Year of Sundays

Year of Sundays

Scientology: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you…

If Scientology is the religion where nothing is true unless you personally have observed it to be true, then I can say with confidence: THESE PEOPLE ARE BATSHITOODLES.

But let me start from the beginning and walk you through our two hours of Scientological insanity.

Is it me or does their website say they hold services at 11AM on Sundays? Because when I showed up at the front desk and informed the spit-shined schoolboy receptionist that I was there for said service, he looked at me like I was the crazy one. I gave him a few moments to compose himself by asking to use the bathroom, which also gave me an opportunity to scope out the joint.


The Portland Church of Scientology is basically an office building. I’ve worked in a few (offices, not churches!) myself, so I recognized the floor plan: a central open area flanked on all sides by private unmarked offices and hallways leading to Who Knows Where. I found my way to the ladies room, but not before noticing a curious sign over the door of their big corner office, which read WAR ROOM in big black letters. I’m not sure it was fear that kept me from asking what that room was for or if it was just that I really didn’t want to know.

By the time I got back from the bathroom, Joel had finished parking the car and he joined me in the reception area where our friendly greeter used a pager to track down someone to take us over to Sunday service, which was apparently held in the building next door.


Enter: EMILY, our official Scientology Gatekeeper. A young, pretty blond with chunky black eyeliner and pouty lips, she skittered into the room with a cellphone velcro-ed to her ear, her long stringy hair apparently left to dry in the wind of her non-stop chatter. I guessed she was from Gresham and that no matter how clean-cut she looked in her black khakis and inspirational sweatshirt, this was a woman who could teach me to pole dance.

“I’m on hold,” she told us. “Don’t worry.”

I couldn’t help it. I had intentionally left my checkbook at home where it would be safe from the timeshare sales pitch, but I was still definitely worried.

Emily led us down the stairs and out to the office on the next block, which would have looked like any other office except for the baby grand piano and brass bust of Lenin L. Ron Hubbard.


She took us into a small office lined with inspirational posters and a bookshelf overflowing with shrink-wrapped Elron publications and offered us a seat beside her desk.

“So what brings you to Scientology?” she asked. I wasn’t sure she would stop talking long enough for us to answer, but Joel managed to explain that we were on a church tour, doing a different religion every Sunday.

“Ah, so you’ve probably heard a lot of crazy things about us then. Like about the aliens and stuff.”

Uh, YEAH. We nodded.

“Well,” she clarified, “Did you know that L. Ron Hubbard was a very famous novelist? He wrote science fiction books and was a very successful millionaire.”


More nodding.

“And sometimes people confuse his science FICTION books with his Scientology writings.”

Well, that explains it then. Only NOT.

According to everything ever written about Scientology, members with the net worth required to work their way up to the top of the pyramid scheme actually do believe in Elron’s Space Opera.

According to the founder of Scientology and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Zenu was the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology dogma holds that the essences of these many people remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm.


But we were going a bit stealth here, so neither Joel or I called her out on it. We just wanted to keep her talking and after disappearing to find the “minister,” who we were informed was in the middle of a marriage counseling session and wouldn’t be able to perform the Sunday service, The Goodship Emily was glad to oblige.

She went on to pull random Scientology talking points out of the air, like how it isn’t so much a religion as an applied religious practice where you “only believe what you observe to be true.”  That sounds great and all, but I still had a hard time grasping what Scientology actually IS. I mean, if there isn’t a regular Sunday service, what do these people actually DO together? I suddenly wished I had asked about the war room.


Since there was no minister, she suggested we hang out and watch a DVD on their big screen and we followed her into another bland white room. There are no red velvet tithe bags at the Church of Scientology, but they’ll take your charge card from a pay station directly outside the chapel.

Apparently this is the chapel.

She fumbled around cleaning the room for a few minutes and we both watched in awe as she pulled a giant metal cross out from behind the pulpit and attached it to the front.


Is it me or does that look suspiciously like the thing they crucified Jesus on?

“This isn’t a cross, by the way. It’s a religious symbol with eight points, which we refer to as the eight DYNAMICS.”

“Then why does it look so much like a cross?” Joel asked.

“We see the horizontal line as the material world.” She pointed to the cross. “And the vertical line is spirituality, which pushes through the material world.” She made an upward thrusting motion with her hand. Which wasn’t even remotely sexual. Not at all.


She went on to explain these eight dynamics, which are also referred to as the eight Urges Toward Survival and which I didn’t really understand until I watched the Instructional DVD. Even now, I’m not so much with the understanding.

  1. Self: the effort to survive as an individual and to obtain the highest level of survival for self.
  2. Family: the urge to survive as a family and make plans for the future. This is also somehow the place where they categorize “creativity.” Which still refuses to make sense to me.
  3. Group: the urge to survive as a group.
  4. Mankind: the urge to survive as a species.
  5. Lifeforms: the urge to survive for any form of life, including plants, animals, and, I assume, aliens from the Galactic Confederacy.
  6. The physical universe, aka MEST: Matter, Energy, Space and Time, the component parts of the physical universe and the urge to survive within them.
  7. Spiritual: the urge to survive as spiritual beings or the urge for life itself to survive.
  8. Infinity: the urge toward existence. “Commonly supposed to be a supreme being or creator, correctly defined as INFINITY, it actually embraces the allness of all.” Whatever that means.

Then she turned on the TV, plugged in the DVD, shut the door behind her and left us to our own devices.


We immediately started taking pictures.

Joel poses with the Elron, the Main Man.

The video was a thing of beauty. And by “beauty,” I mean a load of BS so majestically, mind-numbingly simple as to make us both laugh out loud at almost every sentence. It’s a surprise Jon Stewart hasn’t used it on the Daily Show because I had to keep telling Joel to be quieter or they’d storm in and kick us out for mocking them.


Please do yourself a favor and go watch it yourself on Scientology’s official website.

The video goes through the eight dynamics as well as several other mainstays of the religion, but I jotted down a few of my favorite lines, like:

When you lose your appendix, does your personality change? Are you any less you?

Your body is something you HAVE, not something you are.

So if you’re not your body, what ARE you? (An alien?)

Your mind is something you use to figure things out. (As opposed to my vagina, which is something I use to figure things IN.)


You HAVE a body. You HAVE a mind. You ARE a Thetan. (Guess what rhymes with Thetan? SATAN!)

The more the video droned on, the less I understood. It was just too simple for my little pea brain to grasp. I kept thinking this was a religion designed for people with Asperger’s. Or, you know, ACTORS.

Emily had promised to return and answer any questions we had after the video, but we waited a while and she never showed up. When we wandered back out toward the lobby, a man named MICK introduced himself and explained that Elvis, aka his lovely wife Emily, had left the building. He took us back into the chapel and that’s where the real fun began.


Mick, Emily’s clean-cut counterpart who looked like he was wearing his father’s JC Penny suit, seemed to peg the baldman and I as heretics from the get-go. Well, I should say he pegged Joel as such because he decided to pick on me. After determining that I was, indeed, open to finding my spiritual side, he asked me to close my eyes for a little experiment.

“Picture an object. Any object,” he directed.


“What are you picturing?”

“Joel,” I answered. That adorable apostate was standing right next to me, so who else was I gonna think about?

“No,” Mick said. “That won’t work.” He shook his head. “Picture a cat.”


“Okay.” I shrugged.

He then led me through a series of questions about the cat – what it looked like (Penelope Pitstop, my first pet), where it was (on my Grandma’s velvet chair), etc. – all apparently designed to illustrate the point that I can’t think of a cat independently from being the observer of said cat. The cat and I are SEPARATE.

“Now close your eyes again and picture your body.”

I did.

“Now FEEL your body.”

I did.

“How did you know you were feeling your body?” He asked.

“I dunno!” There was no way I was telling Mick that I’d just performed a series of Kegels.


“But you see how you are separate from your body? It’s not your mind and it’s not your body, so it’s something else, right? That’s the INFINITY of the eighth dynamic.”

So wait. THAT’s where I can find God? I knew it all along!

Mick proceeded to get into a very heated debate with Joel at this point. I would go into the details, but all I can remember is standing there thinking I would have worn more comfortable boots if I’d known I’d be standing in a corner doing Kegels for that long. If this is how the Church of Scientology is recruiting new members, by dishing out a haphazard, bottom-rung underview of the church and sitting you down to watch a DVD, then really, these nutters are far from being a threat. They are disorganized, unsophisticated and frankly, DUMB AS BRICKS. Although I will give them a few extra points for their excessive paranoia, which is really a thing to applaud.


