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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Scientology vs. Creativity

This may come as a bit of a surprise to some, especially to Scientologists. Everyone knows how much the Church of Scientology pursues "celebrities". Everyone knows how much Scientology wants the celebrity's creativity to be viewed as something "improved by Scientology".

So, you might not expect it, but creativity is actually frowned on by Scientology. If you are a creative person, make sure you do not apply that creativity to anything relating to Scientology. It is not only discouraged, it is, to all intents and purposes, forbidden.

This has many manifestations.

The most obvious one is with the Scientology technology itself. In the early days of Dianetics and Scientology, creative people would take ideas from L. Ron Hubbard and see what they could do with them. They created, they changed, they improved.  They saw what worked and what didn't.  They would send reports back to Hubbard who would then incorporate these proven ideas back into Scientology as his own.

Later, Hubbard would claim that no one ever contributed anything useful to Scientology -- but the early practitioners knew differently. Without the contributions from those early creative people, the success of Dianetics and early Scientology, such as it was, would not have happened.

But now, creativity is suppressed.

In the Scientology administrative area as well, creative people have been the only ones who could get things done. Hubbard's administrative policies, when applied very exactly and very strictly, simply cause problems. Historically, the only work getting done in the Church of Scientology was accomplished by creative people who were willing to work outside of the rules. This really was the secret that kept Scientology going for as long as it did. These people found creative ways to get around Hubbard's unworkable restrictions and actually get their jobs done.

As creativity has been further rooted out and suppressed in David Miscavige's Scientology, these creative people have left. Today, pretty much anyone who is still there does everything "by the book". Hubbard's administrative policies are strictly adhered to. Miscavige's unworkable dictates are followed to the letter.  And, of course, absolutely nothing gets done.

Scientology suppresses creativity and this is one of its fatal flaws.

When one thinks of the great religions of history, one often thinks about the art that they inspired -- great works of art, great mosques and cathedrals, music to inspire generations.

Not, of course, the Church of Scientology. No great art. No amazing music. Ever wonder why? Well, Hubbard fancied himself an artist and a musician. He wrote policy letters about it. Any music produced by and for Scientology must follow Hubbard's policy letters exactly. The result is "upbeat" -- and vapid. There is very little creativity allowed or demonstrated.

What little artwork is produced by and for Scientology is, likewise, constrained to follow Hubbard's extensive directives. As anyone can attest, who has seen the "art" in the florid stage settings of the excessive event videos, the results are simply awful.

How about Scientologists who are not on staff? Don't they produce music and art? Yes, but ... they are constrained as well. They must not produce anything mentioning "Scientology", "Hubbard" or any other Scientology-related terms. If they tried to do so, they would have to get official approval from the church. And approval is not forthcoming.

Scientology does not like creativity. It is too hard to control. It is too unpredictable. So, it is forbidden.

If you've been told that Scientology will "help you be more creative" (and Scientology does say that), that is about as far from the truth as it can be.

If you are creative, and if you cherish your creativity, then you need to stay as far away from Scientology as you can get.

Creativity is fun. But then fun is also forbidden in Scientology.


  1. Very good post, Just Bill. You might want to mention, as an aside, that Scientology has never produced a single artist, let alone a celebrity, who was not one already before becoming involved in Scientology.

  2. That's a very good point. One might be able to find someone who started painting or singing or acting after becoming a Scientologist, but not anyone who then became recognized and acclaimed.

    There is, of course, a second point -- that Scientology can be a career-destroying factor, as with Tom Cruise.

  3. Hey, Bill -

    I'm a first time poster - on ANY of the Scientology-related sites. So, I'm sticking my pinkie toe in the water here. I've enjoyed reading your website tremendously over the past year. You are a very wise man with great insight on this subject. THANK YOU for helping this wishy-washy, fence-sittin' gal finally make a break for it.

    I've been heavily involved in Scientology since my mother got in around 1970. I come from a family of artists. Your post this week was completely spot-on, Bill. Creativity was all but killed in me during my involvement with the church. What you stated about the creativity of staff members was so true, yet it was also true for public -- like me.

    How does one, with poetry the likes of Charles Bukowski, ever share that with her fellow Scientologists or the world? I could hear it now, "OH, MY GOD, THAT IS SO ENTHETA"! So, I rarely went there. I kept my poetry locked up - deep inside. And the wee bit that I DID produce was silently put into a file drawer. I thought of many ideas for books, films, etc., but since they didn't have, as you say, that "upbeat and vapid" tone to them, I knew I wouldn't be able to share them with my friends, or would have to publish them anonymously as I feared getting kicked out of the church for expressing my own not-so-"theta" viewpoint! This is a HUGE quandary for a Scientology artist! On the ONE hand, you have your OWN viewpoints and opinions. These may be different than LRH's - therefore, you can't EXPRESS IT for fear of being rejected by your group. On the other hand, even if your creation were in lock-step with LRH's viewpoint, you would have to constantly quote him, give him credit, and, as you pointed out, GET APPROVAL. What would be the point? It wouldn't even be an original work. It would just be a piece of crap. So, AGAIN, you can't express yourself! What a conundrum! You are just screwed at every possible turn.

    IMO, one of the few Scientology artists who has been able to "get away with" creating "enturbulating" works is Gottfried Helnwein. But he was famous BEFORE he was in Scientology, so I guess it's "OK"? Even so, I've heard people comment on his art that it is "entheta" so they don't like it. Ugh. The guy is a MASTER. So - basically, the art has to be above a certain level on the Tone Scale, AND/OR it has to be some approved LRH derivative. Blahhhh. Not for me. I'd rather not create. So I didn't. Not for a long time. Life contains beauty AND suffering, dammit. Where is the passion? I don't want to create a McScavige piece of art.

    My son, with his stylishly punkish hairdo and wardrobe, used to be kicked out of events and off of org premises because he looked "OUT PR" - at Celebrity Centre. I would grumble, "I bet if it were Beck or some other high-falutin' celebrity, no-one would be throwing him off the property." Well, he had enough and never went back. So much for supporting the artist.

    I did the Life Orientation Course with the dearest hopes that whatever was blocking my creativity would be unstuck. It was one of the hugest knockdowns and disappointments after also trudging for two years through the KTL. By the end, I felt completely hopeless. What I didn't realize was that, ironically, it was the church itself that was destroying me as an artist. There WAS to be no solution from that quarter! Now that I am out, I'm finally creating again. However, my artistic soul was bitch-slapped for so long, it's taken a while to realize that I'm completely free to create anything I want. I don't care about the opinions of Scientology or Scientologists anymore. Do you know how freeing that is?

    One cannot just paint the prison walls and call it "art". Time to run through a dewy meadow - and deep into the sunshine of life itself.

    Love to you, Bill. And again - thank you. XOXOX

  4. @Vicky

    Thanks for your comments. You've really added a lot of insight on the subject of creativity and Scientology from the artist's viewpoint. Excellent points.

    The whole thing about rejecting "entheta" and "low toned" expression, and always enforcing an "acceptable image" is truly suppressive on creativity. I'm glad you brought that up.

    I'm happy to hear you are out and creating again. It really is good to be free.

  5. The irony of all this is, of course, that when Miscavige squirrelled the definition of the Second Dynamic, he changed it to "Creativity"

    So while that particular alteration might have made Scientology *more* effective, it was delivered in a hard-line fashion, as all of DM's diktats are.

    Thus making The Tech even less workable.

    The exact opposite of the creativity you mention in the post.

    Funny, that...

  6. It's so much worse that you think.

    In the late 90s I was introduced to the concept of "Ethical Art," a movement inspired by one of the most condescending individuals I have ever met in my life. The concept was that art was only ethical if it raised tone level and did not contradict ANYTHING said in Dn or Scn. Out of that we get the Jive Aces who are Church run musicians whose music has only the purpose of raising tone level.

    I actually had someone show me a reference they'd culled from some lecture about how artists pretty up the world, making it more palatable and therefore no one tries to do anything to transcend the world. Of course, it was completely and totally out of context.

    In the 70s, there was a proliferation of creativity with poetry, art, music, you name it. We had it all and it was wonderful. By 1981 it was just out-ethics to spend your time on frivolous pursuits. You should be on course. You should be bringing people in. You should be making money. This is a DEADLY SERIOUS ACTIVITY and OMG did things get serious!

    As far as the 2D thing, LRH always maintained that the sex drive was pro-creation and that it sublimated at the top of the tone scale to creativity, so I don't doubt that came from the correct source. Doesn't mean that we all now become celibate for God's sakes!

