A Renegade Scientologist’s Creation Myth

The Gods of Eden is nothing less than an attempt to write a history of the world from its creation to the present day, and detailing how since prehistory a secret Brotherhood has manipulated society. Generally-accepted history is merely a scam, a cover story designed to obscure the Brotherhood’s role and to advance its agenda; when you peel back the curtain and look at the real story, which Bramley is happy to share with us, it becomes evident that the march of history is shoving us in a very dark direction indeed, as the Brotherhood speeds up their plan to establish a New World Order in which a world government exerting mass mind control will attempt to spiritually deaden us to prevent us attaining collective enlightenment.

The cruellest irony is that the Brotherhood, originally called the Brotherhood of the Snake, used to be benign – having been set up by one of the aliens who created humanity back in ancient days (whose deeds are recorded in Sumerian myth) in order to slip the truth out to us regular humans. Over time, however, the Brotherhood was infiltrated and corrupted by the more malevolent aliens, who realised that it made a very convenient basis for a secret government of Earth which they could use to pull our strings indirectly, and who used it to establish more or less all mainstream religions, either by fabricating them wholesale or by corrupting them and steering them away from their founders’ original intent. Only by waking up to the Machiavellian manipulation which keeps us warring constantly against each other can we face down these aliens, which the book refers to as the Custodians, and free ourselves from their manipulation.

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A New Strategy For Battlefield: Earth

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

In the grim darkness of the far future there’s only slavery – humanity having been enslaved by the evil economically-driven Psychlos, tall aliens who wear big stompy boots and dreadlocks. One day, Terl (John Travolta) – the Psychlo in charge of the security of their operations on Earth – decides to see if humans can be trained to mine gold, and he picks recently-captured chump Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) as his first test subject and begins subjecting him to vastly accelerated speed learning. This, of course, allows Tyler to realise humanity’s old accomplishments and hatch a plan to lead a daring revolution to overthrow the alien oppressors. It involves using that speed-learning tech to allow him and his pals to use some remarkably well-preserved fighter aircraft…

Battlefield Earth is a legendarily bad movie spawned from a legendarily bad book by L. Ron Hubbard, penned after he’d grown tired of cranking out Scientology material and decided to turn his hand to a bit of old school science fiction. I don’t really need to break down the deficiencies of the movie – that road’s been well-trod. For this article, I’d like to instead try out a little thought experiment: could there have been a route which would have led to the movie, if not actually being good, at least being entertainingly watchable?

Let’s put some restrictions on our thought experiment to make it interesting. Let’s say that we can’t just pirate the material – thus, like the actual filmmakers, we must still report back to David Miscavige, current God-Emperor of Scientology, and justify any changes to him. On the other hand, Miscavige is a weird tyrant, so let’s give ourselves a little advantage: let’s pretend we have an expert Miscavige-wrangler on hand who’s great at pitching ideas to him so that he will accept them, provided that some sound fiscal or doctrinal basis can be found.

Likewise, let’s assume that we have to stick to the actual story as penned by Hubbard; we are allowed to abridge and cut parts – the issued movie did, after all – but we can’t just abandon it completely.

With these restrictions in place, here’s what I reckon you could do.

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Jonestown, White Night, and What Scientology Could Have Taught the People’s Temple

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

If anything, Tim Reiterman was even closer to the events recounted in Raven than Bugliosi was in Helter Skelter. Whereas Bugliosi only arrived on the scene after the fact in Helter Skelter and can only directly attest to what went down in the trial, Tim Reiterman was part of the team of journalists accompanying Congressman Leo Ryan’s doomed visit to Jonestown, and was wounded in the People’s Temple attack on the party (and the group of Temple defectors they were trying to get to safety) at the Port Kaituma airstrip.

Horrifying as it was, that attack was a mere foretaste of the carnage that Jim Jones was simultaneously planning in Jonestown, as he led his people in a carefully rehearsed process of murder and mass suicide that was, at least as Jones explained it, intended to act as the ultimate protest against a capitalist world that wouldn’t leave them be. There is room for debate in terms of how serious he was about this motive – his claims that “mercenaries”, the Guyanese army and other hired guns of capitalism were out to invade and destroy Jonestown were backed up by faked assassination attempts, just as earlier in his career his claims of healing powers were backed up by faked faith healings, so there is every chance that he didn’t really believe his own rhetoric captured on the infamous “Jonestown death tape” about how soldiers were going to swoop in and torture and kill all the town’s inhabitants.

