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Last night, I saw this video celebrating Tom Cruise’s role in promoting Scientology to the world, in commemoration of his winning of the Freedom Medal of Honor award (a church honor). I understand that they were playing on “Mission: Impossible” (the famous theme song music, looped endlessly and playing for the duration of the nearly ten-minute video was also a clue). But to an extent, their Mission is really one of the most Impossible–to show the world that Scientology is the way, when most of the unconverted think that it’s more akin to a bowl of Fruit Loops that has a lot of money and celebrity endorsements.
The video had been on YouTube, but it was, sadly, taken down. You can now watch it here, on Gawker.com.


Once you get past the worshipful lens and Cruise’s explosive laughter during various moments, you might notice something interesting: except for a few Scientology-specific acronyms, his comments about his religion, and why it’s more awesome than other religions, was very generic. You want to educate others? So do Jews. You have a responsibility to help other people? So do Christians. Substitute any religion…these positives he’s pointing out are not unique to Scientology. (And no, I’m not just saying this because Tom Cruise appeared to me in a dream last night and we were friends who hung out and produced movies together–for which I blame the last two things I saw before I went to sleep: an episode of “Entourage” and this video.)
There’s an extended rant about how he’d like to go on vacation, but can’t because that’s not what he can do, because he has a responsibility. Treating this concept of days of rest that enable you to do go back to your life and do it better with the scorn that he assigns it seems elitist or unnecessarily monastic of him. Work hard, take a nice vacation to restore your energy–that’s an American way, and clearly one that Cruise rails against. Which is fine that he’s made that choice for himself. (But if he’s not using it, why doesn’t he just give away all his money to children so that they can go on vacation?) But he’s not Mother Teresa. He spends his time making movies and promoting him. I can’t remember when the last time I saw photos of him on a beach relaxing with Katie (or with anyone else). Maybe I’m being harsh and that answer was prompted by an unheard question posed by the interviewer. And I do tend to get in trouble when telling celebrities what to say, but I’m going to make an exception here: if you don’t want to go on vacation, don’t–no one is forcing you. But stop kvetching about the fact that you’re not going, especially when you have more money than, um, most of us.
I was expecting this video to be more wacky, frankly. That it’s not is anticlimactic, but points out something about Scientology that I hadn’t really absorbed before–there’s a lot there in common with other religions, if not in the ideology, then in the approach to human interactions, which has me seeing its good points instead of the wacky alien stuff or inspiration toward couch-jumping that you’ll see in the YouTube “related videos” box below the clip. And that was probably the point of the award and the video to begin with.

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