Scientology

My second encounter with Scientology was in my mid 20s: me and a pal went to their centre to take their personality test. To be fair, we were wandering around Vancouver killing time between movies, saw the personality test sign and decided to have a laugh.

We asked for the test, with every intention of completing it honestly, but something happened to me within the first few questions. I realized the 200 multiple choice questions could all be boiled down to variations on 2 themes – how much of a sheep/follower are you and how well do you respond to corporal punishment.

Hardly a robust personality test, but then, I suppose, there is only one personality they are looking for: sheep who beleive they deserve to be beat.

I didn’t even read the test questions, I just skimmed the answers and marked whatever answer best involved being passive or beaten. It was a bit disappointing that they weren’t even smart enough to realize that the test should have taken more time, my pal who answered honestly, took almost an hour to complete the test.  He was told he was artistic and mistrusted authority and was shown the street.

It’s also a bit surprising that the consistency of my responses didn’t raise any warning flags for them, but, I guess that might be expecting too much of people who are involved with the organization because they are followers who enjoy corporal punishment, for them to be suspicious of a random person off the street who scored as a perfect mark – to be something other than how they present.

The first person who debriefed me following the test was a seven year Scientology veteran, who was big on promises but not information.

I had heard that one thing scientologists do is to stare in your left eye to stimulate your emotions, to confuse you and make you be willing to agree to anything if they just stop staring. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the next time you have a conversation with a person, notice their eyes and your eyes – during conversation, you look around the environment and so does the other person. Scientiologists in recruit mode do not – they blink, but they maintain a direct and continuous eye lock on your left eye exclusively.

I decided that if I was really going to make a night of it, that I wanted to go for broke, so I kept saying that I didn’t understand to the man how they can measure emotional pain all while staring at his left eye and not looking elsewhere.

Before too long, he was squirming in his chair and looking furtively around the room to find someone higher than himself to pawn me off on.

He brought me over to a desk where a woman took over my introduction – and she was a 15 year veteran who was well versed in the eye lock predator stare better than smart alec me who’d been able to bluff my way through the technique and throughly rattled the 7 year veteran.

So, the woman prattled on about the benefits of being clear and what a great community the church is – and she got the eye lock on me, and I found that I was soon feeling very distressed and a little panicky. I even forgot that being there was optional and that I could leave, such was the completeness of feeling trapped by the steady gaze.

So, I did the only thing I could think of – I flirted with her. Just outright said that I’d like some one on one with her. Nothing I would have said in a lesbian bar, but it had the effect that I was looking for: she broke her gaze, rolled backwards in her chair, turned bright red and began to stammer that they could fix me so I wouldn’t be gay anymore.

Seriously, they continued on as if the test I completed was real and ignored the evidence that suggested the test results weren’t real – I was argumentative, challenged their authority, disputed their claims and facts and asked about their testing methods.

I cant help but think they get so few people willing to talk to them, that they don’t seem to have a baseline for people who are entertaining themselves at the Scientology centre’s expense.

After I regain equilibrium by flirting, I was taken downstairs to a hallway where there was a number of doors opening into rooms no bigger than a small closet with a narrow table and two folding chairs – I was told to take the inside seat against the wall and immediately knew that this was a serious mistake.

I had visions of brainwashing until they showed me the measuring device – a simple volt meter with wires leading to metal toilet paper roll tubes. This was the measuring device – the best it could hope to measure would be a small electric current through my body or heat from my hands.

I was told to think of the happiest thing I had experienced and the meter read extremely happy – never mind that I was imagining my grandmother’s funeral from when I was 12.

Then I was told to remember a sad event, so I remembered how great it felt to ride my pony when I was a little girl. Yes, I had a pony at my other grandparent’s farm, his name was Raindrop:

Their meter registered whatever they asked me to feel and I went with the opposite feeling with no impact on the device at all. There was no tingle of current and the room was quite cool and squeezing the metal tubs had no impact, so there must have been a foot controller or some other out of sight control to make the meter’s needle register anything on the meter’s face – because it certainly wasn’t measuring emotions.

Unfortunately, by the time I got out of there, we had missed whatever the movie was – and my friend was waiting outside on the street for me. He said he’d been bum rushed out so fast and I’d taken so long, he was starting to consider getting the police to go in and get me.

At this point, I explained what I did on the test – and I think he was seriously annoyed that he hadn’t figured it out on his own, but then, he’d just gone to kill time and I had decided to run an experiement.

