Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology and space opera: A new scholarly approach by Susan Raine

SpaceOperaJust Saturday, Jon Atack was complaining about social scientists and their inability to understand how Scientology works. But there are academics who know their stuff, and at the top of that list is University of Alberta professor Stephen Kent.

Not only has Kent spent decades exposing Scientology’s abuses, he has one of the best collections of Scientology material in the world — and he uses it to educate the next generation of scholars. Among them is Susan Raine, who studied under Kent and has done significant work of her own.

Now, Raine has put out a new piece that really knocked us out.

Professor Kent let us know his former protege had published her piece, “Astounding history: L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology space opera” in the journal Religion.

Believe us when we say that’s a subject we’ve been interested in for a long time. As we’ve written in the past, Hubbard’s space opera is not only restricted to OT 3, the secretive material that was the subject of a 2005 episode of South Park. In fact, Hubbard was quite open with his early followers about the galactic elements of Scientology, elements that the church does its best to hide from the public today.

In Raine’s article, she examines the origins of space opera as a subset of science fiction, and the motifs that were popular around the time that L. Ron Hubbard was coming up with Dianetics and Scientology.


In particular, she notes that A. E. van Vogt and others were writing stories in which mankind could be “improved” to become superhuman, particularly in their intellectual capacities. (Van Vogt was an early admirer of Dianetics, and even became leader of Dianetics in California, but later he grew disillusioned when Hubbard began encouraging followers to explore their “past lives.”)

Raine suggests that in Dianetics and Scientology, Hubbard took the motifs of space opera and suggested that they actually described reality. “Hubbard crafted Scientology as an author’s fantasy come true,” she says.

Hubbard often said that science fiction writers were actually describing the “whole track” — the galaxy’s incredibly long actual history — in their stories. And if space opera was real, the hero of Hubbard’s grand galactic narrative was himself.

“The leading man in Hubbard’s space opera is Hubbard himself,” she writes.

It’s a really insightful, thoroughly researched piece that we think adds greatly to the academic record on Scientology. We have the author’s permission to post the story in full here, and we hope you give it the time it deserves…


Astounding History: L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology space opera


Saving the world as a profession?

One of our tipsters forwarded us this great item from the San Francisco org too late to make our Sunday Funnies yesterday, but we didn’t want you to miss it.

This is one of the best Scientology slogans we’ve ever seen. We hope they use it a lot more!



Posted by Tony Ortega on November 3, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email