And Now, For Something Completely Different -- Kelly Baker on Scientology



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“For the Love of Xenu," by Kelly Baker

While I really wish I could attribute the above title to my own creativity, this is title of an article by Mark Oppenheimer on Scientology. I, like many, know relatively little about the faith founded by L. Ron Hubbard except for the occasional controversy, my own personal loathing of Tom Cruise, and (as much as I hate to admit this) South Park. Oppenheimer’s article explores the controversy surrounding this religion (not cult) and points out that the similarities between mainstream religions, Christianity and Judaism, perhaps making people a bit nervous. Additionally, he opens up about the criticism he received from other religion writers because of an article on Milton Katselas, an acting teacher and Scientologist, for the New York Times Magazine, New York Times Magazine, which is only available through subscription.

Oppenheimer was raked over hot coals because he did not attack the religious tradition in his article or in a podcast with John Carmichael, the president of the Church of Scientology of New York. The podcast is a fascinating and candid interview with a member of the faithful, which is exceedingly rare among Scientologists. Oppenheimer brings up an interesting point about how religion writers are critical of certain traditions and not of others, and he admits that Scientology can seem odd but still needs to be understood, not just degraded.

1 comments:

jfahler at: August 2, 2007 at 7:25 AM said...

"Oppenheimer brings up an interesting point about how religion writers are critical of certain traditions and not of others, and he admits that Scientology can seem odd but still needs to be understood, not just degraded."

Yep... I'm guilty of this. Last week, I saw a test going on with those funky machines at the Union Square station in NYC (I'm interning)... immediately after, I was accosted by some Hare Krishnas wanting me to take some literature. All of this a week after I heard a Nation of Islam adherent preach on the subway. Maybe it's because I'm from the middle of Ohio... I'm just used to good old fashion "you're going to hell" evangelism by fundamentalist Christians.

Going back to South Park, I think the very last bit of dialog in "All About Mormons" episode is great for answering this... it's a bit of a manifesto for religious pluralism... and manages to use male anatomy to get its point across. I'll just leave it at that... you can google the script if you want.

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