What is not in doubt is Jones’ commitment to mass suicide as an exit strategy: as well as the famous “White Night” drills that prepared the inhabitants of Jonestown for self-destruction, Raven documents how Jones was running hoaxed suicide drills even when he was headquartered in the United States, years before Jones’s spiralling paranoia, increasing legal and journalistic scrutiny, and a string of defections from the People’s Temple prompted his retreat to his Guyana hideaway. Given the Temple’s vehemently (and often counter-productively) aggressive responses to even a hint of journalistic curiosity or law enforcement interest, an arguable case could be made that what Jones was really doing on that final White Night was fleeing the consequences of his actions, his pride rendering him unable to face either the criminal charges that would have inevitably followed the attack on the Ryan party or the exposure of his secrets that would follow.

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Xenu Not Included

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

It’s no secret that L. Ron Hubbard was an SF author before he invented Dianetics and Scientology – even the Church of Scientology is willing to admit that – but through a combination of his monstrous charlatan creation overtaking the rest of his life’s work in the public imagination, and his last major SF works being the utter disaster of Battlefield Earth and the downright illucid Mission Earth, the place of his early writing in the development of the genre has been glossed over a lot.

This presents a difficulty to anyone trying to piece together the history of the genre. Hubbard’s tendency to wildly overstate his qualifications and accomplishments in more or less every area he turned his hand to – a habit which the Church of Scientology continues on his behalf to this day – complicates any appraisal of his work, but even critical biographies like the hilarious Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller acknowledge that Hubbard was popular amongst his fellow authors, and after all it was through the connections he made in the field that he first promoted Dianetics. On top of that, although like many of his peers he penned a tremendous amount of material and wasn’t really one for finely polishing his works – the realities of the pulp market tended to preclude that – a few of his works do still earn praise from figures in the field, despite his later reputation.

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Miscavige Family Values

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

People defecting from Scientology (and its precursor pseudoscience of Dianetics) and writing books critical of L. Ron Hubbard’s personal brand of bullshit have existed about as long as Dianetics and Scientology have. Dr Joseph Winter was a member of the first wave of people L. Ron Hubbard duped with his claims of a breakthrough in mental health: he was a founder member of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, the first of a great many organisations established by Hubbard over the years (usually to replace previous ones which had collapsed, gone bankrupt, or slipped entirely out of his control), and was one of the first to join its Board of Directors. Hubbard wanted Winter to be prominently involved because, as a medical doctor, Winter gave the new therapy a vital veneer of credibility, and in fact Winter wrote the original introduction to Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (an introduction, naturally, long since excised by the Church of Scientology).

The year after Dianetics was published, Winter – having resigned from the Foundation – brought out A Doctor’s Report on Dianetics, in which he expressed doubts about a number of claims made by Dianetics, suggested that he still believed in some of its premises but they could really do with actual research, and slammed Hubbard’s authoritarian approach, dangerous willingness to give Dianetic credentials to anyone who wanted to become a practitioner, and complete refusal to do anything resembling proper scientific testing. The pattern Winter set has persisted over the years; although the Church claims a vast membership, the best estimates of those who’ve studied these things suggest that at any particular time there are only a few thousand practicing Scientologists in the Church, their numbers constantly sapped by people dropping out. A certain proportion of the people dropping out write books, or provide research material to journalists writing books, and bit by bit over the years a sizable genre of Scientology exposes has grown up.

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Wildly Pointless

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

The DVD release of Wild Palms is a sparse thing. There are no extras, no deleted scenes, no commentary track, no language options, not even any subtitles. It’s like for the DVD release they digitised the episodes, slapped them on two discs, designed some cheap packaging and tossed it out there. They even made a mess of the packaging – the copyright notice on the back and on the two discs reads “copyright 1969 ABC Films” rather than “copyright 1993”, which is when the show actually aired. You can’t even select any scenes within the individual episodes – even though they are actually split into chapters, there’s no scene-selection menu, just an option on the menu screen to pick an individual episode or just play them all.

This is, in short, the most-bare bones DVD release I’ve ever seen – it’s from 2008, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a sparse offering, even on DVDs released whilst the World Trade Center was still standing and whilst Clinton was still President. It’s almost as though nobody involved in the release could be bothered to make an effort – or nobody involved in the show cares to revisit it.

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