The way to happiness via the finance office

Stuttgart, Germany
June 15, 1999
Sindelfinger Zeitung

Visit to a Scientology Seminar - An insecure participant,
little reality and much banality

"Do you have anxiety, in the elevator, perhaps? Dianetics helps you, provided that you turn to them in time. The lady smiled triumphantly. "Cool," said the young man, as his entire face lit up, "simply cool."

by our reporter
Michael Isenberg

Sunday afternoon in the course hall in Bad Cannstatt. The "Clear Expansion Committee of Baden-Wuerttemberg" had sent out invitations for a Dianetics Seminar. A good fifty participants have arrived. There is no sign announcing the event; the word "Scientology" is nowhere to be seen. Neither is there anything special about the men and the women, most of whom are middle-aged. Inconspicuous dress, innocent gestures. Plain people. In the frontmost row sit two children. A boy and a girl. Sweet, nice and smart.

A pyramid, covered with green and yellow material, hovers over the stage. To the right hangs a gold-framed portrait. The photo shows an older, agile gentlemen. He is sitting on board a yacht. The outfit with cap and sunglasses fits. That is how Lieschen Mueller imagines a skipper would look. It is a picture of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, the inventor and founder of Scientology.

The seminar director is of this world. Barbara (all names have been changed) speaks in the drawling cadence indicative of people who have spoken nothing but English for a long time. With her red and white checkered dress, white jacket and her gray hair boldly styled back out of her face, the dynamic woman in her mid-50s reminds one of Brigitte Laemmle. Her voice also sounds something like the TV advisor on life. In her civil profession she is a courier-driver, says Barbara.

After her spirited welcome ("Are you doing well? Yes? Okay!"), the seminar begins. Barbara is a rehearsed speaker. She reads the text word for word out of the "Handbook for Dianetics Groups." When the script instruction say to pause, she pauses. When a sentence is supposed to be emphasized, she emphasizes it. The mouthpiece functions. The audience listens intently.

For the uninitiated visitor, a young man is sitting to the side. His name is Harald and he is supposed to "answer all questions which are unanswered." Harald is upset that he cannot decipher the notes which the new people have written. His notoriously happy smile and his applause becomes more subdued. Matters have gotten out of hand, there's no more control. That is not good, but cannot be changed.

There is little reality in the presentation or in the subsequent advertising film. "Mass" is talked about, so is "energy" and a "reactive mind" which is said to cripple people. And the chances of clearing this mind through "auditing." Everything is said to be founded on science, uniquely effective and tested a million times. The testimonies of the blessed effects of auditing are awe-inspiring. How does it work. "There is no logic to it," says Barbar. Headaches, drugs, criminality? No problem. The "better world" and the "ideal society" are do-able.

The people in the auditorium are charmed, their faces beam. Now is the time to sell electric blankets or insurance policies. Instead of that, sandwiches are unwrapped. During the intermission, Harald tells how Scientology has helped him to "clear things up with the finanace office."

Robert has been a Scientologist for ten years. Before that he was an evangelical church assistant, somewhere "out there in Remstal." When the church superiors heard about his new interest, he had to vacate the post. "With Scientology I experienced a clarity which let me see the child of God," says Robert. To do that, of course, he needed "many courses in auditing," and those cost "much money." How much? Robert looked to the side. The powerful man shrugged his wide shoulders. "This whole thing is about a new era, isn't it?"

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