Saturday, December 10, 2005

Trips in the Field

Growing up in Southern California, I can’t help but be subjected to its freeway system. Most people who live in and around L.A. can’t avoid the 101. Sadly, I fall into this category as well, which sets me up nicely for my first “religious fieldtrip.” There have been many occasions when I’ve driven past the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International and thought to myself, “Hmmm. That’s very odd to me that a church would draw such a discriminating line between its patrons, let alone advertise it in neon lights on the side of a major freeway. I wonder if Tom Cruise is in there right now!” I met a woman in Australia while serving my mission who had made it to L.A., to this very building and as she was studying, Tom Cruise walked in! And now, Katie would be a possibilty too. I called up my friend Dave on a Friday and we drove to the Church of Scientology Los Angeles Center (unintentionally.) This building is off L. Ron Hubbard Way, a short fancily bricked street lines one side of this huge powder blue edifice. Interesting color choice if you ask me. I note that a big celebration will be taking place that weekend. They had a red carpet rolled out, minions of rented palm trees, and a white tented dinning area. (IAS anniversary.) We entered the building.

We walked straight into a book store filled with all sorts of Hubbard paraphernalia, Dianetics being the most abundant item for sale. Three girls were behind the counter, looking very professional. I believe we had to approach them for directions to more information, which struck me as odd because most times as a visitor to a new church, members go out of their way to welcome a newcomer.

We asked if they gave tours of the building. They quickly ushered us down several long hallways, all of which were similar in interior style to that of Disney’s Toontown. (A lot of bright yellows, blues, and reds, funky cartoonish furniture- it all added to the experiences of the place.)

The first thing we did was take a test, the Oxford Capacity Analysis Test. But before we could be tested we had to fill out a little personal information card. Before entering the building Dave has warned me, “Whatever you do, DON’T give them anything, no real name, address, nothing! If you do, they never leave you alone. I ended up using my real first name, but all else was incognito. Dave’s alias was Sam, Sam from San Francisco.

We were then escorted to a miniature classroom complete with chair-desks and all. “You have come to the right place…you are pre-clear, you can become clear.” The quiz we were administered had 200 questions on it! I repeat 200 questions! Here I was expecting 25, maybe 30 questions…needless to say this we poured over those questions for quite a while. Several of the questions are as follows: 39. Do you have only a few people of whom you are really fond of? 41. Do you circulate around at a social gathering? If you were invading another country, (because this kind of opportunity presents itself often to me) would you feel sympathetic towards conscientious objectors in this country? Would you use corporal punishment on a child age ten if it refused to obey you?” 124. Do you often make tactless blunders? 127. Can you get quite enthusiastic over some simple little thing? 132. Do some noises set your teeth on edge? (Yes, all three of them.) Do you go to bed when you want to or by the clock? (Interesting question, what kind of application could this have upon daily life?) 146. Do you have a tendency to tidy up the disorder of someone else’s household? (My favorite) 173. Do you cope with everyday problems of living quite well? (Ambiguous.)

Next we watched a movie. The opening music was SO scary! It was Halloween 5 meets the L.A. Philharmonic. The Orientation to Scientology…avail yourself of it. “And incidentally, he was the very first to publicly disclose what has since become known as the infamous Mind Control Program inspiring 100’s of exposés and congressional hearings, a very bold move. And the government never forgave him. They spent decades and millions to hound and harass him and prevent his work from spreading. Anyone else would gone under in such a vicious internal campaign…that’s one of the reasons people love him.” At the very end of the video viewers are given an ultimatum, “It’s your future. You can have it, or you can deprive yourself of it. The choice is yours. When you walk out these doors, you can choose Scientology OR, you can choose to shoot your brains out, or jump off a bridge.” I kid you not! These were the concluding words of the video’s orator! And he spoke them in a stern, almost angry tone.

