INTRODUCTION: The length of this post is relevant to its subject. It does include some Scientologese. If you find a word you don't understand, call your local Dianetics or Scientology organization and ask them to define it. They like people to do this. Be sure to tell them you are reading alt.religion.scientology.
Hi, guys. Long time no write, which is what this post is really about.
I've been posting to ARS for a few years now and then I disappeared, although I was occasionally in touch with several of you via email. I want to tell you what's been going on. Plus it will give the criminal cult something to whine, bitch, carp, natter, scream, cry, rant about which might get someone's stats up there so they can get a day off to do their laundry. (Boy, do I remember that routine!)
For those who don't know me, I was in the cult for nearly 21 years. (I know that Martin Hunt has archived some of my posts at <http://www.islandnet.com/~martinh/rvy/rvy.htm>.) Because I spoke out, they had to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last five years trying to silence me and probably even think they finally did it. Right. Read on.
If you can manage about 7,000 words, this post will tell you more than the cult wants you to know.
TRAVELS WITH JESSE
You've heard about Jesse Prince. Well, I was with him having a great time in Southern California back in July, when he was at Dan Leipold's law offices. Of course, we were being followed by the Church of Paranoia's criminal Dept. 20 and typical of their ineptness, we slipped in behind them and followed them for awhile. It was hilarious they way they panicked, zipping and dashing about through traffic while we kept on their tails, sometimes bumper-to-bumper, reading license plates and laughing our heads off in this darling red Mustang convertible, with the top down. (Hey, do it in style!) If this was a paid PI, Rinder should ask for a refund as they were a pathetic joke. Anyway, we did it for a while and then tired and left them, wondering if they would tell the truth in their report how they screwed it up. Again.
Later I went back to Minneapolis, where Jesse lived. We spent a few days there while he wrapped up things and then we toodled on over to Chicago to visit relatives and hung out in the Windy City for a few days, checking out everything from the music clubs to Lake Michigan. I had my dog Mac with me and we romped on the sands and down in the water, having a great time. (Meanwhile someone told me the OSA sock puppets on ARS were saying how I've disappeared. Yup. With Jesse in a red Mustang convertible. LOL!)
From there we went south to visit more relatives, caring less if the paranoid criminal cult was tracking us. Let em spend Travolta's money to get nuttin'. After a few days here and there, we turned west and ambled across Kansas (spare me from EVER driving across Kansas again) and into Colorado.
HELP! RVY IS MISSING!
So while the OSA sock puppets were claiming I was missing, they were lying to you. (I'm shocked!) They knew I was with Jesse. (In fact, we enjoyed it that they knew. It's called "critical mass.") They just hated it that two very good friends were having such a good time!
I should have mentioned that earlier. Jesse and I go back many years, into the cult. He and I are old buddies and it was great spending many weeks with him. He is as outrageous as ever. Runt leader David Miscavige was always afraid of him and as evidenced by the tantrums of his sock puppets, he's still afraid. (By the way, if you ever want to see a good portrayal of the runt-punk, watch Al Pachino's character in the movie "Scarface," who can't complete a sentence without three forms of the word "fuck." But perhaps the best example of life with DM is truly Kevin Spacey's abusive character in the movie "Swimming With Sharks," which takes place in Hollywood. Small world. But then so is DM.)
ON BEING A WRITER
As to what I else I have been doing and will be doing, I am doing some intense writing and in such an effort - for those of you who haven't had the experience - it requires considerable time and solitude. And in my case, more than usual, as you will find out.
It was no accident that I chose the handle "writer" when I set up my Eskimo.com account years ago. I've been writing all of my life. It is not only a love of the Muse but it can be a curse, as many a writer will tell you. Mine was both.
I did a lot of writing in the cult, but there is little there of any pride. Since then, I won some awards but nothing else captivated me until now. So sit back and let me tell you how it happened. I think some of you will find some of this interesting.
THE HUBBARD ARCHIVES
Let's start in late 1981, when I happened to acquire the archives that contained Hubbard's private papers. (These were the ones that Gerry Armstrong started.) The truly essential material came down to perhaps 15 linear feet of paper. Over the months, with nothing else to do, I had a chance to read private letters, papers and manuscripts (including the three, yes, three, versions of the infamous Excalibur, which has to be the most overblown piece of hype he EVER produced and, no, it has NOTHING to do with OT3), which also gave me the full uncensored view of this man. I read everything from love letters to (and from and about) his mistresses, his girlfriends (such as Fern, who gave him the clap, forcing him to secretly take sulfa), his private pornographic ramblings (he liked to draw penises and vaginas around the margins in red ink, which gave the page a grisly look), his black magic material, his letters to family, wives (in the early 1950s, while having mistress Barbara on the side and at the same time preaching about the dangers of illicit relationships), editors and even to himself, as journals.
