by Keith Edward Tolbert Judy Norton Taylor, former TV star of The Waltons, has recently tu

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by Keith Edward Tolbert Judy Norton Taylor, former TV star of The Waltons, has recently turned to exploiting her bygone celebrity status for promoting Dianetics, the controversial self-help book written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. According to Taylor, she is not alone as a performer who adheres to Scientology as "other artists; Christy Allie, John Travolta, Karen Black and Michael McNeal" are all scientologists. Taylor promoted Dianetics in two shows at the Universal Mall in Warren, MI, before hundreds of shoppers. The highly coordinated show included a dramatic video tape on a large screen TV touting Dianetics, followed by a session in which scripted questions were asked of Taylor. In addition, there were two literature tables filled with Dianetics advertisements. As if that were not enough, the B.Dalton book store, within easy sight of the show, featured two large displays of Dianetics in the store's front. While the show was certainly entertaining and Taylor congenial, two aspects of the show might not have been clear to the audience. First, in the video tape, Dianetics seemed to be portrayed as a new scientific discovery when a paralyzed football player is diagnosed as beyond the hope of medical doctors. However, after a friend drops off a copy of Dianetics, he is healed. [The doctors, seeing their economic future in jeopardy, behind the back of the healed football player, remark "We have to get rid of that book."] Though unspoken, the visual grammar of the video speaks loudly that Dianetics works like, if not better than, medical science. However, in reality, the film never makes any spoken claim that practicing Dianetics is able to heal anyone of anything. Instead, the carefully scripted film has the healed football player rejoicing "I read the book and Im healed." He does not say "I read the book causing me to be healed" or "Im healed because I read the book." In fact, a disclaimer embedded in the credits at the end of the video dissociated Dianetics from any claim to heal. This is consistent with the history of Scientology. Originally, L. Ron Hubbard attempted to establish Scientology as a mental science, but was drummed out of the scientific community. Later, he repackaged Scientology and began marketing it as a religion. Taylor concurs on this point when she said "It (Scientology) classifies itself as a religious philosophy. Its a religion in the oldest sense of the word ... the overall aspect is dealing with man as a spiritual being as opposed to just a body. ... We are going in and treating the persons mind and their spiritual side. Its considered a religion from that aspect.... We are trying to raise the spiritual awareness of the person and make them freer as a spiritual being." Of course Scientologists have every right to advertise their religion, but during this show, to me, it seemed to be portrayed once again more as a science than as a religion. Secondly, to the typical shopper at the mall, the connection between Dianetics and the Church of Scientology was not apparent. "Scientology" was never mentioned once in the film, from the platform or in the advertisements. This may have been accidental, but in the face of all the recent negative press regarding the Church of Scientology, I doubt it. (For instance, several Scientology leaders were recently arrested in Spain.) The connection between Scientology and Dianetics is certainly underscored as the film touting Dianetics is copyrighted by the Church of Scientology and all of the addresses in the Dianetics literature were of Scientology churches - not to mention that Dianetics was authored by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Likewise, Judy Norton Taylor, her scripted questioner and all the table-workers were Scientologists. In fact, Taylor has achieved the level of "clear" inside Scientology. During my interview, Taylor nicely summed up the relation between Dianetics and the Church of Scientology when she said "Dianetics is a separate subject within Scientology" and that "it (Dianetics) is certainly a good introduction to the subject (of getting clear)." The Church of Scientology believes that man is a spirit ("Thetan" - usually residing in the skull) linked to a Body which he controls through his Mind. Although this "Spirit/Mind/Body" model bears some resemblance to a Biblical model, it is in fact quite different. Each Thetan (Spirit), according to Scientology, has existed for approximately 75 trillion years. Through our supposed thousands of reincarnations during the past 75 trillion years we have had an untold number of bad experience which have left their impact on our brains ("Engrams"). Scientology seeks to remove our alleged "Engrams" and thus make us all "clear." When I asked Taylor about the charges some make that Scientology is a cult, she replied "I certainly wouldnt consider it (Scientology) a cult. My feeling is that its a very workable technology." [A Biblical critique of Scientology appeared in the April, 1987 issue of the ARC UPDATE or can be order through the enclosed ARC Resource Catalogue.]

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