My first encounter with Scientology was an employer of mine – he was a convert and he enjoyed challenging his beliefs by debating with me – and even though he was a believer, he didn’t beleive all the stuff they tell to the punters – apparently, there’s levels to Scientology, so what you learn as an initiate is later changed – which is a clever way to deal with having claims proven bogus, is to admit that they are bogus until you attain a certain level of enlightenment and are given the real true truth.

I have to admire a religion that admits their public claims are foolish and only the true faithful are shown the truth – it’s a way to be able to constantly remake the religion as needed, by revealing ever new insider circles, leaving the followers to wonder if they will ever reach the final level.

After all, why quit when you’ve been in for so long and you must be close to the final secrets…..

Warren Buffet for President of USA

Snopes confirmed this is true, even if Warren Buffet didn’t ask for the message to be spread – it’s deserving of promotion.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971… before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011
1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

Balance of Evidence

The difficulty with religion is getting the claimants to understand what constitutes evidence, since believers assert one of two positions – that the universe exists is evidence of a deity or that faith is dependent on the lack of evidence, with no middle or varying order of magnitude position in between.

Actually, they usually claim both – that faith requires that there be no evidence, while that the universe exists is evidence – I think that this is an attempt to have it both ways, or to claim these opposites so that the non-resolvable nature of the claim is smoothed out by the blanditude of it being God’s inscrutable will. Which leads to the other problem of people who claim to know god’s position matters if god is beyond our comprehension.

It’s hardly a wonder that there’s an apologist movement for religion that tries to buff and polish the contradictions away. Mostly, I’ve always wondered why we allowed a special word for these people, since, in any other industry, they would just be public relations staffers.

Eventually, a believer will state that what constitutes sufficient evidence for themselves are subjective emotional experiences, appeals to tradition or ancient authority, that reality/the universe is too complex (for them) and thus must be deity driven, that a deity driven universe provides all answers right now and these answers are absolute while science is constantly changing and isn’t able to provide answers to everything.

You know, as evidence by there being only one religion and one way to practice it and how religion has unified everyone but perpetually rebelling and contrary atheists.

It is confounding me to how anyone with even a minimal understanding of history and a minimal understanding of the current world status, could not see that the rise and spread of religion conforms to cultural geography and population migration.

That the plethora of sects within any religion demonstrates religion to be lacking in answers – otherwise, there wouldn’t be a need to splinter off in every direction.

There’s as many ways to believe as there are believers – and in fact, people tend to modify their religion to suit their needs, making transgressions that the believer does of lesser concern to their deity than the transgressions of non-believers – as evidenced by all those who would damn gays and lesbians, while giving a pass to the right believers who embezzle, defraud or cheat on their spouses with opposite or same gender sex partners – it’s always about sex or money with these people. Earthly concerns that they are allegedly beyond.

Curious, how all the spiritual leaders in America live in luxury while proclaiming to follow a guy who never owned property and hung out with a bunch of other unemployed men with long hair and beards…

Even the current spate of softer peddled prosperity evangelicals who are channeling Mr. Rodgers with a feel good version of that old time religion, no emphasis on hell or hating anyone, just feel good, feel god and pray right and get rich.

Did they forget that whole easier for a poor person than a rich person to get into heaven?

Shouldn’t the truest Christians be people who are poor by choice? Shouldn’t giving away all the wealth that you have in excess of daily survival be the mark of a true believer?

As much as believers like to claim that no one is really an atheist – that when push comes to shove, we all secretly believe, is simply not borne out by observation.

There is a disparity in what a believer claims they believe and how they actually live, in that they rarely ever live up to their stated beliefs. Then claim that the standards are intentionally higher than humans can attain, because of our inherent unworthiness, and that it’s the attempts and the repentance that counts. No, just accepting god is what’s needed. No, it’s accepting god, plus deeds. No, just saying you believe in case there’s one because it’s better than saying there’s not a god. because a god who came up with the universe couldn’t predict anything as obvious as Pascal’s Wager….

In any case, we’re supposed to believe that any religion has figured out how to be in the world, based on ancient texts written in an entirely different language and cultural context, which have been compiled and edited by people with an agenda for their gain during their lifetime, and despite the lack of coherence and internal consistency, are the infallible word of god that is available for anyone to read, but it’s better to leave it to the clergy to explain it…

And really, any way to be in the world that doesn’t include getting along with and working and playing well with everyone else in the world, isn’t any kind of answer to the global existence that we know have.

