We’ve been on the road for more than a week, and it was sure good to get home yesterday. Once again, our contributors and tipsters really came through for us so we could keep the blog going uninterrupted. And we want to thank Jon Atack, who knew we were traveling and was thoughtful enough to send us a bonus post for our homecoming.
JON: When I was a kid, ads for Charles Atlas’s body-building courses were in almost every American comic. The ad read, “You too can have a body like mine.” Perhaps Scientology should use a grinning picture of the Founder, Source and Commodore with the caption, “You too can have a mind like mine.”
But do you really want a mind like Hubbard’s? While a believer, I did not doubt that Hubbard was an ideal figure – the best possible human being. He would be kind, tolerant, patient, and resourceful. He would never lose his temper and always have an encouraging word. Rather like the father that none of us ever had (though I’m happy to say that my own dad was a thoroughly decent chap, if not the image of perfection).
The truth is that Hubbard was a raving tyrant. Not at all a role model for any child. To emulate such a man would be to adopt his faults as well as his virtues.
It still puzzles the world that anyone would follow a chain-smoker who advocated all out war on anyone who dared to criticize him. A man who boasted of family virtues, but spent almost no time with his own children. Indeed, he disowned his oldest child when he asked for a pay rise and fought a vicious war against him for the next 20 years (“More communication not less is the answer,” but then “bullets too are communication”).
Another of Hubbard’s children committed suicide, but Hubbard showed no concern for the loss when told of his death. He simply complained about the bad publicity.
He was not a fond father to his children, nor to his followers. Having told us that our problems are rooted in trauma, he then set about traumatizing us even more. What possible justification could there be for over-boarding – which he ordered and supervised, proudly showing his photos of the event as a double spread in The Auditor.
Chain lockers, the bilge tank punishment, sleep deprivation (Hana Whitfield followed his orders to keep a radio operator awake for five days – which is potentially lethal). This punitive approach to the release of trauma (!) was perfected in the Rehabilitation Project Force, which is capable of transforming the most cheerful (i.e. “up tone”) person into an apathetic zombie. It seems to be based upon the Chinese brainwashing program, rather than any earlier “spiritual” practice.
Now, here’s the point: Followers of totalist leaders tend to adopt their characteristics. Hubbard was boastful and bombastic. He considered himself the greatest person who had ever lived. He claimed to have been the first being ever to “rise above” the reactive mind; the first person to make any progress in the “fields of the mind and spirit” in 50,000 years (I’m not sure who made that previous discovery and he doesn’t tell us what it might have been); the only person ever to develop “stable” supernatural powers, which he somehow never once demonstrated; creator of a “science of the mind.”
Hubbard was a braggart and anyone who wishes to emulate him will become a braggart too. He was also a preening narcissist, though frequently visited with the private terror that his work was futile. He suffered poor health and obesity, and had a penchant for alcohol and drugs.
I found the pictures of Charles Atlas off-putting. I have no wish to be muscle bound. Nor do I have any wish to have a mind like Ron Hubbard’s.
The Bunker: Thank you, Jon. Your piece reminded us of something we were thinking about just a few days ago. We’ve written numerous times about L. Ron Hubbard’s decision to go into permanent seclusion in February 1980, and that he was then cut off from nearly all of Scientology and the rest of the world for the last six years of his life. We know that he was tempted, at times, while at Creston Ranch near San Luis Obispo in his last three years, to drive a few hours down to the Hemet Base, but he never did.
But it wasn’t just Scientology he was cut off from. He also had family members just a few hours away. The Hubbards had a final Christmas celebration in 1979, but then L. Ron walked away from his family and stayed away until he died. We wonder how he managed to do that, with his wife Mary Sue, and their children Diana, Suzette, and Arthur just miles away from him in Southern California.
How did he never want to see any of them again, as he rotted away at Creston Ranch until his January 24, 1986 death? We find that somewhat incredible.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield