March 21, 2006
Now If Only They Could Stop Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Jenna Elfman, Juliette Lewis, Mimi Rogers and Kirstie Alley From Making Any More Movies*
Rumor has it that Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park. "Somebody" quit for him:
...Fox News claimed that Isaac Hayes was in no condition to quit South Park, as he had suffered a debilitating stroke in January - although the official line was that Isaac was "exhausted." The stroke hasn't been confirmed by anyone official, people have started asking the question: If Isaac didn't quit South Park by himself, who did it for him?I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that it was someone like Mike Rinder, the fifty-year-old director of the Church of Scientology International's legal and public-relations wing. Never heard of him? Read all about Mike and his wonderful "Church" over at Rolling Stone:
Scientology's Hollywood Celebrity Centre
The most important, and highly anticipated, of the eight "OT ("Operating Thetan") levels" is OT III, also known as the Wall of Fire. It is here that Scientologists are told the secrets of the universe, and, some believe, the creation story behind the entire religion. It is knowledge so dangerous, they are told, any Scientologist learning this material before he is ready could die. When I ask Mike Rinder about this, he casts the warning in less-dire terms, explaining that, before he reached OT III -- he is now OT V -- he was told that looking at the material early was "spiritually not good for you." But (Scientology founder L. Ron) Hubbard, who told followers that he discovered these secrets while on a trip to North Africa in 1967, was more dramatic. "Somehow or other I brought it off, and obtained the material and was able to live through it," he wrote. "I am very sure that I was the first one that ever did live through any attempt to attain that material"..."You can't handle the truth!" Can you handle this:
These materials, which the Church of Scientology has long struggled to keep secret, were published online by a former member in 1995 and have been widely circulated in the mainstream media, ranging from The New York Times to last year's South Park episode. They assert that 75 million years ago, an evil galactic warlord named Xenu controlled seventy-six planets in this corner of the galaxy, each of which was severely overpopulated. To solve this problem, Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and then flew them to Earth, where they were dumped into volcanoes around the globe and vaporized with bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, until they were caught in electronic traps set up around the atmosphere and "implanted" with a number of false ideas -- including the concepts of God, Christ and organized religion. Scientologists later learn that many of these entities attached themselves to human beings, where they remain to this day, creating not just the root of all of our emotional and physical problems but the root of all problems of the modern world.
"Hubbard thought it was important to have a story about how things got going, similar to the way both Jews and Christians did in the early chapters of Genesis," says UCLA's Bartchy. "All religion lives from the sense either that something in life is terribly wrong or is profoundly missing. For the most part, Christianity has claimed that people have rebelled against God with the result that they are 'sinners' in need of restoration and that the world is a very unjust place in need of healing. What Hubbard seems to be saying is that human beings are really something else -- thetans trapped in bodies in the material world -- and that Scientology can both wake them up and save them from this bad situation"...
Rinder has fielded questions on Scientology's beliefs for years. When I ask him whether there is any validity to the Xenu story, he gets red-faced, almost going into a tirade. "It is not a story, it is an auditing level," he says, neither confirming nor denying that this theology exists. He says that OT material -- and specifically the material on OT III -- comprises "a small percent" of what Scientology is all about. But it is carefully guarded. Scientologists on the OT levels often carry their materials in locked briefcases and are told to store them in special secure locations in their homes. They are also strictly forbidden from discussing any facet of the materials, even with their families. "I'm not explaining it to you, and I could not explain it to you," says Rinder heatedly. "You don't have a hope of understanding it."
In his 1983 autobiography, Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era, the sci-fi writer Lloyd Eshbach describes meeting Hubbard in the late 1940s. "I'd like to start a religion," Eshbach recalls Hubbard saying. "That's where the money is."For more Scientology fun, check out this post over at WFMU's Beware of the Blog. And, don't forget to watch The Return of Chef, tomorrow night on the season premiere of South Park.
*Beck, however, is still allowed to make albums (there are always exceptions to every rule). However, he's on thin ice ever since the lackuster Guero (the remix version, Guerolito, works a lot better, IMHO).