Hugh Urban: History of a New Religion

Discussion in 'Media' started by adhocrat, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. adhocrat Member

    ...just arrived on my doorstep. The postman always rings twice so I knew what it was before I opened the door.
    How's that for OT powerz?

    more later...
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  2. AnonLover Member

    (runs to chk mailbox....)
  3. Ann O'Nymous Member

    So interesting.
  4. Anonymous Member

  5. moarxenu Member

    I just got my copy from Amazon about an hour ago. The book is superb and essential.

    I first read the conclusion and then the major section on Anonymous. In the conclusion there is a sophisticated and multi-dimensional handling of the issue of whether Scientology is a religion, a cult, a business etc.

    And he really understands what Anonymous and Project Chanology are about. I am going to stay up however late tonight is needed to devour the book in its entirety.

    +10 internetz to you, Prof. Urban!!!
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  6. Thank you for the review, Moar! I have been curious about this book for many months. Your endorsement inspires my purchase! Wondering if you think it might make waves on the internet as large as the waves made by Janet Reitman's book. I certainly hope so, but I realize that Urban's work is within the academic circle and may not have as large an impact as Janet's book.
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  7. adhocrat Member

    He states right off that this book is about religion, using CoS as the best example of testing the limits of what religion means. He says he will be looking at the history of scientology to give an understanding of religion in the past 60 years, along with the social, economic and politics consequences.

    His language is a good bit denser than Reitman's.
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  8. Yeah, I expect it to fall inside the academic camp with little or no overlap into the "popular" literature camp. Maybe not. If memory serves, Tony Ortega posted an interview with Hugh Urban, but I could be mistaken and it was an article on forthcoming books about $cientology - Janet's and Hugh's.
  9. Sponge Member

    This was the village voice article:

    There were some generous excerpts on google books but, unless I'm doing something wrong, I don't seem to be able to see them anymore.
  10. moarxenu Member

    How big a splash I think largely depends on Anonymous. Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology was published by a major publishing house, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. HMH rolled it out with a HMH publicist, Taryn Roeder, and the HMH marketing department.

    Hugh Urban's book is published by a university press, Princeton University Press. Typically, they do not have the manpower to do the agressive marketing of a major publishing house.

    This is where Anonymous can make a great difference. All we need to do is simply email everyone who has reviewed Janet's book and interviewed her and ask them to review the book. Both books are essential and indispensable to understanding Scientology.

    Another contribution we can make uniquely is that of being activists in the largest opposition the cult has faced in its 60-year history.

    At the conclusion of his astute review in the Wall Street Journal, Graeme Wood writes:

    A key question does go unaddressed: If Scientology is getting away with a multitude of sins, what should be done about it? Legal challenges don't seem worth the trouble. From the perspective of "Inside Scientology," it looks as if the system has been gamed, fairly or not.

    He is the only journalist to have posed this question. Anons have important perspectives on answering it.
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  11. Random guy Member

    I need to get this one.
  12. AnonLover Member

    yes! its been a LONG time coming.
  13. Anonymous Member

    I dare Herro to read Hugh Urban's book.
  14. Such a good idea it needed to be said again.
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  15. moarxenu Member

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  16. Trotter Moderator

    This would probably a good thread to collect reviews and discussion of the book. What do you guys think?
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  17. Anonymous Member

    Kindle of the book from amazon out on the 21st of Aug, it appears.
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  18. moarxenu Member

    That pretty much appears to be the pattern set by precedent with Janet Reitman's book with a few threads that were dedicated to specific reviews, so yes.
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  19. Random guy Member

    Urban is an academic with a nice little list of serious books on mysticism and religion behind him. The book thus has serious weight as an academic work. We need to read it, find the golden nuggets and cite it as a source. A lot. I think that is how to create the kind of publicity this book needs.
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  20. AnonLover Member

    Indeed. and altho Janet's book holds a great deal of appeal for informing the unwashed masses on WHY they should avoid Scientology like the plague that it is, Urban's work gives up the ammo to level up our game to a more strategically beneficial audience - the well educated institutional/political namefags that no longer need to fear scilon's power now that we've defanged the monster somewhat.

    Also - say what you will about the negative aspects of "religion" ... its the religious average-joe folk who have the interest level to go beyond basic public awareness info, truly study & learn what Scientology really is, and then preach all bloody hell fire & brimstone against it. in ways we cant aquedately do ourselves. And Prof Urban's reputation, credentials, and bigger body of works will feed those folks a whole helluva lot of ammo never before available.
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  21. Orson Member

    Have not read Urban's work yet, but hoping it can be provide an excellent companion to Reitman's. The academic approach, while dense at times as noted, is a much-needed next step forward to the goal.

    We definitely need to level up. Not to derail, may start a thread on this, but we need some new tactics and new op's with long-term goals in mind. (Not that we haven't, standard disclaimer, don't over react to what I said, not discounting any and all efforts already made.)
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  22. DeathHamster Member

    It'll be interesting to see how this book is received by the academic apologist circle-jerk that has previously produced badly-researched fluff or uncredited reprints of CoS material.
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  23. AnonLover Member

    oh i've been rubbing my grubby lil paws and keeping mouth shut on that front.... /SALUTE Dr. Kent's Sword deftly swiping a broad & ohhhh so timely whack in the apologist jungle brush well in advance of Hugh's PRINCETON FKING PRESS YO!!1! book... EN.pdf

    Between the APA Conference session on Scientology in Hawaii and the above...

    Gentlemen, the academix... have risen to the occaision. /bows
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  24. Anonymous Member

  25. Shuffle their feet, move the goalposts and ignore it I expect.
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  26. moarxenu Member

    I am not so sure that will be the case. It may well be that Urban's book marks the beginning of a rift between the older-generation Old Guard cult apologists and a younger generation of sociologists of New Religious Movements.

    He breaks methodological taboos. He quotes freely from the confidential OT level documents and has accepted the credibility of defectors from the Church of Scientology in their accounts of violence and abuse.

    He is also the first sociologist to acknowledge the importance of the Anonymous anti-Scientology movement and to cite members of Anonymous, two of whom, Chef Xenu and Xenubarb, are given special acknowledgment.

    Since the rise of Anonymous there are so many accounts from defectors not even cult apologists can ignore them, including James R. Lewis, the doyen of cult apologists. He edited the collection of cult essays by 27 cult apoligists which appeared exactly one year after the first global raid on March 10, 2008.

    Lewis has been forced to defend himself and earlier this year published a sort of "I was against Scientology before I was for it" defense in his An Open Letter to: Scientologists, Ex-Scientologists, and Critics of the Church of Scientology.

    The media used to have the cult apologists on their experts' contact lists and would interview them as they banged on about how the cult would be completely socially acceptable in twenty years. No one calls them anymore. But they will call Hugh Urban and eventually a younger generation of scholars who saw the cult dissed on South Park.

    Cult apologists felt it their duty to reinforce the legitimacy of the cult as a religion and to defend the poor beleagured cultists against a cruel and uncaring world.

    Urban has changed the paradigm, and here he is quite brilliant because he raises fundamental questions that have never been so prominently posed and which in my view are more threatening to the cult of hate than whether it is a religion or a cult.

    What Urban lays out is the answer to that question depends on who is asking it, to what purpose, and which of fifty definitions are going to be used. He thinks that is the wrong question to ask and puts the answer back on the reader as he does on his students and then writes:

    Indeed I think the more profound questions here are (a) Who gets to define religion? and (b) Just what is at stake in calling something "religion?" ...

    However, perhaps an even more interesting question is who gets to evaluate and pass judgment on one's claims to religious status? Is it academics, that is professors and students at universities? The media? Government agencies such as the IRS, FDA, and State Department? The courts, lawyers, and judges? Ordinary believers? Bloggers and chat room users on the Internet? Or - as I think I have shown in the pages of this book -- is it really all of the above in complex, tangled, and interdendent ways?

    But the final and most important question in all of this is really just what is at stake? What are the potential bnefits and risks in making such a religious status, and how have these benefits and risks varied during different periods of American religious history?

    These questions are far more threatening to the evil cult. David Miscavige can no longer count on simply imposing the cult apologist rationalizations on society. Sociologists of NRMs are doomed to social irrelevance if they do not take in consideration the violence, abuse, and deceit that are being relentlessly exposed.

    IMHO Anonymous also needs to ask the question about what is at stake, not for the cult, but for the opinion makers in society we are trying to get into active opposition to the cult - the media, the churches, the mental health and social welfare professions, human rights organizations, and government officials and political leaders.

