Blog: Deconstructing Scientology: Chapter 20 - 2017-02-02

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F0.png Deconstructing Scientology: Chapter 20 February 2, 2017, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

Hey everyone, this week we are continuing in our noble pursuit to deconstruct academic nonsense about Scientology. So far we've covered some pretty interesting ground and last week's foray into the Xenu myth was a particularly good effort. In fact, it was the only well researched and fully neutral review of Scientology we've found so far in this book, which was edited by James R. Lewis and has mostly consisted of academic fluff and apologetics on the subject of new religious movements, destructive cults and Scientology. I wish I could say that this week's chapter is as good as last week's but unfortunately we are right back in the apologetics zone.

Carole M. Cusack is our academic contributor for this week. She works at the University of Sydney in Australia and is a historian of religion who specializes in Early Medieval Northwestern Europe, western esotericism and trends in contemporary religion. This foray into Scientology is titled "Celebrity, the Popular Media, and Scientology: Making Familiar the Unfamiliar" and unfortunately, it appears that she was under pretty strict orders to only pay attention to positive media about Scientology celebrities in writing her paper, leaving it with much to be desired in terms of an honest evaluation of how Scientology has taken advantage of its celebrity members to forward its message and goals.

Now to be fair, Cusack actually starts out quite strong with a more general analysis of the phenomenon of celebrity and how that compares in our modern culture with religious attitudes of the past. In fact, I found her introductory sections to be quite fascinating in terms of commentary on the status of celebrities in the 20th century and what that says about us. First she talks about Scientology and celebrities in general terms: