Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.
Jon sent us just a short anecdote this time, which only whets our appetite for more. But we know he’s a busy man and has a lot going on that will come to fruition later this year. We’ll take what we can get. Tell it, Jon…
JON: In 1993, I was in Chicago, working on a documentary project with Carlos Cornier. The documentary did not see the light of day, though some of my footage went into an A&E piece, which also featured David Miscavige. We had done a week of filming in England. Now Carlos wanted to add some American colour.
We rolled up in front of the Bahá’í temple, because Carlos thought it would make a wonderful backdrop. A representative of the faith quickly shooed us off the property, so, rather than a shot of their pristine gardens, we included the whole building, by filming on the street. I well remember the puzzled looks of the faithful, as I extemporized about the Waco Siege, which was unraveling in Texas.
Carlos wanted some frames of me in front of the Chicago Org. It was almost ten years since I’d set foot in a Scientology establishment, but Carlos insisted that all I had to do was chat into a lapel mike while browsing the volcano book dump in the store window.
Carlos and his co-director set up their tripod across the street, and I mumbled into the microphone. Two burly chaps rushed out of the Org and across the street, but I was distracted, because at that very moment, a voice cooed, “Would you like to come inside?”
Now, it really had not been my intention, but suddenly it felt like the rightest thing in the world to do, so I crossed the threshold into the lair of the Antichrist (as Hubbard styled himself in the unabridged OT 8). The receptionist cheerily asked if I knew anything about Scientology. “Yes, I’m OT 5,” I replied, quite as cheerily. This excited her, so she yelled out, “Hey, everybody, there’s an OT 5 in the Org!”
The reception filled up, in a matter of moments. “When are you going to Florida, for OT 6?” the receptionist asked, innocently.
“I’m not,” I replied. “Because it is a scam.” The assembly looked sheepishly at the floor, all pretense at “confront” gone. They were confused and had no one to tell them what they should self-determinedly do. It was at that moment that I realized that the two burly guys were the OSA crew, so while they were busy chasing the camera down the street, there was no one to “bring order” in the Org. I smiled as politely as I could, and shook my head at the frozen pack of followers. I haven’t been invited into an Org since. Which is probably just as well.
Several of our readers pointed us in the direction of a story in the financial pages this week. Pharmacyclics, which has made a fortune from a cancer drug that has exceeded expectations, was sold for a cool $21 billion.
And that means its owner, Robert Duggan, the richest Scientologist in the world, is now even richer.
In October, we told you a strange, perplexing tale about Duggan and his wife Trish and their many adopted children. When we wrote that story, Forbes ranked Bob as the world’s 1,164th richest person, worth about $1.5 billion.
Yesterday, Forbes ranked him as the 499th richest person, worth about $3.5 billion.
That’s quite a jump. And you know there’s no one happier than Scientology leader David Miscavige. Our most recent estimate is that Duggan has given Scientology’s IAS account about $60 million — and that’s not counting the building funds and other Scientology causes he’s benefited.
You can bet that Miscavige has some Sea Org worker up late going through new names for big trophies he’s going to give Duggan as he hands over more of that cheddar.
Titanium Colossal Maximus Meritorius? With Honors?
Lawrence Wright on Bill Maher’s HBO show
We just love how cool and calm Larry is — he’s always smooth as butter. And what a great setup for the movie opening in a week…
Meanwhile, in Canada…
Tonight’s live episode of Real Time with Bill Maher is unavailable. Please tune in next week for a new episode.
— HBO Canada (@HBOCanada) March 7, 2015
Earlier in the evening, your proprietor spent a few minutes with Gil Gross at Talk 910 in San Francisco…
Shelly like you’ve never seen her
In 2013, we visited Claudio and Renata Lugli in their home in Brescia, Italy. The former Church of Scientology members had been longtime tailors to David and Shelly Miscavige over many years before they, like so many others, became disaffected and left the organization. Because they had worked so closely with the Miscaviges, the Luglis had some amazing photographs of them. We brought back quite a few of Shelly, which we used in stories about her last year. Now, Renata has posted another photo of Shelly in her Sea Org uniform, relaxing with Claudio. What a great shot! We knew you’d want to see it.
Bonus photos from our tipsters
Thirty years of looking up the word ‘the’ in the dictionary in Los Angeles! Woo-hoo!
These kids in an unnamed Latin American school look thrilled to learn about Scientology’s anti-drug program, don’t they?
We received this yesterday but forgot to put up this morning. Now we can see the news has hit ESMB and elsewhere — the entire Bank of Clearwater building has been tented for fumigation. We have a feeling, though, that the wrong pests are being chased away!
Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!
Posted by Tony Ortega on March 7, 2015 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