Now there’s a question that has been being asked for 50 years or so.  And while there are no easy answers to the question there are technical answers. Technically, in the eyes of the IRS here in America, Scientology is a church.  It’s been that way for about 40 years now. And if you look at all the stationary, the corporate filings, the ministerial garb and promotional materials it appears, on the surface, to function much like what we here in the Western World imagine a church functions like.

Yet if you look at how the organizations operate on a day-to-day basis Scientology is a church only in the loosest sense.

For those of us who were around prior to the official proclamation by L. Ron Hubbard that Scientology would now put on church clothes and start acting like a church the idea of being religious, for us,  has always been an ill-fitting suit. I’m not religious. And for the most part almost none of the thousands of Scientologists I have been acquainted with or the hundreds I have had friendships or working relationships with were religious either. We didn’t pray. We didn’t submit to any God. We didn’t take vows of poverty (unless we joined Org staff or the Sea Org), our functions as staff or Scientologists weren’t reverent or ritualized in the sense that we ever felt the source of our salvation or potential spiritual freedom was bestowed by a supreme being. And so we didn’t honor or bow down to a deity.

But we had to become a church for the simple reason that being anything else would mean the end of Scientology. And the end of auditing.

So Hubbard morphed us.  Arnie Lerma has one of the better web sites out there among the array of anti or ex web sites. His struggle against the RTC version of Scientology is both ethical and emotional. All you have to do is read his story, particularly the bit about how he was treated when it was discovered, via confidential session reports, that he was mere days away from marrying one of Hubbard’s daughters. Here’s Arnie’s location in electronic space:

Lerma’s Net Home

Having been around for a while, Arnie’s site is extensive. There are gems and veins of gold hidden away in the various pages and links he provides. And while it’s not updated daily (or even weekly sometimes), it’s probably the best place to go on the internet for references and exposès on the more nefarious goings ons over the years. He documents clearly the events, years apart, that set the path and then cast it into concrete that Scientology had to be a church rather than a business. Here’s an interesting one, direct from Hubbard’s prolific pen:

Realize that Hubbard wrote these words in 1954,  the same year he incorporated the Church of Scientology of California and one year after he founded the Church of Scientology in New Jersey.

Huh?

Whatever you, as a past or present Scientologist, may believe about the churchiness of Scientology, it’s plain to see that the founder of  Scientology did not see it as a church. Becoming a church was the solution to two problems:

1. Taxes

2. Auditing

Taxes because, like all businesspeople, Hubbard wanted to keep as much of the money his business made for himself. I’m no different. Well, except I never named my retail store or my restaurant a church in order to scam my nation. The auditing thing is a little more subtle. In fact, except for myself and maybe one or two people I’ve known over the years I’ve never had a conversation about how Hubbard used the false identity as a church to retain the right for his students and staff to audit.

Auditing was at risk because even the casual student of the history of Scientology knows that Hubbard’s first pitched battle for legitimacy was with the AMA and the APA. The doctors because, well, because they’re doctors and concerned. The psychiatrists because they took a look at what Hubbard was doing and determined that it was either a scam or not safe in the hands of untrained therapists. The move was on in the early 50’s to shut down Dianetics and require that anyone doing Dianetic therapy had to have a license. Which meant they had to go to college and get a degree. Which meant that the control over whether Dianetics or Scientology could legally be delivered would rest in the hands of the very groups who felt it was either a scam or a threat.

So Hubbard solved it by creating this 

Alan Walters and Dean Stokes. Holy practitioners of the scriptures of Scientology.

Every time I see that picture of Alan and Dean I crack up. Neither of these two could have been in any way mistaken for actual Men of The Cloth. Yet, according to the C of S, they were. Thinking back to the 70’s, when this photo was taken, we all knew the whole church thing was a load of crap. Alan laughed about it and carried on with his plans of world domination and amassing of money and Dean… well… Dean is just Dean. I never really had a sense of what Dean was all about except that he smoked a whole lot more than I did.

I bought a clerical shirt and white collar and wore it exactly once. When my best friend died and the memorial was held at Celebrity Center in Hollywood I wore the damned thing. I felt like an impostor. And I was.  The whole church-thing was – and is today – a big circus. It’s a show. It’s deceptive. I know it. You do too. You may not admit it, but you know damned well that churches don’t do the things Scientology does. And those that do conduct themselves in the manner the Church of Scientology has eventually end up in the news… and in criminal court.

Hubbard was a smart guy though. He knew a real church had to have a spiritual leader… or recognizable master. And Hubbard was, if anything, not lacking in the ego department. Think about this if you will… why else would there be busts and huge wall-sized pictures of Hubbard in every Org and Mission on the planet? Why is it so, so important that Ron be treated… even in death… like a savior? The only possible reason for building an image of Hubbard as not only the “Source” of Scientology, but as the spiritual deity of it is to create a atmosphere if blind acceptance of anything attributed to him.

Blind obedience.

And now, since the guy has been dead for 25 or so years it’s just a matter of editing his books, changing a few things here and there to suit modern times and much larger financial goals…  and what we have is a written and spoken Bible of Scientology comprised of a score of books and several thousand hours of taped lectures. So we have a bible and we have a cross.

The cross, by the way, has been around since the 50’s and while I do think it’s little more than pretty imagery, Hubbard actually attached some decent significance to it in the description of how it represents the 8 Dynamics of Scientology. The story goes that he was excavating some ruins in Arizona … Spanish I imagine… and discovered the cross in the sandstone.

Yeah. Right. If you’ve ever read Mission into Time then you might just be a wee bit skeptical about this story.  I’m more inclined to go along with the story that credits the cross to the Ordo Templi Orientis. Crowley was a seriously occult dude and Hubbard did, after all, marry the sister-in-law of his American Pope –  Jack Parsons.

None of this stuff… not the lies, not the purposeful creation of a Godlike status for L. Ron Hubbard, not the tax scams or uncomfortable clothes means that practicing Scientology is without merit. Like anything that is unprovable and entirely subjective, Scientology auditing has value that is determined solely by the person willing to pay the money and hold the cans.

What the deception does though is it creates a facade of religious legitimacy that is a very effective shield in modern society. It also spreads the “ether” through malleable groups of people faster than the Bird Flu can rip through a chicken farm.

HOW THE MISSIONS DEALT WITH THE UNCOMFORTABLE IDEA WE WERE A CHURCH

For the most part, Missions prior to 1982 ignored the whole church facade unless we needed it. So we, as Mission Holders, were effectively… in on the sham. For a couple hundred bucks we filed the non-profit corporate papers with the state. Then we added the cool-looking cross to some stationary… I had regular stationary that said something like ‘Scientology of Fresno” and then official stationary that said “Church of Scientology of Fresno”. The latter I used when corresponding to anyone who gave a shit about appearances in the Orgs and to the State Tax board, the former we used for everything else. We had Sunday Services… sort of. When I knew there was a Sea Org mission coming or we had a wedding scheduled or something we put a Sunday Service on the calendar.

Other than that, we operated as an efficient training and counseling business with the added bonus of not having to mess with taxes. Just write a weekly check to the Mission Office for 10% of the gross income and carry on as if we weren’t actually a church. Which we weren’t…. actually a church I mean. It was deceptive.

Oh, and it also made getting married a lot easier and kept me and my crew of staff and public from feeling out of place in real churches. When I got married in 1977… uh, wait… 1978 (sorry Cindy)… it was easy. I called my friend Allen Kapular who was a fake minister of the fake Church of Scientology, he drove over to my place with his multiple cartons of filtered cigarettes and his portable oxygen tank (I shit you not) and we all went outside and he hitched us up. Didn’t cost me a dime. Except the extra booze I had to buy  for Allen.

Me, the incredibly patient and beautiful Cindy and Allen. The portable oxygen tank was just out of camera range.

Take a look at that picture above. What kind of church has ministers who chain smoke so much that they can’t even put their cigarette down for the freaking wedding photos!!!! And yes, Allen died of lung cancer. But he had a damned good time up to that point.

Your opinion, of course, may differ from mine about whether Scientology is deceiving anyone by pretending to be something it isn’t. In fact, you might be right and I might be wrong. I mean, how many decades does a group of people who think they are a church have to think they are a church until they actually are a church? It’s like acting isn’t it? A good actor “thinks” like the character he or she is portraying. They get into the role. They imagine they are a sniper or a cop or a betrayed wife, a cuckolded husband or a scheming cattle rancher and they soon begin to do less acting and more of the natural things their character would do.  Right?

It makes for great theater.

One of the curious side-effects of too much Scientology theory and not enough forward motion in life is the tendency for some Scientologists – not you, of course, I mean them – to just stop moving forward with time and get all hung up trying to figure out what caused some incidental phenomena. Deciding you are PTS, or a Potential Trouble Source as a cause for a temporary event like getting ill is a common way to freeze yourself in time while the rest of the world clips by you at freeway speeds.

Having just recovered from two days of bed time due to a 24 hour flu bug I thought I might share with you the first time this particular bug lodged in my gut and knocked me on my ass. And yeah, my 24 hour flu bugs often last for 48-72 hours. I need the extra sleep so I like to drag them out just a bit by playing the “I’m sick” card.

In early 1968 I finished up my R6 at St. Hill. We were told that in order to proceed to the Clearing Course we had to go to a secret location somewhere in the Mediterranean. Since this was over 40 years ago I have no idea where I came up with the money for the plane trip. Maybe someone lent it to me? More likely they just bought me a ticket because I was broke. Whatever the case, if you’re person who paid my way to Spain… thanks.

Six of us flew down to Valencia. Yeah, we knew were we were going, apparently it was tough keeping a secret location really and truly secret unless you were willing to pay for the airfare of the people who were headed to that secret place. We were told to buy tickets to Valencia and keep our destination a secret. I’ll tell you right now, I was looking forward to heading to Spain. The winter of 1967-68 in England was brutal. From what I overheard listening to actual English people talk was that it was the most brutal winter ever. Or at least for many decades. I was constantly cold and so any chance to head to a warmer clime was an added bonus for me.

So we left gray old England, rose above the clouds to the first sun I’d seen in a couple of months and then descended into the gray clouds covering the Spanish coast. Hooray.

My memory gets a bit sketchy here as well, but I seem to recall a couple of people in dusty naval uniforms with grayish-white blouses that had dirty collars meeting us at customs. They were in some sort of small vehicle and so instructed us to get a cab to the port. So we did. Then we walked for quite a ways and came upon a black and gray vessel that had the correct name: The Royal Scotsman.

Faces peered over the edge at us, we walked up the gangplank and went through lines. Again, everything was grayed out… at least that’s how I recall it. My personal stateroom wasn’t gray though. It was beige… with yellow tones. Not bad for a closet. I had to audit, sleep, brush teeth and change clothes in the tiny little space. There was a fold-down table top that dropped over the sink and the bed folded down from the outer bulkhead. A single light burned overhead and while it wasn’t emitting gray light, it was pretty dim… sort of beige-yellowy-gray. Here’s what we saw when we boarded:

The Royal Scotsman. Launched in 1936. The first Sea Org home.

I was on board for maybe two days when I got slammed by some sort of intestinal virus. When I say “slammed” I really, really mean slammed. Hit hard. Flattened. Run over. Creamed. Rendered unconscious. One minute I was fine, enjoying the view of gray ships in gray water with a low gray ceiling of threatening clouds and surrounded by gray-faced Sea org members scurrying around in what seemed to be endless gray circles… and the next minute I was sicker than a dog, moving in and out of consciousness and being sick from all orifices in a 4×6 closet. Thank God for portholes! I recall awakening several times and just pitching whatever foul things I was wearing or using out the porthole.

I was down for the count over a 2 day period. Then it took me a day to recover. Partly I spent my recovery day cleaning up my closet and slipping out to the common shower several times to douse myself in clean water. There was some rule about only 30 seconds of hot water for “guests”, but I said “Fuck ’em” and ran as much as I wanted. Sea Org people weren’t allowed any hot water anyway, so there was plenty for me.

So here’s the good part…

Not once did anyone ever ask where I was. Nobody knocked on my cabin door. I was officially on the Clearing Course and so was required to audit daily and then turn my folder in for C/S’ing every night.  None of which occurred. To this day I have no idea what the folks in charge were doing or thinking regarding my absence. To say that being on the Flagship in early ’68 was a bit creepy is somewhat of an understatement. It was real creepy. Somewhere during my stay LRH either left for or returned from the fabled Mission Into Time journey on that little sloop that was faithfully followed by the slightly larger trawler that carried whatever Hubbard felt he needed if he came across Xenu’s secret prison. Perhaps the reason I wasn’t missed is that more important events were transpiring that eclipsed something as mundane as a paying public doing the Clearing Course… which just happened to be the whole reason many of us were in Scientology to begin with.

The two other Sea org vessels. I bagged this from one of the CofS sites so it will remain until somebody threatens me. Then I suppose I'll start Googling in earnest and fine images they don't own.

What does all this have to do with being PTS, you ask?

Nothing really. In reality I hadn’t thought about being on the Flagship or my illness until I got sick the other day. The “bug” just reminded me of something… it had a particular harmonic to it that was similar to another point in my life and since I had nothing to do but sleep, turn up the electric blanket and introspect, I ran down the only other time such a feeling had knocked me flat.

I don’t recall any particular assignment of causation when a Scientologist got sick until sometime after the Sea Org was fully established as the dominant policy-making Org in Scientology. Before PTS=ill surfaced there was PTS as a condition that had distinct sources and a clear effect on an individual’s ability to make and retain case gain. People got colds, flu, head aches and other assorted things all the time and were never diagnosed one way or the other. hell, it’s possible that some CMO twerp came to my stateroom, opened the door, wrinkled their nose and then reported back to the C/S that “he’s sicker than a dog” and they just left me alone.

When I finally recovered I simply started auditing again and suffering through the unbelievably bad food the galley served to paying customers. And here I want to comment on one thing… where the hell did the idea for scrambling up some eggs with some tomato chunks and then baking them in a pie pan come from? What a godawful thing that was to both behold and consume. And I did consume the food. We were, after all, on a ship and it’s not as if I could just pop off and go to McDonald’s for something tasty and healthy.

