During my visit at a recent conference, I noticed a vibrant booth that was promoting the book, Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health. I love to read and apparently I’m a sucker for marketing; after all, it reads “The #1 New York Times Best Seller” across the cover so I stood back surveying the scene. There was a large display of the book with the cover image of a spewing volcano and the author’s name in gold foil in large print, Ron L. Hubbard. There were people milling around and a few taking a seat for some kind of assessment. They were holding metal batons and a meter would detect their stress level. As I was taking this all in I was trying to place the author’s name. I knew it sounded familiar, was it that movie director, you know the one from Happy Days? If so, I would read one of his books. And then, I was interrupted mid thought…
A woman from the Dianetics booth noticed me from afar and literally took me by the arm from the aisle. I wasn’t even standing next to the booth. The next thing I know I am sitting in a chair with the metal baton in my hand. She asks me if I know what Dianetics is. I say, it sounds familiar, but I can’t place it. Anyway, she goes on to tell me it is the science of mind over matter, that you can heal or cure any mental, emotional or physical ailment with the power of your mind and Dianetics is the science that shows you how. Well of course that sounds intriguing. The woman is very engaging and asks me to talk about something I find stressful, the meter goes all the way to the end to show verification that what I say is indeed very stressful. Then she gets me talking about other areas of interest and I forget I am holding the baton. I don’t even know what the meter is saying. Damn, she is good. As the conversation winds down and it is time to move on she asks if I am interested in the book. I sort of am, what the heck maybe I could learn something and it is a best seller after all. Just as the transaction goes through I realize who the author is, the founder of Scientology, not Ron Howard! I say wait a minute, is this related to Scientology? The reply is yes, this book is the foundation of what Scientology is based upon. I respond, “Okay, well I am not really interested after all”. She asks, “Why not, what have you heard about Scientology?”
I can see where this is going and I am not going to take the bait anymore! I simply say that I am not one to follow any particular path, and that I enjoy the truths of many religions, but what I am really thinking is, I’m not interested in Scientology because I think it is cultish, the founder’s mental health has been questioned, slave ships, Tom Cruise and his divorces, bad press all around – it’s all coming to me now! But I know she is armed and prepared for everything I am thinking and ready to defend Scientology, she knows this is the perception. I shut it down and take the book and go with hesitation. The woman from the booth tells me to just read it, she reminds me, “you said yourself you are interested in many truths and that you like to look at topics from all sides even when you don’t agree.” Damn it! She is using my own words against me. She tells me to please read it and if I don’t like it I can get my money back. Whatever, so I leave feeling conflicted with a heavy book weighing down my shoulder and I move on slightly irritated.
The next day I go back to the conference and I have decided that I am going to return the book and get my money back. I realize once inside the huge conference center that I had left the book in my car the night before because of the weight. Damn it, I am not going back to the parking garage. I am so bothered by this. It is only $25, but it is the principle of it. Once back at home I am still thinking about this damn book. I think, well I could mail it back and request a refund, but then I quickly realize that I do not want to engage anymore. So then I think, maybe I should donate the book, but that bothers me too because its like throwing away money and supporting a cause I am not interested in. And then it hits me. What am I so resistant for? I am going to turn this into an assignment. I am going to read Dianetics with three highlighters. One to highlight the supporting text that backs up my negative feelings. After all, when asked why I am not interested in Scientology what better way than to cite direct quotes. Secondly, I am interested in what the hook is for readers. What draws people in? And lastly, I am going gold mining. I am going to look for the nuggets of truth no matter how buried because any religion usually has some universal truth within it, right?
I no longer feel irritated that I have Dianetics in my possession. I am sure the stress meter would indicate the same;-) However, I am not sure when I will begin the assignment, but I will report back when I’m finished!