From Sands Hall's excellent 'Flunk. Start.' - the paradox of 'Keeping Scientology Working' - 2018-07-21
Our Saturday 'Scientology Lit' series continues with a glimpse of Sands Hall's richly penned memoir, Flunk. Start.: Reclaiming My Lost Decade in Scientology. Sands, a veteran musician and writing instructor, may not have been a Sea Org member or high-ranking Scientology executive, but we found her book to be one of the best for explaining the "tech" that members encounter and the ways that Scientology affects the mind. She gave us this except to share with you.
Her lovely face revealing nothing about the purpose or mood of our meeting, Jessica ushered me into her office and closed the door. On her desk lay a large red book embossed with gold letters. I recognized it. It was one of a dozen volumes that contained, in chronological order, all the policy letters and bulletins that L. Ron Hubbard had written regarding auditing, Scientology's form of counseling. A bookcase behind Jessica's desk held the entire set, bound in red leather, with an inch-and-a-half gap where this one had been removed. Another bookcase held the equally large set of "admin" volumes, bound in green, which contained everything Hubbard had ever written about how to found and run an organization. Of course Jessica kept these books close to hand. As the mission holder of a Scientology Center, she would refer to them often.
Jessica emanated serenity. She wore simple, elegant clothes, black and tan and linen. Her long hair was straight and glossy. She had unswerving faith in L. Ron Hubbard's religious technology, yet even as she ensured that the mission (she called it a "Center," choosing, with purpose, a less religiously charged word) adhered to his policies, she was never dictatorial. This was generally true of the Scientologists I'd come to know in my five years in the Church. I found them reasonable, kind, ethical, straightforward, and sane. Through the Church's hermetic seal (especially hermetic in 1987, pre-Internet), whispers and speculation made their way: someone who'd done something wrong — "gone out-ethics" — had been chained for days to a toilet in a brig or forced to live in something like a gulag, eating rice and beans and doing menial labor, but these rumors had nothing to do with my own experience. Nevertheless, ever since the previous night — when, as I'd been finishing up my duties in the Center's course room, Jessica had stopped in to request this meeting — I'd been anxious.