When Fred Hare laughed at me for making faces about the food I asked him what was so funny. He pointed out that except for officers like him, the crew didn’t eat nearly as well as the Public did. Ouch. At that point I’d have felt sympathy for the Sea Org people except for the fact that I knew each of them had willingly signed up for the experience. The smart ones like Fred remained Officers or left the ship to do Sea Org business out in the field, where people still had a life and access to clean sheets and decent food. Alan Walters comes to mind as one of the folks who somehow remained a Sea Org member when it was convenient and a non-SO person when it suited him. I think it was really because he felt the uniform was stupid-looking.

Your opinion on that may differ from mine.

Anyway, I just want you to understand that many of you are obviously Suppressive Persons or you wouldn’t be reading this blog or any of the dozens of other suppressive blogs and web sites. And, since you are most likely suppressive, and we all know that SP’s make innocent people sick… I most likely got sick because I’m connected to you…even if it’s a tenuous, electronic connection.

But I got better. Despite your best efforts to suppress me. Thank you.

Here’s an idea!

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Random articles

I’ve been away from the internet for a few days due to my two oldest children flying into Idaho to visit with me and my awesome dad. They fly out at least once every year and we spend a couple of days eating, enjoying each other and just being a Second Dynamic. This year I had about 8 photo albums from my mother, chock full of pictures my kids had never seen. Some of them my dad hadn’t seen since the early 1950’s.

It was very nice.

So I got to thinking… many of the comments on this new blog of mine – as well as some private emails I’ve had from a few of you – have mentioned how great it is to see older pictures of Scientology folks having fun. It is nice, isn’t it? So I had this idea – why not ask the readers of this blog if they want to share? Now I understand some of you have been anonymous for so long that you’ve become embedded in that state of being when venturing out into the internet ex-Scientologist universe. You already know it’s my belief that remaining anonymous erodes the power of thousands of ex-Scn’s when it comes to forcing change in the Church of Scientology or running Miscavige to ground. So I won’t push those of you in hiding… not that I could anyway. But how about any of you who aren’t concerned about what the RTC thinks about you? Or even if you are concerned maybe you don’t give a shit. That’s my attitude.

I have set up a new email account here:

ensifer@hushmail.com

The idea is that you send me images along with a short blurb or some background about the picture… you know, what year, what Mission or Org, who is in the picture or any other pertinent data. Just give me permission to post the images here on this blog and every time I have a selection I’ll do up a blog post, add your commentary and as readership grows more and more good people out there will have the same return of  the “positive vibes” that most of us pre-RTC people experienced on a daily basis.

You know what else would be cool? Maybe some current photos of you as well. If you’re out there auditing or winning, having fun and connected somehow with other free zone, independent or off-lines Scientologists I’d bet there are plenty of folks who would feel real joy in knowing you’re alive, kicking and winning. Well, if you are winning, that is. I know many of us are now officially old… and with age comes that creeping feeling of being uglified by time. So what? Get your TR’s in and let ‘er rip! I put a pic of me up, replete with nice dark bags under my eyes and ears that seem to have grown to Spock-size over the years. You can too.

My friend Penny Krieger sent me pictures and directed me to her business web site, she wasn’t shy or concerned about how she looked (which is pretty damned good by the way for being 187 years old). Then I saw some videos with Steve Muro, John Raffanello, Trey Lotz and others… all of whom I knew, was friends with or worked with 40 years ago. It was wonderful to see them chatting and laughing and it’s not as if I expected them to look like they did when they were 25.

So let’s do this.

If you don’t see a blog article in the next week or so with pictures from other areas then you’ll know that either nobody understands computers well enough to operate a scanner, nobody had a camera or most people are still in hiding. I understand, I won’t ask for your credit card numbers. I just figured that by sharing the past that was memorable perhaps we can get some more recent Scientologists to see how things ought to be.

Let me know. I’ll be around all week.

Ensifer

Why so serious?

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Scientology ~ before the RTC

It’s possible I’m wrong… but… the general impression I have of what it’s like to be a Scientologist now is unlike what it was like to be a Scientologist before 1982. It’s simple stuff…

Everybody used to smile. All the time. No really, except for the times when smiling and laughing were inappropriate the one thing I saw most for 21 years was people in and around Missions and Orgs smiling. And if they weren’t smiling they were laughing. Or at least walking around with a look of contentment or perhaps expectation on their faces.

The other day I spent about an hour reminiscing on the phone with a fellow who I’ve known since about 1970. He pretty much followed the same path as I did professionally. Got trained. Became a Cl VIII, did a boatload of auditing, worked around the US at various Centers and such. Even became a Mission holder. The last time we physically saw each other was in October of 1982 at the San Francisco Hilton. He’s a smart guy because he took one look at the new regime and did what I did. Walked away.