Mr. Rodgers had it right, there’s room for everyone in the neighbourhood – but only as long as we keep our religion to ourselves and out of the public square.

 

Religious harm

Religions are equally valid – which is to say that there’s none more valid than any other – but that all religions have benefits and harms is also not a contested thing.

The issue is that that harms done by religion are far reaching, and are entirely voluntary – which means that the harm of religion far outweighs the benefits – and the harm is completely unnecessary.

Religion’s immediate harm is to the individual believer – religion, having no evidence to support it’s claims, is a false belief, no matter how many truth nuggets there are – in the broadest sense, there is no reason to accept any religion.

Other harms include wasting of school funds fighting over the attempts to shoe horn ID/Creationism into science classes. Electing politicians who will suspend or limit research funding of pushing into science frontiers or cancel funding for family planning, sexual education and anything else deemed to be a religious moral matter, rather than a private medical matter.

Unmeasurable harms such as lower levels of education and a population far more ignorant than it should be, with people clinging to millennial old thinking and morality for a world that has moved far beyond the nomadic desert existence and the scale of our existence being far larger now while the world is so much smaller, with more people than at any other single era of time.

Mostly, the harm of religion is that it divides people and makes them competitors, false claimants to possessing The One True Faith – when faith is what is dividing and separating us, when we should be working together across and despite our differences, for we all all humans and the differences are only skin and culturally deep – not insurmountable, which is where religion does it’s biggest harms.

At the very least, religion is a means by which we excuse our difficulties in not getting along with each other. By eliminating or minimizing the alleged differences and barriers to getting along, we are forced to deal with what’s really making us not get along with each other.

Which is xenophobic fear – which religion directly speaks to: purity – to allow others is to contaminate the faithful and xenophobia was a needful survival thing when we lived in small nomadic tribes; but it’s not useful in the modern world, and is harming us

Religions that claim to be the one true one, is to hold a group above and apart from the rest of humanity; when, the reality is, no one is better or worse inherently than anyone else.

We need to put aside the systemic mechanisms that continually assert that any group is better than all others because when one group feels and thinks they are better, then it turns into a mission to impose that “betterness” on everyone else.

That goes for America thinking it’s the world police to the theocratic religions (which Christianity is one, putting itself as above secular civil law, but hasn’t yet achieved it’s government take over, but clearly is no longer content to have infiltrated and influenced).

So, how do we get people to lose faith?

First, we stop coddling religious sensibilities – allow religion to compete in the marketplace of ideas without any special consideration given to that the ideas are religious. We need to be able to say that the ideas religion promotes are foolish on their face, no more validating or kid gloves.

But the main effort is education ; it’s a big reason why people give up faith, because when you learn about world history and other cultures, it becomes apparent that every human civilization has made up their own religion to reinforce their cultural values and to enforce behavioral norms.

We used to explain everything through religion, and now we have science to explain a lot about the natural world and how to be in it.

It’s a simple thing really, we are on the verge of a global civilization and things that divide us, like religion, need to be put in the past

We need to uncover answers together – and science is the same no matter where you are on the globe; it comes down to will enough people want to have people be in charge or deities that divide us.

David Milgaard charged with spousal assault

Cristina Milgaard is standing by her man David as he faces charges for assault and uttering threats against her.

David Milgaard is a Canada Justice poster boy after he spent 23 years in prison for the 1969 murder of Gail Miller, a nurse’s aid. Milgaard was released in 1992 and exonerated in 1999 after DNA evidence proved Miller’s killer was the already incarcerated convicted rapist Larry Fisher.

Milgaard was convicted on circumstantial evidence, was a sixteen year old teenager who was not cooperative with police and a causality of public pressure to blame someone, really anyone for the murder, so that in the public’s mind, the danger was resolved and everything could return to normal.

For everyone but David Milgaard, who had only his mother as support and as a beleiver in his innocence and it would be a long 23 years of not normal and 5 more besides to be vindicated in this miscarriage of justice.

Mother and Son, reunited

My personal connection to David Milgaard was in 1996, before DNA cleared him, but after he was released. I was working for a lawyer who worked with the John Howard Society. Milgaard was a client of the society and he would occasionally drop by our offices and we were selling hand bound copies of a slender volume of poems “The Rabbit’s Paw (for Bandit Blues).”

