I was asked a series of questions by a user on Reddit, and in the interest of anyone else who might have similar questions about Scientology, I’m posting the questions & answers here.
How did you initially get into Scientology?
I told a fuller story of what precipitated my calling myself a Scientologist here. But to summarize, my parents got into Scientology a few years before I was born, and by the time they had my sister and I were quite involved as Scientologists. We lived in mid-coast Maine at the time, which was a good ways away from our nearest Church of Scientology in Boston, so it wasn’t until I was about 11 or so that we were spending regular time in and around a local church. But I did take a course on communication when I was 9, and by the time I was 11 I had taken a number of courses at churches in Boston and New Haven, CT, and very much considered myself a Scientologist.
There was another interview I did (coincidentally with another Redditor) where I talked about how I got involved:
I’ve been looking for a religion for a long time, being an atheist, and something about Scientology just draws me in. I can’t explain it. It seems to focus on being the best you that you can be and improving confidence and social skills. Can you honestly recommend Scientology?
I think that’s a fair view of it, and yes – I’d absolutely recommend Scientology. I love being a Scientologist, personally.
There are a lot of things I like about being a Scientologist, and to your question of whether or not I’d recommend it, I think the biggest reason to recommend it is that it puts solutions firmly in your control to whatever problems, issues, or factors in your life that you feel need to be addressed.
In terms of why it is that I’d recommend being a Scientologist, I think I summarized it fairly well in this interview:
It was about 75s into the video above where I get to the pertinent part, in terms of what I personally like most about it – but I really do like the opportunity for continual improvement that being in Scientology affords.
I like to be able to pick something in life that’s troubling me or which I think could be better, to handle that, and then to go and live life some more and see what new parts of life I want to select for improvement.
If I wanted to get into Scientology, what books would you recommend? Is Dianetics enough, or is there a more fitting book?
If what you want is a rapid-but-thorough introduction to what Scientology is, what its basic principles are and how it works, I would recommend the book Scientology: Fundamentals of Thought.
Thankfully, too, most of that book has been made into a film, which you can watch for free online:
Also, as getting involved with Scientology implies that you’re studying something that you can pick up and actually use, another fabulous book to get started is The Problems of Work, which also has been made into a book-on-film.
Call me old-fashioned, but as much as I love how much understanding one can rapidly impart in a video, I do personally prefer the act of sitting in a comfy chair with a book, so that I can sort of grok it at my own pace, come to my own conclusions about it, etc. But those two books would be my favorites to start with, to get an understanding of Scientology.
If I don’t live close to an org, is the Dianetics extension course a viable option? How far can you go with just the extension course?
Extension courses are positively a viable option and are very strongly recommended. The entire philosophy of Dianetics & Scientology is contained in the basic books of the religion, so the answer to “how far” one could go with just extension courses, the answer is extremely far.
The main differentiation is that the actual practice of Scientology, when it comes to delivering auditing, in being trained in administration or or in other very practical-heavy courses of study like communication courses and the like, those courses are all done in a church under the supervision of trained courseroom supervisors.
But, as an example, I know a fair number of people here in my own state that live in Central Oregon (a good 3-hours+ from the church in Portland) and who do extension courses at home, but who plan trips on occasion to either come in for a few days at a time to work on a course, or who plan longer trips to knock out something more substantial like the Survival Rundown.
I live about 3 hours from an org. Could I visit it once a month for auditing and such and remain in good standing, or does the church require more from me?
On that, the church doesn’t “require” anything from you, specifically, and there are no “minimum requirements for participation” or a threshold of involvement that you need to maintain in order to stay in good standing. So yes, you’d just work out whatever makes sense based on your interests, your needs and your schedule.
I’ve got friends who ran a horse farm in Montana for years, and there wasn’t a Scientology center anywhere near them, unfortunately. But they’d stay in touch, and occasionally plan a holiday trip to do services, and they’d read books at home, and so forth. Would they have loved a place locally that they could spend time at? Yes, of course (and they ultimately decided to move to the Portland area to be closer to a community) but from the church’s perspective, organizations just work with folks based on their needs and what they can do and what they’d like to do.
A generic question, but what part of Scientology do you think has helped you the most, and what part of Scientology do you enjoy the most?
That’s a tough question, given that I’ve been in Scientology so long, and I think that answer changes over time.
But let me start, actually, with the second part of your question, which is what I enjoy the most about being in Scientology. To sort of sum up, my favorite things are:
- Community: I really, really like other Scientologists, especially the parents I get to hang around. They’re really real, their intentions and communication is genuine, not fake and superficial like so many interactions I see in my work life. The Scientologist friends I have are passionate about life, they’ll fight hard for the good of others, yet for the most part, they’re super-chill and easy to deal with.
- Continual Self-Improvement: As I mentioned above, I love the opportunities for continuously re-evaluating my current situation, and being able to get help with what circumstances I currently find myself in. My life certainly hasn’t been a static situation, having with my work for the church itself, work in the tech field, being a husband and a father of three, there always new things that I want to be able to do better at, ways that I want to better balance all the million things going on in life. I love that Scientology does always have a path forward for me.
But in terms of what’s helped me the most? There’s just so much to mention.
One aspect that comes immediately to mind is how much I attribute my marriage and how well my family life is going to my involvement in Scientology. I feel like there are multiple aspects in Scientology, from things like understanding of the emotional tone scale, to communication skills and being able to really come to an agreement in long-term planning as a family unit, there’s a lot to the 20-year run that my wife and I have had that I’d say has a lot to do with applying Scientology in our lives.
Hope that helps, and please do fire at will with any other questions!