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The Spirit of Christmas

December 22, 2010

A friend made the observation to me today that the Church of Scientology has no heart. This person, a former Scientologist, had just visited another church and had been impressed at the spirit of benevolence, charity, love and compassion that was evidenced by the people there, both the leaders and the members. These are all traits that we normally associate with Christmas, a time when even the hardest hearts feel some charity and goodwill.

I well remember Christmases in the Church of Scientology. It was seen as an annoying distraction. Staff had to be given a half a day to go out and shop for family presents and send them off. Otherwise it would be a “PR flap.” But even this brief nod to Christmas was barely tolerated.

Every year, Management would go into a panic. It was known that the stats would go down over Christmas. Duh. People were doing other things, seeing family and friends, relaxing. The solution? A hastily put together program to “get the public to come into the Org for courses over the Christmas holidays. “Use that time to get up the Bridge!” the promotion screamed. How dare anyone actually just relax and have a good time when staff were working around the clock to “keep the stats from crashing.”

I always thought it rather silly. Christmas is Christmas. Why don’t we all enjoy it, public and staff, and then get back to business afterwards? But oh, no, the micromanaged stats just had to be pushed up!

At the Int Base, the last five years I was there, we always worked through Christmas, getting the New Years Event ready. It was always last minute, always a flap. Christmas Day maybe we’d get an extra half an hour for dinner and they’d throw up a few decorations. “You can take New Year’s Day off,” we were told. Then the event would be such a flap that no one got New Years Day off either. And after 2000, there were no Christmas bonuses either.

And forget about taking a few days to see family. Dilletante! Other fish to fry!

The last five years I was at the Base, I never had Christmas with my wife.

So staff are pressured to keep on working. Public are pressured to come in and spend money. No bonuses are paid. It’s work, work, work.

Sound familiar? Sure, that’s Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens’ beloved tale, A Christmas Carol. Scrooge is portrayed as a greedy and stingy businessman who has no place in his life for kindness, compassion, charity, or benevolence. Well, that’s it. That’s the Church of Scientology.

My advice for Christmas?

Relax. forget about Scientology. Take a break from the blogs and chat boards. Spend some quality time with your family, your kids, your grandkids. Go see some old friends. Travel a bit. Read a good book.

Or, if you’re me, all of the above.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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56 Comments
  1. craig permalink
    December 22, 2010 6:32 am

    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s, Jeff. Thank you for being.

  2. Synthia permalink
    December 22, 2010 6:44 am

    Merry Christmas Jeff! I concur with the staff experience during the holidays and I believe you have some very good advice. Starting tomorrow, I’m taking a break from thinking about Scientology. Time to have some important, relaxing and fun times with family and friends.

    Love to you!

    Again, Merry Christmas

  3. Tara permalink
    December 22, 2010 6:55 am

    Have a Holly Jolly Christmas Jeff!!!!

  4. December 22, 2010 6:56 am

    Merry Xmas Jeff!!!!

    Catch up on all those Xmases past and enjoy yourself in the company of your friends and family.

    http://www.123greetings.com/events/christmas/spirit_of_christmas/spirit26.html

    For every body on this board Merry Xmas as well.

    Ml

    RJ

  5. Mark McKinstry permalink
    December 22, 2010 8:09 am

    Jeff… once again you speak sooth. See you in Marin my friend.
    Mark

  6. Joe Howard permalink
    December 22, 2010 9:13 am

    Last Saturday I went to a Christmas pageant at Christian Fellowship in my town at the invitation of a client. The church put on quite a production with singing, choir, dance, kings, camels and a holy family. A stressed out businessman received the message of Christmas and became a better man. The church sanctuary held maybe 1,500 people and there were well over 1,000 at the performance we attended. The pageant was performed six times, meaning about 8,000 people saw it, or more than 10% of the population of my town. That probably amounts to half of the people who will see the CoS New Years gala celebration worldwide. Yet, no one stayed up all night, night after night to prepare. No one got comm eved. Staff did not harangue the audience afterwards for donations or to sell some latest relese. Everyone had a good time and enjoyed the show, including me. It makes me think what must be going on right this minute at the Gold Base as I type this: people are scurrying about in the rain, frantically completing speeches and videos and slides to show in a few days. Very few will sleep tonight. As Col. Kurtz would say, “The horror.”

  7. Sid permalink
    December 22, 2010 10:06 am

    Superb advice, Merry Christmas Jeff!

  8. Marta permalink
    December 22, 2010 1:04 pm

    Merry Christmas, Jeff.

    With love and respect,

    Marta

  9. Skydog permalink
    December 22, 2010 3:57 pm

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy new year.

  10. BBSox permalink
    December 22, 2010 4:10 pm

    Merry Christmas Jeff. Thank you for what you do on this blog.

  11. Sinar permalink
    December 22, 2010 6:40 pm

    Jeff,

    Merry Christmas to you and everyone!

    Xmas to me was a season for more work – tree trimming parties, and other extended parties at Xmas eve, day for select publics & huge menus. It used to be a good time over two decades ago as the entire Int base went up to Big Bear to ski or veg out on videos or whatever. The management structure was intact at the time. There were the traditional beer & cheese parties, bosun parties which were really fun and entertaining with impromptu performers one would never have guessed performed on stage.

    Most old timers recall these pleasure moments which grew increasingly less as the big glitzy events grew and the insanity took over in the years to present time. Parties, spouses and family were increasingly suppressed by Dear Leader over the years (except the private ones for his, entourage and those in favor).

  12. Genesis permalink
    December 22, 2010 8:05 pm

    Merry Christmas Jeff, and thanks for a year full of exciting, uplifting and perceptive articles about the cult of scientology.

    May you prosper in the New Year, and bring us even more joy!

  13. December 22, 2010 8:17 pm

    Merry Christmas Jeff and all my friends out there!

    It would be easier to do if this Christmas wasn’t a harsh reminder of how I am NOT going to be able to spend it with all of my family or my old “brainwashed” friends. But I will for sure enjoy those that are still around.

    — Besides, Jeff, didn’t you know that those on the inside are too busy saving a planet to worry about something as trivial as christmas, family, love and goodwill??? Hell, the planet might explode! (excuse me, I’m feeling ill…..!!!!)

  14. Former Sea Ogre permalink
    December 22, 2010 8:49 pm

    This post brought back some fond memories, LOL. I remember one year in the SO I got approved to have three weeks vacation around Xmas time. It got shortened down to two weeks by my then senior at the last minute due to having “down stats” the last week, even though the previous 51 weeks my stats were up. Anyhow, I had a plane to catch on Xmas eve to fly home for Christmas. However, because I would be gone so long, I had to get a sec check before I could leave. My plane was set to leave LAX at about 6 PM, and I was on the cans getting sec checked till about 4 PM. Talk about “present time problems”! My attention was continually going out of session on the plane I was supposed to catch as I couldn’t miss it. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to get through the sec check and to the airport, with about 5 minutes to spare. I somehow managed to “make it go right”, no thanks to the Sea Org. That also would be the last year that I ever got a vacation from the Sea Org. Fortunately, I routed out of the Sea Org for good four years later, due to some “out qual”. I routed out a week before Xmas, came home and never looked back. I so don’t miss being in the Sea Org this time of year.

  15. freespirit permalink
    December 22, 2010 8:53 pm

    Jeff- you are so right. Christmas was viewed as a nuisance. I don’t ever recall Christmas ever being truly relaxed and joyous – the preoccupation with stats having to be up over the holiday season (as if we were handling world peace!) wiped out any jolliness.

    The real meaning of Christmas was buried under a piled of stat books.

    I recall my first Christmas outside of staff – I felt something was missing – and realized that all that pressure and angst and stress was not there! Oh joy! Suddenly I had the space to be able to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.

    Wishing you and all who post on this blog a blessed, peaceful and safe Christmas filled with the joy of love from family and friends.

  16. GetTheConcept permalink
    December 22, 2010 9:16 pm

    Jeff,

    Thanks for all the insight from this blog. Merry Christmas.

