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Ken Urquhart writes a regular column in the magazine International
Viewpoints called 'IVy on the Wall', and we bring here some of his
articles devoted to looking at Jon Atak's book 'A Piece of Blue Sky'.
These articles can also be found at
This one is from International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 49- November
See Home Page at http://home8.inet.tele.dk/ivy/
IVy on the Wall
by Ken Urquhart, USA
Suburban Skies: Comfortably Blue
Chapter Two of an examination of Jon Atack's 'Piece of Blue Sky'.
As is usual in non-fiction, our author acknowledges help he has
in producing his book. His Acknowledgements attempts to set
scholarly and authentic tones. Jon states that he had worked with
people who had insight into Scientology and L.Ron Hubbard, but in
no case does he specify the basis on which we should have confidence
in their conclusions. All we can know about them is that they agreed
with and supported Jon. We observe then that the work of passing the
book off as scholarly and authentic is not carried out in a scholarly
and authentic manner.
The book's Preface is the work of Russell Miller, author of
'Bare-Faced Messiah', an earlier similar expos'e. Miller's
book focused on LRH as an individual. It scrutinized the lies LRH
had told about himself and his past. In that respect, I found it
apparently based on good, painstaking investigation and documentation.
Miller is very careful not to get into any examination or discussion
of the technology of Scientology. It's clear, however, that his
of the subject doesn't stand in the way of his abhorrence.
In this Preface, Russell Miller praises Jon's work in compiling a
'treasure trove of reliable information on a subject positively
riddled with deeply unreliable information'. I did see for myself
the outside of Jon's cabinets and cupboards and shelves and can
that his tidy archives are extensive and very well organized. I accept
that to the uninitiated and biased the subject of Scientology is
with deeply unreliable information but believe that the emphasis on
the unreliability of the information is a ruse to cover up a
refusal or inability to understand the subject. Russell Miller seems
to be saying that because Jon's archive is so big and so orderly it
contains all the facts one needs to know about LRH and Scientology.
What he is actually saying is firstly that Jon has assembled enough
documents of one kind or another to support his, Jon's, finding
of guilt against LRH, and secondly that there is nothing else for
anyone to want to know about LRH and Scientology. Russell Miller and
Jon Atack, and their supporters, refuse to perceive beyond their own
self-limited perspectives of outraged suburban comfort.
Thus, Russell Miller can quite sincerely refer to Jon's work as a
'dispassionate, thoroughly documented account of how Scientology
was created and nourished by a struggling science-fiction writer and
how it has managed to dominate (and damage) so many thousands of
I have three comments on these words:
1.That an examination of a person and an organization
is 'dispassionate' tells us very little about its validity,
or accuracy, or completeness; one can be extremely dispassionate in
severe prejudice. What R. Miller hopes we will take his words to mean
is that Jon has been passionate about finding the truth and that he
has found the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The
empty words want us to feel vaguely that the mass of 'documentation'
in the tidy archives proves something beyond doubt. In fact, a mass
of documentation proves a mass of documentation; Jon's passion has
been to collect the documentation he needs to prove his case -
not necessarily to know the truth. Validity of interpretation of
documentation depends on the quality and scope of the documents and on
the breadth and depth (with discernment and judgment) of the
2.Note the suburbanite put-down in 'a struggling
science-fiction writer'. To be a science-fiction writer is bad
enough in suburbia; to struggle is in itself as good as a crime. Both
together put one well beyond the suburban pale. To the suburbanite
anyone who has to struggle is known at once to be on the point of
failure. A struggler is capable of desperate and deceiving strategies
to improve his lot or to disguise his condition. Is this true of all
strugglers? Well, of course--clearly not. Individuals who have put
forward ideas and ideals to improve Man's lot usually have to struggle
against ignorance, bias, and fear of change. The suburbanite abhors
struggle as it is a sign of inability to maintain the suburban
facade of suburban equilibrium. The suburbs maintain
equilibrium by firmly shutting out from their comfort zones anything
that brings the discomfort of having to look and think uncomfortably.
That which invites the suburbanite to experience discomfort, he or
she instantly proves to be bad.
3.That the C of S has come to dominate and damage
lives has truth in it - but it is a generalization and an
over-simplification formulated to bolster a bias.
Not every member of the C of S (staff or public) is dominated or
damaged. Doubtless some are, some less so, some very little, and some
not at all. To infer from the damaged and dominated that all must be
damaged and dominated is not discerning.
Russell Miller goes on to assert that the book's 'stark truth'
about Scientology is 'certain to provoke the ferocious hostility
of practicing Scientologists around the world. Anyone who dares to
publicly criticize the C of S or its founder is liable to be vilified
and hounded through the courts'. In response, I note the following:
1.'Stark truth' is wishful thinking.
2.Not all practicing Scientologists around the
world are sufficiently dominated and damaged to react with ferocious
hostility to criticism of the C of S or of LRH. Some are simply too
sane to involve themselves in the internal politics, though it is
true that many throw themselves happily into the corporate culture
(we note that the C of S is the only outfit on Planet Earth which
has a corporate culture and internal politics to match).
3.The former GO(1) and its reincarnations have attacked very viciously
certain people who have gone out of their way to attack the C of S
and LRH. That those GO and later people have misbehaved themselves
abusively and abhorrently is true. That they have similarly attacked
everyone against Scientology and LRH is not true.
LRH, says Russell Miller, was a 'charlatan and a congenital(2) liar.'
A charlatan is one who claims abilities and skills falsely. That
Miller, who studiously avoids studying Scientology, claims knowledge
that LRH is a charlatan, tars Russell Miller with his own brush. That
LRH lied about his past to make himself appear other than he was is
true. The use of the adjective 'congenital' is mere meaningless
British huff-and-puff that signifies an intent to insult without truth
with which to really wound. That inferring and telling falsehoods
about self and past are very common human activities does not excuse
them. But their being so human makes whining about the subject rather
Jon Atack, declares the loyal Miller, has motives undoubtedly decent
and honest; never did malice or any unworthy desire to settle old
scores spur Jon on. I won't quarrel with this. Decency and honesty
are central to the suburban code which absolutely forbids all malice
and every unworthy desire.
'Jon', Russell goes on, 'simply wanted
the truth to be known about the antecedents and antics of his former
church and its founder'. And he (Jon) 'believes that people
have the right to know the truth about Scientology. That belief is
the laudable genesis of this book'.
We know that the use of the word 'antics'
arises out of malice and very unworthy desire to ridicule. LRH did
indulge in some behaviour that the suburbanites have every right to
label as 'antics' if they want to (and they love to) according
to their own standards. LRH certainly let himself in for the label;
I don't know that he cares very much. We can let it pass now. That
the truth be known is certainly a worthy desire. Yes, people do have
the right to know the truth. As the genesis of a book, I agree that
it is laudable, as it always has been and always will. Yet the tellers
of the truth tell only the truth that they perceive and are willing
to accept and to pass on: to know the message we must first know the
messenger. Is the mind of Messenger Atack clear enough, his eyes keen
enough, his heart steady enough, his soul strong enough, and his
broad enough, to bring us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth about Scientology and LRH?
To the attack
The first serious blow against the enemies, LRH and
C of S, comes in a quote given on a page by itself immediately after
the Contents. It is from an opinion that a Justice Latey handed down
in a London court in 1984. 'Scientology is both immoral and sociably
obnoxious...it is corrupt, sinister, and dangerous...because [it
is] based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and
power for Mr Hubbard, his wife, and those close to him at the top.'
We need to examine these statements briefly:
1.Justice Latey lumps together (in this quote)
the technology of Scientology, the practice of Scientology, and the
people and behaviours of the C of S in its various forms. The first
two are not the second two. Much of the second two moved farther and
farther away from the first two, from the late 60's on.
