a few years ago, i had a theory that lil’ wayne was a scientologist. he calls himself an alien, he’s loaded (literally and literally). really, it was because i didn’t understand either of them. now, i’m coming around to both, or at least the fact that they both seem to have mass appeal, and that fascination is what i want to know more about. this book sheds a lot of light on the entity that nobody really knows, and the efforts that have been made to make sure that things stay that way. like other movements that are insular in their definition (mormons, AA), it faces challenges and offers community. the financial piece is pretty interesting, as well as the recent opening to african americans. farakhan’s cosign is something to think about, like his violin playing for wyclef. i wish there was more about paul haggis and the mysterious death of isaac hayes just after he got into it with south park.
“Try to define Scientology, and even those who understand its basic concepts will inevitably come up with a multiplicity of descriptions: alternative to psychotherapy, social movement, transnational corporation, cult, religion. One of its essential characteristics is its aggressive response to challenges, whether they arise from within the movement or outside it. Some journalists have referred to Scientology as a hydra for this uncanny ability to restore itself despite numerous blows to the head. This power to reinvent itself lies at the heart of the church’s business plan.
Scientology means different things to different people; simultaneously its essential qualities remain hidden from public view. This combination of flexibility and mystery has allowed church leaders to turn Scientology into whatever they want it to be, depending on time period and need. In the sixty-plus years since it was founded, Scientology has changed its image over and over through a savvy marketing strategy that has presented the church as forever new and improved and, in some cases, as transformed altogether. At no time was this more obvious, or necessary, than during the late 1970s and early 1980s when, fresh from the ignominy of Operation Snow White, Scientology needed to rebrand itself almost entirely. (175)