There was one problem with what I read. It didn't match what we (collectively then, meaning the organization) were saying about Hubbard and what Hubbard, based on what he had say to say. When I tried to gently point this out, the Shinola hit the fan. It didn't matter that it was in Hubbard's own hand. It didn't match the story he put out so - straight out of "1984" - it didn't exist. (These documents were later confiscated and sealed away to make sure no staff see them but enough of us did - including a few still on staff (hi, guys!) - so it can be verified someday, if it comes to that. But that is another story.)
WRITING FOR HUBBARD
In the years that followed, Hubbard and I had a fascinating relationship because I was intrigued with him as a writer and I found I could easily mimick his style, which came in handy later.
But in 1982, drawing from the archival material, I proposed the idea of the "Ron" magazines. Hubbard loved the idea and we cranked out the first issue which is a serious collector's item. (Because Stacy and I produced it, it no longer officially exists. It is an Orwellian non-mag.)
BIOGRAPHIES AND GHOSTS
At one point I was tagged to be his biographer but the biography went the way of all the other attempts, ranging from Omar Garrison to Fletcher Prouty. (Meanwhile I was identified as such, from the San Luis Obispo paper to the Washington Post in Scientology-produced stories that it is difficult for the cult to rewrite.)
I also ghosted for Hubbard, meaning I wrote material for which he was credited, which was not uncommon. I wrote everything from these short little greetings that were sent to events (staff and public always thought that Hubbard was writing to them, which always showed us how gullible they were) to policy letters (I wrote the current disconnection policy with some help at the end of it by Ray Mitoff, who ghosted a lot of the technical material and issued it under Hubbard's name) to ghosting sections of his "Mission Earth" series, while I was editing it. (And boy, is THAT another story! Whew!)
When Hubbard died, everything changed. (duh) I went to the death site (his ranch at Creston, near San Luis Obispo CA) that night along with David Miscavige and some attorneys. Since none of us - including Miscavige - had ever been there, we were met at a restaurant by Pat Broeker who took us to the ranch. We arrived at perhaps 4 a.m. (Hubbard was found dead at about 8 p.m. I was told at 10. We left LA at perhaps 1 a.m. I wasn't always watching the clock, given the circumstances.)
What's amusing in the cult's attempt to DA me is their saying that I went to the ranch along with some gardeners and cooks. Right. Gardeners and cooks were the first to be rushed up that night, before the authorities were called or the body taken away. ROFL! Don't you just love these guys!
Creston was where the story was put together that he had moved on to the next level of research, or however it was worded, when it was announced at the Palladium and to the world. The event was so carefully constructed that no one noticed that something essential was missing, but Ill get to that in a moment. But during the event, I stayed at the ranch to deal with any media who might show up or call. None did and less than 48 hours later, the Challenger space shuttle blew up, bumping news of his death and any serious questions from the media. I was monitoring the TV news via a satellite dish and watched it happen and reported it. While the rest of the world was in shock, DM was happy because we had been bumped from the news. But that is how one comes to view the world at that echelon.
THE NEWBERRY RANCH
I later moved to another ranch Hubbard owned, at Newberry Springs, east of Barstow CA and stayed there for a couple of months. Hubbard never visited it (it was merely a fallback location for him) and I never did see that anyone learned about this one, even the media. I guess they were all hung up on the Creston property, near San Luis Obispo, where he died.
The most lasting benefit of my stay at Newberry was that that was where I stopped smoking. One day DM, Mitoff, Pat Broeker, Mike Eldridge and I were sitting around and we all agreed to stop smoking, although Broeker was the only non-smoker. Mitoff had a horrible time of it. He ended up on Skoal Bandits, spitting disgustingly into a bucket while driving back and forth to LA, and also addicting me to the little cusses. In the end, I was the only one who stopped, making me wish we had put some money in a pool.
In the months I spent between the Creston and Newberry ranches, Pat and I became good friends. He had been Hubbard's closest and most trusted aide and confident for those final years. With what I already knew about Hubbard, Pat and I had the greatest talks. Sometimes Pat and I were the only ones at the ranch, so we eould chat while moving horses or going to town to shop. I began to learn about the life Hubbard had lead while in hiding for those last years, moving between towns in the Bluebird bus and finally settling down in Creston. (BTIAS)
THE STRUGGLE STARTS - WHO WILL REPLACE HUBBARD?
Meanwhile, a power struggle was brewing to see who would take control of Scientology and Newberry was the place where many of the discussions occurred while DM stayed either in LA or in Hemet. (Jesse will have something to say about that someday because he was seriously involved in the ensuing explosion.) It would result in a number of people fleeing (such as Jesse) or going to the RPF (such as me).
A key element in the power struggle was Hubbard's last message to the rank-and-file. Those who were in the cult back in 1986-87 will remember this incident. It was a message from Hubbard that was issued as a Sea Org directive. It said goodbye, wishing them well and establishing a new rank/position called Loyal Officer or LO. (The term is taken from OT3.) Pat was to be the LO1 and his wife Annie was to be LO2 and it basically turned the management of the Sea Org over to them. And since the SO ran Scientology, that meant they were at the top of the heap. DM was not mentioned in the directive. It was later was issued to all staff - with DM's approval and authority - reduced in size and put in a small fram with a photo of Hubbard for the desk of every staff member.
In the meantime, Pat began to slowly take control. I would often get phone calls from him. He would never identify himself on the phone, going back to his years of tight security, but merely would say, "Hi, it's me."
I won't try to give the details of the ensuing power struggle because I was in LA and it was happened at Creston, Newberry and Hemet. (I leave it to Jesse, who was there.) But the outcome was that Miscavige won. And typical of any political coup, there was a sudden purge as he consolidated his power. Anyone DM thought might be a friend of Broeker's who would pose a threat were sent to Scientology's equivalent of Lubayanka Prison or Siberia: the RPF, so I went. For 16 months and three escape attempts.
Now here is where it gets interesting, folks.
MISCAVIGE CANCELS HUBBARD'S MESSAGE
While I was on the RPF, a directive came out from Miscavige saying the supposed final message from Hubbard that named Broeker was a forgery by Broeker and it was being canceled. That same day, Annie Broeker appeared on the RPF. This was not the Annie I had come to know. What stumbled into the RPF was a completely broken person. She was pale and hollow and her eyes were empty. There was no mistaking it. She had been broken and only now was she being thrown away into the trash heap called the RPF. Even then, she was kept under guard, just to be sure.
TWO IMPORTANT OMITTEDS
With the cancellation of the message from Hubbard, there were now two vital things missing that were 100% Hubbard and 100% standard tech and yet no one seemed to notice or, if they did, no one dared to remark on it. But then, as Hubbard correctly pointed out, the hardest thing to notice is the thing that is omitted.
What was now missing was (1) something from Hubbard to all Scientologists saying goodbye and what he was doing and (2) something that passed his hat, which is one of the most basic tenets in the organization. They had been missing at the event announcing his death but with the cancellation by Miscavige, they were missing more than ever.
WHERE WAS HUBBARD'S MESSAGE?
One does not require much knowledge about L. Ron Hubbard to know that it would be completely unlike him to simply leave - especially if the story about his going off to do more research were true - and not leave a message. So if he HAD left as Scientologists were told, where was the message if the other was a forgery?
But perhaps more importantly, where was the hat turnover? I don't mean the volumes of policies and bulletins. I mean something that says, I hereby appoint Joe Blow to take over as... Would Hubbard leave the planet and not pass on the command? Hardly.
Or let's put it in one of the most basic tenets from Hubbard: if it isn't written, it isn't true.
(Note: Hubbard's will was hardly a Scientology hat turnover and has not been issued to the rank and file as policy.)
So the question became (to those of us who wondered), if the LO directive was a forgery, where was the real one? Where were Hubbard's wishes IN WRITING?
MISCAVIGE HAD NOTHING FROM HUBBARD
Of course, DM never provided anything and no one was willing to ask and risk being sent to the RPF with the rest of us. He said it was a forgery and that was that. End of discussion.
For the rest of my stay in the cult, Pat Broeker was never mentioned because, in the cult, you learn what to not talk about. Pat became what in Orwell's "1984" is a non-person. He had been written out of history, with anyone who cared (such as me) being sent to the RPF or interrogated (security checked) until they got the point, which meant (per the head on a pike policy) that everyone else got the message.
So without a shred of WRITTEN evidence from Hubbard and by canceling what even DM had first agreed was from Hubbard, Miscavige was now in control while Broeker had disappeared.
Can you say, "coup"?
But hold on! It gets better.
READING THE MATERIAL ANEW
After Stacy and I fled the cult in 1989, I put it all behind me. I simply wanted my life back and the last thing I needed was to think about the cult. They had taken enough of my life without my adding more. But after a couple of years of drying out, Stacy and I were invited to help with some legal cases and this gave us a chance to handle the material that once handled us. We could now read Hubbard and TALK about the material, which is completely forbidden in the cult. It was like back-flushing a radiator and watching what comes out.
I came across a copy of Miscavige's cancellation of Hubbards final message and I began to kick it around with Stacy. As we talked, I started to comment on the various little oddities, starting with the cancellation itself. I began to remember a few others that I had packed away at the time. We were having a conversation that Sea Org staff could no more do than a loyal Communists might question the a change of power in the Kremlin, and for the same reasons.
AN "ACCEPTABLE TRUTH" IS FED SCIENTOLOGISTS
In the weeks and months that followed, I couldn't shake the events surrounding Hubbard's death and DM's takeover. Little oddities took on forms like pieces of a jig saw puzzle. I felt like an amnesiac trying to recover his memory yet what was there to recover? I was there at the ranch. I was there when Hubbard's body was taken out. I was there when the execs were called up the ranch and told to get an event together, but not being told why. I was there when the attorneys reported his death and then scurried to get the body through the coroner. Etc, etc, etc. So what was the problem? Yeah, the next higher level of research story was the sort of pap we used to feed the rank-and-file all the time but it wasn't as if we LIED to them. (Sort of the way Clinton said he didn't LEGALLY lie.) We didn't LEGALLY lie, did we?
Per Hubbard's policy, they were given an "acceptable truth" because of "the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics." What that means in plain speak was that there would be panic and disaffection in the ranks if it was thought that Hubbard - the OT of all OTs, of course - was not at cause over life and death. If the tech couldn't help him, how could it help others? That was the myth that had to be protected at all costs and that was what the story did when his death was announced. It fed the myth that everyone so wanted to believe. (And it kept the money coming in.)
WORKING WITH PUZZLE PIECES
While in the cult, I had done a lot of investigative reporting and some of the best I did was working on some of the CIA's mind control documents created under the code name MK ULTRA. When the CIA released them, much was blanked out and working with a team of people hand-selected by Stacy, we went through documents that the media had skipped past because they were so fragmentary and so heavily deleted. In one file, for example, there were receipts for the installation of mufflers on a 1953 Mercury, a tiny battery-powered motor, elevator tickets to the Empire State Building, nose plugs, a receipt for someone to attend a Microscropy convention, etc.
Bit by bit, we struggled to give them meaning until one piece cracked another, like breaking a code. We came up with the experiment and got national news on Operation Big City where bacillus were released (through the mufflers) to test for bacterial warfare. (The elevator tickets were so agents could go up and measure the amount of released bacteria.) It is a story the cult still likes to cite, along with several others I did for them, under my byline in the Freedom rag. Since then, per Orwell, my name has been deleted, of course.
Pouring over those heavily deleted CIA documents was how I felt like while I chewed on the oddities around Hubbard's death, such as nothing in writing from him, Broeker missing, the fact that Denk (Hubbard's physician at the time of death) had also disappeared, Annie's appearance and little things that I had seen and learned at the ranch.
THE BLUE FLASH
And then it hit me. It was what Hubbard calls a blue flash, the sudden insight.
Hubbard didn't die.
He was killed.
I fell back in my chair, completely stunned. In all of the years since 1986, I had never once considered that possibility. Even with my being long out of the cult and directing criticism at various practices and policies, the thought had never crossed my mind that Hubbard might have been killed.
I got a sheet of paper and began to take notes, my heart pounding and my breathing hurried. That nagging feeling had turned into an adrenaline rush that I couldn't explain.
Who was there at the Creston ranch when Hubbard died?
* Pat Broeker - MIA.
* Annie Broeker - broken, under their control.
* Two Scientology ranch hands. While trusted to work on the ranch, I came to see how much they were kept out of the loop.
