Reading: about L(afayette) Ron Hubbard

(Official portrait of L Ron Hubbard - from Wikipedia)

There's been a bit of hoo-haa in the media and online this week about a BBC documentary being made about the Church of Scientology. (Of course, the media does love talking about the media).

Part of it revolves around this rather shouty exchange between BBC journo John Sweeny and Scientology officials.

This clip was widely publicised online a few days before the doco was aired on the BBC, in what some believe was a well managed PR attempt to discredit Sweeny and the doco by the Church of Scientology. (The COS - in a fairly sensible move mediawise - had their own camera team mirroring the BBC team during the whole process and this is presumably their footage)

I'm not entirely sure it would be that much of a PR strategy (if that is what it was) as it's only served to bring a shirtload of attention to the whole thing.

To my ears - I work a fair bit with audio but admit I'm no expert - it seems as though there is something a little odd about the distortion that kicks in during Sweeny's outburst. I have to wonder whether it hasn't been enhanced in some way.

There is a comment on the YouTube video - who knows if it's true - to this extent.

soulrelicsnwsk (11 hours ago)

Im a qualified sound engineer and the I can tell quite easily that the audio has been manipulated. The waves are peaking far behond what could be capable at that range, unless it amplfied or set behond its level.

Anyways, all of this is secondary.

It's been a good opportunity for the commentariat to put in their two cents on the Church of Scientology and L Ron Hubbard and the like, with one of the most interesting - and seemingly well researched pieces - coming from The Age's Jack Marx.

He focusses on the life and times of Scientology founder Hubbard and compares it with the "official" biography.

Here are a few of the nuggets:

L. Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska, in 1911, his family moving shortly thereafter to the state of Montana. It was here, according to Hubbard himself and the official Church biography, that the four-year-old boy struck up a "unique and rare relationship" with a local Blackfoot Indian medicine man known as "Old Tom", Ron's inquisitive nature so impressing the whole tribe that, at the age of six, he was "honored with the status of blood brother of the Blackfeet in a ceremony that is still recalled by tribal elders."

Curiously, officials of the Blackfoot Nation, who never practiced the act of blood brotherhood, do not recall anyone called "Old Tom", the name appearing nowhere in the tribal scriptures.

In his book, The Pulp Jungle, fellow writer Frank Gruber recalled an evening with the 23-year-old Hubbard in New York in 1934, when several hours of listening to Ron's tales prompted Gruber to respond:

"'Well, you were in the Marines seven years, you were a civil engineer for six years, you spent four years in Brazil, three in Africa, you barn-stormed with your own flying circus for six years... I've just added up all the years you did this and that and it comes to eighty-four years...' He blew his stack...Most of the other members expected their yarns to be taken with a pinch of salt, but not Ron. It was almost as if he believed his own stories."

And this is apparently the spiritual tale at the core of the beliefs of the Church:

In a discovery that seemed to owe more to Hubbard's science fiction career than any knowable reality, Ron identified the "thetan", an entity similar to a soul or spirit, whose meddlings inside the human body gave rise to near every ailment or mental condition. Hubbard first spoke of thetans in 1952, but his explanation of where they came from emerged later, during a lecture series about "Advanced" Scientology in 1968.

Briefly, thetans were the regrettable result of the actions of the evil galactic dictator, Xenu, who, approximately 75 million years ago, tricked billions of aliens into travelling to Earth, then known as "Teegeeack", in modified DC8 aircraft, before blowing them up with hydrogen bombs. The wretched souls of the victims, the "thetans", blown into the air by the explosions, were then captured by Xenu and forced into cinemas (located in either Hawaii or the Canary Islands) where they were made to digest a series of motion pictures that depicted all manner of nonsense, including the basic doctrines of Christianity and psychiatry. The thetans then gathered together in groups and infected the bodies of the few who'd survived the bombing, their indoctrination in the movie cinemas cursing humanity to this very day. The only known way one can become "clear" of thetans is through the Church of Scientology...

Interesting column and well worth a read - the comments are priceless too :)