When I met him, he had a timidness to him that I lacked the capacity at the time to understand.A timidness that anyone who hasn’t been thoroughly and wrongfully abused and punished by authority can’t understand, although, I do not consider my last three years as comparable to David’s stolen life; it’s given me insight into how destructive being caught up by a massive bureaucracy that just needs to get things done, no matter the cost to people and without regard to reality.

When your own actions are no longer predictors to how people will respond. It makes you very timid and anxious because you have learned to fear what you can’t predict and when reality is ignored in favour of easy answers and convenience and you are sacrificed on that premise, as Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:

To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence.

In any event, the lawyer I worked for was a little starstruck by Milgaard, because my lawyer became a lawyer to fight the good fight of social justice. As a social justice poster boy, Milgaard was a rock star.

I had a wider and shallower view of social justice back then; I had worked for the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective for several years, and had been news editor of a new defunct Vancouver Gay and Lesbians newspaper, Angles, and had spent thousands of hours in grassroots activism. I was for social justice, but across the board and justice for all. It was a heady time and looking back. not at all surprising that life felt the same as being in university – learning, protesting, being involved, passionate caring about everything but no one thing in particular.

My lawyer couldn’t accept that his excitement that Milgaard would drop by wasn’t especially shared by me. It was cool, but nothing I expected to be eventful. So, when Milgaard arrived, my lawyer blurted out that I wanted an autographed copy of the poetry book. So he signed one for me.

His autograph at the time and probably now, was “Justice delayed, Justice denied” followed by his name.

I got a different autograph, which was a little cool to me.

To properly set up this next part, I have to jump down south, as a news story appeared about the American doctor who’s wife’s murder was turned into a TV series and a few movies called “The Fugitive.” To recap, this doctor was charge with the murder of his wife and he maintained his innocence.

A book about the crime turned up, not written by, but autographed by the Doctor with the single word :”yes”. The Doctor had since died and the person who owned the book was claiming the autograph was a confession.

So, David autographed the book to me:

And I used to joke for a long time that I had Milgaard’s confession in writing, but stopped using the joke when DNA exonerated him.

I tucked the book into my bookcase, the lawfirm closed and I changed industry sectors. Over time, I blurred the details until the only part of the autograph I remembered was the mention of having a secret and until I pulled the book to take the picture, I’d forgotten that he’d written down the secret – possibly because of the Fugitive Doctor news story. So, I had to remove that part of the image, it’s a secret, after all.

In any event, David Milgaard is the Poster Boy for Social Justice and the human cost of what bureaucracy is capable of. Which isn’t to say he should get a pass for the events that transpired between him and Christine, but she understands that you can’t ignore the context of those events and she knows his heart.

She’s standing by her man and I am keeping our secret.

Elvis’ “Little Sister” Dies

From Elvis Information Net

October 27, 2011 – Patti Parry, Elvis’ “Little sister” has Died:

EIN has confirmed the terrible news that Elvis’ good friend Patti Parry passed away this morning in hospital. We have heard that her brother took her to a hospital last night, and that she passed this morning.

Patti Parry was a good friend to EIN and was always a joy to be with, full of fun and life and wonderful stories of times spent with Elvis.

Patti Parry was one of a small number of girls who hung out with Elvis and the guys for many years in L.A. from the time they were young in the early 60s.
When EIN interviewed Patti Parry in 2003 she recalled that when she knew him ..

“Elvis didn’t have a Mum, he didn’t have a sister so I was a girl who was around who could nurture him. He needed that nurturing. I was the only girl there and if he needed it I would give him a lot of help and a shoulder to cry on. I was his Little Sister, I was a very lucky girl. (laughing) They were lucky too!”

____________________________

I don’t think it was until the 1990’s that I learned about Patty from one documentary or another.

Patty Parry was a rare person in Elvis’ life who hasn’t written her own book about Elvis. During Elvis’ life, there wasn’t much private information about him that fans were aware of, but she began to appear in some documentaries and magazines over the past years, offering a unique perspective on Elvis because of the unique relationship they had.

People like Patty were rare, she occasionally worked for Elvis as a hairdresser, but she rarely accepted payment or salary. Her Elvis days were largely in LA – including the night of The Beatles visit.

Patty has only ever talked positively about her days with Elvis and her interviews were always humanizing, recognizing that there was some bad that isn’t worth talking about and focussing on the positive and keeping private matters private.

Not only admirable, but also a testament to the strength of her character and her loyalty to her friend, Elvis Presley.