Did Cruise go OT-VII on Lauer?

Mackey2As Tom Cruise makes the media rounds to talk up both War of the Worlds and Scientology, it’s beginning to feel as though he’s reprising his role as Frank T.J. Mackey, the strutting rooster of a motivational speaker in Magnolia. By now it would be unremarkable for Cruise to order that his next befuddled interviewer “respect the Thetan.”

In a piece that ostensibly celebrated Cruise’s freewheeling appearances, TV writer Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times referred to Cruise as a “passionate, stubborn true believer” — and we all know how troublesome true believers can be. Similarly, Cruise’s argument with interviewer Matt Lauer spent considerable time on Cruise’s unequivocal opposition to psychotherapists and the drugs they prescribe:

Cruise: . . . I’m saying that drugs aren’t the answer, these drugs are very dangerous. They’re mind-altering, antipsychotic drugs. And there are ways of doing it without that so that we don’t end up in a brave new world. The thing that I’m saying about Brooke is that there’s misinformation, okay. And she doesn’t understand the history of psychiatry. She doesn’t understand in the same way that you don’t understand it, Matt.

Lauer: But a little bit of what you’re saying Tom is, you say you want people to do well. But you want them do to well by taking the road that you approve of, as opposed to a road that may work for them.

Cruise: No, no, I’m not.

Lauer: Well, if antidepressants work for Brooke Shields, why isn’t that okay?

Cruise: I disagree with it. And I think that there’s a higher and better quality of life. And I think that, promoting — for me personally, see, you’re saying what, I can’t discuss what I wanna discuss?

Lauer: No. You absolutely can.

Cruise: I know. But Matt, you’re going in and saying that, that I can’t discuss this.

Lauer: I’m only asking, isn’t there a possibility that — do you examine the possibility that these things do work for some people? That yes, there are abuses. And yes, maybe they’ve gone too far in certain areas. Maybe there are too many kids on Ritalin. Maybe electric shock —

Cruise: Too many kids on Ritalin? Matt.

Some of the best reporting on the continuing Tom Cruise saga began this morning on Salon, with James Verini’s first installment of a four-part series about Scientology.

Verini discusses whether Cruise has reached the level of Operating Thetan VII, and what that means:

According to experts and the church’s own literature, OT-VII (“OT” stands for Operating Thetan, “thetan” being the Scientology term for soul) is the penultimate tier in the church’s spiritual hierarchy — the exact details of which are fiercely guarded and forbidden to be discussed even among top members. It is where a Scientologist learns how to become free of the mortal confines of the body and is let into the last of the mysteries of the cosmology developed by the church’s longtime leader, science fiction novelist and “Dianetics” author L. Ron Hubbard. This cosmology also famously holds that humans bear the noxious traces of an annihilated alien civilization that was brought to Earth by an intergalactic warlord millions of years ago.

Lee Anne De Vette, Cruise’s publicist and sister, refused requests to comment for this article. And when asked about Cruise, Ed Parkin, vice president of cultural affairs for the Church of Scientology, said only, “We do not discuss the personal religious experiences of our members with the press.” Parkin also would not confirm or deny details of the OT teachings. Responding to questions about them, he wrote: “Scientology, which means ‘knowing how to know,’ is a religion based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986). Scientology addresses people as immortal spiritual beings. It gives them tools they can apply to their lives to improve conditions.”

But one Scientologist who left the church in 2003 after 30 years — and who had reached the OT-VII level and become a member of the church’s governing Sea Org — said it was his understanding that Cruise was very near completing, if he had not already completed, the OT-VII level. The former Scientologist would speak to Salon only on the condition of anonymity.

A current Scientologist who has reached the level OT-V, and who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that considering the amount of time Cruise has been in the church, an OT-VII status seems probable. And Stephen Kent, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta who has published articles on Scientology and Hollywood, also said that Cruise’s behavior strongly suggests OT-VII.

Cruise is acting as though he “feels he’s more in control over his environment and can convince more people to look into the organization,” Kent said. “In the high OT levels one supposedly gains the skills to master one’s universe. One is removing countless entities that have been holding people back. Cruise feels that he has freed himself from thousands of errant thetans, and he seems to be in a kind of euphoria he hasn’t experienced before.”

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  • http://tennessee-catholic.blogspot.com/ John

    Maybe it’s not a good thing to fire your publicist. Not only is there nobody to say “shutup!” at the appropriate times, but the whole Hollywood publicity machine is the out to demonstrate what a big mistake you’ve made.

  • http://wildfaith.blogspot.com/ Darrell Grizzle

    So every religion, even ones like Scientology (created by a science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, after another SF writer bet him he couldn’t create a religion) has its own “fundamentalists” who are closed-minded about others’ paths.

  • Jill

    Cruise appears to be a good example of someone with bi-polar disorder (currently swinging manic) who is off his meds.

  • Carl

    Cruise and Spielberg were on Japanese TV for “War of the Worlds” last night. For whatever reason, the host decided to go in full Lost in Translation mode, and dressed up as “Katsuken Samba” a recurring character on the show that wears a gold lamé kimono and a cheap samurai wig. It’s all a spoof of Matsuken, a former actor in samurai dramas turned samba dancer, but I’m not sure why they choose to use the character for this particular interview. It was pretty insane. At one point, Katsuken was down on the floor acting like a dog. Cruise and Spielberg basically just laughed at the whole thing, and thanked him when he gave them DVDs of his old TV shows and movies (showing that two can play the promotions game, I guess).

    Later that night, Backstreet Boys were on. They seemed much more relaxed, what with their not be beset by a samba dancing samurai.

  • Carl

    Oh, back to the point:

    I’d be impressed with anyone getting through that interview without the help of alcohol or other mind altering substances.

  • Tom Breen

    Has anyone else noticed a mild reluctance on the part of the press to point out some of the more shady or ridiculous aspects of Scientology? I realize that there’s a balance in religion reporting; a reporter wouldn’t include in a story about Islam that there’s no confirming evidence that God dictated the Koran to Muhammad, for example. That’s what Muslims believe, and that’s what reporters should write.

    But claiming that Carl Jung was a Nazi newspaper editor or that methadone was originally called “Adolfine” in tribute to Hitler is not the same as claiming that the Koran was dictated by God. These are assertions about verifiable, objective fact; shouldn’t reporters have a duty to point out when Scientologists are simply wrong and/or lying?

  • Megan B.

    Entertainment Weekly’s interview with him did point out that those things were false (using editor’s notes– they didn’t confront him).

    I agree it’s interesting to think about how the media should be treating Scientology. Some of Lauer’s comments, if directed at a Christian, would probably be a little frustrating (“well, if living without Jesus works for my friends, how dare you tell them that they need Jesus”). Yet I’m cheering him on, because I think Tom Cruise is a crackpot, and moreover because I think what he’s saying is dangerous and false. And I’m happy when the media points out the cult-like aspects of Scientology– which I personally have not found them reluctant to do.

    But is the media jibing at Cruise a symptom of its general lack of patience with religious expression, or a sensible response to craziness? Or both? :)

  • Stephen

    Many reporters are afraid to take on the more seamy side of Scientology because the cult has repeatedly attacked those who criticize it.

    Hubbard’s “fair game” doctrine allows these cultists to “destroy” opponents of the faith. That includes filing hundreds of frivolous lawsuits against people or otherwise making their lives miserable.

    That’s not much of a religion. This is a dangerous totalitarian group that has been on the verge of being banned in some European nations.

    Reporters, despite the danger, have a duty to report the more physically or psychologically destructive aspects of this cult.

  • http://www.sense-datum.org/tim/atom.xml timsamoff

    My theory is that Scientology has secretly elected Tom Cruise as their new leader… I’m wondering if there is some Scientologist prophecy somewhere fortelling of a man who would leave his past life for a new cause and a young love… Hehe.

    What a great tax shelter that organization must be for everyone involved.

  • Stephen

    His odd behavior may very well be consistent with a Messianic Complex.

    He should see a shrink about that. ;-)

  • http://www.boccadellaverita.blogspot.com Jennifer

    I was thinking exactly the same thing Stephen said: Sounds like Tom thinks he has become a God. That’s probably much easier to do when you earn the kind of money he does.

    I came to the same conclusion about Oprah years ago.

  • Pingback: Swiftly and with Style » Show Me the Thetans!

  • James Versluys

    I don’t know quite how much more crazy Mr. Cruise is than, say, your average medieval peasant or Senate Democrat from Illinois. I’ve seen many people with extraordinary grasps on life and high intellects who have places where they’re virtually insane. I would posit that describes most intelligent people.

    Tom seems an amiable and functioning nut, why bother on about his spells (the tin cans) and demons (psychiatry) more than, say, any more than the spells and demons of a more-than-unusually implausible Christian heresy like Mormanism?

    Well, the answer to that is obvious; Mormons don’t have what amounts to counterintelligence networks which stomp on people who find their religion insane. And Mormons don’t want all the benefits of a claim of science and the protections of a religion. Scientologists do.

    But at that point you have to ask how much of that is Mr. Cruise’s personal fault for being a little dim and how much of the church’s (no capital “c”) fault. I find it easy to say “aw, look how cutely crazy that is- like a poster with kittens in a blender!” and save the real opprobium for the Scientologist whack jobs. I’d be rather shocked if Cruise is even aware of the Scientologist shock troops or their oppressive legal arm.

    The last part seems more uneasy to me. This whole fiasco has the feeling of “we should be allowed to say all we want because he’s famous!”. Like we’re licsenced in this voeurism because ladies thought he was especially cute in Top Gun. Jesus, he’s just an actor who prettily believes something loopy. How hard could that be to find? Paging Angeline Jolie.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Oh please.
    Cruise is just an actor who is using his platform to make social change.

    Kim Bassinger speaks on behalf of animal rights. Martin Sheen loudly protests against the Irak war and the Bush admininstration. Clooney makes political statements at the Oscars. Cruise opposes the overdrugging of kids my money-hungry pharmaceutical companies and pill-pimping shrinks.

    You want your kid to be labeled? You want a perfectly healthy 5-year old to be mis-diagnosed as hyperactive and be put on Ritalin for the rest of his formative years? I think now.

    Little is said of two interesting bits:

    1) Just one week after the Cruise/Lauer episode, a distinguished professor of psychiatry from Harvard Medical was on the Today show, this time talking to Katie Couric. He actually agreed with Cruise in saying that “there is no medical proof of the chemical imbalance theory”, and also said that we may be over-diagnosing the kids.

    2) Just a few weeks after Cruise went public with this, the FDA started demanding all antidepressants to carry a black label describing all side effects (suicidal ideation, violent tendencies, etc.) on the bottle.

    The issue is real.
    See http://www.drugawareness.org
    See http://www.breggin.com
    See http://www.blockcenter.com
    (none of these is a Scientology site.)


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