    Dave (no, not THAT Dave)

  17. lunamoth permalink
    December 22, 2010 9:30 pm

    I will always (always) remember the Christmases spent on course at the local org while my children were small, those years when I was the one responsible for creating Christmas for them and an extended family of non-scientologists. Different from the sea org experience, certainly, but stressful beyond words. I was constantly at odds with supervisors who would not accommodate the increased demands on me at that time (full-time job, three kids, and all the Christmas planning, shopping, cooking, entertaining and family events were my hat). In fact, the org staff tried at every turn to make absolutely nothing of Christmas which, in my particular “ethnic,” was the biggest family holiday of the year.

    Does this sound familiar to anyone? “Christmas is an implant. Just disagree.” Got that one a lot.

    CSW’s and leaves of absence were denied -course attendance would be ENFORCED. I was threatened with an HCO summons one year when I absolutely could not dump my other hats and put in course time. Course time was put in under duress, and anyone who’s read Educational Dianetics knows Ron himself said learning does not take place under duress). The message was clear to all students that for the sup’s (themselves under incredible pressure from above) the issue was no longer that I “got LRH” or that I was an “fn-ing student.” Rather, their motivation was to keep their own stats from going into a lower condition. We knew this with certainty because the gloves were off and no ARC was used with public by that point. It always resulted in an ugly flow, a low-toned, highly enturbulating experience from our “island of theta and sanity,” at a time when the rest of the world was making an effort to chill out and love their fellow man.

    For scientologists on course, the holidays were just more pressure, stress, family upsets, and out-rud’s for overworked parents.

    Since I started passing on links to these sites (Jeff’s and Marty’s) a year or so ago, the change has been wonderful. I’ve had almost no live communication from the orgs in that time. In addition to the hundreds of other ways this has improved my life, I find my Christmas is once again my own. It’s sane (relatively – I mean, it’s still Christmas). I never think about those days gone by when on course, when my blood pressure would spike just thinking about the holidays approaching and the deluge of demands on me that I would never be able to meet to everyone’s satisfaction (including my own). I get no phone calls at night or on holidays( or any other time), no incessant and outrageous demands for my time and money; both my time and my money are my own again. I’m not in debt at Christmas time from a year’s worth of donations I couldn’t afford. I don’t have to ask permission of another adult to spend time with my children or to do anything else I want to do. The lack of “LRH” has not left a void, strangely, and my lack of participation in the “deadly serious activity” of the “church” has not led to planetary destruction, despite all the warnings, threats and accusations. The opposite has occurred: I’m calm, my family is happy, and we go through the rituals of the holidays with full attention on what we’re doing, enjoying our time together.

    This year we celebrate Christmas with our young granddaughter, and I plan to have the best family Christmas I’ve had in decades. I will experience Christmas through the eyes of
    an innocent and unspoiled child, one who has not learned to be greedy, demanding and unfeeling toward the happiness of others. And I can’t help but think what a beneficial effect it will have on her life that those attributes will never be the ones which she comes to associate with Christmas time.

  18. brendon permalink
    December 22, 2010 9:58 pm

    Will this be the year when someone stands up at the New Year’s event and screams out at the COB, pointing out the useless stats, the empty orgs, the endless fundraising and his failed leadership?

    If I was DM, I’d certainly be nervous about that happening. Too many people know too much. And a lot of those who follow these boards remain under the radar and will likely be attending.

    See you again in January…

  19. lunamoth permalink
    December 22, 2010 10:00 pm

    Merry Christmas to you, Jeff, and to everyone on this blog!

  20. Chris Baer permalink
    December 22, 2010 10:46 pm

    Thanks so much for all you are doing Jeff. Your book had a profound effect on me and gave me new insight into my time in Scientology (1972-1986) and the Sea Org (1975-1986 at CCLA). The happiest of holidays and a most prosperous New Year to you and your family.

    Love,
    Chris

  21. Quicksilver permalink
    December 23, 2010 12:29 am

    Jeff,

    Thank you for a great blog & excellent articles.

    And thanks to all who have contributed … great topics, lively discussions, varying viewpoints … what can I say – communication IS the universal solvent.

    While we may not have ‘solved’ every problem, we are all looking for greater enlightenment and peace amongst men. I think we will see some fireworks this coming year … I can hardly wait!

    I look forward to meeting you over the holidays Jeff … I do hope it happens.

    Merry Christmas (<——- insert your favourite celebration here), and the best to you all in the New Year!

    Onwards & upwards!

  22. John Doe permalink
    December 23, 2010 12:50 am

    Happy Holidays to you, Jeff and all my fellow commentators. See you back here some time in mid January!

    And once again, Jeff, thanks for your voice. It has been quite meaningful to me this year.

  23. Tony DePhillips permalink
    December 23, 2010 2:08 am

    Merry Christma Jeff!!
    Thanks for all the great data and laughs.
    Does anyone remeber the Class 5 Org Christmas bash with their “Beer and cheese party”? It was always kind of corny and forced and low budget, after all the hard work the staff put in and next to nothing wages..

    That beer and cheese makes it all worth while!!

    • Quicksilver permalink
      December 24, 2010 12:45 am

      You got CHEESE !!??!! 😮

      Man, I was in the wrong Org 😛

      Cya soon Tony!

      • Tony DePhillips permalink
        December 25, 2010 8:25 pm

        🙂
        Look forward to it!!

  24. glh permalink
    December 23, 2010 5:34 am

    And Merry Christmas to all and to Jeff and yours. Thanks!

  25. RenegadeX permalink
    December 23, 2010 5:45 am

    Jeff,
    Great advice! Happy Holidays!
    RX

  26. Sharon permalink
    December 23, 2010 5:51 am

    Merry Xmas Jeff. Thank you for this wonderful blog and a special thanks for publishing your book.

  27. Valkov permalink
    December 23, 2010 9:36 am

    Here’s wishing all the best that you could wish for these Holidays, to Jeff and all who post here!

    Here are two great songs with video – Donovan’s “Happiness Runs”, and “Calypso” by John Denver. Donovan was part of the awakening of consciousness in the 60s and 70s and became a fan of the Maharishi MaheshYogi. But this song speaks to anyone:

    “Calypso” was Jaques Cousteau’s ship, but the song always brings to mind Ron’s ship the “Apollo” and the hopeful early days of the Sea Org. Now it is a eulogy for the torn and tattered dreams and ideals of those times. Still one of the greatest songs ever, sung by a remarkable voice. Enjoy.

  28. Valkov permalink
    December 23, 2010 9:42 am

    Well Jeff, my attempt to post the videos sure fizzled! Can you delete that Youtube link and I’ll try again…….

    THIS should be Donovan:

  29. Valkov permalink
    December 23, 2010 9:51 am

    And this should be “Calypso” by John Denver:

  30. December 23, 2010 10:51 am

    Merry Christmas Jeff, and all the best to you and yours.
    Looking forward to reading more in the new year.
    jj

  31. December 23, 2010 6:34 pm

    Spot on Jeff. In the last couple of years I went to 2 funeral services at local non-Scientology churches. It really struck me at how much love, compassion and sincere (not money motivated) service was provided. The funeral service really helped those that attended. I was really impressed.

    After the tax exemption, Flag held a “Sunday service” each week in the auditorium. Ethics Officers went around forcing admin staff to attend as it was needed as a point to help maintain tax exempt status.

    When fellow staff members did die you were lucky to even hear about it. It was just considered a distraction to be kept off staff lines. Even if it was your own family member you were expected to simply do your job and not have “case on post”.

    In the Sea Org there was no time for emotions, just an endless, mindless, psychotic chasing of money and statistics. Its an unreal world that could be described as the march of the zombies.

    • Valkov permalink
      December 24, 2010 5:36 am

      It seems Love is Everywhere EXCEPT in the Sea Org.

  32. Joanne Doe permalink
    December 23, 2010 6:54 pm

    Jeff,
    I am a non Scientologist that has followed the subject since I saw the video of Tom
    Cruise and thought, “What is Scientology?” Well, after extensive research on the
    internet, and reading Marc Headley book, your online book and of course, all the chat rooms and blogs both pro and against, I have come to the conclusion that Scientology is and was based on one premise … The practice of Scientology ‘s main incentive was to draw you AWAY from God. LRh’s “religion” was one that mankind itself drew from it’s own power to be liberated, meaning you don’t need God to achieve enlightenment. LRH was not a fan of Christ , he sided with evil(from all the literature concerning his Occult backgroundand the god-forsaken practices he implemented ) and what better way to sway minds is to dangle the carrot, that spiritual enlightenment can be obtained by your own self (money). As a person of Christian faith, I probably see things in a different light, but Christ taught that Love was the greatest gift along with charity and faith and happiness. Has Scientologist ever been any of these things for anyone?
    I would be interested what Christmas was like in the days of LRH. Probably Empty.

    On another note, I enjoy your blog and your story was beautifully written. I know you could have sat in a chair and become bitter and indifferent with the ways things turned out but I so admired that you began life anew and I hope you have many Happy and Joyful Christmases in front of you. You deserve it!! Merry Christmas!!

    • Phil permalink
      December 26, 2010 1:36 pm

      This is about the best explanation that an outsider and fellow Christian like myself has read on this subject. Very well done. You have done as much or more research on this subject (strictly out of curiosity) then I have. Tied it up very nicely with a bow on top. Jeff seems like such good people as most of the blogger s and the ex- sci seem to be. All of us truly care about our fellow man. All the major religions seem to be about “Putting others first “, this quality is the most tangible evidence of “god with and in us” . Merry Christmas everyone and a happy new year !!

      • Phil permalink
        December 26, 2010 1:46 pm

        That is God, big G. Remember Alister Crowley. “Do as thou wilt. That is the whole of the law” Not exactly the golden rule.

  33. lookingin permalink
    December 23, 2010 7:32 pm

    Merry Christmas Jeff. Your words today ring oh so true and your words throughout the year have helped myself and many others, and that is not an opinion. As times go forward and more of us start talking, your name comes up as someone who helped. Thank you much!

  34. Karen#1 permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:48 pm

    My warmest wishes to Jeff and my friends on this Board. I love this Board and consider posters here to be my friends. Happy Christmas in 2010 and may 2011 be the best year yet !

    love/Karen

  35. Jack Airey permalink
    December 24, 2010 12:24 am

    Jeff;

    Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for all you do to educate and entertain us. You’re a real Gem. All of us are so fortunate to have this blog to read and post comments on, that shines so much light on the truth.

  36. Cinnamon permalink
    December 24, 2010 12:25 am

    Super advice, Jeff. Time to put away the problems of Scientology, at least for the moment.

    Best wishes for a peaceful and joyous Christmas, to you and everyone here.

  37. Earthmother permalink
    December 24, 2010 6:33 am

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderfilled New Year, Jeff and all my compatriots here as well. Cheers!!!

  38. December 24, 2010 8:22 am

    Merry Xmas. You’re the independent auditor (pun intended) the CoS needs for scrutinizing.

  39. Stan permalink
    December 24, 2010 11:49 am

    Jeff, really enjoyed the article; it was a welcome antidote to seeing all of the PR celebrations of Christmas that the Church does (such as their “Winter Wonderland” on Hollywood Blvd.) and always wondering, “why are they celebrating something they don’t even believe in?” Of course the answer is that that’s for wogs and outsiders, not true believers. Your perspective as a former insider is quite revealing as to the Church’s true attitudes.

    I hope you will be able to enjoy the holidays yourself and that you have a Merry Christmas!!

  40. Kingair350 permalink
    December 24, 2010 2:46 pm

    Jeff,

    As a result of your many posts you have helped me regain my humanity.

    You are doing valuable work.

    May you and your loved ones revel in Christmas cheer.

  41. Dean Blair permalink
    December 24, 2010 4:19 pm

    Merry Christmas to you Jeff and to everyone who has posted here. This is my first year as a Christian and the holiday takes on a whole new meaning for me.

  42. whodat permalink
    December 24, 2010 8:13 pm

    Merry Christmas to you my friend!

  43. WomanSetFree permalink
    December 25, 2010 12:21 am

    A Very Merry Christmas to all, especially to you Mr Hawkins!
    Beer & Cheese for everyone 😉

  44. Sis O' Sign permalink
    December 25, 2010 7:17 pm

    Hi Jeff!

    After 15 years in Scientology, I am now on my way out. One of the many reasons is this little Christmas story I had…

    I had one Christmas in the Sea Org – one of the worst one can imagine.
    I was hanging around the Base, finishing some cycles so that I
    could route in, so was my new boyfriend. We decided to get
    married as soon as we both made it as full Sea Org members. He
    had some more things to complete, and just a few days before
    Christmas, my recruiters came for me with the good news that
    yes, I got approved to route in. Great! I said, – see you then next
    week, after Christmas. I spend these days with my guy, then I am
    coming.

    No, no, you have to come right now! (guess what weekday was
    that, and what time…) And I don’t remember how many people
    talked to me and they all said how important is that I join right
    now, how great Christmas present I will give to Ron and Mankind
    and all that jazz.

    AND – because I have already done the EPF
    courses and just had to do a quick exam on each – how cool will it
    be that I can already attend the Cheese&Beer party as a new SO
    member, because Christmas in the Sea Org is the most fantastic
    thing one can ever imagine.

    I really didn’t want, I was crying and everything, but had no
    chance against the coertion and gave up. I was in.

    One of the STUPIDEST thing I have ever done!!!

    I flew through my exams and was ready for the Fitness Board, so
    that I could graduate. But the EPF I/C disappeared and went to
    visit his family, and EPF had the afternoon and evening of the
    24th off. Wow! Finally we had good food, that was indeed
    awesome, but that was all there for us to do. And I only had my
    Fitness Board after Christmas, when the peeps came back from
    visiting their families.

    And I was there, lonely at a strange place where I couldn’t do
    anything nice or fun, couldn’t see my boyfriend, couldn’t see my
    12-year-old son who stayed in our home country with his father,
    couldn’t even phone him!!!, nor my parents, and I was
    surrounded with a lot of strange people where I didn’t really
    belong to one group any more but didn’t belong to another one
    yet…

    I wish that NOBODY has Christmas like this, people can have a
    cozy time with their loved ones, wherever they are around the
    Globe.

    (it was so nice when my son came home to me yesterday for Christmas Eve, and right now I am on the tain to my parents and brother’s family… 🙂 )

    Merry Christmas!

  45. hohotai permalink
    December 26, 2010 3:54 am

    Merry Christmas, Jeff. I always thought that the Christmas beer and cheese thing for staff was weird. Christmas is obviously a Christian holiday, but it tugs at our hearts not just for the religious aspect, but maybe more importantly for the concentration on home, family, friends and love. In my org there was an effort made to capture some of those sentiments, but it was balanced as you say by the lip service given to keeping the stats up. I always felt like “to hell with the stats, if they crash this week that will create a base for an affluence in the future.” Keep up the good work and I wish you the best in the upcoming year.

  46. December 26, 2010 8:59 pm

    Dear Jeff
    I’m writing to you at Christmas time to apologise for my harsh and unkind remarks earlier in the year, which I know caused offence and upset. I regret my bad manners and my critical manner.
    It is my intention to adopt a more peaceful and collaborative attitude in the future, not to harbour resentment, and to work together with my fellow Scientologists towards the better world which we all envisioned.
    I sincerely hope that you will accept my apology, and that we can be friends in the future.
    With every good wish for the coming year ahead.
    Warmest regards, Robin

    • Jeff permalink*
      December 28, 2010 3:29 am

      I’ve written to Robin separately to let him know that his gracious apology is, of course, accepted, and I wish him all the best in 2011.

      • lunamoth permalink
        December 28, 2010 3:56 pm

        Jeff (& Robin, too)

        It’s funny, but this simple exchange constitutes the best Christmas post I’ve seen on any blog.

        The spirit of the season, and the very purpose of this blog, is embodied in the grace,
        humility and acceptance of differing viewpoints (without having to agree with them) that you guys just showed the world.

        Thanks again, Jeff, for the kindness and equanimity you show here on a regular basis, and the cool head and tolerance you bring to these discussions. Happy New Year.

        Love

        lunamoth

        Thank you both for exemplifying

      • December 28, 2010 6:34 pm

        Dear Lunamoth

        Thank you so much for your moving validation of our communication. All credit to Jeff for immediately accepting my apology with great generosity of spirit.

        As you quite rightly say, it’s what Christmas is all about!

        Happy New Year to all!

        Love, Robin

  47. Carol permalink
    December 27, 2010 2:12 am

    I wish you all a wonderful New Year!

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