I started to write this post, but then I decided I shouldn’t write it. I’ve thought about it for the past two nights. But then I realized that I started this blog to share the journey of my faith and what wonderful things remind me to always believe. So here I am, sharing this post.
So it goes, I got caught up on reading my magazines that have been sitting on the counter for a couple of months. The February 11, 2013 issue of People magazine, featuring Tim McGraw on the cover, had a story, buried pretty far back in the magazine, featuring a new book called “Beyond Belief”. The title of the article was called “Escape from Scientology.”
The story is a memoir of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who grew up as a child at the Ranch, a San Jacinto, CA boarding school for children of Scientology executives. Jenna is the niece of David Miscavige, the church’s head honcho. The article goes on to describe how they were brainwashed by intimidation and fear their entire lives. They didn’t watch television or interact with anyone on the outside. As children, they were treated like they were in a military boot camp with drills and physical labor.
She met her husband, Dallas while still part of the Scientology community. Dallas had worked at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. So he could attest to how well celebrities were treated — with gorgeous accommodations. There was no risk from someone from the outside seeing the “child labor camps.”
As I read this article, I couldn’t believe that a cult such as this is operating right here in the United States. And the concept behind the organization is so ridiculous that it’s truly amazing that anyone with common sense would believe it. There’s nothing to substantiate it. But Jenna didn’t have the option to choose, she was born into it.
In the article, Jenna says, “I am no longer a believer. It was a huge adjustment to realize that the life I am living may be my one and only.” I lost two hours of sleep over that statement. My mind kept going over it — she was no longer a believer of Scientology — excellent — but now, she doesn’t believe in anything. And she doesn’t believe there’s anything more than this life. How disappointing and what a sad life.
How much I wanted to tell her to find Jesus and follow us that she will be healed. But can you imagine what she thinks about the Catholic Church or any organized religion of any kind? As I think about it from her perspective, how would you find that faith after all that you’ve been taught to believe? And it disturbs me that someone could easily say that my Catholic faith is really a cult. It’s not that I haven’t heard that before. I hear things all the time, even from people that are close to me, questioning their faith, asking me to justify my beliefs.
Did I have a moment of doubt? My Catholic faith is based on the Bible and years of history, as are other Christian religions. My Catholic faith teaches us love and compassion — there are no child labor camps. We teach our children to be kind to each other. We teach our children to know Jesus and to have faith in him. And to call on him when they are in trouble. Sure, we give money to the church, but the church needs money to operate. It’s not a profit center. And all are welcome, regardless of income, social status, where they live or how they dress. My Catholic faith is the foundation of my philanthropic efforts and that is good in this world.
So today as I struggled with my thoughts around this, I read today’s reflection in my Little Black Book for Lent and found my clarity:
Jesus said to the devil in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’” Luke 4:8
The tempting of Jesus in the desert is told in three Gospels and it represents the temptations that also confront every disciple of his… it goes on to say…
Temptations come at me from things I see people do and hear people say. They come at me from what I read and watch. All temptations are not equal. Some are stronger than others, but there is an even greater difference. Some temptations deal with superficial elements of my life, while others aim at a more foundational level.
There may be times when I am tempted to question whether Jesus’ whole way of life makes sense, whether these basic teachings are believable, or whether this whole Christianity thing is worth it after all.
Wow! I feel like Jesus himself wrote this reflection for me to read on this day after being conflicted, because of the Scientology article. I was being tempted to question my faith and reaffirm it. But not until I read this did I have the courage to write this post.
As for Jenna Miscavige Hill, her husband and her two beautiful little boys, I hope she finds Jesus in this lifetime. And I pray that she is able to heal from what she burden she came into this life with. And I pray that she is able to teach her boys about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. For that is what will heal her.