* Gene Denk - Hubbard's personal physician. (And mine. Small world.) Denk had disappeared for a year after the death, which was one of those oddities, before returning to his practice up the street from the main Hollywood complex.
End of list, a too-short list so I started to add who went up that night in the three-car caravan that included DM, some attorneys and a couple of us "gardeners and cooks." Nothing there.
I looked at the list. Pat Broeker was the only possibility, if he was out and alive. For all I knew, he was dead or locked up somewhere and in a mental state that approximated cold oatmeal. There was no middle ground. He wouldn't have been given a safe back-lines job or I would have heard about it.
SEARCHING FOR BROEKER
So how would I find Pat Broeker, if he was alive. I racked my memory, trying to dig out some clue he might have given me in the months that we were together but I came up with nothing. My tendency to not inquire about a person's personallife had just sold me short. I didn't even know what state he was from. Who might? Who would know where he came from or where he was born? I needed some clue to start the search and the problem was the security that Pat used for his job. He had explained to me how any trace of him had been wiped out, to ensure that no one could find Hubbard by finding him. Plus if Pat had escaped or fled, he was skilled enough to hide from any search as that was what he had been doing for years to hide Hubbard from the authorities.
I finally remembered one location he told me about and sent a message there saying that I was trying to reach him but no reply came. After a few months I sent another and waited. The months turned into nearly a year and I basically gave up until one day when the phone rang.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hi," came a voice. "It's me."
I paused, saying nothing.
"Pat?" I finally said with some incredulity. "Is that you?"
"Yeah," he said, with what I swear was a twinkle in his voice. "How are you?"
What a question!
RINDER WAKES UP
Let's jump ahead a few years when I was in a deposition in Denver, in the FACTNet case. The usual goon squad was there, including Mike Rinder, who proudly heads up the criminal Dept. 20 where Scientology's felons are produced. Rinder was struggling to stay awake in the corner while the cult attorney was going through a list of names, wanting to know if I had spoken with any of them. Rinder's head was bobbing as the attorney asked monotonously, "Pat Broeker?"
I glanced at Rinder. I had to enjoy this one.
"Yes," I said.
I couldn't have gotten a faster reaction with a bucket of water. Rinder jumped awake and looked at me in shock, fear and hatred. I smiled.
The questions about my involvement with Broeker were routine, from a list that they asked for each person I named but Broeker wasn't routine. They soon stopped to take a break. Like the good sock puppet that he is, Rinder dashed out of the room, obviously to call DM. (I so wish I could have watched DM's face too.) About 15 minutes later, Rinder returned and shoved some questions at the attorney and the depo continued. But little was gained and not one question was asked about what Pat might have told me about Hubbard's death, if he had at all. They clearly didn't want it on the record, under oath. I found it amusing, this great powerful cult was so terrified of the subject, not to mention Broeker.
So let me tell you a little bit about Pat: he's doing fine and his sense of humor has improved. End of a little bit.
THE CORONER'S REPORT
Now lets back up a tad, before Pat and I spent several days together, going over old times. I went to San Luis Obispo, the county seat for where Hubbard died. It was there that I got the full coroner's report from a very friendly deputy sheriff. I poured over the pages and noticed that something called Vistaril was found in Hubbard's blood. Since the cause of death was a stroke, I assumed it was a stroke medication so I didn't bother further. Several days later, I called a physician friend and was going over the documents and the medical language.
"By the way,? I asked casually, "what's Vistaril?"
"A psychiatric tranquilizer," he answered matter-of-factly.
I nearly dropped the phone.
"Excuse me," I said in near-shock, "but what did you say?"
"Vistaril is a psychiatric tranquilizer, usually injected through the buttocks."
I flipped to the document where the Coroner had examined Hubbard's body. I read it to my friend, about the needle puncture wounds found on the left buttock, under a band-aid. "Could that be the Vistaril shots," I asked.
"Probably," he said. "That's where they are usually given."
I looked at the Coroner's report and the blood sample report.
Holy shit, I said to myself, in my best French. Holy fucking shit.
THE AUTOPSY IS PROHIBITED
I pulled out another document, signed by Hubbard. It prohibited any autopsy of his body on religious grounds, which was legally binding on officials. DM and attorney Earle Cooley had shoved it at the coroner to stop him, leaving him to take only blood samples, which turned up the Vistaril.
