I have a new theory about the appeal of Scientology. Hopefully it doesn’t cheese Tom Cruise off, but I can’t control what crazy people do.
I had a stress headache the other day, lingering around my eyes and making things generally uncomfortable. As I was enduring the admittedly mild suffering and making a very boring list of the contributing factors for my headache, I thought that it would be much easier to blame some kind of headache demon or devil for my misery. And it’s not just me: humanity loves having a scapegoat. The trouble is, at least for the more reserved branches of Christianity, the idea of demonic afflictions went from literal possession to metaphor. Especially amongst the upper class and white-collar population, there was a shortage of scapegoats that fit their busy modern lifestyles. This is where the Scientologists and their Thetans come in. Now you have a new mythology that gives you a quick easy answer to your dilemmas. Got a headache? Thetan. Feeling anxious about a public speaking commitment? Thetans. It’s a simple answer to the eternal question “who can I blame this on?” And then the church offers you a long, expensive and complicated plan to rid yourself of these horrors. It makes a kind of sense, because if it didn’t cost you a bundle and it wasn’t arduous, you’d have trouble believing that it was helping you.
The other upside of having a scapegoat is that you don’t have to be as introspective as usual. There’s nothing more deflating then tracing the cause of your suffering right back to your own choices again and again. Then again, this is the only way to suss out why you make those choices and to avoid making them again. Ah, free will.