Hugh Urban: History of a New Religion

Discussion in 'Media' started by adhocrat, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. adhocrat Member

    oh. I thought he was being facetious...

    I'm about half way through the book. The main first point Urban makes is that Dn/Scn parallel the Cold War mentality of the time, along with the UFO stories going around, as well as bringing in Eastern thought into Western minds.

    Hubbard created a synthesis that was viewed as Eastern mysticism paired in a new way with Western science. This appealed to the people at the time, looking for ways to make sense of a wolrd when we might blow up at any minute. The old duck and cover of my childhood.

    The paranoia was deeply embedded in the 50s and 60s culture, with A bombs and bomb shelters. So the paranoia of Hubbard reflected the times.

    Hubbard's genius was in his synthesis and marketing, and in his chameleon like ability to change the appearance of scientology without changing the substance.

    The OT powers also reflect the secrecy that took hold in government at the time, in the wake of WWII and then into the Cold War, where Spy v Spy was born. (I loved Mad mag. So subversive.) These OT powers are esoteric and only available to the select few, like other secret societies, Masons or others.

    And the OT dream is what Urban calls an "adorning possession" one that is valued just because the hoi polloi are not allowed access to it.

    During my time in, the OTs were accorded special place, and accepted it as a queen might, as her due, with special powers granted only to the elect elite.

    This is the adorning possession, the adoration and accord granted you by others as acceptance and acknowledgement of your beneficent OT abilities.

    And it isn't as dense in the body of the book as the introduction was. But I'll bet you head for the dictionary a time or two.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. Herro Member

    Actually this is the first book about Scientology in recent years that doesn't look like a pile of shit.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Anonymous Member

    I'm sure Urban would love to use that insightful quote in the list of reviews on his launch press release.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. xenubarb Member

    I'm sure Mark Headley, Jeff Hawkins & Co. who have published books highly value Herro's assessment. Being as how he's such a respected and useful participant and all...
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Anonymous Member

    Yeah right, Reitmans Inside Scientology also is a pile of shit.
  6. Herro Member

    Actually her's seems to be ok, although not that interesting. But the other recent ones, especially that abortion that Headley wrote, are hilariously bad.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Anonymous Member

  8. Tangerine Member

    True, he is correct.
  9. Miranda Member

    Just started it and I'm extremely impressed by the circumspect objectivity. People who want writers to take a side need to understand that these first academic books are laying the groundwork--establishing, as objectively as possible, the basic events and facts. Later on, more opinionated writers will use these books as source material. Reitman and Urban are laying a solid foundation.
    • Like Like x 5
  10. moarxenu Member

    Actually, there have only been three books by scholars. Sociologist Roy Wallis' book in 1976, an 80-page monograph by Gordon Melton, and a collection of essays recently by 22 sociologists of New Religious Moevements edited by James R. Lewis.

    Urban breaks ground and shatters the hegemonic paradigm in Religious Studies. He takes the views of critics and exes seriously as well as the perspectives of Anonymous. He respects the secrecy of the OT level materials, but extensively uses other dox that have been leaked.

    He also had the brilliant idea of filing FOIA requests and getting dox from the FBI to assess Snow White and other cult faggotry.

    Most subversively he throws wide open the question of religion. That is his theme after all. This is a history of Scientology's complex and tortuous road to describing itself as a religion and then winning recognition as such at least from the US courts and IRS.

    Urban thinks that "Is it a religion?" is the wrong question to ask. "Instead I think the more profound questions here are (a) Who gets to define religion? and (b) Just what is at stake ih calling something 'religion'?"


    "..who then gets to evaluate and pass judgement on one's claims to religious status? Is it academics, that is professors and students at universities? The media? Government agencies such as the IRS, FDA, and State Department? The courts, lawyers, and judges? Ordinary believers? Bloggers and chat room users on the Internet? Or - as I think I have shown in the pages of this book - is it really all of the above in complex, tangled, and interdependent ways?"

    Urban is thought-provoking. It occurs to me that the Cult has far broader contact with society through its front groups that it does as CofS. No individual or institution in society is required to accept the cult's claim to religious legitimacy except in the strictest of legal circumstances like discrimination in hiring.

    There is one institution in society that does not and cannot accept the cult's claims to religious legitimacy, namely the churches. Likewise in a secular environment Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels blew the whistle and said CofS is not a religion but a commercial enterprise. The cult sued him for libel, and he won.

    The cult is passing from being merely controversial to being problematic as more people are asking, "What should be done about the Church of Scientology" in the wake of Janet Reitman's book. In my view it is society that is going to act through engaging the passions of a Nick Xenophon, who will act to make changes.