2.Nothing that Justice Latey states in this quote
was true of the entirety of the C of S (or its predecessors) through
all of its history. The organization always had to pay its bills so
there was always a focus on income, which its people had to work for
and earn. Over time that focus did become obsessive, but it was not
always so. Not until the seventies did money become the supreme
for either the organization or for LRH personally. Until he took
in the seventies to force some of the income into his own pockets
he did not receive large amounts. I was close to the top up until
1978. I was responsible until around (I think) 1972 for the
of the money he did receive: his weekly pay of $80 (if I remember
the figure aright) and his monthly VA pension checks. Ruth Minshull,
author of 'Miracles for Breakfast', sent LRH a check every quarter
for 10% of her receipts. He invariably returned these checks to Ruth
with a friendly and gentlemanly note. As for all the money that poured
into my pockets as one close to the top: I never received more than
around $12 a week in pay for years and then it increased slowly to
all of $20 a week. I once got a bonus of (I think) $500. During my
time all his principal aides received the same pay. What happened
at the top after 1978 I did not witness.
3.The general practices of the C of S were not,
in my experience, wholly corrupt, sinister, and dangerous. But there
was enough that was corrupt, sinister, and dangerous for the label
to be appropriate in part. I believe that the practices in the GO
towards their perceived enemies could be to some degree corrupt,
and dangerous. I believe that the Church's practices in pulling public
people in for services could be, during the 70's and later, corrupt,
sinister and dangerous. I believe that a culture grew up within the
Church in the 70's regarding relations with LRH and amongst each other
on the command chains that could be corrupt, sinister, and dangerous
(but no more so than in many organizations who are a lot less open
in their manipulation of their people). For many who are slow in mind
and biased in opinion, that which applies to the part might as well
apply to the whole. But again, what the C of S became by the early
80's was vastly different from what it I had seen of it in the 50's,
60's, and early 70's. The organization changed immensely. The judgment
that labels it as corrupt and so on for all time is not well-founded -
no matter that such judgment does come with a red robe, a large
white wig, an imposing presence, the full force and fury of Her
Government, and a very comfortable salary.
I accept that it might be fairly accurate to say, as Justice Latey
pronounces, that the C of S sought to 'indoctrinate and brainwash
[people] so they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the
cult'. That is, in the C of S as it had become by the 80's. It
certainly is not at all true of the majority of the people I worked
with up until the mid-seventies. It is also true of the vast majority
of almost all groups and corporate and governing entities since the
beginning of human activity on Planet Earth. Justice Latey's opinion
is a fine example of indoctrinating and brainwashing propaganda.
To point out that generalities are not true of all
components of the whole or for all time is of course to state the
obvious. I point it out only to indicate the ineptness of the thought
processes behind these criticisms by Justice Latey, Russell Miller,
and Jon Atack. I have no interest in defending the C of S (except,
as we just saw, inasmuch as criticism I care about reflects on me
personally - and the defense is not so much of the C of S or of
me as of good people I knew and still respect).
More than ineptness of thought processes - ineptness
of simple integrity: 'I have formed my opinion. I have completed
a collection of information that backs up that opinion. I have no
need to look further. No information that might make me change my
opinion can be relevant. I do not need to review whether I have
all that is pertinent. There is no slightest need to negate or
any internal and external influences that might deflect me from my
inevitable conclusion. I have fulfilled the highest intellectual
I have decided somebody I do not know is wrong and bad, and I have
proved it.' Our critics, with their own words and decisions, show
themselves thus inept in awareness and understanding. Not that they
are any more so than the vast majority of the middle class they come
from. They are loyal to the standards with which they were raised,
educated, indoctrinated, and brainwashed.
Their opinions of the C of S are the business of
the C of S, as is the business of answering or not for the C of S.
What these critics perceived of LRH and the opinions they arrived
at out of those perceptions are their business. They made it their
business to publish their opinions in the open market so that we will
be impressed with their work. My business here is to show that they
were selective in their perceptions and therefore not sound in their
opinions of LRH-that there is a lot more truth to know than these
critics were willing to see.
This we will examine further in Chapter Three.
copyright: 2000 Kenneth G. Urquhart
(1)GO.Guardians Office, replaced
later by (probably amongst other things) OSA = Office of Special
(2)con gen tal
adj. 1. present at birth; inborn. World Book Dictionary
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