So during the conversation he says to me – “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t Scientology.”

I’ll admit, I haven’t been in many Orgs or Missions since 1982. But, I have been around Scientologists and you know what? They are a pretty serious bunch of people. Forget the glossy magazines and pictures of beaming Public holding up OT certificates for the camera. I was the Div 6 boss at ASHO back in 1969 and I know what a success “stat” is. I also know that people completing something, a level or training cycle are generally happy. What I’m talking about is the general attitude or tone. Even those people who I’ve known for decades and are still on lines are more serious and concerned than they should be.

So it was pointed out to me that the whole “Clear The Planet” goal has fallen by the wayside and the current leadership has now morphed the goal into something a lot less distinct. I’ve looked over some of the magazines and promo pieces I get daily in the mail and I can see that. Is it now about buying buildings? Or fighting off government malice? Or suppressing evil on the internet? I’m confused. Maybe that’s why people on lines are so serious.  30 years ago you got into Scientology because you wanted to be a happier and more able person. You bought some time in the chair or a training course and, for the most part, you became more able and thus… happier.

Right?

People who can do shit and have a reasonable degree of personal ethics about the shit they do are generally happy and smiley. Whereas, if you are already reasonably affluent and your primary contact with Scientology is an endless procession of auditing cycles to repair, prepare or augment your “case” so you can do some freakish OT section without total theta death… then I can see why you might be a just a bit grim.

Add to that the constant and unrelenting demands that these barracuda SO teams have on your cash. You must pay for buildings and Ideal Orgs and the make-wrong that goes on in those reg sessions is not something that generates a beaming smile. I know what those teams (missions) are like. They came to my Mission in California frequently and they were not happy people. They had a stat to get and that stat was to leave with money I controlled and people I got into Scientology. That was it… they either got my money and my staff or public, or they failed. And the Sea Org has never been compassionate about it’s members failing.

If you worked for me, worked with me, were audited by me or just knew me then you probably understood that everything for me was about having a great time and winning. I believe most professional Scientologists back then had similar goals… to make a good living, get laid as often as possible, buy some decent things to wear, drive, eat and sleep in and spread as much of the joy of just “being there” as they could. Yeah, the whole Infinite Being thing was there, but it’s not as if that sells a lot of intensives or Comm Courses. People just wanted to feel better and live a less stressful life.

I had my own way of dealing with the relentless Sea Org missions that were fired off to get my cash. I typically had the receptionist bring them into my office when they first arrived. I set the tone of what their visit would be like. Here’s a picture of how I set the tone:

"Now then... what was it you boys wanted?"

The SO Reg Teams weren’t exactly my enemies… not on a personal level, but they were the foreshadowing of what Scientology was going to become in the 80’s and 90’s. They were serious people who had serious problems and they were going to be in serious trouble if they couldn’t get people like me to understand that all this fun we were having was contrary to LRH purpose lines and we’d better get serious ourselves out there in the field or some serious shit was going to happen that would have a serious impact on our lives, our futures and our immortal thetan-thingies.

Any of you guys reading this who were tasked with getting money from me can probably verify that the picture above is a fair representation of the tone I tried to set for your visits. But it was also fun for the staff and, for the most part, fun for the Sea Org flunkies. Along the way I was actually accused of having too much fun from time to time. As far back as when I was on the SHSBC the small percentage of  “serious Scientologists” – future Sea Org members – wrote a considerable number of Knowledge reports on me. Primarily for violating the “joking & degrading” clause of some HCO PL Hubbard penned. I read that PL and despite the fact that I admitted to being the guy who taped a sign on Joey Allessandrini’s back that said “I’m a Pud”… while we were on the Class VIII course… I still contend that having fun is not exactly the same as degrading someone or something. Joey smiled, and retaliated. Even the supervisor couldn’t keep a straight face.

It’s not as if getting better at stuff requires seriousness… does it?

I guess it does now. And despite all the pomp and circumstance, the gorgeous buildings, the imagery of the vastly competent saviors of humanity, led by David Miscavige, the one thing I do understand is that the whole thing has become way too serious to be effective. If it’s not fun, it’s not Scientology.

Oh, I almost forget. Recently a picture has surfaced of Miscavige taking over the Missions in 1982. I thought I’d pass it along to you all…

It’s Friday the 13th! Let’s talk for a bit about people who aren’t dead.

Not my favorite subject by the way, but oddly enough at least two people that I was told were dead apparently are very much alive. Yes, some who I wish were alive ended up not very much alive anymore. That’s another story though, for another day.

First off, hello to Steve Muro.

