Trump dress

Op Ed: Scientology, Cannibalism, Sexuality, and Reza Aslan

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Religious scholar and Scientology supporter Reza Aslan, for reasons of trite sensationalism on television, ate a piece of human brain on his CNN show Believer with Reza Aslan. This act of cannibalism on the banks of the Ganges with India’s Aghori monks was followed by an Aghori cleric eating his own feces and hurling them at the fleeing Reza Aslan. This was both cowardice and contradiction on Aslan’s part; for if Aslan can eat human brain then why can’t he consume feces as well? After all, he seems intent on proving that he can transcend the boundaries of convention in order to find the truth. Like Jesus, Reza Aslan wants to associate with the outcasts. And yet he has limits and places he will stop. For this reason he could not eat feces or spend the night in a sacred cave in Hawaii due to something as inconsequential as his fear of drowning.

Aslan, a wannabe Anthony Bourdain, is no Bourdain. Not even close. Aslan lacks Bourdain’s subtlety, intellect, sophistication, and screen presence. What Reza Aslan is doing on his CNN show is not sophisticated. Rather, what Aslan is doing is engaging in a weekly freak show during which, at the end of each episode, he affirms the intrinsic holiness of every religious path no matter how strange it is.

Thus, one can see the lazy formulaic mediocrity of Aslan’s television show without much work: Reza Aslan espouses Universalism, the view that all paths lead to God — even if these paths involve cannibalism, hurling feces, or believing that a self-admitted narcissist in  Hawaii named Jezus, a man who appears to be mentally ill, is the Messiah and prophet of the coming apocalypse. By embracing Universalism, Aslan can stage his televised freak show and reconcile demented cultic behavior to God at the conclusion of each episode. In doing so, Reza Aslan ultimately affirms nothing but his own inability to deal with serious criticisms of cults. Reza Aslan is a dilettante doing eminently forgettable throwaway television.

That Reza Aslan engaged in cannibalism with the Aghori comports perfectly with Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s teaching on cannibalism:

CLEARED CANNIBAL, the individual without engrams seeks survival along all of the dynamics in accordance with his breadth of understanding. This does not mean that a Zulu who has been cleared of all his engrams would not continue to eat missionaries if he were a cannibal by education; but it does mean that he would be as rational as possible about eating missionaries; further, it would be easier to re-educate him about eating missionaries if he were a Clear. – L. Ron Hubbard, Science of Survival, as cited in the 1975 edition of Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary.

It is both bizarre and psychologically revealing to consider that Hubbard would allow cannibalism to be practiced within Scientology while condemning all LGBTQ persons in the pages of Dianetics:

The sexual pervert (and by this term Dianetics, to be brief, includes any and all forms of deviation in dynamic two such as homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual sadism, etc., and all down the catalog of Ellis and Krafft-Ebing) is actually quite ill physically.

Hubbard condemnation of LGBTQ persons, and therefore Scientology’s condemnation, gets even stranger when we consider that Hubbard cited the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft Ebing as his authority. As LGBT Nation wrote of Krafft Ebing:

Richard von Krafft Ebing was a German Professor of psychiatry born in 1840 who spent much of his professional career studying, publishing, and lecturing on what he considered to be sexual aberrations. While many remember him for coining terms which first appeared in his book Psycopathia Sexualis with Especial Reference to Antipathic Sexual Instinct like fetishism, sexual psychopath, masochism, sadism, necrophilia, and heterosexuality, what he has ultimately been most remembered for was his role in the criminalization of homosexuality…

LGBT Nation goes on state that Krafft Ebing had two concerns which were later embraced by Hubbard and Scientology:

Krafft Ebing had two main concerns in the world of human sexuality; masturbation and homosexuality, both of which he saw as deviant.

Given Hubbard’s hatred of psychiatry and Scientology’s stated goal to obliterate psychiatry, it is breathtaking to consider that Scientology’s highly negative and condemnatory views of LGBTQ persons and of masturbation are informed by a 19th century German psychiatrist. This shows the blatant contradiction and intellectual bankruptcy at the core of Hubbard’s denunciation of LGBTQ persons as “1.1’s” and degraded beings.”

However, Hubbard was fine with cannibalism. Conversely, Reza Aslan’s show on Hinduism sparked massive outrage in the global Hindu community, with numerous articles criticizing Aslan. The Washington Post wrote:

Religion scholar Reza Aslan ate cooked human brain tissue with a group of cannibals in India during Sunday’s premiere of the new CNN show “Believer,” a documentary series about spirituality around the globe.

The outcry was immediate. Aslan, a Muslim who teaches creative writing at the University of California at Riverside, was accused of “Hinduphobia” and of mischaracterizing Hindus.

“With multiple reports of hate-fueled attacks against people of Indian origin from across the U.S., the show characterizes Hinduism as cannibalistic, which is a bizarre way of looking at the third largest religion in the world,” lobbyist group U.S. India Political Action Committees said in a statement, according to the Times of India.

Reza Aslan is clearly committed to sensationalism and not scholarship. For this reason, his CNN television show must be seen for what it is: A cynical attention-seeking professor of creative writing, for that is what Aslan actually is, seeking to make a second career for himself in television. Reza Aslan does not have a Ph.D. in religious studies and is not a religious scholar by either training or academic position. For CNN to promote Aslan as a “religious scholar” is misleading inasmuch as actual religious scholars have Ph.D.’s in religious studies.

Reza Aslan is an attention whore. In this vein, his foray into cannibalism with the Aghori monks can be compared to professional Scientology attention whore Joy Villa and the Trump dress she wore to this year’s Grammy show:

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Following her PR coup at on the Grammy red carpet, Joy Villa appeared at a Gays For Trump rally in Washington DC where she called for love and tolerance. I don’t see how Joy Villa, as a Scientologist, reconciles Scientology’s hatred and condemnation of LGBTQ persons with what she is doing by supporting Gays for Trump. Likewise, Reza Aslan’s CNN show lacks substance and instead is merely, like Joy Villa’s Trump dress, blatant attention-seeking by resorting to sensationalism.

Reza Aslan’s show on Scientology is next week. Aslan has already betrayed himself here by stating that he will cast the demented and vicious Scientology Cult in a favorable light. Hence, Reza Aslan will be donning his own version of the Trump dress in order to create some sensationalism in which he is the center of attention. Like I said, Aslan’s television show is lazy formulaic mediocrity.