    There still is TONS of creativity going on, its just no one brings it into the C of S anymore, why bother? All that will happen is you'll be sent to ethics for being a panty-waist dilletante.

    I am not interested in being a perpetual student or person getting auditing, nor do I think it is sane to think the ends justify the means. We make our world, right now and we work towards a better future. Not just drop everything in the world. I don't think it is workable to do that.

    But, I suppose that I am preaching to the choir here.

    My two cents.

  7. I'm hoping your next column will be about how fun is against the rules as well. Now THAT will be a fun read, lol.

  8. I want to thank the artists who have contributed to this thread. You are right, it is worse than I thought. I never tried to be creative while on staff or even while public so I really didn't know how horrible it was.

    Yes, Scientology really hates creativity.

  9. Re: Fun

    Actually, yes, "having fun" is definitely frowned upon in Scientology. I'm not kidding. If you look like you are having fun, it means you are not serious enough about "Scientology's mission" to save the planet.

    Really, "having fun" will get you in trouble in Scientology.

  10. Anonymous (who posted after me) sounds like he/she had a very similar experience to mine. As I was writing my last post, the subject of "humor" in the church also came to mind but I was already writing a long enough post. It's funny that Anonymous also mentioned humor in an additional post. I think it's because these subjects go hand-in-hand. Most creative people I know also have pretty damned good senses of humor. If you are creative in the church PLUS have a sense of humor - WATCH IT! Double-trouble! I think there was a period where I barely laughed or made a joke for years while on org premises because I was afraid of being labeled a "joker and degrader". Anyhow, it would be another good topic. And Lord knows - the current church management has absolutely NO sense of humor. Zilch!

    Talk about deadly serious! Joy of creating? Insouciance?


    Thanks again, Bill! XO

    BTW, remember a few months back when George Clooney offered advice to Tom Cruise? It was "make fun of yourself". Hmmm...I don't think he took George's advice.

    Gads, could you even imagine DM making fun of himself? I think his own sphincter would just swallow him whole.

  11. But I thought L Ron said "If it's not fun, it's not Scientology"?

  12. Re: Fun

    No Scientologist listens to him anymore. They only follow Miscavige.

  13. @Vicky

    You are so right about humor. Not in Scientology!

  14. Just Bill,
    ...or it could possibly
    brand you a "Joker-Degrader" and that would be a lot of trouble. I am so glad I don't have to deal with any of that crap now. Scientology has KILLED artists, it has destroyed dreams, and any success with art a person may have had prior to being indoctrinated by THE TECH has carefully been bled off by that same marvelous "technology". If you are an artist or have sacrificed your art for the "greatest good", get the f--k out now!!!! Don't let them take your soul too.

  15. Excuse me. Please make a distinction between the current day C of S and the philosophy/technology called Scientology. I wrote the post about "ethical art" and the truth is that while the C of S and particular individuals were busy frowning on humor and fun and creativity, I was busy getting auditing and becoming more and more creative, funny and insouciant.

    The big problem with the C of S these days is that too many staff have a tendency to be very selective about what they read even of their own materials and for some weird reason they seem to choose serious, dangerous and controlling references more often that not completely out of context. Then they push it on public Scns. Then we wave bye bye and run, not walk, out the door!
    Or put on a pious and serious demeanor, oh yes sir!

    After all, acting is another one of the arts. You can certainly use it to good effect under trying circumstances. And I'll tell you what, if I want to I can act like a cross between Mother Theresa and the most stodgy matron you've ever met in your life.

    But woo hoo, once I'm on my own and with my friends its great times, dancing, singing, tom foolery and huge amounts of creativity.

    Come on baby let the good times roll.

    Serious? Who needs that?

  16. I make my living in a creative way. I consider myself an artist.

    In the past, when at Flag, I would find it amusing that often, I would be stopped by the security guard at the entrance to the Fort Harrison and asked a few questions to ascertain if I was, indeed, a parishioner. I think it wasn't my clothing necessarily, but my "vibe" which didn't fit with the conservative sameness of most of the public they were used to seeing.

    But I do disagree on a few of your ideas expressed here. I think a distinction needs to be made about church generated "art" and that created by individuals.

    Throughout history, art, and most creative endeavors have been generated by individuals and not by groups. A few exceptions such as musical bands or orchestras or film crews are still forwarding the work of an individual,i.e., the composition or the script.

    A workable rule of thumb is that for a work of art, the more "approvals" needed, the more insipid the final result. The staging, music, and presentation of the current Scn events are indeed, a good example.

    However, as an individual, I have found much of what LRH wrote about art to be very useful. But it is up to the individual to decide what is useful rather than have it dictated by some "approval" authority, ("this submission doesn't follow LRH's advice on such and such.") I have been in that exact situation and it was hellishly frustrating. Jeff Hawkins describes it well in his blog.

    If an artist allows himself or his creativity to be nullified by authority, that is his fault. But recognize that this is the struggle of all artists throughout history, not just those that are scientologists!

    In other words, this is not just a scientology thing. And I have always found a great deal of support for my art from staff and other scientologists and have seldom felt my creativity was being frowned on. (Now, if I had put a Dianetics book in a jar of urine and called it "Piss Ron", well that might have been another story...)

    Now, if scientology was as detrimental to creativity as you argue, how could it be that many children of scientologists do grow up to be well known artists? A few that come to mind are Beck, Bodhi Elfman, Jason Dohring. There are others.

    One other thing. You stated:

    "Later, Hubbard would claim that no one ever contributed anything useful to Scientology -- but the early practitioners knew differently. Without the contributions from those early creative people, the success of Dianetics and early Scientology, such as it was, would not have happened."

    Do you have some examples of this, or some links to stories told by early practioners?

  17. @Anonymous - making your living in a creative way.

    The artists who have commented in this thread have more than adequately validated my article and my premise that the Church of Scientology hates and suppresses creativity.

    I'm glad that you and others have gotten some benefit from Hubbard's writings and have been able to be creative. That does not argue against anything I, or they, said. This has nothing to do with whether Hubbard said nice things about art. Why would you take the discussion in that direction?

    Even in the darkest, most repressive days of Stalin's Russia, there was still creativity. The fact that some writers wrote and some painters painted did not prove that Stalin's Russia encouraged creativity.

    This is about the Church of Scientology and its bogus claims that Scientologists' creativity is somehow enhanced by Scientology. It is simply a fact that, in general, the more a person immerses themselves into the Church of Scientology's culture, the less creativity they have and the more they adhere to "what is expected".

    If a Scientologist is creative, it is because they were already creative before Scientology and if they remain creative it is in spite of church pressure to conform to the expected "good" image of Scientology.

    As for stories from old-time Dianeticists and Scientologists, unfortunately this was pre-Internet. There are no links back that far. I've read many of the old newsletters and talked with some of the old-timers. Some of the old newsletters have been made available online, but most of the old-timers are now gone. The early Dianeticists and Scientologists used to write regular reports to Ron on what worked and what didn't. In some of the very early lectures, Ron alludes to the early community and the back-and-forth that went on.

  18. More from: Make my living in a creative way. --BTW, posting under my name now. ;)

    Re: "This has nothing to do with whether Hubbard said nice things about art. Why would you take the discussion in that direction?"

    I felt your article does not make a distinction between what LRH actually wrote on the subject of art and how the Church of Scientology, or more specifically, its more conservative, under-educated, or stultified staff or public react to art or creativity.

    In the Art Series, LRH analyzes and writes in depth about art, including such things as what makes a piece of art "good". This data has been very useful to me, and is much more than just saying nice things about art.

    There was a sentence I remember from the LRH book Science of Survival. The sentence was something like, "any artist should be able to create a work of art so covert as to make the sadist wriggle with delight." That condescending individual that "much worse than you think" had run into obviously had never read or understood that chapter.

    The focus of your article seems to be that the Church discourages any application of one's creativity to anything related to Scientology. That I do not disagree with. I have experienced this myself. It is the conclusion at the end of the article I disagree with. ["If you've been told that Scientology will "help you be more creative" (and Scientology does say that), that is about as far from the truth as it can be."] I disagree with this because it has not been my experience.

    I do fully acknowledge Vicky and other artist posters who related their experiences of having their individual creativity quashed by staff or public Scientologists. I sympathize and understand. But my point is that this type of behavior towards creative types and creativity is not necessarily because LRH said to do this, nor is the Church of Scientology unique in this behavior.

