Scientology

I’m running emacs from eve on my local machine through the magic of X, and it’s pretty weird. It’s also a little slow on opening new windows, text selection, and redrawing, so I need to take it easy.

I’ve spent the last few hours reading old mail and cutting out snippets and ideas that I can later use in the second book. It’s recycling, but it’s also stuff that hasn’t been published, and it’s mine, so what the hell? Whenever I’ve done this in the past, I’ve contorted the old stuff so much, that it’s barely distinguisable for the original, so I don’t think anyone will notice. In fact, Rumored to Exist already contains stuff pulled from dream journals and heavily modified. It’s weird to think that ideas from the book originated in dreams, but it happens. It’s even more weird that I read in an interview with Chick Corea that the theme from Eye of the Beholder came to him in a dream. I’ve listened to that album thousands of times, and that song is so haunting – you remember it out of nowhere weeks later.

Chick Corea is a Scientologist, and I’m not sure if that bothers me or not. I don’t know much about Scientology except the extreme sides of the argument. There are people saying “L. Ron Hubbard anally raped my mother and forced me to buy $27,000 worth of child pornography!” and then the snake-oil “just come on down for a reading, just once. All your friends are. John Travolta has – you liked him in Pulp Fiction, didn’t you? Just come on down to the center…”

I’d like to know some basic facts about Scientology. Do they worship God, or a god? Is it all a form of psychology, some kind of conditioning? Is it strictly a new-age thing? What does it cost? Do you go every week, like church, or do you just take the courses and audits? Are there penalties? (I’ve heard that if you don’t sign in every week, they get shitty with you, and that there are bizarre hazing rituals, where you have to get a bunch of people to sign a petition saying you aren’t a fuckup or something) Are there restrictions, such as alcohol, diet, morality, sexuality, etc? What is their view on clinical depression, i.e. would they tell someone like me to stop taking all of my medicine and start spending money on Scientology junk?

Interesting things about Scientology, to me: I have no doubt that the use of an E-meter to clear engrams works. It’s simple conditioning. I have tried to read Dianetics (it’s impossible) and I’ve read some other articles – you can rid yourself of engrams (and probably stress or depression or other bad feelings) as easily as you could keep your cat from jumping on the couch by spraying it with a bottle of water each time it tries. The idea of clearing various bad thoughts from my head in this method is enticing – therapy’s nice, but it isn’t systematic, and even though I’ve heard the clear course costs a few grand, it’s probably cheaper than a year’s worth of therapy. The idea of a group or community is always interesting to me, although I don’t know if the people would be cool, interesting individuals or a bunch of freaked-out, crystal-wearing zombies. So I’m not totally against the idea, but I have the doubts.

Okay, the part about doubts: I’ve heard weird things that lead me to believe that they would tell me to go against medical advice, quit my medicine, and just read a lot of their books until I was better. I’m really not into that. I’ve also heard odd things about how controlling they are about their members. Maybe this is isolated to ex-members who are psycho – the Paula Jones syndrome. Money is also a factor, because it sounds more like a business. In the Catholic Church, it’s pay-what-you-can, and if you are broke, then give a dollar when you’re doing better. It sounds like Scientology is more like “pay x dollars for this course”, like a college, and maybe I don’t have that much money. There’s also the whole Scientology-internet thing, and I don’t know where I land on that one. They tried to stop an ex-member from posting a bunch of confidential stuff on the web. If I had a business with confidential plans and an ex-employee put it on a usenet newsgroup, I’d be pissed, too. But maybe they took it too far with all of their lawsuits. I didn’t follow it that closely, so I don’t know. The lawsuits against the cult awareness network also seem to be in their self-defense, but if they are worried about being labelled as a cult, why don’t they rescind their church tax status and become an incorporated business? If they were just some kind of motivational company that sold cassettes and seminars, they wouldn’t have to worry about the cult persecution. They’d have to pay taxes, but if they were incorporated and hired some good accountants, they’d pay as much in taxes as any other business in this country (i.e. none).

Just my thoughts. I will probably get hate mail from both sides of the fence here. To the anti-Scientology people: I won’t condemn anything I’m not informed about. I’m anti-Christian and anti-Catholic, but it’s because I’ve spent decades in their churches, reading their bible, and examining what they do to society. I couldn’t be anti-Scientology until I fully understood it. And I know there are all sorts of anti-Scientology pages on the web I could read, but there are also a bunch of pro-UFO pages, and they don’t sway my opinion either. Trust nobody, remember? To the Scientology people: if Consumer Guide did a good writeup on Scientology and told all of the good and bad points and a cost analysis, I might consider it. I’m not against spending money to improve myself, but I don’t want the used car salesman treatment about it. I skimmed Dianetics and it rose more questions than it answered. Maybe if I went to a center, this would all be explained, but I’m always afraid that if I went, I’d get lassoed into writing a slew of postdated checks for books, tapes, and courses. Right now, I don’t have a hundred bucks to spend on an auditing course – I don’t even have a dollar. I’d appreciate nonbiased or slightly biased comments about this topic, but please no mailbombs, legal threats, or stories about how your stepsister was gang-raped at a Scientology party.

It’s hard to go from that into anything else, so I won’t try. I should be working on the book, and it’s already 2:30am, so maybe I should either get something done, or give it up for the evening. I have an urge to go put gas in my car and get something more to eat, so maybe I’ll do that. Anyway, more later.

06/27/98 18:10

My digestive system has gone south, so I’m wondering what to do about dinner tonight. I’m sure something will happen. I have enough money to go to Denny’s, but the food would kill me, and I need to ration my cash like Germans rationed gas during World War II. (That’s a completely arbitrary comment – I’m assuming they rationed gas, because we bombed the shit out of their oil refineries. I didn’t. Somebody that lived in the US did. They, not we. Nevermind.)

The VW is still dead. I bolted on the refurbished water pump and housing, hooked it all up, and… it didn’t start. The battery died from the 3 weeks or so of sitting around. I checked it for any visible problems, and saw that it was a 50 month warranty battery that was installed in April of 93. Do the math and you’ll see why I found that humorous/not very fucking funny. I got a jumpstart (the wonder of two cars) and cranked it over, and… it leaked like a sieve. New antifreeze, all over the place. It didn’t leak too fast at first, and I thought that maybe the engine would get hot and the parts would expand and sort of weld together, sort of like how the SR-71 leaks fuel all over the place while on the ground, but once it gets going mach 3, all of the titanium expands and it’s tighter than a drum.

So I got in the car, went for a spin, and within 2 minutes, realized just how fucking stupid I can be at times. The engine temperature light swept from C to H like the second hand on a watch, and I pulled into the parking lot of a medical center. The thing was REALLY losing coolant, and I watched it drain onto the ground while the engine ticked away. I’ve been told that driving an overheated VW is one of the worst things you can do, because it has an aluminum head, and it’s very, very easy to fuck things up on a colossal scale. So I was smart enough to stop before the needle got buried in the red on the temp gauge. I let it cool down, found that I don’t know how to operate the heater in my car, and then I left (the VW heater controls have a bunch of international symbols – instead of saying “vent”, “heat”, etc. there is a triangle, a box, a grid, and some wavy lines. I don’t know what the fuck this means. Also, the heater core might be dead – I’m not sure. I wanted to run the heater because it’s the best thing to do when the car overheats. It’s uncomfortable, but it works like a secondary radiator, and can sometimes save your ass. I had to do this daily in my diesel Rabbit.) I got maybe a half mile back, and the temp redlined, so I pulled into a hospital or a medical building of some sort, and waited a bit more. The engine cooled, so I put in the key, and… nothing. No battery. No cranking. Not even a pathetic “tic tic tic”.

I called Karena on my cell phone, and she showed up and jumpstarted the car. On the remaining mile of the trip, I stopped again briefly. It was cool because I stopped on a little cul-de-sac with a slight downhill grade, and when the engine cooled and we took off, I just pushed in the clutch, shifted to third, let gravity pull me to a gentle clip, and jockeyed the clutch a bit – pow, the engine started. No jumpstart needed.

Anyway, I got the car back, and it doesn’t seem to leak a whole lot when its at a standstill. I think that it’s the housing’s connection to the engine, and that it’s not sitting well. I asked around on usenet, and I think if I pull everything apart again, put a Pamela Anderson-sized amount of silicone sealer all over the part, and torque the shit out of everything, it will stop leaking. But that means draining and refilling the radiator again. As for the battery, I can pick out of those up maybe next weekend.

I’m tired, my stomach hurts, and I’m still dirty from all of this work. I think a nap is in order.

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