Steve Muro and his wife with a French accent. 1983-ish in Idaho

The last time I saw Steve he was passing through Idaho and so we had a cook-out. I seem to recall fresh salmon steaks smoked on my Weber in an aromatic cloud of moist alder wood chips. Yum.

Apologies to the lovely lady with him. That was his wife and I don’t remember her name. She did have an accent though and I think she was French-Canadian. Maybe French? Doesn’t matter, it’s all the same to me.

Along the way, as years passed and I spoke with Scientologists from time to time conversations usually migrated away from the impossible task of getting me back onto the Bridge and drifted towards people we knew. About 5 years ago someone told me Steve Muro was dead. I was saddened. Each personality in one’s life leaves a mark that is recognizable anywhere. If you haven’t noticed this about your life then you need to get your goddamn TR’s in! You obviously haven’t been paying attention to the most important thing Scientology provided us with… good friends and companions. As for Steve, when I heard he was dead the “mark” he left with everyone rang in my head – his deep, resonant, echoing laugh. Best. Laugh. Ever.

But then about a month ago, maybe less, I was looking on one the the many ex-Scn sites and came across some video clips of people who attended a cookout in LA. Lo and behold! There was one of Steve. Very much alive, thank you. I do admit he looked like he was pushing 80 though… maybe because he is pushing 80? Probably.

I guess I better apologize to Pat from the old Dallas Center also. Pat was married to Steve when I was a young lad and it’s hard for me to disassociate them in my rusty old train-wreck of a track. Pat already commented here on my blog so I’m doubly pleased to know she’s not dead either.

Another person back from the dead appeared today here on the blog. That being – Steve Surrey.

I was told quite a few years ago Surrey was also dead. Hmmm… notice a pattern here? What’s the deal with Scientologists telling ex-Scn that people they both knew were dead? Did they just not know and thought: What the fuck, if I tell him that guy is dead he won’t go looking for him. The thing about Surrey though is that he probably should be dead. I recall him being on one of Alan Walter’s airplanes that Alan couldn’t actually fly when the oxygen failed and put everyone – including the pilot – into sleep mode. Not sure if it was Surrey or Jay I-forget-his-last-name who stayed awake long enough to alert the pilot.

Either way, glad you’re still with us man.

But when people do drop their bodies (that means ‘die’ if you’re not hip to Scientology lingo) nobody bothers to tell me. So I’m cruising around here on the internet and am probably restimulating all sorts of secondaries by asking questions about the whereabouts of dead people. Here, check this photo out for an example:

Fresno Mission staff 1976 - Not the complete staff. We didn't allow the ugly ones to be in any photos, which apparently set the trend for the current regime at CofS. Miscavige is the only ugly guy allowed in promo these days and I suspect heavy Photoshopping in play.

Three of these people have moved on to the Great Beyond. Well, three I know of. My mother, as I already informed you. She’s to the left of the guy in the blue leisure suit. Then, the guy on the right departed last year. I only found out because I was thinking about heading to his dental practice in Sacramento to get some work done. Nobody bothered to tell me he had left us. That’s Jim Aubrey, for those who care.

Then there’s the guy 3rd from the far right… kind of looks like a doped-up Jesus Christ who just had a corncob rammed up his nether parts. That’s Phil Wieme. Phil later changed his name to Ian X. Lungold. If I was a Wieme I’d have done the name change as well.  He was my long time friend and partner in several ventures. He took off back in the 90’s and became a world-renowned expert on the Mayan Calendar and traveled the US and Canada to warn us all the world ends in 2012. He was even on Art Bell’s late night talk show for people who believe dumb shit. That ought to endear him to some of you 9/11 Truthers out there.

Phil/Ian passed away in Mexico in 2006. Despite his pre-Scientology history of dropping acid in excess of 500 times, he is a great spirit and I’ll always remember him for his beard and guileless acceptance of people’s basic good nature.

You know, nobody even told me Alan Walters had moved on either. That surprises me because of my long association with Alan. I suppose there is an uneasy truce between the people on the “bridge” and those of us who could give a shit about the bridge. We all know and care for many who reside in other camps and perhaps there’s a selective editing process about what we’re willing to tell our cousins in the other army.

In the coming weeks I want to talk and listen some more about how the CofS deals with people who die. It’s pretty clear that LRH’s passing was mishandled, but I’m more interested in offering my perceptions from when I was involved and getting some sort of comparison to contemporary reactions. I don’t think such things are dealt with in a respectful and compassionate manner… that’s just based on my admittedly brief interactions with staff and public over the years… so I’m willing to be proven wrong.

In the interim, enjoy your Friday the 13th… especially if you’re one of those clueless sorts who believes in crap like good and bad luck. If you’re a snide pragmatist like me then I know you’ll enjoy today because this is when we get to taunt the weak.

First off, a short bit of recent history.