Eventually, Mick handed us a DVD and shoved us out of the building.

We survived the Church of Scientology with our wallets intact!

And we lived to tell you about it.

Comments read comments(15)
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posted October 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm


Some grammar/spelling corrections. Ironic, considering your post talks a great deal about becoming competent in all areas, raising one’s IQ, and the general dumbing down of society.

38 years of getting clear should be able to exorcise a few grammar-thetans, no?

Also, the shtick of saying that any criticism of someone who is intending to improve the world is siding with the “bad guys” is just dumbing down the conversation. Black and white thinking is for reptile brains.

“one” should be “On”
risen > raised
ones > one’s
there > their
your > you’re
your not > you’re not
your > you’re
other wise > otherwise
want > wants
do > does
your > you’re
your > you’re
dubing > dumbing
your > you’re

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posted October 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Methinks Alan needs to remove some more pain (thereby raising his IQ a bit more) so he can conquer spelling and grammar as well as his own insanity.

I’m a fairly smart chickie–and all I got from that was BLAH BLAH BLAH (drugs are evil!!!) and BLAH BLAH BLAH (more words with the first letter capitalized for no reason!) . . . .

Maybe you need to “dub” it down a little more for me.

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posted October 18, 2011 at 2:24 am

Sorry your first impression was a Flop.

I have been around Scientology for 38 years and want to share with you my viewpoint of it.
If you were to run a Virus out of a computer you would fix your computer.
By running the pain out of your mind, you fix your Mind.

One successfully completing Dianetics the first Book one usually reads and running all the pain from your mind you should notice a considerable rise in IQ. Your viewpoint would be considerably expanded. You would notice it and would want to continue. One needs to have the reality his IQ can actually be risen and know how much easier life gets when it has been raised and how your viewpoint changes that the common man cannot see yet…

A lot of people have never experienced running the pain from there mind, so there IQ isn’t at a level where Scientology would make sense, which is, one of the reasons, why it is so controversial. The other is Psychs our enemies spread malicious lies about us that the masses eat up, so people will discredit us. They make Billons off the drugs they push and want us out of the way.

We fix the mind by removing the pain from it.
Drugs and Sins also destroy ones perceptions.
Pain sticks one into there past. If your in the past, then your not in the moment. If your in the moment, then you can assimulate the data around you much better (Your IQ) and would know so. It is hard to prove to someone else when your really in the moment, but it will leave an impression on you and is why most continue on in Scientology.

If you were to be totally in the moment, you would understand why a Protegy or a Sevant can assimulate and apply things so quickly. That is how the mind is suppose to work, and if you complete Scientology honestly is how it will work.
In Scientology we know that, that is the way the mind is suppose to work, most don’t have that reality yet. But if we succeed everyone will someday and we know the world will be quite different and better, so that is our goal and when it becomes real to you what we are creating in people, would become your goal. So we are making man aware of who he really is, a Spirit, with unlimited potential. We know man cannot truly grow till you have raised his IQ 5 or 6 Times other wise he has to take things on faith and one having certainty by being able to see will have a quite different level of understanding.
If man arrives at that higher level of understanding we will Survive, if he doesn’t he will just repeat his bloody past and we will perish again. He has had the same believes for a long time and so the same things keep happening to him over and over and over. Man has to change his thinking if he want to change what keeps happening to him, thus Scientology. Man resists change but we understand why and can help him thru so he can truly grow. With the technology found in Dianetics and Scientology Man can grow to States of Being where nothing can strike him down again. When one truly knows that he will know what Scientology really is about and will want to be part of it, Trust me…
If one did step by step the courses in Scientology and you do achieve the realizations that are there for you to be had, you would come up the learning curve of Life and find out that Scientology makes total sense and they do have all the solutions of the problems of Mankind.

Just like one has to have a purpose to be a Black Belt in Karate, to be able to be disciplained enough to continue and become a 7th degree Black Belt where you can be assured only the ones attaining that level know anything about it. Know the common man knows nothing of it. Same with Scientology.

Scientology is laid out in the same structure, where your taking one course at at time, each one developed to bring about an ability. Once you have gained that ability, then your ready to do the next step or course. There are those who are not honest and false attest, which causes Scientology many problems. But those honest will attain the ability offered on each course or level attained.
Only an honest person will truly manifest a good life, which is all one is doing as they grow in any area of study they pursue.

