Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself.. and These Several Other Things.

For a large part of my life, I was deathly afraid of roller coasters... in fact, I was deathly afraid of most amusement park rides. Indeed, one of my favorite things is the tears that well in my grandmother's eyes as she nearly dies laughing while recalling that one day at Disney World that I fell on the floor crying, begging her not to bring me into the Haunted Mansion. In fact, it wasn't until college that I actually developed a taste for roller coasters - though generally the more tame of the bunch. I in fact love the Coney Island Cyclone in all its bone rattling, arthritis-inducing glory that is so indicative of the wild ride the Nation was experiencing during its 1927 construction. Still, when I ventured to New Jersey for Fright Fest at Six Flags, I looked up in disgust and horror at an abominable steel cathedral of death: Kingda Ka.


I still consider this fear conquered to a certain degree, as I have ridden Nitro in near total darkness and El Toro, a wooden coaster that rides like its steel cousins.
So what do I still fear? Watching Jeopardy! tonight, I was reminded of a cold, terrible, dormant fear that grips the depths of my mind. What else could I do but compile them into a list that my enemies may exploit to my detriment.


No. 5.) Scientology.
It burns, I know. If you have a lazy Sunday that needs whittling away, might I suggest reading this eye-opening piece about Scientology. It pays more respect to the details of the religion than I do in this short, hilarious, self-serving blog of mine - and makes many of my observations seem childlike and ignorant. Needless to say, that article is an example of journalism, and this is an attempt at comedy.
Yes, I love the Constitution of the United States - and yes I realize that the very first amendment to it guarantees religious freedom to anyone within the borders of this great nation... in so many words. I don't begrudge people their religion, except to those apostates who defect from the Episcopal Church because of our tendency to elect female and openly homosexual bishops. I do, however, find the "Church" of Scientology to be a horse of a different color, something that needs be scrutinized in league with the likes of snake oil salesman and Vince the Sham-Wow guy. Okay, I get it, Xenu is an evil overlord who imprisoned the souls in paleolithic humans or something... and the only way we can clear ourselves is to give L. Ron Hubbard our fortunes to become Level 8 Thetans.

Fig. 2: An Inconvenient Truth
See, doesn't that sound like something from a video game? I have always been wary about this religion because of its origins in the mind of a really bad science fiction pulp writer. Then someone I knew personally - someone I liked and respected, became a Scientologist.
One bizarre evening, he came back from California after several months auditing with the Church, or whatever it is they do. By this time, I had experimented with Red Bull for the first time with disastrous results - namely that I went on an all-night bike ride the previous night and had suffered more than 48 hours of jittery wakefulness. Our Scientologist friend had invited us to Starbucks. Accompanying him was his fiancée - a cold, enigmatic Asian woman who spoke almost no English. What I remember of the event was that my friend showed us a series of cards about depression, confusion and "clearing" yourself. It shook me. Here was a friend of mine behaving like one of those people who offered "stress tests" in the Times Square subway station.
Scientology shares way too many things in common with the medieval concept of buying indulgences, which goes something like this:

It is the Middle Ages. Lord Chestermoreton wishes to do ungodly things and get away with it. He brings with him an enormous chest full of precious gold, diamonds and rubies stolen from the Holy Land. He approaches Pope Charlie XII who is seated upon the Throne of St. Peter.

Lord Chestermoreton: Your Holiness, I wish to divorce my wife. Her cooking is an atrocity against humanity. There is little difference between her stew and the contents of my chamberpot after choking down the said stew.

Pope Charlie XII: I see, my son. Well, you know full well the church's view on divorce. Marriage is, after all, a holy sacrament.

Lord Chestermoreton: What if I were to offer you this ring? It was stolen from the finger that blasted Mohamadan, Suleiman the Impeccably Dressed, after my forces ransacked Jerusalem.

Lord Chestermoreton offers the Holy Father an immense golden ring with an emerald the size of a peach pit. Pope Charlie XII leans over, examines the magnificent jewel. He strokes his chin, and says...

Pope Charlie XII: For this my son, you can put that lousy cook to death with my blessings.

Lord Chestermoreton: Splendid! Now that we've settled that, I'd like to marry my prize horse, Broomhilda.

Pope Charlie XII: Now just a moment my son! The Bible clearly states in Leviticus that --

Lord Chestermoreton's kicks open his chest of precious things. It sparkles and radiates with the priceless contents within. Pope Charlie XII leans over, examines the contents of the chest and whistles.

Pope Charlie XII: So... when's the wedding?


The only way you can advance to higher levels in the Church of Scientology is to pay - OUT THE NOSE. Mr. Hubbard recognized that he could profit from his new religion, and thus actively sought out wealthy celebrities and offered them higher status in the church the more money they gave. Our friend gave an awful lot of money to the Church in his own time there.
It scares me that intelligent people can fall for something like this. And what did our friend get out of Scientology? Well, to give you an idea, the last time I saw him was at a bar. He took out his keys out of his pocket to retrieve his wallet. I noticed a plain golden ring holding all his keys together. "Is that what I think it is," I asked him. Sure enough, it was his wedding band. "Yeah... at least it's good for something at this point," he responded.
Sham marriages. Practical slavery. Buying indulgences. Xenu capturing human souls. A failed sci-fi writer. This is some scary shit, people.

No. 4.) The Zombie Apocalypse.
Good grief. I hear about this stuff all the time. Apparently everyone in the sci-fi community is convinced that we will all perish when some mutated virus from space or from some secret defunct Soviet-era laboratory or from monkeys. And not only will we perish, we will then walk the earth with glazed over eyes and puckered, rotting flesh with an insatiable hunger for brains. Even Robert Frost hypothesized the world would end with the Walking Dead when he wrote his famous short poem, Fire and Zombies.

Fire and Zombies
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in zombies.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of Hate
To say that for destruction, zombies
Are also great and would consume we.

Mr. Frost gave up at the end with so trite and contrived a rhyme. But really, what useful word rhymes with zombies. NONE.
But I am relatively sure that The Zombie Apocalypse is the new euphemism for MASS GLOBAL PANDEMICS THAT WILL DETROY US ALL.
Now that's really something to be frightened of. Oh, there's the occasional scare that we get. First we were all going to die from SARS. Then anthrax. Then swine flu. Seriously though, most of these frightful, terrifying diseases are either a.) easily treated or b.) easily preventable. Indeed, these Angels of Death could be fended off with hand sanitizer. THAT IS NOT SCARY. Not even the flu epidemic of the early 1900s is truly, bone-chillingly terrifying, considering that some attribute the mass deaths from the said outbreak to overdoses of the new miracle drug, aspirin.
No, the real rider upon a Pale Horse are culprits like the Ebola virus, which some scientists speculate actually has EXTRATERRESTRIAL ORIGINS.

Fig. 3: I knew he was in with a bad crowd, but it was worse than I imagined. ALIENS!

The very thought of a virus that attacks and kills in a single day and hops onto the next nearest available host, leaving in its path a wake of death and destruction gives me the willies! Those unfortunate victims need not rise from their deaths to begin feasting upon the living. NO WAY. It's scary enough as it is.
Plus, everybody knows that if the zombie apocalypse were to really happen, you need only find a baseball bat and several humorous friends. BOOM - suddenly you're a survivor!

Recap: So, we've covered that I fear Scientology and The Zombie Apocalypse. I will save my top 3 fears for next time.

1 comment:

  1. For me, it's not the prospect of a zombie apocalypse that's scary. It's what the surviving humans would be reduced to, in its wake. I think that would apply equally to mass global pandemics.