So, I thought, L. Ron Hubbard, the man who fought psychiatry since 1950 and who railed against the dangers of any psychiatric drugs had died with them in his brain while signing a new last will.
Plus even the coroner was suspicious of the will as it had been signed by Hubbard just before he died. Coincidences like that tend to make coroner's worry. (I wonder what the coroner would have thought had he known that Denk was gambling at Lake Tahoe when Hubbard had his stroke, as several people can attest. The impression the coroner had was that Denk was "in attendence" with Hubbard not only at death but was there at the stroke, having stayed at the ranch for months. Hmmm....)
I fell back in my chair, trying to catch my breath.
OUTPOINTS? WHAT OUTPOINTS?
Okay, I said to myself, lets see if we understand this. Hubbard signs a will while on the psychiatric tranquilizer Vistaril and then dies. The coroner cannot conduct an autopsy because Hubbard also signed a paper (also while on Vistaril?) prohibiting an autopsy on religious grounds. The Scientologist doctor who was in attendance (except when he went to Lake Tahoe and Hubbard had the stroke) signs the death certificate as the physician attending to Hubbard and then disappears for a year. Then even though David Miscavige has nothing else in writing from Hubbard, he cancels Hubbard's last message and hat transfer to trusted aide Broeker and ousts Broeker, who disappears while his wife is turned into a compliant vegetable, leaving DM in charge.
Nope, nothing wrong here, I facetiously thought. No outpoints, borrowing Hubbard's word for oddities.
I had to take a walk.
STARTING WITH A TITLE
I don't know when it was but I clearly remember a particular moment when I sat down at my computer keyboard. I am one of those writers who needs either the opening words of the article or a working title in order to really start. I had a working title, not for an article, but a book, and I typed it out. Then I leaned back in my chair, took a deep breath and read it. It said, "Who Killed L. Ron Hubbard?"
I leaned back and my eyes roamed over each word and letter. I took in the question and then the words and letters and back to the question. I even digested the tiny pixels on the screen, as if I hoped the answer would leap from the phosphorescence but nothing changed but the black cursor blinking at me, almost mocking my effort. Yes, I thought, it is a pretentious question but it was the one I had to try to answer, if there was an answer.
Then I had the exact moment for the opening words. It was on the night that Terri Gamboa - former Executive Director of Author Services, Inc. and now out of Scientology - called me to DM's office where I was told that Hubbard had died and that I would be going to his ranch.
THE WRITING STARTS
I leaned towards the keyboard and began to write. To my amazement, the words and the scene poured out effortlessly. I wasn't striving for literature. I merely had to capture the scene.
As the cursor flitted across the screen, I began to remember how it happened that night and into the days that followed. There was more that I needed to remember but for now, this would do. Let it roll, I told myself. Let it roll. It was as if I was regaining myself.
Perhaps six or so hours later, I finally stopped, exhausted and sufficiently satisfied for the moment. But even then, I found it difficult to sleep as my mind kept returning to the ranch, Broeker, DM, the RPF, the Challenger disaster, Newberry, the ambulance taking away his body. I was searching for pieces of a puzzle that had no comprehension.
And how could I possibly answer the question?
HOOKED ON HUBBARD
What ensued over the next few years was more of a personal journey than a professional quest, meaning - as I came to learn very recently - because it was as much a search for closure on part of my life as it was a search for the story. But then, that is so often the case with writers, as anyone who has studied literature knows.
As I pursued it/him/me, it took me around the country and into subjects that I never expected, such as meeting with police who were involved in the investigation of the odd suicide of Flo Barnett, David Miscavige's mother-in law. She was found with several shots to the chest with the coup de grace to the temple, all from a rifle. (At one point, the cult grilled me in a deposition about her death, asking if I had any evidence of any foul play. No, I said, which made them happy. They failed to ask me if anyone else has any evidence. Scientology: Knowing how to know. Yup.)
I even came across people who claimed to know about Miscavige's in-the-cult-sex life, via accounts from his wife Shelly. (Scientology confessional methods have an interesting rippling effect.) If true, I felt sorry for her.
THE WRITING STALLS
But when I tried to continue my writing, it stalled and I struggled. At one point I became so disillusioned that I killed the idea for nearly a year as a ridiculous obsession but then like a weed taking root, it sprouted again but only to wither and die in my inspirational drought. Was it the subject or was it me? Had my disregard of the Muse prompted a like response?