Again it depends on your goal. Scientologists want to grow in all areas of there life and so become competent in all areas of there life so they become valuable to themselves as well as to society.

I am a Scientologist. So ask one of us not our legal drug pushing competition (Psychs)who is in control of this society and is responsible for the dubing down of America who makes us out like we eat our babies. When you degrade Scientology your making them win and making our job harder. Only a true madman would do that if he really knew our purpose and the states of conscousness we are bringing man to. There are lots of crazies out there, but that is what pain does to man. We are removing the pain from man one person at at time and making them truly sane.

Go into the center knowing we are the good guys and you will look for the Good not the things to degrade us by. No one is perfect, but we try very hard as a Group to make life better on this planet, Just know that…

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posted April 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I think Scientology works for those people who are looking to belong to something where there is no diety or faith requirement and there is some measureable gauge for success.

I have a friend whose former husband was a diehard Scientologist (she only dabbled in it). They were tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of the “church” trying to buy their way up the ranks. I had an odd experience at their mothership hotel, The Harrison (or something like that) in Tampa. Somehow I managed to park in a lot that was restricted and wander around a couple of floors until a few Stepford people helped me find my friend. Thankfully I was not abducted by Thetans.

I am really bummed that you didn’t get to see an actual service.

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Joel Gunz

posted April 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm


posted April 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Awesome! There was an incredible article in the New Yorker recently about these goons, oops, I mean folks. I’d give you a link, but I have faith (get it) in your google-fu.

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Katie N

posted April 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Kinda like “I’m not racist, BUT…”. And, no, Ana, I’m not calling you racist, just agreeing with Jules. I wonder if Ana is off the train yet. Choo choo!!

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posted April 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Ana-you wrote this:

I’m really not trying to be a mean “hater” here or anything like that. I just see a person that is very disingenuous and have a hard time understanding how people can think hook, line and sinker that Amanda is on some spiritual journey when her words so often say otherwise.

As one of “those ” people-I tried to explain myself since you are so very confused. So sorry to interrupt your perceived private conversation on a public blog.

BTW-just saying that you are not a “hater” or “sorry if this sounds harsh” doesn’t mean you’re not being bitchy.

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posted April 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm


Actually, my comment was not directed at you. It was a response and to direct comment & question to me from Amanda. So, I wasn’t looking for your input. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it’s true.


I’ve actually been trying very hard to give you the benefit of the doubt. That’s why I asked the questions I asked. Because I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are actually doing this to better yourself and your “spiritual” quest (again, I’m not implying that “spiritual” has anything to do with Jesus). However, I see now that your dancing around and lack of response to my direct questions just confirms that you really are only in this to make fun of other people and religion in general. If you weren’t then a simple response to my questions to clear up the confusion could have explained it. Since that is the case, I am going to get off this train. I was trying to support you in this endeavor, however, I can’t support someone that gets her kicks off of putting other people down for the sake of a blog and then plays the “spiritual quest” card to stave off people who actually have brains enough to see what you’re really doing. You just lost a loyal reader. Not that you care. But, it seems to me your loyal readership is diminishing. Your comment counts on your Mandajuice blog has dropped tremendously and this too. In fact, the only people that seem to comment regularly are you, Joel and Jules.

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Amanda P. Westmont

posted April 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Oh Jules,

You’re right. About a lot of things. I really DO intend to write about my spiritual quest, but I’m still mulling it over.

And, girl, I WENT to the Church of Scientology and I still have no idea what it’s about! I think the “feel your body” thing is supposed to BE the 8th dynamic. Or something. I’m sure we didn’t pay enough to get any real answers…

See you on Saturday!

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posted April 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Ana-I’m one who thinks that Amanda is on a spiritual quest AND doing an entertainment project. I guess the difference between us is that I don’t find those two goals mutually exclusive. She’s found a place that she wants to go back do when the project is over and maybe it or another place they visit will be a place she ends up regularly frequenting. They are entertaining many of us with the blog and maybe they’ll do a book. It just seems to me that she can fulfill both of those goals. Obviously you feel different-and that’s why the world goes round.

They haven’t hated every place they’ve gone to. And I didn’t invite them to my church because I thought they’d decide to convert to Catholicism (Ha!). I just wanted them to get a different experience than the one they got at the Grotto. I’m proud of my church, it’s music ministry and it’s pastors. I KNEW they’d do some of the standard critiques/jokes about Catholicism. Nothing new. And in true Amanda and Joel style-they managed to surprise me with some new hilarious twists. Then again-I’ve got a strange sense of humor.