    Re: your blog in general. I think this discussion is vital, and you are a devastatingly good writer. I would hazard a guess that you have some copywriting or marketing background?

    I want to contribute to this thread because there is much you've written I agree with. I just don't agree with it all, or, what is to me, a sweeping conclusion.

  19. @Just Bruce

    I appreciate your response to my comment and my article.

    I think this is mainly related to the tendency for many people to merge Scientology and the Church of Scientology together when only one really was intended. You are defending a idealistic concept of Scientology, while I was commenting primarily about the degraded reality of the Church of Scientology.

    What I said in my last few paragraphs definitely does apply to the Church of Scientology.

    As for the belief system of Scientology? Well, I've seen good people make Scientology into something good. I would contend that such good people would make anything into something good, because that's what good people do. With Scientology, as with so many other things, there is bad and there is good. Good people see, emphasize and work with the good parts and often don't even see or acknowledge the bad parts.

    I appreciate that and it says good things about such people. I, however, see both the good and bad parts of the Scientology belief system. While I remember the good, I simply cannot ignore the bad.

    I hope, some day, that good people who still consider themselves Scientologists would acknowledge and consciously discard the bad parts of Scientology. That would be a very good day for Scientology.

  20. I had many experiences with my creativity being invalidated. I was beginning what I hoped would be a home based business when I became involved with Scientology in 2002. I dove in thinking that as I progressed in my studies and training I would become 'more able'. What happened was I had less time to spend on my art as a result of being on a standard schedule and having a long commute to and from the org. My art languished. I was chastized for bringing projects with me and working on them during my lunch break. "why aren't you listening to a lecture?" or "come see Orientation!" I was often early back to the course room, and the Sup was rarely there until 30 seconds to roll call, so I would sit in the hall and work on my projects. I would get interesting looks from staff, some clearly dissaproving, some clearly interested, but unable to engage. I found it contradictory that the celebs would seem to have no trouble getting time off for auditions or shoots, but once I dared to ask for time off to get a showing of my work together,...I was told that it wasn't like I had paid commission pieces that I needed to finish, my studies were far more important.
    I began to eat my lunch in my car so I could have privacy and be able to work without being bothered.
    When I have time to and am able to create, I am very happy, and that enthusism spills out and I want to share what I am doing because I am excited to be able to make what I envision real in the world. So many times I got the feeling that that joy of creating wasn't appreciated, as it had nothing to do with the oh so serious business of training.
    The capper for me was when I requested some time off recently to attend to family matters and was told that if allowed the time off, I would never return. It had happened too many times before with other people and I was asking for trouble. Staying away from Scientology could make me sick, I could get cancer. CAN YOU IMAGINE??
    Well, I didn't want to create an antagonistic situation, but I didn't want to stay either. I had been thinking of leaving for a while, that was the push that got me unstuck. I left quietly. I have not spoken out against the church, nor do I plan to. I have had gains, my family and I are in the best communication ever, and we are all healthy. I am doing quite well as an artist, and everyday when I wake up, I am grateful to have my day to do with as I see fit.

    Thank you for having this forum. This is my first posting after leaving. I am so grateful that this is here for us to be able to communicate without fear of reprisals.

  21. No organized religion encourages FREEDOM in art. They all want to say what it can and cannot be.

    The good old Catholic and Apostolic Church encouraged the masters to do work that was prescribed and overseen; otherwise the good old Inquisition got involved.

    Art is essentially the opposite of religion, IMO. Where it explores and frees, all organized religions must limit, exclude and control. Ron was doing nothing new when he extended his personal empire to 'the arts.'

    If either Scientology or the fundamentalist right were to get in power in the U.S.A., they would do do more than question artists' hair, clothing or "vibes."

    BTW, Just Bill, do you know of a site similar to yours, but for ex-fundamentalists? Some voice needs to be bringing the light of reason to that whole meshuganah mess.

  22. Well, I would not make such a general, sweeping statement. There has been some amazing art done with the approval and even support of various religions. Of course they only approve of and support art that enhances and glorifies their religion, but what would you expect?

    But Scientology's suppression of all creativity, even that which might enhance or glorify Scientology is unique. And quite revealing about Scientology itself.

    However, I do not disagree with your statement that "all organized religions must limit, exclude and control".

    As for a blog like this for ex-fundamentalists? No, I don't know of any, but then I haven't looked.


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