Family & Scientology – How I Became a Scientologist

My dad & I in the hills of mid-coast Maiine where I grew up
My dad & I in the hills of mid-coast Maine where I grew up

I’ve been asked a few different times about how my own religious beliefs and practices will figure into my children, and whether I assume that they will be Scientologists as well.   Obviously, it’s a major item of discussion in current media,  and as such I think it’s somewhat appropriate (as a second-generation Scientologist) to note how it was that I came into Scientology.

A college anthropology student sent me a question related to a study for a class she was taking on how one’s family history & background can lead one to various religions.  I’ll start this out with answers I returned to her questions:

Question:  How does your family history relate to your quest for meaning in life? How has the history of your family led you to Scientology?

Now, I touched on this when I was answering a similar question for another student here, but I’ll try to tackle both parts of that question.

My mother & father, Scientologists at the time I was born. Maine, circa 1976
My mother & father, Scientologists at the time I was born. Maine, circa 1976

My mother and father were both Scientologists at the time I was born, both of them becoming involved with the religion about 4 years prior.   Until I was about 9 years old, we lived out on a 10-acre farm in mid-coast Maine, in a town of about 600 people.    Our nearest Scientology organization was in Boston, about 4 hours to the south, so I didn’t spend much time in the Church as I was growing up.    I knew quite well that my parents were Scientologists, though.  My parents quite liberally used Scientology Assists with my sister and I, a practice that instantly made sense to me and which I found helpful.  Other various basic tenets of Scientology found their way into conversations & questions that I’d pose, but it wasn’t until I was about 7 that I think I started to choose my own way on Scientology a bit.

See, I did have a number of friends who went to local churches on Sundays.  They’d attend their Sunday school as well.  I do remember posing questions to my parents and to my friends about why they went to church.   The only reason I could seem to get anyone to tell me was because they were meant to go to church, and that they did that because they were christian.   The reasoning seemed quite circular to me at the time (go to church because you’re christian because you have to go to church) and I wasn’t really tracking – there didn’t seem to be a purpose, and it seemed to my 9-year-old logic to be a great way to waste a Sunday when you could be out building a fort in the woods.

But I did learn that when my parents went to their Scientology church, they explained to me that it was always for a purpose.  They were always there doing a specific course of study or counseling action, one which had real-world benefit and was to help them with something that could be actually articulated (even to a 9-year-old) as a tangible benefit.   I naturally asked if I could take a course too, and enrolled onto a course communication course.  At the end of that communication course, I honestly felt I had learned something – I had figured out how to communicate better, I figured out that I could get my point across clearly, I understood why people didn’t like being interrupted, and that it was enjoyable for both parties when you’d acknowledge when you understood what they said.

And for me, at that point, it did really set the bar for all religion.  For me, my expectation was that, in going to church, one should be going so as to achieve some benefit to one’s life that one actually desires oneself, and not because of some fuzzily-understood moral/social obligation to “go to church”. 

The very next course I took in Scientology had to do with L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology.  And amongst all things, one thing that I learned is that the first barrier to learning anything is the idea that you already know all about it.  And if there’s someone who already “knows it all” it’s a spunky 9-year-old.   But that one stable datum has carried me through a lot of study and efforts to really understand life around me.

An interesting illustration of this:  I recently re-took that selfsame first course in Scientology – the Success Through Communication Course, just recently – doing the course together with my wife.  And the same exact principles that taught a 9 year old the value of actually communicating with parents & friends, was able to re-teach my wife and I how to communicate to each other and to our kids.   I wrote my thoughts on that here.

Question: What were some important milestones in your personal history that led to your choice to become a Scientologist?

Well, as I said above, I think that the key milestone for me which led me to being a Scientologist was where I took my first course – one that I completed at a small Portland, Maine outreach office of the Boston Scientology church.

The other reinforcing aspect I had to this was in watching my parents after taking Scientology services.  They would sometimes go down to the Scientology religious retreat in Clearwater, Florida for counseling services and to study.  Each time, when they came back, there would be this certain, difficult-to-describe, serenity or – really – certainty about their demeanor which indicated to me that they had resolved something personally, or had overcome something personally in their study, something difficult-to-describe which left them better and happier at the end.  It was something that I knew I wanted as well – I wanted to know that I had looked into myself, and found in myself what I wanted to change, and had done what I could to make that better.

At the time, as a kid, the one thing that was real to me was that I wanted to be fast as a student, and I wanted to be happy and motivated.  So, I approached a lot of my studies in Scientology with this in mind.

But later, the more I studied, the more I could see things in myself that were ripe for improvement.  My level of responsibility, my ability to absorb & understand new subjects, my ability to choose my friends and to know when relationships with others were dragging me down – these were all things I learned that I could do something about through Scientology and weren’t just things I needed to “understand I couldn’t change” or “learn to live with”.

But I’d say that by the time I was about 11, I was completely, and by my own very conscious decision, a Scientologist.

Scientology & My Children

My daughter peeking out of my jacket at the Scientology Volunteer Ministers tent in Washington, D.C.
My daughter peeking out of my jacket at the Scientology Volunteer Ministers tent in Washington, D.C.

What’s my view on the religious choice of my children?   I wrote a bit on this already here, with respect to their choice in the matter.  My main focus during their upbringing is to foster and protect their ability to learn, to understand their environment, and to make choices on their own.

Obviously, they’re going to be exposed to Scientology in growing up.  My wife & I regularly attend study at the church and participate quite a bit.  However, one of the key parts of our parenting philosophy is to eschew any authoritarian method of teaching.  We don’t want ideas crammed down our kids throats because we think they’re true.  We want them to be able to look at it, make sure it makes sense to them, and then either keep it or discard it.   My job as a parent is to make sure my kids grow up healthy, happy, and able to tackle life and make life decisions for the rest of their lives.


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