Regarding this post Amanda-it’s so strange. I’ve tried to read up a little in the past about Scientology and after reading your experience–I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT’S ABOUT!

The Urges? Um okay? The whole “can you feel your body” thing? I don’t get. If you’re to observe something to be true-then how does that 8th dynamic work?

Also-I count 12 points on that “non-cross”.

I’m so glad you guys went-though how does a Sunday service get canceled? What did they do-call everyone personally? So weird.

It’s too bad you didn’t get to mingle with more, um, what’s the term? Followers? Believers?

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posted April 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Well, by what you have talked about as “spiritual journey” is that you are looking for a church to call home (like the Bridge). I think my original comment explains my point pretty clearly. It seems now that you are playing an avoidance game in addressing my question. Is that because I have hit a nerve and called you out on going to all these churches just for “blogging fodder”? Perhaps my assessment is actually correct??

My whole point is that I just see a real disconnect. For example, you clearly had no intention to join Scientology (since you said – before you even went there that the Scientologists are a bunch of wackos and that the crazy Scientologists will make for great blogging fodder). So, why even go there when you are only going there to ridicule and disrespect them? But, then you act like you are on this journey to find a church home. If you were serious about finding a church home, then you wouldn’t be wasting your time on Scientology. You would just go to the Bridge (since you have said that you want to ditch this project and go to the Bridge).

You talk about how the paster at Imago Dei doesn’t “OWN” his stuff. Well, it seems you are not owning things either. Are you unable to own or admit that you are visiting these churches for “blogging fodder”? The “spiritual journey’ part just seems like a smokescreen to keep your critics at bay. Like I said, I am not trying to be a hater or anything. You’re just coming across really insincere. Sorry if this sounds harsh. But, making fun of these churches to write a blog really seems to trump your quest to be spiritual (and when I say “spiritual” I am not insinuating that you need to “find Jesus”).

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posted April 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

This sounds eerily similar to the experience I had when I was ‘trapped’ in the Museum of Scientology in Hollywood…

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Amanda P. Westmont

posted April 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Sorry, Ana. I meant to put up a different post before this one, but I ran out of time. I promise your questions/accusations will be addressed soon. In the meantime, I’d like to ask you to personally give some thought to what the words “Spiritual Journey” actually mean and how they might not mean the same thing to me as they mean to you. It’s a very Christ-centric way to look at the world if you assume finding Jesus has anything to do with my personal journey towards spirituality.

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posted April 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I said this in my comment on your last post:

I don’t get why people think Amanda is on some spiritual quest to find God. Don’t people read the comments she makes like when she says that she has no interest in believing in God or knowing anything about him or that this is just an entertainment blog? When people tell you who they are you should believe them. Amanda tells us who she is all the time and is doing just that in this post where she once again makes fun of other people and uses them as blogging fodder.
Amanda says this Sunday she is going to the Portland Scientology Church because they are a bunch of “wackos” and “this is why I can’t WAIT to go. Crazy people make for excellent blog fodder.” Comments like this really sound like someone on a spiritual journey looking for a church to call home right?? Not so much!
Amanda writes “I have this overwhelming urge to screw this church project and just go back to The Bridge on Easter Sunday. I can’t, but MAN. I want to.” I don’t care if you committed to writing some “podunk little blog” (Amanda’s words, not mine). If Amanda’s spirituality quest were so important to her, I would think that would trump a “podunk little blog”. If the Bridge is where she feels at home, why not just go there instead of going to the Church of Scientology with a bunch of “crazy people for blogging fodder” (again, Amanda’s words, not mine).
Does anyone else see the disconnect here, or is it just me? The only reason Amanda is doing this is because they are hoping to write a book at the end to make money. She says so herself. So the spiritual journey part is not the priority here, the book part is. And that’s OK. But, she plays both sides of the fence and that’s the problem.
I’m really not trying to be a mean “hater” here or anything like that. I just see a person that is very disingenuous and have a hard time understanding how people can think hook, line and sinker that Amanda is on some spiritual journey when her words so often say otherwise.

And, you replied that you would address my comment in this post. But, you did not address a single thing I said.

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