The light’s and screen went dark, and Dave and I are just sitting there in shock. “Dave, are you feeling good right now?” “Ah, no.” “Me neither.” Nervous laughter ensued. We let ourselves out of the theater and found Shanab who would review our test results with us. (I forgot to call Dave by his code name. The whole time we were sitting with Shanab, our certified Thetan, I kept calling Dave by his real name when his test had Sam printed at the top. In retrospect it was quite funny.)

Shanab took our test results very seriously. He asked if we wanted to go over them one on one because they are very personal. Dave and I stuck together. I was told that I have huge issues with myself, the way I treat life and others. At the end of our session Shanab asked if we’d like to proceed with further courses. Although I obviously needed a lot of help according to Shanab, I declined, which was followed by, “I’m not surprised. You gave us fake names and addresses….” I also had a tape recorder with me, capturing mental notes etc. which led to questioning. Almost in a law-enforcement style Shanab asked, “Are you a reporter? What paper do you work for?!” I told him I was there for a school project, which was quickly followed by additional questioning. What an experience! Dave and I made it out alive, and managed to nip inside the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International on our way to the Spaghetti Factory. I found out the Celebrity Center is not just for celebrities, but for all the artistically inclined members. A band was rehearsing in the covered patio/mini concert hall, a murder mystery dinner was about to unfold, there were masking tape body outlines plastered throughout the courtyards. It looked like it was going to be a fun evening. Still I find it interesting that no one really made an effort to help us feel welcome at either location.

The Crystal Cathedral, on the other hand, was a completely different experience altogether. This is another place I’ve heard a lot about and have wanted to visit. My first visit resulted in a time and service mix up. I gotten there an hour early (thinking I was on time) for a service I though would be held in the Cathedral, but it was being held in a different chapel. The Glory of Christmas was going on in the Cathedral. The music permeating the grounds. I walked up to the 80 foot Christmas tree in the center of the courtyard. Approaching it’s boughs intertwined with 100’s of 1000’s of lights all swaying softly in the breeze made me feel like a hippie on a acid trip. It was very intoxicating and almost dizzying. The tree looked like it would overtake me at any moment and then the trance was broken by a clippidy clip clop of animal’s hoofs. I turned to my left and there passing by were two wise men leading their camels, and trailing behind them, a single Roman soldier. This was a very spiritual moment for me. Time stopped, just for a second before swirling backwards to birth of the Common Era, or as I still like to call it anno Domini. The story of Christ’s birth and crucifixion came to life right before my eyes. I tried to stay with that moment as long as possible. That alone could have sealed my experience as being a positive one. However, I went back on the following Friday for the tour of the C.C. Once again I was with Dave.

When I told a friend in Australia last week that I was going to visit the C.C. he started going on about The Hour of Power. I had no idea how big this ministry is. A pamphlet I picked up at their “Welcoming Center” told me all about it. Dr. Robert H. Schuller, the worlds first walk-in/drive-in church, the abundance of books he wrote, which is, I found out, how he makes his living.

Dave and I walked into the C.C, first. The Glory set was standing there in all it’s glory (pun intended.) An usher greeted us, and corrected Dave when he told me this was a nondenominational church. It’s really Dutch Reformed, with teachings close to that of the Methodists. Our tour guide took us through all the major church structures. We passed by The Tower of Hope, the 10 story cross perched on top…The light “never goes out on the 8th floor…An eye that never shuts. An ear that never closes. A heart that never grows cold.” Our guide told us that 100’s of lives are saved each year through their 24 hour telephone crisis and suicide prevention hot-line. This was impressive to me.

The Tower is surrounded by water and almost as if it were floating, a bronze sculpture of Christ walking on water comes into view. The work is entitled, “Peace Be Still.” Which leads me to the thought of aspect touched me the most during this visit. The gardens and art work were amazing! One of their pamphlets boasts of the grounds bringing the Bible to life and I didn’t read this caption until after the experience I had on Sunday night, and after my visit on Friday.

I especially loved “Coming Home: The Prodigal Son.” Being an artist myself, my eye caught all the intricate detail of this piece. How the metals were treated with different chemicals to produce a slight color variation, and all the time it must have taken to etch every stitch of bronze cloth, the tears that ran down the faces of the father and his son. This is a favorite scriptural account of many, and I find it to be one of my favorites too.