For close to 28 years, or perhaps more, I have had a small cash balance at Flag. Depending on the year and who was calling me the actual amount ranged between $20 and $2000 credit. I’d vote for the $20 because it’s hard to believe even I would have overlooked two thousand bucks.

Okay. Now that you’re up to date – until about the year 2001 I got phone calls pretty much every few months from Flag. The credit balance was the proverbial ‘foot in the door’ to open a dialog directed at recovering me, getting me to pony up more money and come back to Flag to get repaired, renewed and reviewed. Then I bought a small horse property in another county, disconnected the land line and all but disappeared off the Scientology radar. It was pretty strange, not opening a mailbox and having 30 or 40 pieces of Scientology promo fall out. And since I was now totally cell phone the only way for Flag reg teams to get that number was for someone currently on lines to give it to them.

Guess what? Someone did.

It was actually my nephew Sam. He was at Flag training on something-or-the-other for the Org he works for and ended up in the call center. That’s what I term it, the call center. The guy he was talking to happened to be a person I have untold quantities of affinity for. My former roommate, a guy I audited back almost 40 years ago and who also worked for me on staff at my Mission. Bob Goodwin is his name and if you know him you know he’s wonderful. But Bob is also in the Sea org and has targets to meet. Isn’t that what most relationships between Sea Org members and their non SO friends eventually boil down to? Targets? Now I know Bob likes me. At the same time, he wasn’t calling to discuss old times. He was on Miscavige’s dime and he was all about informing me about the new revision in the Scientology library. That and this awesome DVD introducing the Golden Age of Technology.

Half of Bob. All of me. Late 1970s. Booze was flowing.

My apologies for the truncated image of Bob. When I scan in a full image of him I’ll replace it. The funniest part of this picture is me though… I crack up every time I see the size of those lapels on my suit. Sweet huh?

Anyway, Bob is nothing if not persistent. I agreed to let him send me the DVD. He did. I put it in the player, watched maybe 3 minutes of it and ejected it. You all probably know why. I’m not a fan of slasher/horror flicks.

Bob didn’t give up though. He called me every couple of weeks for well over a year. I told him how much I like him and suggested he was wasting valuable time with me. But then he had an idea! Why not let him send me some of the new books in exchange for the credit I had on account? Sounded okay to me. I agreed and quickly forgot about it.

Then, about 3 weeks later, I was at the post office and the guy behind the counter said some packages arrived for me. Huh? I didn’t order anything. He instructed me to wait by a door and about 5 minutes later came out with a hand truck loaded with 7 heavy boxes. It was the complete flippin’ library! Not only that, but there were full sets of CD lectures, about a dozen of them. I was flabbergasted. What the fuck?! Oh well, I loaded them in my truck and dropped them off at my storage unit.

Bob eventually gave up on me. Cut his losses I reckon. Hopefully Bob is doing well. But I was stuck with a couple hundred pounds of books and CD’s and began to wonder how they afforded to do that. So I did some scouting around on the Internet and discovered that the GAT and the revision (re-structuring?) of the basic library was nothing more than a huge reg cycle being done on current Scientologists. The best I could figure out is that one of you guys actually bought the books for me. You got regged for $10K or maybe $50K and that cash was applied, as a stat, to book sales. People like me were selected out, sent the books and viola! The Golden Age of Tech is born and stats are up. See? Look at all the books we sold!

In other parts of society this is known as money laundering. You, the target of an IAS reg team, pays $25K. Bob and his team send maybe $5K hard money worth of books out. The books and lectures are ‘valued’ at $25K. And an extra $20K is banked by the CofS… or whatever the organization is called these days.

I don’t know about you, but that whole scenario feels like some sort of continuing criminal enterprise. Maybe I’m wrong . Maybe not. I’d prefer to ask the person who bought my 7 boxes of books what they think.

You know what though? Before I left the church we also sold Scientology books. The main difference was that we sold them to people who hadn’t read them yet. Or if they had, they bought back-ups or gift copies. In fact, I always felt the basic books were key to getting people into Scientology. You know, they delivered new knowledge, cognitions were had and need of change was arrived at. But there is also a checkered history of manipulation of numbers by the church in order to have bragging rights on sales numbers. Wikipedia references this here:

Various sources allege that the book’s continued sales have been manipulated by the Church of Scientology and its related organizations ordering followers to buy up new editions to boost sales figures. According to a Los Angeles Times exposé published in 1990, “sales of Hubbard’s books apparently got an extra boost from Scientology followers and employees of the publishing firm [Bridge Publications]. Showing up at major book outlets like B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, they purchased armloads of Hubbard’s works, according to former employees.” Members are asked to contribute by placing Dianetics in public libraries.

Some of this is true. But it’s also true that in the later half of the 70’s Dianetics did hit the NYT best seller list legitimately. I know this for a fact because my center in Fresno and my teams of booksellers were #1 in the world for selling copies of Dianetics to non-Scientologists. The new cover was published in paperback form… you know, the BT-laden volcano one… and the game to get DMSMH back to the #1 spot was announced. I can’t recall any Mission not getting behind the game. Any that didn’t were dumb asses because selling books to public in large numbers usually ended up with people coming in to buy services. And I wanted our Fresno Mission to be #1… to win the game.

We did win. And somewhere in my storage unit I have the plaque to prove it. Diana Hubbard handed it to me at a Mission Holder conference in Mazatlan, Mexico at the end of the game. In the Fresno area we sold in excess of 25,000 individual copies of the DMSMH paperback book. And we did old school. Door-to-door. I organized teams of booksellers, trained them up myself on how to actually knock on a door. Then on how to parley the ‘script’ into a sale. I taught them simple things like to actually get the $5 from the customer and to always, say thank you. In addition I provided them with data cards where they could record the address and name of the buyer if the buyer agreed.

It was insanely successful. Think about it… 25,000 copies sold over a 6 month period to complete non-Scientologists in one city alone. If every Mission had done that there really might have been a massive effect instead of just a positive one. I’ll also admit I had a few tricks that helped. One of them was a brace of very, very cool looking Dianetics vans.

See?

Are these great? Or what? Not the Porsche dummy! Although, it was pretty cool as well.

The sales team hit the streets in these vans. I had the gal who painted them also spell out DIANETICS in backward ambulance style on the front of each so people could read it in their mirror. That VW went through about 3 motors during the campaign, but everyone liked driving it. Probably because a lot of them were former Hippies.

The guy in charge was one of my top staffers. His name was Pat McCabe and he ran a great team. He organized each day, set up the grids they worked and kept meticulous logs of sales, expenses and all the other little crap that needed to be done. Pat was also the mentor and moral support for the book sellers. This was door-to-door and unless you’ve done it then you cannot possibly know the confront required to get out there and do it every day. Another thing that helped was that I not only paid the book sellers whatever the weekly salary was but they earned commission on each book. My memory is a bit sketchy but as I recall we bought the $5 books for $2.50 total. Pat and I worked out that we needed about $1 from each book for expenses and so each sale meant $1.50 into the staff’s pocket. May not seem like much but realize that there were probably never more than about 8 sellers total and they sold 25,000 books in 6 months. So they made their salary plus about $30K between them.

The unacknowledged Super Star of the Dianetics book campaign though is a quiet little gal named LeeAnn Smith. She really was quiet. Shy even. Cute and very mellow, but not aggressive at all. The type of young lady who put her hand over her mouth politely when she laughed or smiled. LeeAnn was a total fucking animal out in the field. She was like the Navy SEAL of selling books. She overwhelmingly beat the numbers of any other seller on the teams. In short, she was a Goddess. I hope to hell I gave her a cash bonus. I’m certain I did. I do know she got a plaque every bit as grand as the one I received for being the Mission Holder who “won”.

LeeAnn getting her plaque at our winning celebration in Fresno. Notice how shy and meek she looks? Trust me, it's a trap!!!!

When I started this blog I stated I wanted to tell stories about what it was like being a Scientology staff member before the RTC, Financial Police and the rise of Miscavige.  The message I hope to pass on with this story about book selling is that we had fun. Yeah, stats mattered. But when we aimed for numbers the numbers had integrity. We didn’t sell books to launder money or to create a false impression to the media. Our team In Fresno sold a ton or two of books to people who might actually read them and walk in the door. It was the most basic concept of marketing… get out a huge quantity of material. And the fact that people paid for the book attached a value to it.

Speaking of value. I suppose I ought to thank someone for all those books and CD’s. I’ve done pretty good on eBay with them.

Photo Update

Posted: August 9, 2010 in Random articles

I’m still waiting for my new scanner to arrive. Well… actually, I haven’t ordered it yet. But many thanks to my oldest son Marshall. He’s the one that bought me a gift card when I officially turned old in June. In the meantime I took some precious photos to the grocery store camera bar and scanned them onto a CD so I could add some imagery to the words here until I decide what scanner to buy.

I added at least one image to each post and am working up a new article about book sales in the pre-DM days versus book sales in this modern era.

Anyway, I suppose I ought to put a picture in here. How about one of my son, the guy who forked over the birthday cash!  Thanks Marshall!

And he can play it as well.

I’m not going to use this blog to shamelessly promote other internet stuff but Marshall, who did a Comm Course back in about 2001 and loved it, does own an outstanding web site. If you are a music lover, particularly edgy stuff or  just good music you won’t hear on the radio, go here:

http://www.uvumi.com

There are probably 1500 bands and artists there all who have collectively uploaded a few thousand songs and tracks.

In the meantime, I’ll be back later tonight or tomorrow with a new story