Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

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Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:12 pm UTC

I hate that this is considered news,but Scientology losing it's poster child is pretty big. If he leaves, the way the Church handles things and his potential speaking out about things later could be hugely damaging.

What would be super interesting would be the awareness of manipulative group tactics that Scientology, and indeed, religious as a whole, gets up to to keep members in the flock.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby sardia » Sun Jul 05, 2015 8:46 pm UTC

I'm curious that in 100 years, we're gonna see Scientology as a wacky cult, or it becomes like the Mormons. Desperately seeking legitimacy even though everyone knows their religion is full of crap. Which of course, starts getting into uncomfortable questions about how legitimate all religions are. That's when you shut up or alienate all your friends.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby charliepanayi » Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:17 pm UTC

He must have seen himself in Going Clear.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Lazar » Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:17 pm UTC

sardia wrote:I'm curious that in 100 years, we're gonna see Scientology as a wacky cult, or it becomes like the Mormons.

I think the former. For whatever reasons, Joseph Smith and his message had enough appeal that a popular movement quickly rose up around them, with sufficient size and cohesion to establish its own settler colony. Scientology has never achieved that kind of support – their claimed membership is vastly inflated, consisting in reality of a few scattered individuals with more money than sense. (The highly monetized nature of their practices almost seems as if it was designed to limit popular support.) And with the Internet, people are more aware than ever before of what a ridiculous kind of organization they are. Back in the 80s and 90s, Scientology was just some New Age religion that you vaguely recalled hearing about; now, the narrative of Scientology as a dangerous cult has become part of the public consciousness. Think about Scientologist celebrities, who are their bread and butter: most of them are over 40, and many of them are starting to defect.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby leady » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:31 am UTC

Ah but time adds legitimacy to everything. I'd suggest that the Mormon analogy is probably pretty correct (Jesus came to America - dear god there is crazy and then there is crazy squared)

The true test for a religion is how sticky it is to the children of the faithful - I don't think I've ever seen anything on that for Scientology

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby eSOANEM » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:58 am UTC

Esoteric religions don't have a good track record for being received well by history. How many people remember Manichaeism, Mithraism or any of the other Gnostic religions as anything other than "that weird cult in the middle east" (if at all)? They're also inherently too easy to parody for the public to take them seriously.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:14 pm UTC

The funny one was a Jewish offshoot that claimed that the Jewish god had split himself in three: the original one, a kind of wind that impregnates virgins, and the resulting half-human son who is also his own father. The point of that exercise is to get the son killed in public, to advertise a new and shinier afterlife.

Monty Python made a parody about it, which was indeed too easy. Like, PR lesson number 1. If you were born 6 months after your parents got to know each other, well, this happens. If you don't talk about it, then people won't ask embarrasing questions. Make it the centrepiece of an esoteric cult, and people will laugh at you behind your back.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby cphite » Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:45 pm UTC

sardia wrote:I'm curious that in 100 years, we're gonna see Scientology as a wacky cult, or it becomes like the Mormons. Desperately seeking legitimacy even though everyone knows their religion is full of crap. Which of course, starts getting into uncomfortable questions about how legitimate all religions are. That's when you shut up or alienate all your friends.


Scientology was created by a science fiction and fantasy author who, just months before, was quoted as telling a science fiction convention that "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

What you do with that information is up to you.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:05 pm UTC

I actually wonder why people feel repeating the above point is relevant. Christianity spread because it was endorsed as the official state religion under Constantine. Mormonism is based on heresy.

No one cares about the 'legitimacy' of a religions origin - like super heroes, the origin story is only part of the overall arc.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Whizbang » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:11 pm UTC

Right. It's the costume that really draws the crowds.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:20 pm UTC

Christianity spread because it was endorsed as the official state religion under Constantine.

I never got clear how much of this was cause, and how much was symptom. An imperial patron must have helped Christianity, but it also implies that Christianity had become large enough to act as power base for an emperor.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:36 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Christianity spread because it was endorsed as the official state religion under Constantine.

I never got clear how much of this was cause, and how much was symptom. An imperial patron must have helped Christianity, but it also implies that Christianity had become large enough to act as power base for an emperor.


Agreed. Power is great, but no matter what system, there's a certain element of "the way things are done" that a ruler has to stay vaguely attached to. State religions are one of those big things where imposing an unpopular one can get you a rebellion, or an assassination or whatever.