    Australia's approach is to undertake a sweeping re-examination of its laws for non-profits and putting in place a public benefits test.

    Hungary has taken a different approach. Solely because of the cult they have recently passed legislation decertifying all but 14 religious organizations to be recognized. Even more interesting is that the original legislation gave the courts the power to determine who qualifies. They realized they would have an IRS-type problem, namely that the cult would qualify by meeting purely formal requirements.

    So they revised the legislation to give Parliament the power. It requires a 2/3rds majority to add groups to the list. A good piece in English is here from Hungarian Spectrum - The New Law on Churches and the Church of Scientology.

    Urban's book is the most important work by a scholar in the last sixty years. It needs to read by journalists above all, and then by the figures who appear regularly in WWP threads, the mayors proclaiming LRH Day; the country officials who allocate tax payer monies to Narconon, and the legislators who have to decide if they are going to allow Applied Scholastics and The Way To Happiness in public schools.
    • Like Like x 5
  11. Anonymous Member

    OK all you peoples, start reading.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Anonymous Member

    My library has it on order. Hopefully here soon :-X
    • Like Like x 1
  13. AnonLover Member

    Yeah but the first, Wallis - was so far ahead of its time it wasnt truly appreciated and made useful until 10+ years later. The latter, are overly inflated apologist crap with no serious research invested - just propaganda spinning.

    No U. dont let the Christfag interest factor over-rule basic premises of cultic studies where the religion factor doesnt matter...

    Wallis' sociology perspective is still essential and in a league of its own. And until that is replaced with a modern study - Urban is the 2nd most important scholarly work in the last 35 years. Which is still extremely significant, but religious studies doesnt trump sociology in the bigger academic scheme of things.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. DeathHamster Member

    Fan fic pr0n for the circle jerk to fap to. In any other field most of these would be laughed at if presented as scholarly academic works. (And no, I'm not just saying that because of my biases. The quality really is that bad.)

    Example of the bumwad quality, apparently published:
    (Gotta love the Wikipedia cites.)
    • Like Like x 1
  15. AnonLover Member

    lol, trufax & much better description
  16. Anonymous Member

    For those who would like to read Wallis' book:
    • Like Like x 3
  17. Sponge Member

    Book Review
    Secrets, scandals, and the rise of Scientology
    Controversy amid quest for religious status
    Boston Globe 31st August 2011
    by Glenn C. Altschuler, the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin professor of American studies at Cornell University

    • Like Like x 2
  18. moarxenu Member

    I found Altschuler's conclusion a bit puzxzling:

  19. Disco Necked Member

    On page 47 now and enjoying it. Calm & intelligent presentation/writing style.

    Looking forward to Urban's 'The Occult Roots of Scientology'...
  20. hokum Member

  21. nice comment Fustino whoever you are (not me, just to be clear)
    • Like Like x 5
  22. Anonymous Member

    Commenters, please remember the UK Scientology tax-status petition:
    • Like Like x 1
  23. Anonymous Member

    Did someone dare to say something neutral or positive about Scientology?

    • Like Like x 2
  24. Anonymous Member

  25. eddieVroom Member

    Here in the States, what's most notably at stake is TAX EXEMPTION. At a close second, there's the tradition of an "oil-and-water" separation of Church and State, which makes it really tough to get Law Enforcement to look into any group organized as a "church". Not that it never happens, but it raises the bar considerably.

    The Conservative Christian movement may be helping to cut their own throats by eroding that traditional separation; and I can see the day coming where, much like what's happened in Australia, the notion of taxing "churches" in the absence of clearly demonstrated public benefit may come to pass.
    • Like Like x 1
  26. eddieVroom Member

    I certainly would, but that's just my Punk sensibilities coming into play.
  27. jensting Member

    Well, until we get over the lack of distinction between an organisation which is abusive and which uses undue influence to violate the human rights of its adherents (a cult) which has a religious underpinnings and an organisation which is, ehrm, a religion (you use the words "legitimate religion") this problem is not going to go away.

    In other words, as long as everyone harps on about "is it a religion or not?" they are not talking about the human rights violations, and the criminal organisation known as the "church" <pit> of $cientology gets away with disconnection, with the RPF's RPF, with the blue asbestos, with recruiting 12 year olds into the Damnation Navy, with trying very hard to drive people (who speak up against it) to suicide etc etc etc etc.

    It's entirely understandable that people want to define their attitude to the $cientology organisation with reference to whatever religion they favour themselves. It is - to my mind - almost entirely to the advantage of the $cientology organisation that people do so...