    Each of these has its own answer to the question of the cult's religious status. For Catholics the cult's claims to religious status are laughable on their face. For mental health professionals and social workers the question is almost totally irrelevant - an anti-psychiatry hate group is an anti-psychiatry hate group whether it is religious or secular.

    Thanks to Anon and in the wake of Janet Reitman's book the question that is increasingly being asked is "What is to be done about the Church of Scientology?"

    The cult's claim to religious legitimacy is a two-edged sword. It immunizes and legitimizes the Church of Scientology but puts at risk the legitimacy of the front groups. Miscavige is terrified that Narconon is going to be exposed as 100% Scientology.

    The David Love juggernaut is ruthlessly putting ethics in on Narconon, Urban has now blown the discussion wide open on the fundamental questions that are highly relevant to the decisions to be made by authorities, law enforcement, and the courts about "What is to be done about Narconon?"

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  27. Anon PTS Member

    Very well said, moarxenu. Excellent analysis.
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  28. AnonLover Member

    Great post, but i think u grossly oversimplify with ^^This.

    The coerced abortion issue makes the cult a blatant front for what is seen as one of the biggest ills in the world. And prior to the abuse scandals flaring up again in recent years, anti-abortion was one of Pope Beney's biggest platforms. Which is why the Catholics wont let it go once their jaw is set against the cult... and this why we can always count on pulling Randy Sly's attention back to the front lines when the right story comes along.

    Here's hoping Randy's review of Hugh's book is coming forthwith (cuz man i cant wait!!!)
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  29. This bit is good. The whole "religion / cult" debate is kind of meaningless. Tax-exempt status means that an organization is being publicly funded and the public are entitled to demand that organizations with this status are serving the public good. This includes an entitlement to demand externally-audited accounts, real oversight of spending, non-excessive compensation and a meaningful percentage of income spend on good works.

    If the Church of Scientology were held to that standard it would either die or reform. It would be impossible for them to operate as they do if someone had the authority to demand an answer as to why they were spending so much on "legal fees" for such a minimal amount of legal work.
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  30. moarxenu Member

    I exaggerated for effect on the Catholics. There is a serious Catholic critique that illustrates Urban's points. Bishops have the pastoral duty to teach Catholics about the dangers of Scientology and their starting point is not the sociology of NRMs, but the theology and ethical teaching found in the official catechisms of the Catholic Church. The only religious leaders that have spoken up have been cardinals and archbishops of the Catholic Church, unfortunately none of them from the US, UK, or Australia.

    All Christians with the exception of some mainline liberal Protestant churches are keenly aware of destructive power of the occult and demonic. That is an important dimension of the religious critique. Urban has a particular interest in the occult and simply brilliant in handling the occult roots of Scientology. His conclusion is that occult elements in the cult cannot be denied, particularly since Hubbard was so proud of them.

    "What is to be done about the Church of Scientology?" is an important issue for Catholics because Scientology has now killed two Catholics in the last four years: Tom Ciancio in Denver in 2010 and Kyle Brennan in Clearwater in 2007.
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  31. AnonLover Member

    Actually the papal policy on sects does NOT quite cover all that under pastoral duty, in specific terms anyway (its worded in too many shades of gray and all fuzzy). But it could maybe changed as pressure mounts, as it's now nearing the mandatory review period on being a 25yr old policy. And if it does evolve in same manner as other modernized policies have been changing in recent years... we will see a lot more vocal advocates below the ranks of red & pink hats. (hopefully... if my daily prayers are ever answered)
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  32. Anonymous Member

    I'm pretty sure the Pope is against sects. No wait, that's sex.

    • Like Like x 6
  33. AnonLover Member

    ^^LOL'd and nearly spit big slurp of coffee in my lap
  34. great discussion ITT
  35. Anonymous Member

    In keeping with the 'my viewpoint is absolutely right', shouldn't it be called THE History of a New Cult?

    Oh wait, he's educated.
  36. Anonymous Member


    "...much of what is written about the church is sensationalist and inaccurate."
  37. Miranda Member

    Just ordered on Kindle.
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  38. Trotter Moderator

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  39. xenubarb Member

    Yep. And it's true. I read a lot of inaccuracies here, as a thread evolves and people start confusing the facts with Herro.
  40. Anonymous Member

    "And then there's the writings of journalists, critics and ex-members..."

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