The two last experiences I’d like to close with are the chapel at the base of the Bell Tower and the Ladies restroom next to the Prodigal Son. Before I write about them I want to comment on how inclusive this campus is. They have an art gallery, café, a cemetery, several different chapels tucked away in obscure places; it felt like a surprise around every corner, like this place kept on going, and going….

We get to the Bell Tower, which I actually thought, in my ignorance, was the C.C. when I’d see this structure from the freeway. We entered the small circular chapel which presented a ring of marble columns, lining that ring, benches to sit on, and in the center a prayer altar with a rotating acrylic sculpture of Christ. The sculpture looked like crystal encasing a 3-D laser cut image of Christ. The only appendage extending from the acrylic cube was his forearm and hand, symbolizing that although Christ was surrounded by the things of this world, He was reaching for something higher.

Instinctively I had knelt at the altar. I was starring at the rotating cube. Our guide’s words faded to a hum in the background. It was just me and the Lord, which is another interesting thought. People who I meet in life who have the ability to make me feel like I’m the only one in the room possess a gift. Not just because they make me feel special, but because usually they treat every person they come in contact with the same focused respect and attention. I drew a parallel between the way I was feeling that moment in the chapel and the way Christ must have made everyone feel in His presence while on the earth.

The ladies were strongly encouraged to check out the women’s bathroom on the way out. I ran towards it not knowing what to expect. What could possibly be so great about a church restroom? What waited on the other side was an extraordinary maze of black porcelain and gold. I can’t officially tell you what the building materials used were, but this bathroom belonged in the Ritz Carlton! Christian R&B was bumpin out the speakers, dark colored carefully carved wood made the arched doorways and the stalls and the frames of the multiple vanity mirrors. This bathroom had lobbies at either entrance! I made Dave come in and peek. I passed a small plaque which said the anonymous financial contributor of this facility wanted the women of this church to know that just like this bathroom; they were beautiful, elegant, and enduring.

As stated in the beginning of this account, I consider these experiences to be two of the most memorable school related ventures of my entire college career. I won’t forget either of them.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

God Is a DJ

This was a practice in editing:

Eye of a Tiger? No. A Needle.

The "eye of a needle" refers to a small gate
within the larger gate at the entrance to a city
(in this case Jerusalem.) It was common to build an
ordinary door in the huge gate so that common folks
could come and go without leaving the large
city gate wide open. Here's the catch:
For a camel to enter, he would have to be stripped
of the cumbersone load on his back, kneel down
and crawl through the door. Jesus compared a rich
young ruler's many possessions to the camel's
burgeoning bundle because the man was giving
to his treasure more importance than service to God.
Money had become the object of his trust.

Some attempt to disprove this passage of scripture
by arguing there never was such a gate, even though
I've seen a picture of one online...I don't know
what city it belonged to...some say if you
change one letter of one word, the translation
veers from camel to rope- and that the needle is
in fact a sewing needle...therefore a
rope trying to fit through the eye of a sewing
needle- quite a feat any way you look at it.

It all boils down to the fact it was an analogy,
the point being that having lots of material
possessions can make it easier to lose an
eternal perspective on life.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Me Autobio Matey!


My directional choice for this autobiography was effortless; Religion all the way. How has religion influenced my life?
My answer to that question is a resounding, “every move I make, every breathe I take.” (Thanks Sting.)

As you know, I am Mormon. I got my early start in Utah. I say early because I was super-preemie! Dun da da dah!!! Dawn was born 3 months early because she didn’t know what to do with her bad self in the “pre-existence.” Upon arrival on the hospital table, the nurses and doctors quickly rushed me away from my parents to wire me up like a Russian spy. I’d clocked in at 2 lbs. and began dropping in bodyweight. At this point every tenth of an ounce was crucial, and when I hit 1 lb 10 ounces the staff began to tell my parents it was fruitless to make any homecoming plans in my behalf (besides the very possible eternal one.)

My dad being a convert to the church at age 19, is like a spiritual rock, and loves telling the story that follows. I was about a week old. My condition was not improving. My dad scooped my doll-sized body into one hand, anointed the crown of my head with “consecrated oil” with the other, and proceeded to give me the “priesthood blessing” that saved my life. The days that followed this blessing were filled with positive change in my condition, and as you can guess I survived. I became known as the “miracle baby.” I owe my beginnings to God.

Three months later I was given a name and a blessing during my first weeks at church. I’m sure my father, who gave the blessing, asked for faithfulness and strength to serve me well throughout my life and keep me close to the faith. I grew up singing primary songs about Jesus, learning about his life and how I could emulate Him.

At age 8 I was baptized. It was a day my primary teachers and parents had prepared me for several years in advance. This day was huge for me (mainly because at that age it meant having an after party with friends and family.) My father baptized me. One of his most prized possessions to this day is a frame sheltering 4 pictures, one of each of his children and he dressed in white on our baptism days. I remember after my baptism, my long hair, still wet and sticking to the back of my dress. My dad, bishop and a few other men from my “ward” surrounded me as I sat in front of the group of attendee’s, placed their right hands gently on my head resting their left hands on the shoulder of the brother to his left and my father offered up a conformational-prayer inviting the Holy Ghost to be a constant guide and companion throughout my life. I do remember in that moment, forgetting briefly the visions of cake and presents that were incessantly prancing through my head, and instead of anticipation, a feeling of warmth filled my little soul. I felt good about the decision I had made to be baptized.
In addition to this, family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evenings are a staple of life in my household. Ever since I can remember, these activities have been woven into my home-life becoming as commonplace as brushing my teeth and sleep. My mom taught me how to read using the scriptures. To this day, we have scripture study bright and early every morning at 7am. The only exception to this rule was during high school, when for 4 years I attended early-morning seminary at my local church building, studying from the “standard works” (New Testament, Old Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants) one each year.
Throughout my life my mom would occasionally tell me she had a strong impression I would serve a mission. (For girls this opportunity comes at age 21.) I had had my religion spoon fed to me my whole life without truly searching it out and asking important questions such as, “Do I really believe the same stuff my parents do?” At some point I began to feel a bit rebellious.

I went through a period of time between the ages of 17 to 20 where I stopped caring about church. Even though I continued to go on Sundays my heart wasn’t in it. I got into clubbing with some friends from work, picked up a couple bad habits, thank goodness illegal drugs wasn’t one of them. I remember being at a party and most of the people there were doing tabs. An acquaintance of mine said she’d split one with me and I am SO glad I didn’t do it. If I hadn’t had a sense of eternity instilled in me at birth I might be tripping on a flashback right now.

When I hit 20 I had a huge revelation. Simply put: I was not happy. I had let myself slip into spiritual bareness. I was distant towards my family and had a lot of anger inside. It was time for reform.

One morning I was having trouble sleeping. I took my blanket and pillow with me to the living room and sat down by the floor heater. It was particularly quiet that morning. I watched the wind rustled the leaves outside creating a kaleidoscope of shadows against our wall through the lace curtains. My head was clear and that’s when I was given a very clear message. It was like written text sailing past me as if secured to the back of an invisible jet plane. The words read, “You are going on a mission.” No! I exclaimed inwardly. That would make my parents way happier than I’m comfortable with. But the message was loud and clear. I knew that morning my mom’s wish was going to come true and she would be the last to know.
I began to make changes in my lifestyle. I started putting my heart into church, reading my scriptures, praying, weeding out my CD collection (kissed Sublime goodbye.L) I went to talk to my bishop and told him about my decision to go on a mission. There’s a lot of paperwork that needs filling before a person can receive a mission call from whoever the current prophet is at the time. I had to get a physical, have my wisdom teeth pulled, fill out a bunch of paperwork, etc. After all this was done I sent the completed packet off to Salt Lake. Weeks later a great white envelope arrived at my door. It was my mission call. I was called to serve in the Adelaide Australia Mission.

Before a person leaves for the mission field they go to the temple and receive what is called an “Endowment” or gift of knowledge pertaining to the journey back to God. In the temple we make several promises to live our lives according to the gospel guidelines- really it’s just an extension of the promises we make when we’re baptized, to follow Christ, and an extension of how we’re already supposed to be living our lives before we enter the temple.

I left on my mission in June of 1999, with a return date of December 2000, which was extended to January 2001 upon approval of my request. What transpired between those two dates altered my life completely. My mission was a humbling experience, cubed. I felt like an insect that had been freshly stepped on and somehow had managed to survive the incredible impact.

Coming home presented me with another huge struggle. I had forgotten how to be a civilian. I had completely lost myself. I was eating, breathing, and sleeping missionary work, and now that I wasn’t a missionary anymore I had a problem figuring out how to Be. I guess it could be comparable to Empty Nest Syndrome. One becomes so consumed by a certain way of life and when that way stops, restructuring needs to take place. Since, I have become obsessed with reaching balance in my life.

This brings us to my current state.

I have a rich foundation lain by faithful parents. I have come to many conclusions in the first quarter of my life. As I see it, life presents us with two choices. We can choose to gratify ourself and/or help those outside ourselves find happiness and satisfaction, thereby increasing our own satisfaction. I believe God would have us become selfless. The gospel teachings point towards selflessness. The words I speak the actions I take, the way I dress, everything I do… Not a day goes by that I am not strongly influenced by my convictions.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In reply to: OD'd on LSD...

Although some of that site's contents are
doctrinally correct, much of it's information
has been taken out of context, and like my
comment now, is extremely subjective.
I would recommend talking to several different
people who are actually living the LDS religion or
any religion for that matter, to get a firsthand
idea of what the religion is about-
ask them why they practice it.

Jesus is My Pool Man?

Possible for our human eyes to mistake
the pool man for Jesus? It's possible.

Just for clarification's sake;) about
remember/recognizing the face of the Lord...
upon further pondering I realize my statement
was out of context being that I was referring to
post-mortal life...and you were referring to
the earthly realm...but let's take your angle
a little further-

I'm sure you've met people who've given off
incredible spritual vibes, yes? I just met a
couple last week at Trader Joes shopping with
their two sons, and they were practically glowing
in my opinion. This vibe was so prominant to me
that I commented to them about it- I don't set out
each morning in search of these kind of experiences.
So, I'm gonna rule out the possibility of me willing
myself to envision heavenly vibes(so to speak.)

So if a fellow Trader Joes shopper can have that
air about them, then how much stronger would
that feeling be in the midst of a perfected being?
I don't know but I imagine it has to be something
close to what the two traverlers felt on the road
to Emmaus after havign walked with Christ-
although they like Mary Magdala did not recognize
Him initially, they caught on towards the end-
when "their eyes were opened...Did not our hearts
burn within us while He talked..."

How long could we be in the presence of the Lord
and not know it? Mary Mary was too incredibly
caught up in depression thereby her eyes were
not yet opened...

I guess the critical factor lies in whether or not
we are preparing for that moment...are we excersing
faith in Him etc. etc.? and now I digress.

ps- I understand that the statements and questions
you raise in class are from an objective standpoint-
but what exactly is your subjective stance?

Monday, October 31, 2005

But I've never even met you people before!

Lane made the statement in class one week
that went a little something like this:

"When you see Jesus at the end of the tunnel,
are you gonna ask Him for I.D.? Is this an
imposter Jesus? You've never met the guy before!"

When we stand before the Lord we will
be most suprised at just how familiar His
face is to us. We lived with Him once before
as spiritual beings before coming to this
earthy sphere.

It will be a reunion rather than a carding.

Ring Around the Rosary

Ask yourself:
Why am I doing this?
Why do I do any number of
things that make up my life?
Follow ideas to their roots,
study it out, ponder, pray-
Answers are all around us.
I truly believe we are the
answers to each others

Door knocking Starbucks

Proselyting, by way of meme theory, is like sneezing.
Simply a hearty idea's way of replicating it's viral self
and taking over the world- That sucks the heart right out
of the reason people should be sharing spiritual convictions.

What about all the powerful experiences that surround
thriving testimonies? That create the energy to even want
to bring up such a touchy subject as religion with others?
What about those who are motivated by a love of diety and of
other people, rather than by fear of hellfire?

How does love/selflessness fit into meme theory?

Paradise Now- a film, an education.

Published Friday Oct. 28, 2005
in the Press-Telegram U section.

I read a review for this film and
really want to see it now (that's
if my guts can take it...)

" someone living in a place
where video stores rent video
tapes of suicide bombers final speeches-
reason has long been replaced by
blinding hatred. Paradise Now is
a revealing, harrowing look at that

Playing @ Laemmle's Sunset 5 in West Hollywood
and Landmarks NuWilshire in Santa Monica.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Copy and paste this URL into your browser to find a copy
of the statement released in 1995 by the Prophet and Twelve
Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,
(the official standing of the church as a whole). It gives a concrete
definition of what a family is and what it means and requires to
be a positive part of that sacred unit.

Here's the addy:,4945,161-1-11-1,00.html

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lola Becomes Her

From: neuralsurfer Date: Wed Oct 19, 2005 3:46 pm Subject: Re:

My Film- Lola Becomes Her


"createdtwice" wrote:
copy the link below into your browser and turn the volume way up:)

very nicely done.

Lub and Merwidge...

It's what brings us together today- a response to recent posts… I believe marriage has the power to make the world a much more desirable place to live, IF, the two people within that bond will each put forth the needed effort to make their relationship a success- this includes learningsome self-control (re. wandering eyes and wavering intensions.)My parents have been married for 27 years. They still go on datesevery Friday night and they still enjoy each other's companyimmensely. I feel spoiled to have their example to follow. Myfriends always tell me how lucky I am to have the family I do-I thank my parents for making the right choice in marriage by choosingeach other- They didn't act on impulses or find themselves forced intomarriage by extenuating circumstances. They took their time to fallin love, and then promised to stay true to each other. This is not anunobtainable result, on the contrary, I fully believe it's somethingeach of us can have.I believe solid family relationships are something every person longsfor-to truly be loved for who we are and to truly give that love back,romantic and paternal.We talked about it in class last night- all the songs on the radio areabout love in one way or another because WE ALL WANT, and quitepossibly, NEED TO BE LOVED!Marriage is sacred. I believe it is a vital ceremony and union thatis being ferociously attacked and manipulated into representingsomething far from its' original sanction and intent.I say it again: Yes, yes, marriage is a good thing, a necessary thing...

Friday, September 23, 2005

One of my favorite quotes by Mr. Wilson...

"...destiny is in our hands and denial of the dream
leads back to barbarism."

A light at the end of the Tortilla...

I have 2 comments I'd like to make
relating to NDE's and the sociology
theory from last week's lecture.
"It's our faith, our own neurology
that attaches the meaning/object
we see at the end of the tunnel, be
it a tortilla, Kelly Slater, a bike...etc."

What about people who see something other than what they expected?

A few years ago I had an in depth conversation
with someone who'd died and come back. He'd been
steeped in a particular faith since
childhood, and what he saw after his spirit left
his body wasn't even close to what he'd believed he
would see. This became the reason he
left his formative faith- his NDE had left him bitter.
So there mustbe a better explanation
of why people see what they do- because if the
sociology theory were correct,
wouldn't it be applicable to all cases?

Could it be that the human brain
goes through a series of shut-downs
as we, on the brink of death,
start to slip from this mortal
existence? Maybe the tortilla
at the end of the tunnel is just the
first step- a mental picture.
And those who report a spiritual
leaving of the body are taking the next step
in that process, leaving
the true end result of what happens after death
yet to be fully realized by those of us
who are still here.

Friday, September 02, 2005


there are no limits
to this papered creation
an ancient art
willing mutation