As a mental exercise, if a scientologist were elected president, I'm not sure that it would do a great deal to support scientology. It'd get talked about more, sure. But attempts to impose it on others would likely have a lot of backlash, because it just doesn't have the public support. In fact, someone openly scientologist probably couldn't get elected in the first place, but even if it somehow happened, I doubt we'd all cheerfully follow it.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Whizbang » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:40 pm UTC

But we are in a democratic society that is used to vocally expressing disfavor, with a strong mentality of separation of church and state. Back in the time of Constantine, state endorsement was a huge boon to a religion.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:44 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:But we are in a democratic society that is used to vocally expressing disfavor, with a strong mentality of separation of church and state. Back in the time of Constantine, state endorsement was a huge boon to a religion.


Granted. And that's why we'd be demonstrating in the streets, rather than a malcontent underling expressing distaste via stabbing.

The disfavor still exists, regardless of if it's expressed in words. Hell, look at the history of Europe. You've got near endless religious disputes that turned into stabbing, outright wars, etc. King decides to swap a religion for his own convenience, that doesn't mean everyone's just gonna accept it, democracy or no.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby eSOANEM » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:29 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:The funny one was a Jewish offshoot that claimed that the Jewish god had split himself in three: the original one, a kind of wind that impregnates virgins, and the resulting half-human son who is also his own father. The point of that exercise is to get the son killed in public, to advertise a new and shinier afterlife.

Monty Python made a parody about it, which was indeed too easy. Like, PR lesson number 1. If you were born 6 months after your parents got to know each other, well, this happens. If you don't talk about it, then people won't ask embarrasing questions. Make it the centrepiece of an esoteric cult, and people will laugh at you behind your back.


I think esoteric's redundant there. For one thing, christianity isn't really an esoteric religions (and esoteric sects have always been minor elements). Outside a few exceptions (the various gnostic christian sects), they've generally been pretty happy to tell the uninitiated their beliefs. An esoteric religion/cult on the other hand keeps some or all of its beliefs secret so that only the initiated know everything (often with multiple levels of initiation). This makes things like Manichaeism, Mithraism, Paulicianism, Yazidism and, to a certain extent, Catharism and Bogomilism esoteric, but none of the major branches of christianity once it started codifying things (nestorian, miaphysite, orthodox, catholic or mainstream protestant) have any significant esoteric elements.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Derek » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:05 am UTC

Even if Christianity is a perfect example of a strange cult becoming accepted as mainstream, you could argue that the vast majority of cults fail, and only a very small minority ever become substantial. We don't see all the failures, because they're so small and quickly forgotten. Using Christianity as an example of how Scientology could succeed is survivorship bias. Scientology is still almost certainly going to collapse before becoming mainstream.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby sardia » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:34 am UTC

I always find it, I dunno, ironic? filled with schadenfreude?, when people try to say "well their thing is nothing but a wacky cult, but my thing is different, cuz our is real". Seriously, what difference is there between Mormons getting started, and Jesus's rebellion against the Jews? Or hell, what the difference between Scientology and the Jewish religion? There's nothing wrong with the Greco/Roman, Druidic spirits, or the Egyptian gods. If anything, a single all powerful god is the really crazy idea. Polytheism is much more realistic.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:19 am UTC

I'm gonna start the Cult Of Kurzweil. But this is gossip about gossip since Cruise hasn't said anything, just his flacks.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby jestingrabbit » Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:40 am UTC

I think that one of the things that is probably different between religions that have been around a long time, and those that fizzle and die, or are subsumed, is that some sets of ideas express something true about human experience, something that helps people, whereas others express something less true or that's less useful. Also, some create community around a few charismatic individuals, whilst others create community around shared practices.

So, for instance, the Objectivists never really had a chance after Rand's death. I think that the Scientologists are likewise up against a pretty hard truth atm. The Mormon's, hated by those around them, isolated themselves and created a strong sense of community. I think the Mandaeans, people who worship John the baptist, are also an interesting case. Esoteric, and very long lasting.

Also, I don't think it was ever the case that christianity was esoteric, in the sense that it wasn't based around bodies of ever more secret knowledge.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Djehutynakht » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:04 am UTC

Fun fact: Apparently Zoroastrianism is making a small comeback amongst the Kurds, some of whom are getting fed up with Islam after this whole IS business, and who see Zoroastrianism as a more Kurdish belief system (Zoroaster was a Kurd).

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Cradarc » Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:11 am UTC

According to Wikipedia, "religion" is:
An organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.

and "cult" is:
a religious or social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices.

A cult is just a (mostly negative) way to describe a group of people with an explicitly shared set of philosophical beliefs who have formed a social bond.
We can form one here!

We need a group of people who accept these beliefs:
1. The meaning of life is to pursue happiness and knowledge.
2. Consciousness is nothing more than the collection of physical interactions within the brain.
3. We shall have weekly discussions on XKCD fora to stimulate our brains and bring more meaning into our lives.

Now, find someone who disagrees with the above, and we are officially a cult to that person. \0/
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Derek » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:39 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:(Zoroaster was a Kurd).

At least a thousand years, probably much more, separate Zoroaster from the earliest evidence of a Kurdish identity. In addition, Kurdish is a Western Iranian language, while Avestan (the language of Zoroastrianism) is an Eastern Iranian language. It seems unlikely that the Kurds have any more claim on Zoroaster than do any other Iranian ethnic group.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Whizbang » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:41 pm UTC

Religions are memes, in the Dawkins sense, and so the longer lasting ones can be used to infer something about humans. Whether or not that reveals any meaningful truths about humanity or "helps people" more than it harms them is up for debate I suppose, but for my money it just reveals mental weaknesses where parasites can latch on to and feed off of humanity.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 07, 2015 1:24 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Religions are memes, in the Dawkins sense, and so the longer lasting ones can be used to infer something about humans. Whether or not that reveals any meaningful truths about humanity or "helps people" more than it harms them is up for debate I suppose, but for my money it just reveals mental weaknesses where parasites can latch on to and feed off of humanity.
Parasites are highly specialized and adapted organisms.

I think 'detrivore' is a better fit analogy.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Lazar » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:32 pm UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:(Zoroaster was a Kurd).

Are you sure about that? From what I can tell it's pretty unclear where Zoroaster was from, except that it was somewhere in the Iranian Plateau, and it's also unclear exactly who the ancient antecedents of the Kurds were.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby sardia » Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:(Zoroaster was a Kurd).

Are you sure about that? From what I can tell it's pretty unclear where Zoroaster was from, except that it was somewhere in the Iranian Plateau, and it's also unclear exactly who the ancient antecedents of the Kurds were.

For religion, it doesn't matter if it has any basis. What matters is if your claim helps your movement. Example. French king needed some legitimacy, so he claimed Jesus had a previously unknown son. And that he and his ilk bloodline ran straight to that child. Therefore, you have to accept him as king, ordained by God.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:47 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:According to Wikipedia, "religion" is:
An organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.

and "cult" is:
a religious or social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices.

A cult is just a (mostly negative) way to describe a group of people with an explicitly shared set of philosophical beliefs who have formed a social bond.
We can form one here!

We need a group of people who accept these beliefs:
1. The meaning of life is to pursue happiness and knowledge.
2. Consciousness is nothing more than the collection of physical interactions within the brain.
3. We shall have weekly discussions on XKCD fora to stimulate our brains and bring more meaning into our lives.

Now, find someone who disagrees with the above, and we are officially a cult to that person. \0/


No. A cult involves a number of other factors, such as demanding that you cut off people who are not members of the cult from your life and spending so much time involved in cult activities that you are largely detached from the rest of the world. That's just a poor definition of the word there.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Lazar » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:05 pm UTC

"Cult" can have different definitions. In its older senses the meaning is broad enough to encompass any system of worship; the definition that you're talking about, though also valid, is a very particular one that developed in the English-speaking world in the 20th century.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Derek » Tue Jul 07, 2015 7:30 pm UTC

sardia wrote:For religion, it doesn't matter if it has any basis. What matters is if your claim helps your movement. Example. French king needed some legitimacy, so he claimed Jesus had a previously unknown son. And that he and his ilk bloodline ran straight to that child. Therefore, you have to accept him as king, ordained by God.

Did any French king ever actually claim that? Wasn't that just a myth made up by Dan Brown?

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:40 pm UTC

Nope, it was made up in some BBC documentary from the 80s.

Zoroaster, on the other hand, was probably made up by Nietzsche for his novel. There are no primary sources that mention the guy before the 1880s.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Lazar » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:53 pm UTC

Uh, what? He's mentioned in the Avesta.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:56 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:"Cult" can have different definitions. In its older senses the meaning is broad enough to encompass any system of worship; the definition that you're talking about, though also valid, is a very particular one that developed in the English-speaking world in the 20th century.


Yes, language has shifted, older definitions of the word do not reflect how it is used now. Scientology is a cult, in that contemporary sense. To talk about other definitions of cult you need to be fairly specific that you are using in an archaic way.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Jul 07, 2015 11:37 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
sardia wrote:For religion, it doesn't matter if it has any basis. What matters is if your claim helps your movement. Example. French king needed some legitimacy, so he claimed Jesus had a previously unknown son. And that he and his ilk bloodline ran straight to that child. Therefore, you have to accept him as king, ordained by God.

Did any French king ever actually claim that? Wasn't that just a myth made up by Dan Brown?


If you want a genuine example of that, a bunch of anglo-saxon royal genealogies show descent from woden although this seems to have towards the end of the pagan period (I don't think the British royal families ever re-drawn their early genealogy so, arguably, by the transitivity of descent, claims to be descended from Odin).
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby sardia » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:10 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:
Derek wrote:
sardia wrote:For religion, it doesn't matter if it has any basis. What matters is if your claim helps your movement. Example. French king needed some legitimacy, so he claimed Jesus had a previously unknown son. And that he and his ilk bloodline ran straight to that child. Therefore, you have to accept him as king, ordained by God.

Did any French king ever actually claim that? Wasn't that just a myth made up by Dan Brown?


If you want a genuine example of that, a bunch of anglo-saxon royal genealogies show descent from woden although this seems to have towards the end of the pagan period (I don't think the British royal families ever re-drawn their early genealogy so, arguably, by the transitivity of descent, claims to be descended from Odin).

Wouldn't Jesus, and prior to that, Judaism be the best examples? They literally claimed that an omnipotent god directed them to found their own empire.


Hmm, I can't google any examples of French Kings who claimed godly descent. The closest I can get is the generic Divine Right of Kings and maybe the Holy Roman Empire. I guess cultural indoctrination strikes again.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby jestingrabbit » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:24 am UTC

sardia wrote:Wouldn't Jesus, and prior to that, Judaism be the best examples? They literally claimed that an omnipotent god directed them to found their own empire.


I don't think either of those are people claiming to have political legitimacy as a consequence of being a descendant of god.
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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby sardia » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:30 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:
I don't think either of those are people claiming to have political legitimacy as a consequence of being a descendant of god.

Can you elaborate? Isn't religion an extension of politics, aka who gets what and what should we do? There weren't exactly the most mainstream group when both groups were founded. It seems claiming to be descendants of god is to gain legitimacy was exactly what they were intending.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:03 am UTC

Religion isn't necessarily intertwined with politics. It can be, and often has historically. But it does not intrinsically need to be. Like Economics. Often intertwined with politics, but not necessarily.

Lazar wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:(Zoroaster was a Kurd).

Are you sure about that? From what I can tell it's pretty unclear where Zoroaster was from, except that it was somewhere in the Iranian Plateau, and it's also unclear exactly who the ancient antecedents of the Kurds were.


Yeah, I rescind that. Got my facts mixed up.

Some Kurds may have claimed Zoroaster was one of theirs, I'm not entirely sure. But some see it as more Kurdish in general, closer to their own culture intrinsically than, say, Islam.

Checking Wikipedia it seems I had mixed up Zoroaster and Saladin. I have no idea how, but there you go.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Derek » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:46 am UTC

eSOANEM wrote:If you want a genuine example of that, a bunch of anglo-saxon royal genealogies show descent from woden although this seems to have towards the end of the pagan period (I don't think the British royal families ever re-drawn their early genealogy so, arguably, by the transitivity of descent, claims to be descended from Odin).

Sure, I know that there are royal families that have claimed divine descent. But no Christian monarchy was among them. The easiest example is the Japanese emperors who directly claim (or claimed, before WWII) to descend from Amaterasu. I believe some Egyptian pharaohs made a similar claim, and I think Persian emperors might have as well? Greek rulers also liked to claim descent from heroes (especially Heracles/Hercules), who were usually themselves part divine.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:16 am UTC

Christian Kings wouldn't claim descent from Jesus. To do so is to imply that Jesus married and had a son, which is a huge contradiction to official Church doctrines, and thus heresy. It would hurt you way more than it would help you. Maybe a Saint, I guess. You can be descended from (or related to) Saints.

In some religions though, yeah, descent from Gods wasn't unusual.

In some places, the king was considered a God. Many Egyptian Pharaohs, for instance. But even then, you have to be careful. When Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten and abolished the Egyptian Pantheon for a single Sun God, the Aten, all of Egypt got pretty ticked off at him (especially the priest class of the old religion). They put up with it until he died, but almost immediately after his heir and son, Tutankhaten, had to change everything back... including his own name.

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Re: Tom Cruise considering leaving Church of Scientology

Postby duckshirt » Wed Jul 08, 2015 4:00 am UTC

sardia wrote:
jestingrabbit wrote:
I don't think either of those are people claiming to have political legitimacy as a consequence of being a descendant of god.

Can you elaborate? Isn't religion an extension of politics, aka who gets what and what should we do? There weren't exactly the most mainstream group when both groups were founded. It seems claiming to be descendants of god is to gain legitimacy was exactly what they were intending.

I think she explained it the first time... neither Abraham nor Jesus nor gained political power by claiming to be a descendent of God (aside from maybe claiming everyone is a child of God or something broad like that).
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