I had not written anything truly worthwhile since 1991, when my article for San Diego Magazine won two journalism awards, from the Society of Professional Journalist and the San Diego Press Club. The article was about the dangers in the flight pattern of the San Diego airport, from the perspective of the pilots who flew it.
When we fled the cult in 1989, we settled in Ocean Beach, on the Point Loma Peninsula because of the nearby Dog Beach where a hundred canines would romp on any given summer day. The downside was that Ocean Beach was in the westerly flight path of Lindbergh Field and the roar of the jets above us garnered enough attention to prompt my learning that the flight path was the target of a citizens group. They in turn introduced me to pilots who were concerned about the safety of the eastern approach and my journalistic tendencies took over and the magazine accepted my query.
The article was woven around a hypothetical flight approaching Lindbergh Field that I had constructed from interviews with a dozen experienced commercial pilots, moving the reader from cockpit to the airport back to cockpit to FAA regulations and back to cockpit and then to buildings that loomed in the pilot's eyes as he seemingly navigated them like the cars a few hundred feet below. The pilot's called it a "white knuckle landing."
Braiding these elemtns was a thrill and a challenge and the article drew more letters of praise than anything the magazine had published in years, the editor told me, prompting them to publish letters for the next three months. They received only one critical letter, from a Coast Guard pilot who liked the approach. I guess he loved the thrill.
WRITING FOR THE REAL WORLD
When my name was announced as the best news magazine article at the awards banquet for the San Diego Press Club, I was stunned for two reasons. Yes, winning was a thrill. But there was a more important reason: I had succeeded as a writer. I hadn't written it according to "policy" or to fulfill some program step or as an amends project or to attack some imagined enemy. My editor didn't require that I include certain buttons and attack phrases and the article didn't need i/a or issue authority to be certain that it forwarded the most current Party Line. It was MY article and I had chosen the style and techniques and my professional peers applauded as I walked to the podium to accept the plaque.
THIS was what writing was about, I realized: the freedom to write without propaganda or Party Line, without a Big Brother looking over my shoulder, as if I am the old Soviet Union.
Suddenly there was a separation between what I had been doing for 20 years in the cult and what writing truly was about. All one has to do is pick up any Scientology publication, especially their rag called Freedom and watch the propaganda drip off the page like the rotting garbage it is. What astounded me was how I had come to believe that this was writing, not unlike how writers for Pravda probably felt during the Communist regime. But writing for Pravda or Freedom is to writing what prostitutes are to love and for the same reason.
RETURNING TO THE MUSE
And so I began to long to return to my greatest and dearest love and I realized that just as the cult had drained my creativity by demanding propaganda instead of art, so had my post-cult days. A piece that I wrote for Quill magazine about how Scientology manipulates the media (http://www.scientology.no.net/archive/media/young-quill.html) was informative but it was hardly satisfying to me as a writer. Another that I wrote for Der Spiegel magazine about the top secret Snow White program (http://cisar.org/g50925ae.htm) was as satisfying as eating cardboard because it appeared in German. How can a writer see and judge the final piece if he/she cant even read it? At least it hd some photos.
I began to ask myself, what am I doing? In the cult they wanted propaganda pieces attacking imagined enemies that made the cult executives feel good when they read them. (That is always the most important audience for such propaganda. It makes the members feel as if this is reality and truth when it is nothing but one's own sock puppet show.) And outside of the cult, I was writing stories and giving sound bites about Scientology, whether it be for a newspaper, magazine or TV show. Where was I as a writer, other than as an email address? So I turned more to cats than cults. At least they purred.
HOW IT WENT OFF THE RAILS
With some help, I began to see what had happened to me. During my nearly 21 years in the cult, I had sold my creative soul as certainly as if I had worked for a money-grubbing ad agency, and in that regard, the two aren't any different. My proudest achievement - the San Diego story - came after the cult and before I started consulting on Scientology cases and writing about the cult. As a writer, I had moved from one cult to another. It was no wonder that I had spun my wheels for years on that book. I realized that if I am to regain that joy of writing so the Muse can inspire me to the completion of any effort, it had to recapture what I was free to do a few years earlier. But to do that, to entice the Muse to return, I have to step away from this arena for as long as it takes, whether it be a month or a year. The Muse works not by deadlines.
How did I come to all of this? At a little retreat called Wellspring in southern Ohio, where I was able to relax and write and walk with Mac and talk with friends about any subject I pleased. I could arise in the middle of the night, as I often did, to pound out something on my laptop until I wanted to crash until my next inspiration, whatever the hour. Meanwhile, the kitchen downstairs was stocked for any meal or snack, or prepared for me if I wanted to devote my time to my own recovery rather than making dinner. Or I could walk the rolling hills with Mac and a few others of his species and enjoy the fading purple Ironwood flowers, indicating the end of summer. Or if the silence was too much, I could watch TV or go into nearby Athens (a college town, for Ohio University) and enjoy a coffee house, movie or a good used bookstore, the kind found only in college towns.
CULTS VS. CREATIVITY
Yes, I realized, this is definitely the type of place that Scientology would hate for it allows freedom and creativity. They would have to hate it and pump the propaganda just as Pravda attacked the institutions west of the Berlin Wall that represented the antithesis of the official Kremlin Party Line. Any true freedom challenges boundaries, especially those that pretend to be otherwise, as Communism pretended to be the bastion of true peace and freedom. One can even find and measure totalitarian systems by their knee-jerk party lines and Scientology is among the best. I know because I did it for so very long from inside, and then became their target from this other side.
Wellspring was important because they know what it is like to try to be free in an abusive environment, whether it be a marriage or a cult or a job. (They work with a lot of abused women.) Abuse is abuse. Terror is terror. It differs by degrees and it rips away individuality and creativity and future for the individual.
But at Wellspring, I was free to write and to peel away the barriers to my own creativity that included not only the cult but post-cult and pre-cult experiences, even back to the days when I wrote for school papers or for the anti-war movement in San Francisco or a political campaign, of which there were several for me in the 1960s. It was no wonder I was so qualified to produce propaganda for an abusive cult. I had been writing propaganda for years!
This is what my two weeks at Wellspring gave me, amongst other insights. (Results will vary, as label disclaimers remind us.)(laugh) But it was what I needed to regain a personal integrity that any abusive system, especially a cult, despises.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
So that is what I was doing, am doing and going to do and it will require concentration and reflection and time which is why I've not been on ARS and won't be, for as long as I must.
My apologies to many friends who have left messages or sent me mail and gotten no reply. It's difficult to explain why one is so involved with an idea or a project or any creative effort, so that virtually nothing else exists. I usually don't even like to talk about it or discuss it. Stacy is an exception because she has followed this journey since it started. It was when she told me how many were reaching her to ask about me that I realized it would be rude to continue to say nothing, given the role I have played in this endeavor. (I even shared this post with her before sending it.)
So don't take it personal if you get no reply. Consider it just the eccentricity that some writers get into when they latch onto an idea and lock themselves away or take long walks or won't talk to anyone and get up at all hours of the night (it is 4:30 a.m. as I type this), chewing on an idea, a style, a voice, a scene, a thread and then throwing it all away and starting again or merely prowling for more information or even traveling with a friend or a dog to take a break.
My intention is merely to restore and rebuild the creative self I touched earlier and then decide on my direction. It is not a matter of disdain for hack writing. That is snobbery. There is a place and time for classic hack writing just as there is a place for great B movies. Few of us can live on pure diets of Shakespeare, Mozart and Kant.
KEYBOARDS AND FREEDOM
What does this have to do with the original idea that I was writing about? The best answer I can give is, we'll see. Besides, there is more to write about, including fiction. Or I might find another airport.
Besides, with HTML and the Net, writing (not to mention publication) has changed. One no longer needs a footnote or an appendix with documents when HTML can link to a document, a map, a photograph or even a video. A writer who knows HTML - which I have had the good fortune to learn - has greater opportunities and options and freedoms.
It used to be said that freedom of the press belonged to those who owned one. Well, with the Internet, that freedom can now belong to anyone with a keyboard and THAT is what dries the mouth, puckers the hole and strikes fear in the heart of every tyrant. What Tom Paine could have done today!
So there you are, a writer's account of himself, past, present and future. It is long because it is easier than ever to write. Never has a keyboard felt so clean and comfortable. I hope each of you, especially those in a cult or out of a cult, have a chance to find YOUR true talent and purpose. It is what the world needs.
Keep the faith.
Robert Vaughn Young
with a keyboard as a [email protected]
P.S Wellspring has a web page at <wellspring.albany.oh.us>.