    In other words: would't it be nice if we had as much serious discussion about the human rights abuses as we have about the blessed question about "what is a religion - how can the Co$ be bad if they're a religion and I know a religion that is not bad!?!" ?

    Best Regards

    • Like Like x 6
  28. jensting Member

  29. Anonymous Member

    Finished this a few days ago. A nice read.
  30. AnonLover Member

    • Like Like x 2
  31. Random guy Member

    Nice one!
    • Like Like x 4
  32. Anonymous Member

    The book continues to get strong reviews:


    Religion, grrrr

    Rachel Aviv

    Vol. 34 No. 2 · 26 January 2012
    pages 14-15 | 3215 words

    The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion by Hugh Urban
    • Princeton, 268 pp, £19.95, September 2011, ISBN 978 0 691 14608 9
    Empirical study led L. Ron Hubbard to the principles on which Scientology is based. He never claimed to have had a revelation. He spelled the principles out in 1950 in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the bestselling self-help treatise in which he presents rationality as our birthright. The human mind, he wrote, is a perfect computer corrupted by ‘incorrect data’. He urged readers to reflect on their lives and ask themselves: ‘Where is the error?’ With the help of a lay therapist, called an ‘auditor’, they could uncover early traumas – mothers who wanted to abort them, or slept with too many men – and become less irrational: ‘Many of the things which Freud thought might exist,’ he wrote, ‘such as “life in the womb”, “birth trauma”, we in Dianetics have … confirmed.’

    Hubbard insisted that the principles of Dianetics had nothing to do with ‘any mumbo-jumbo of mysticism or spiritualism or religion’. He assured readers that ‘Dianetics is a science; as such, it has no opinion about religion, for sciences are based on natural laws.’ Throughout the United States, people formed Dianetics clubs and helped each other to become ‘clear’: in this state, they would be free of all compulsions, neuroses and delusions, see colours vividly for the first time, appreciate melody, perform complex mathematical calculations and recall every moment of their lives. Hubbard was so confident of the merits of his electro-psychometer, a device used to detect hidden trauma by measuring galvanic skin response, that he asked the American Medical Association to investigate his new tool. The medical establishment showed no interest. In a review in the Nation, the kindest thing the psychiatrist Milton Sapirstein could say about Dianetics was that ‘the author seems honestly to believe what he has written.’
    • Like Like x 2
  33. Xinjifar Member

    Not having read his book yet, (I suspect I will eventually) I see an inherent pitfall in attempting to analyse Scientology from an academic perspective. That pitfall is that much of the 'doctrine' of the 'Church' is *secret*. That includes everything from 'confidential' HCOBs to HCOPLs and, even more notoriously, Hubbard's 'advices'; all of which are integral parts of Scientology doctrine.

    It does sound like Urban has done a surprisingly honest job with what he's had to work with, but, Scientology is not only a 'religion' or 'cult' however bizarre its belief system; it's a *Political Movement* which, based entirely on its 'revelations' per Hubbard, is intent on World Domination.

    The issue is not academic. Nor are the crimes.
  34. Anonymous Member

    Rachel trips and stumbles hard at the beginning of her article with this sentence.

  35. jensting Member

    While I agree that the crimes are more interesting (and moan about the lack of attention on those crimes every time I harpoon comments about this book), I think you'll like the book from what you've said here :)

    Best Regards

    • Like Like x 1
  36. xenubarb Member

    The denser the reader, the lighter the language. Funny how that works.
    • Like Like x 2
  37. xenubarb Member

    Arguing "the religious angle" is a tactic successfully used by Scilons in comment threads. Even if you try to short circuit it by stating that the focus should be on the abuses and criminal behavior, it only takes one clam and a couple of god-gobblers to get that off-topic ball rolling.
    • Like Like x 5
  38. The Scilons never bring up the fact that Hubbard's religious cloaking policy magically transformed his scientific scam into a religious scam, neither did Hugh Urban who should've spent more time exposing the abuses that the following of this 'Religion's' policies directly leads to, imho.
  39. Anonymous Member

  40. Anonymous Member

    As long
    As long as people fall for Hubbard's "religion angle," there's not much that can be done about it.

    When we "wogs" agree that Scientology is a "Church," Scientology wins.

    By the way, there's a new article by Urban re. Aleister Crowley and Hubbard&Scientology. Nothing new, and pretty light, but OK. I give the lad a "B+".
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page

Customize Theme Colors


Choose a color via Color picker or click the predefined style names!

Primary Color :

Secondary Color :
Predefined Skins