Thanks again to reader Rasha, we have a first look at another entertaining Scientology publication today, in this case Source magazine, the publication of the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.
Source does its best to entice wealthy Scientologists to “Flag,” where they can progress up Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom,” to some of its most expensive upper-level offerings.
That includes, of course, Scientology’s crown jewel, its “Flag Building” that was opened in 2013 and is more colloquially known as the “Super Power Building.” It takes up a full city block, and Scientology raised something like $200 million to construct it, which took about 20 years. Mike Rinder found documents that spell out what Scientology is charging members to set foot in the place, and he estimated that a typical Super Power experience is going to run a Scientologist about $32,000.
For us, there was one particular treat about the Super Power Building in this edition of Source — it’s our best look yet at the shrine to L. Ron Hubbard that we had first noticed when we published leaked renderings for the building back in early 2012. Those plans called for a museum to Hubbard focusing on his years running Scientology from sea (1967-1975) as the Commodore of his own small private navy.
The centerpiece of it would be his office on the yacht Apollo recreated to exacting detail…
Here’s how Source magazine, issue number 244, describes how the actual shrine itself came out. We thought you’d get a kick out of it.
IMAGINE YOURSELF WALKING through the palatial and perfect Flag Building. You’ve come to this place of learning, wisdom and spiritual freedom to go on services, but also to explore the deep legacy of our religion as only can be experienced in this singular location.
Marveling at the soaring architecture of sweeping staircases and exquisite arches clad in Italian travertine, you discover the Sea Org Museum just off the Grand Atrium. If you feel you have just passed through boundless space and time rendered in thoughtful design, you are now entering a rare and privileged look back into the foundations of Scientology via the implements, instruments and writings of LRH himself.
Dedicated to Flag’s seaborne heritage, the Sea Org Museum is a repository of living history — a testament to the fact that it was aboard the Apollo that LRH originally established the Flag Service Organization. Ultimately, as the religion grew and demand exceeded the ship’s capacity, LRH moved Flag ashore in 1975 and established the Flag Land Base. But this is as close as you can possibly get to being where it all started.
Notably, as you enter, some of the first items you encounter are instruments of navigation that are on display. How fitting, considering that what Ron gave the world were the tools and guidance needed to chart a course through the travails and traps of life to successfully progress to the state of complete liberation.
As you continue further into the museum, your senses heighten as you fully realize what you are experiencing is a treasure trove of the largest collection of artifacts ever assembled from the Flagship of the flotilla. Here is where you can view firsthand everything from LRH’s handwritten issues and manuscripts including copies of HCO Policy Letters, HCO Bulletins and Flag Orders, to the actual uniform he wore during the Apollo‘s christening.
The artifacts are many — some 60 in all — and together, they emanate Ron’s presence in a way that is palpable. Here is the Apollo‘s original radar, the ship’s phone, the Commodore’s wind velocity meter and weather station. Further along, the buffed-to-a-brassy-sparkle ship’s bell. A center island showcases additional artifacts including information on Sea Org Mission Technology, weather prediction, The Four Unprofitable Courses and a fittingly nautical display of ship’s knots.
A list of visitor favorites would also have to include beautifully rendered handcrafted models of the ships Athena, Diana, Apollo and Freewinds.
Then there is the transporting moment you encounter a detailed re-creation of the ship’s promenade deck, complete with a life-size image of Ron and a crew member making the rounds, giving the impression you are there with the Commodore himself.
Additionally, six museum panels cover various eras aboard the ship while two flat screens display multiple videos featuring LRH excerpts normally reserved only for Sea Org members. Throughout, the exquisite displays are presented in a setting that echoes a ship below decks, with curved beams and polished wood finishes enhancing the feeling of discovery.
But perhaps the most moving and memorable feature here is the Office of the Commodore, LRH’s command central and research room. The site of countless technical and administrative breakthroughs, the timeless tableau stands exactly as it did when LRH walked the bridge of the Apollo. Indeed, it is the absolute centerpiece of the museum. From his original Mark V E-meter with its hand-carved case, to the mantel with its model of the Cutty Sark, the office is perfect and authentic to the last detail — as will be your experience here in this museum, a voyage through time, space and Scientology that will remain with you for eternity.
One additional note, about that “recreation of the ship’s promenade deck,” which includes the life-size image of Hubbard and a replica lifeboat. Here’s how it looked in the computer rendering we published in 2012…
Look closely and you’ll notice that there’s a small girl following behind the Commodore…
Another photo of the scene which showed up in another Scientology publication gives us a better view of her…
And a closer look at that image revealed that the little girl appeared to have a black eye…
The girl herself, Julie Blundell, showed up at the WWP forum to confirm that she was one of the “Commodore’s Messengers,” young girls who lived on the ship and whose job it was to shadow Hubbard and run to and fro delivering his communications. She explained that she was between 8 and 11 years old in the photo, and that an accident with a wayward pulley had given her the shiner.
Julie was later erased when the photo was used in the “RON” encyclopedia…
And if you look carefully at the image of the actual museum that is shown in this issue of Source, you can see that when they built the replica of the Apollo’s deck, they went with the image in which Julie had been photoshopped out.
Because, after all, why would you want to remind wealthy Scientologists paying so much money that the place operates in part on the indentured servitude of children working long hours for little or no pay?
Leah Remini sits down with Joe Rogan
In case you missed it yesterday, here’s video of Leah Remini’s entertaining talk with Joe Rogan on his popular podcast. Even if you’re familiar with her book and her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath, we think you’ll learn a few things from this recording.
For example, unless it was in her book and we just don’t remember it, we think this was the first time we’ve heard Leah say that during her 3-month interrogation at the Flag Land Base following the Cruise-Holmes wedding debacle, one of the things they asked her about was whether she had any “sexual intentions towards Tom Cruise.” Well, that sounds like Scientology. Anyway, it’s a lively interview and Leah is more and more sure of herself and her mission, as you’ll see.
And yesterday we had another fun time with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips of KABC radio in Los Angeles. The Scientology starts up at about the 22:30 mark…
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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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
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