Publicat originalment a CATALONIA TODAY (01/07/2013)

On sects and austerity.

As fate would have it I was reading a book about sects, when lo and behold, the Church of Scientology opened its biggest Barcelonan centre right on the corner from where I live. This organisation has evolved from being an anti-psychology self-help group in the 'Fifties, into a full-blown contemporary religion (it currently enjoys tax-free status in Spain) which teaches that 75 million years ago the dictator of a Galactic Confederacy brought large numbers of his subjects to Earth, popped them into volcanoes, blew them up with H-Bombs, captured their souls and subjected them to intense negative imagery, after which these same souls hung around on Earth messing up human minds until the Scientologists came along and offered to put those minds to rights (for a fee). The eldest son of L. Ron Hubbard - Scientology's founder - has claimed publicly that his Dad simply made the whole business up as he went along. This would seem to be a feature of all such supposedly religious movements, including the creepiest I've so far come across: Heaven's Gate, which was founded by a nurse and a music teacher in 1975. Having convinced themselves they were reincarnations of two biblical prophets, they developed a penchant for adopting cutish binomials, such as Bo and Peep, Guinea and Pig, Nincom and Poop, Ti and Do, claiming all the while that Heaven was a physical place somewhere in outer space to which a chosen few would be taken in space ships once they had prepared their bodies through ascetic training. When the nurse's duly trained body inconveniently died of liver cancer in 1985, the music teacher then declared that in order to qualify for interstellar transport to the Kingdom of God it would be necessary to leave one's physical body. And when the Hale-Bopp comet reached perigee in 1997, the teacher (aka Poop, Peep, Pig and Do) insisted it was hiding a godly UFO in its tail which it was imperative to beam up to. He and 38 followers – including the brother of the actress who played Lieutenant Uhura in 'Star Trek' - subsequently gulped down lethal amounts of barbiturates and vodka. What has all this got to with anything, someone might ask? Well, it does show that people will believe anything – even if it's made up from start to finish and leads to total disaster – as long as it comes from what they consider to be an authoritative source. There must be a metaphor in there somewhere for the curiously austere remedies that are being prescribed for our current times of crisis. After all, almost everybody does seem to be swallowing them unquestioningly. Have a good summer.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -