Friday, March 25, 2005

L. Ron Hubbard Approves of Me 

Today's NY Times has this article on Tom Cruise and his more recently public approach to his affiliation with the Church of Scientology. Apparently he's taken industry execs on tours of Scientology centers in Brussels and LA, and had a volunteer tent staffed by Scientology members on the set of War of the Worlds, where cast and crew could get "assists" (like a massage) and pamphlets. His publicist says this is all in response to Cruise constantly being asked questions about the group, so he's trying to be proactive.

The article had a link to a Scientology website, so I surfed over to peruse. I'm not a particularly religious person, but I'd have to say I have a spiritual bent. I have an interest in learning about various religions, but not necessarily adhering to anything specific.

For anyone who's curious, I was raised Episcopal, and was very active in the church growing up. But not now. I couple of years ago I took the spirituality spectrum quiz, and my top three matches were Unitarian Universalist (100% match), Secular Humanist (93% match), and Neo-Pagan (90% match). Actually, Neo-Pagan tied with "Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants," which would include the type of Episcopal church I was raised in.

Interestingly, my sister (there are six of us altogether, she's the oldest and I'm the youngest) came out with the same top three, but in different order. My bottom three rankings were Roman Catholic (28%), Seventh Day Adventist (23%) and Jehovah's Witness (9%). I see now that Scientology was in the middle at 64%.

Anyway, back to Scientology. They like to emphasize their various celebrity members, such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman, Isaac Hayes, Jason Lee, Anne Archer, Catherine Bell (I love JAG), and Priscilla & Lisa Marie Presley. Lots of web space devoted to celebrity doings. I guess the lesson they're hoping to impart is that if you follow Scientology, you can be rich and famous too. Well, that plus talent, perseverance and some lucky breaks, but whatever. But most of the stuff they advertise on their site seems pretty harmless and geared towards self-improvement and good works in the world. Sort of a polished up and sparkly Unitarian Universalist approach with a better publicist. I wouldn't expect that whatever cult-like features might be lurking below the surface would be put down in writing, though. Or maybe it's just not there - who know?

One little link did catch my eye: Personality Test. An online quiz - yay!!!! I was a little turned off by their assurance that "A test of this kind would normally cost you $500.00 and up. It is offered to you here free of charge as a public service." It's kind of the anti-scare tactic. "This is a valuable service, and if you want to receive the insights to be gained therein you would normally have to pay gobs of money, but because we're so good and care so much about you, we'll let you have it for FREE!!!!" Don't pitch, just present. I like learning, not being converted.

Before entering into the OCA (Oxford Capacity Analysis) Test area, I checked out the About the Test and How You Receive Your Results popups. The test is a series of 200 questions, so yeah, this is a commitment. When you finish the questions, you'll get an immediate display of your graphed results that you can easily read, but you'll need to visit a center to have one of their trained analysts consult with you if you want the full in-depth analysis. Fine, I can live with the surface. So in I plunge.

First screen, however, is a request for personal information. You can't proceed without filling in at least some of it. Be warned - every time you leave off something required and are sent back to fill it in, they recheck the "Send Scientology Information" box again. Make sure this is cleared before submitting each time, or you may be opting in for more than you really want. Apparently they do send a little follow up about your test and an invitation to come in for a consultation, but that's what trash cans are for, right? In the interest of learning, plus fun online activities, I forged my way through ALL 200 QUESTIONS. These are of the Mostly Agree, Uncertain, or Mostly Disagree variety, so it's not really all that bad. Then Boom! I got my personality analysis. Looks like I'm doing just fine, and really am not in need of any Scientology intervention. Either that or they're going to start recruiting me as a potential leader. Only time will tell. Here's my graph:



So this was an interesting learning experience, now time to move on. The final test will be to see if I now become inundated with literature in my virtual and real mailboxes. Anyone care to wager?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:09 AM