that time I met the scientologists: part 2
Coming hot on the heels of my initial interaction with Scientologists, two weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail from the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation. Part of me was hoping that my previous interaction would have been the last, especially when seeing the disappointment on the salesperson's face when I decided not to buy the books. But if my day job in marketing has taught me anything, it's that persistence means conversions.
But this letter did more than provide me with another opportunity to get on James Veitch's level, it also gave me a chance to flex my English degree because, well you'll see.
whose letter is it anyway?
For starters, this letter that I received was not addressed to me; it was instead addressed to someone I'll call (for the sake of this blog) Forest. Why Forrest? I looked up their name in a baby names directory, and it said the name means 'forest'. Also, since you're dealing with Scientologists, I suggest you run, Forrest. Run.
I neglected to mention in my previous post that I took the initial test alongside three or four other people. I assumed these people weren't as eloquent in English because the test they took was typed out in Chinese and one of the sales people asked if the test was "easier in your native language" when an older lady finished. It's entirely possible that one of these surveys was mixed with my own when it came to writing these letters, because while it's not addressed to me by name, it certainly has my address on it.
Or at least it partially has my address on it. The envelope has my address but, as we all learned in elementary school, you're also supposed to put the address on the letter itself and that doesn't match. It actually has my neighbour's address on it, but based on the name on the letter, I know it doesn't belong to them either.
so what does the letter say anyway?
That's not my name, but continue.
My name is Huyen from the Church of Sceintology Sydney. I am very happy to writing letter to you.
In case you're wondering, I know how to spell Scientology (it's the only thing it has in common with Science); it was misspelt in the letter. But I can't really blame Huyen, she was just following the age-old adage: I before E, except after C. And while no one actually follows that rule, kudos to Huyen for trying. I'm happy to be receiving this letter from you, too.
How are you doing? I wish thing is good to you.
I'm glad you asked! Not gonna lie, thing is pretty good to me right now. I'm certainly not in a position to complain about thing. How is thing to you?
You did bought Overcoming Ups & Down In Life book from us that's very good.
Actually, I believe you're mistaken. I did not bought Overcoming Ups and Down In Life book from you. Your colleague offered it for a small fee of $55, but I declined. However, if life had ups and down (as opposed to downs) that would be very good.
Now I would like to have Dianetics Auditing. After auditing I am sure you can handle and achieve your life awesome.
You might not know this, Huyen, but I've already been audited with an e-meter. And while I totally handled the auditing process, it didn't help me to achieve my life awesome. As I said earlier, I've achieved life pretty cool (thing is good to me), so life awesome is just a matter of time.
If you need more information, please don't hesitate to contact me. I am very happy to service you.
Oh boy, Huyen. This is awkward. As much as I appreciate the offer, I wasn't looking for that kind of relationship with your religion. I think we'd be better just as friends. It's not you, it's me.
it came with a flyer, too?
It came with a flyer, too! The letter included an ad (because of course it did) for another one of L. Ron Hubbard's books (because of course it did): The Way to Happiness. The flyer features a quote from the Hubster himself:
"All you have to do is keep The Way to Happiness flowing in the society, like gentle oil spread upon the raging sea, the calm will flow outward and outward."
L. Ron, I hate to break it to you, but gentle oil spread upon the raging sea isn't a good thing. That's called an oil spill and it's something we're actively working to prevent; it's bad for literally everyone involved (except the soap companies, I guess?)
We especially don't want that oil to flow "outward and outward". I mean, I get that it's a metaphor but it's a bad metaphor. You have the world record for the most books, and the best you can come up with is "happiness is like murdering all marine life?" Wow, okay.
The ad also features a quick summary of the topics covered in the book. Here's a photo if you want to read all of them. If you don't (I understand), it features gems such as "True joy and happiness are valuable" and "Your own survival can be threatened by the bad actions of others around you."
One of the selling points featured in the ad is that this book has 21 illustrations and an "extensive Editor's Glossary of Words, Terms and Phrases [that] provides all needed definitions - idioms, slang, names, places and historical terms." That one blurb has so much, that I just need to lightning round:
- "provides all needed definitions" is literally the definition of glossary, you don't need to say that.
- You also don't need to specify what you're defining, it's included in "all necessary".
- You've capitalized "words", "terms", and "phrases" as if to imply those are proprietary items. Do you think you invented "Words"?
- You said "terms" twice. That's not necessarily an issue, I just assumed you included the historical ones when you said Terms™.
- What kind of idioms and slang are you including in your book that need to be glossed. If your reader doesn't know what idioms you're using. Maybe don't use them?
When the selling points of your book are "we define slang terms", "happiness is important", and "oh look, pictures", that says a lot about your intended audience.
The more I learn about Scientology (or Sceintology, as the locals call it), the more I realize this "church" is preying (no pun intended) on the stupid and the desperate. There're a few testimonies on the back of the flyer, one reads:
"The Way to Happiness showed me how moral and acceptable values can bring about a peaceful environment. If I set a good example, I can have a great impact on the lives of others."
I'm going to argue that nobody needs a $50+ picture book to tell you not to be an asshole to other people. Morality isn't exclusive to one religion, or even one book. If you're a grown person, and you need to be told that happiness is important, maybe joining the ranks of [My Name is] Earl, his brother, and those 70s kids isn't the best option. Happiness isn't some exclusive thing that's only available to those who can afford it.
hold on, are you secretly sad?
This blog post is coming hot off the heels of (in addition to this letter from the Scientologists) a fried-chicken-fueled lecture from people that I care about. They pointed out that I'm a leel bit too stressed. I'm over-worked and over-volunteered and every time I so much as look at my phone, I let out an involuntary and exasperated sigh because of course the creative team broke something else that I made and of course nothing happens in class without Aqil doing it.
But my friends encouraged me to take the time to do something I'm passionate about. And like an idiot, I fought them on it. I argued that I was obligated to do these things, that if I don't do things, things don't get done. Which is true, but it doesn't make what they said any less true. So, here I am: a grown-ass man (not to be confused with a grown ass-man), who doesn't know that "happiness is important". For all intense porpoises, I should know how important happiness is; I wrote a damn book about it. But apparently, I don't put it into practice.
So that's why I'm here. I'm sitting on the couch, writing this blog post with Donald Duck cartoons playing in the background (the really old, racist ones. It's good times) in hopes that that's what's going to make me happy right now. I enjoy writing, and learning, and criticising people's grammar; and I was honestly enjoying myself until I got to this part. And if you made it this far: thank you. I honestly appreciate that. I won't know who you are, but I get to see little numbers on how many people actually read this thing. And it's nice to see that I can share something that I'm passionate about with other people.
I'll be honest: I'm still searching for happiness; I think everyone is. And I'll still advocate not buying into some cult that claims to have all the answers (Scientology or even my favourite cult, Ismailism) because that happiness is up to you, what you do, and who you surround yourself with. I surround myself with people who force me to eat large quantities of unhealthy food and get mad that I'm too mad because they help me to be happy. I'll end with one more quote from this flyer:
"You are important to other people. You are listened to... The happiness or unhappiness of others you could name is important to you."
Thank you, Elrond Hubbard, you weird elf-lord. I'm never going to give you money, but thank you for reminding me of this presumably obvious advice. And thank you, my chicken-eating friends (you know who you are).