Stress? Wait 'Till You Get The Final Bill!
By DANIEL RUTH
Published: Oct 17, 2005
Somehow, it seemed poetically fitting that the Church [sic] of Scientology finally has been reduced to pitching its theological hooey stuck among a mall's kiosks hyping facial creams inspired by the Dead Sea, Metallica T-shirts and sunglasses.
After all, Scientology has always been sort of the tchotchke of religious [sic] cults.
How perfect. How sublime. How convenient.
Patrons of the University Square Mall now can go window-shopping while munching on a corn dog and get a phony stress test, too.
For months, Scientology acolytes have been hustling mall visitors with a carnyesque come-on to receive a "Free! Free! Free!" e-meter reading, gauging whether they are wound tighter than Kirstie Alley trying to squeeze into a size 4 wetsuit.
Ever since H.G. Wells-ultra-lite science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard cooked up Scientology, the Rosetta Stone of the cult has been its reliance on the e-meter, a sort of psychobabble confessional only without all those Hail Marys.
Passers-by at the mall -- perhaps en route to the gourmet taste treats awaiting them at the food court -- are set upon by Scientology missionaries [sic] with the offer of a gratis e-gizmo test reading to determine if their stress level is somewhere between Hitler's food taster and Joe Torre's agent discovering George Steinbrenner is on Call Waiting.
The e-meter is little more than a couple of cans hooked up to some wires, which in turn are attached to a whatchamacallit thingy [oah meter] that looks like a cable box. Come to think of it, the e-gee-gaw is probably more reliable.
Unsuspecting rubes are then asked a series of questions by the Scientology recruiters relating to their possible stress levels, such as how are things at work, at home, in one's relationship.
Here's a simple question: Unless you are dead, isn't 99.99999999 percent of the population under some form of stress at any given moment?
Indeed, if you have a teenager under your roof, you are probably already wound tighter than Jon Gruden actually meeting Chucky.
So it is probably fair to say the Scientologists could rightfully claim their Campbell's soup can stress test has a remarkable level of reliability.
Interestingly enough, the Scientologist Tom Cruise's Elmer Gantry-like rant against the so-called evils of psychiatry to the contrary, Hubbard's sect is engaged is very much the same sort of activity -- offering psychological counseling to troubled people.
Freud had his couch. Hubbard has his kiosk.
Ultimately, the objective of Scientology is to achieve a "clear" state, which, of course, involves clearing you of your cash.
For once the Scientology huckster does indeed determine you are under stress, the University Mall visitor will be encouraged to purchase L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics," which represents some 600 pages of unmitigated gibberish that makes the Unabomber's manifesto read like "How To Win Friends and Influence People."
But wait! There's more!
Put another way, in addition to the $8 for "Dianetics," the New Age Bible of balderdash, think of L. Ron Hubbard as sort of the Ron Popeil of pop piety.
The University Mall marks who take the bait after having their stress level measured by a Budweiser can can also start taking Scientology courses (therapy?) beginning at $75 and going all the way up to until you've cleared out your bank account -- all in the memory of a crazy nut who liked sailor hats and believed space aliens inhabit humans.
Yeah, you could say that would cause a smidgen of stress.