478. Holiday Diary (Part 5) An Encounter with The Church of Scientology

More thoughts and comments inspired by things that happened during my recent holiday. In this one I’m discussing stories about the Church of Scientology and the claims that it is a cult. Listen to find out what happened in this part of my trip. Check the episode page for the vocabulary.

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This episode includes information and claims about Scientology which I saw and heard in various interviews and documentaries. It should be noted that the Church of Scientology disagrees with those claims. They state that critics of the church are seeking to make money or gain attention from their claims and their associations. I am presenting the information in this episode because I believe it makes an interesting episode of my podcast and is therefore an opportunity for my listeners to improve their English.


Vocabulary

Here is a list of vocabulary that you can learn from this episode. (definitions are in brackets)

  • a modern kind of dogma (a belief system that is imposed on people, e.g. through rules or writings which tell you what to do, or not to do)
  • a self-help system (a set of practices that can help people deal with their problems)
  • theology (a set of religious beliefs)
  • to ascend the hierarchy of the church (to rise up through the different levels)
  • the principles that underpin the religion (support, are the foundations of)
  • these guys were checking us out (looking at us, observing us)
  • minding their own business (not paying attention to other people or things, just focusing on their own things)
  • it’s not subject to scrutiny because Scientology is officially recognised as a religion (careful observation)
  • hostile behaviour (showing strong disagreement, sometimes aggressively)
  • to be shunned by your family, or shunned by the church (rejected, ostracised, ignored)
  • he was suffering from mental illness at the time – he was having a bipolar episode (a period of mental illness symptomatic of bipolar disorder, e.g. a period of mania or psychosis)
  • conventional psychology, psychiatry or psychotherapeutic practices (psychology = the scientific study of the mind and its processes / psychiatry = medicine and medical care for mental illness / psychotherapy or psychotherapeutic practices = the use of psychological practices and not drugs in the treatment of mental illness)
  • psychosomatic illness (physical illness caused by the mind, not by the body)
  • a placebo (a ‘fake drug’, a substance with no effect which is used as part of the testing process for medicines)
  • the placebo effect (the fact that a person’s health might show improvement after taking a placebo because they believe it to be a genuine drug, a kind of psychosomatic effect)
  • Freud’s ideas about the ego, super-ego and the id (super-ego = the part of your mind which understands right and wrong and imposes society’s rules on yourself / the id = the primitive instincts which exist in your unconscious mind / the ego = the conscious mind, aware of itself, in balance or conflict between the motivations of the super-ego and id / all concepts developed by Sigmund Freud)
  • It’s a doctrine written by one man (a set of religious beliefs)
  • L Ron Hubbard – the founder (the person who set up or founded something)
  • they rejected it as pseudoscience (fake science)
  • Some people have called him a visionary (someone with an original and inspiring vision of something new), other people have called him an outright fraud (an open or obvious liar and deceiver)
  • spirits that were sent to earth by a celestial being (a person, creature or life-form from outer-space)
  • was he making it all up (creating it) on purpose and developing a sort of cult of personality (a small and strange group devoted to one individual) around himself as a narcissistic power trip? (narcissistic = self obsessed and in love with himself / power trip = an obsessive or extreme use or abuse of power)
  • someone with bipolar disorder (a mental illness, previously called ‘manic depression) suffering a manic episode 
  • the guy was crawling the walls (going crazy). He was delusional (not in touch with reality), hallucinating (seeing things that aren’t there), in the grips of (being severely affected by) a full-on (intense) bipolar manic episode
  • a device for displaying and/or recording the electrodermal activity (electrical activity on the skin) (EDA) of a human being
  • the Church of Scientology now publishes disclaimers in its books and publications declaring that the E-meter “by itself does nothing” and that it is used specifically for spiritual purposes (a statement that they are not responsible for something)
  • a small arm, like on a watch, that moves or twitches sometimes because of stimulus from the metal tubes (moves quickly or suddenly)
  • described by some critics as a typical example of a “Bait and switch fraud” (a type of deception in which someone thinks they’re buying one thing but it is replaced for something else)
  • a term used usually to describe fraud in a retail context (relating to shops)
  • The court ruling was upheld ( ruling = a decision by a court or judge  / upheld = was not changed or overturned, was maintained)
  • an appeal in a court (a request for another court decision or judgement)
  • The fraud conviction (when someone is found guilty of a crime in court) criminal was upheld in the appeal court

Documentaries

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

“Going Clear: The Prison of Belief”

“Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie”

Paul Haggis, Oscar winning Canadian film maker who used to be in the church but left. Also, the story of ‘Xenu’ (from Going Clear)

Longer videos – full conversations about scientology

Louis Theroux – full conversation on Joe Rogan’s podcast

Leah Rimini – full conversation on Joe Rogan’s podcast

Find out what happened two years ago when I first visited the Scientology Centre in Los Angeles

292. California Road Trip (Part 5)