahan thread and the McCaskey imbroglio going at the same time, I looked into Scientology again, and found this really good, new BBC documentary. Itís enjoyable for the schadenfreude it provides in the wake of the Tracinski piece, since, however bad the Objectivist movement is, itís nothing compared to Scientology. The parallels are interesting though.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMDGikPmEywhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAOzbadA0II&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3KNtFSEm4Y&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPTIr6uaTX0&feature=related
Prandium gratis non est

#35 william.scherk

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 11:06 AM

With the Callahan thread and the McCaskey imbroglio going at the same time, I looked into Scientology again, and found this really good, new BBC documentary.

Thanks for forking this up, Mr Threepwood. I have seen the documentary before, and enjoyed it. The BBC reporter was featured in Scientology propaganda once the Panorama programme appeared -- as they had followed him around with their own cameras. You have probably seen the footage of him flipping out on a Church creep (see below).

I don't believe the TFT cultists ever approach the concerted actions of the Church when confronted by critics and investigators. In that sense, TFT is benign in comparison.

Incidentally, did you know that Monica Pignotti, the highest profile 'defector' from TFT, was a Sea Org Scientologist? She details her experience in the Church in a lengthy piece, "My Nine Lives In Scientology." It is spellbinding reading, highly recommended.

Pignotti has been subject to online harassment in the past couple of years. I doubt that any TFT proponents are leading this action, but she certainly has ticked off a few people. Pignotti is also an Objectivist.

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