Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's not too late to participate

Thank you to everyone who has decided already to help out with the Holiday Parlour Tour in Lafayette Square on December 11th.  Winnie is still looking for several additional volunteers.  Details about the tour itself can be found here.

We will have an opportunity to show our new neighbors the newly-rehabbed auditorium and meet a few thousand people in one day.

I also have several tickets for the tour itself if you are interested.

Please let me or Winnie know within the next few days if you are able to assist with this event.  I also ask that you pass this information on to the Scientologists in your email lists who might want to help.  It's lining up to be a great afternoon with some of your best friends.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday spirit

What is holiday spirit?  What causes that rare sensation of goodwill and contentment that sums up the month of December?

Is it the hope of getting presents?  No.  We receive presents at different times of the year, but it doesn't cause us to be nicer to people.

Is it getting awesome deals during black Friday?  Definitely not.  One shopper pepper sprayed another on her way to a deal this year.

Do the music and decorations remind us of past pleasure moments and so compel us to happiness?  No.  Squawks of protest at the trees in Wal-mart on November 1st tell us year-round decorations and music wouldn't save the world, and we are more than happy to take these things down in January.

This is a good question to resolve.  In conversations with friends, I've often heard that the world would be a better place if we could just keep the "holiday spirit" all year around.  This is true... but how do we do this?  The secret to being able to maintain this sort of positive response to life would rely heavily on pinpointing its cause.

Wise men and women throughout the ages have already provided the answer to this question - we don't need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to use those which were already painstakingly created.  The key is noticing that the feelings of contentment and goodwill are not created externally.  They are not the result of being the effect of positive things, but rather, causing them.  

During the holiday season, when we take our inspiration from the great religious leaders of the past and do charity for others or treat them with kindness, we feel happier because it are these actions of caring and charity that create happiness - not just for other people, but for ourselves.  However, if we believe that our happiness was the result of the trees now wilted and the snow which has turned to slush, our "holiday spirit" will fade, along with the faded tinsel and trees.

Listen to the words of George Eliot.  "It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by caring very much about our own narrow pleasures.  We can only have the highest happiness such as goes along with true greatness by having wide thoughts and much feeling for the rest of the world as well as ourselves.  This special sort of happiness often brings so much pain with it that we can only tell it from pain by its being what we would choose above everything else, because our souls see that it is good."

As human beings, it is our privilege to be allowed to help others.  When we omit these actions and concentrate only on "helping ourselves," we actually abandon the only activities which would create our own happiness.  The holidays give us an opportunity to remember one again and to practice the true route to happiness.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who are you calling a monkey?

I'd like to recommend to you "Ramayana: Divine Loophole," which is a beautiful retelling of an Indian poem that is 2500 years old.  In it, we learn about the battles between the ten-headed demon Ravana (whose name means, "the one who makes the universe scream") and Rama, who is a human incarnation of the god Vishnu.

Before he was a demon, Ravana was a scholar who meditated for 10,000 years.  All that staring at his navel made him a bit batty, and when he achieved his goal from the meditation, he went on a rampage; disrupting cosmic order.  

It had been ordained that he couldn't be killed by god or demon, so he wreaked havoc with impunity.  The gods perceived they were in a mess and appealed to Vishnu, the god of justice for help.

Vishnu thought about the predicament, and came to the conclusion that although the demon could not be destroyed by god or demon, he could be destroyed by an animal or a human, and so allowed himself to be born in human form.  

Vishnu was born as Rama, a prince in a prosperous kingdom.  He and his brother, Lakshman, became best friends and compatriots in numerous adventures.  They were intensely devoted to each other.

Eventually, the time came to destroy Ravana.  Rama and his brother befriended everyone they could to participate in the coming battle.

Rama quickly became friends with the king of the monkeys who, as it turns out, also happened to be a god who had forgotten his powers.

The king of the monkeys soon became Rama's right-hand man in the battle against the ten-headed demon.

The demon, Ravana, was a deadly foe.  He could see in any direction and just by himself was more than a match for the armies.  

On the battlefield, Ravana sought Rama's brother and pierced him with a poison arrow.  Rama was so upset by the impending loss of his brother that he all but gave up the fight.  It looked like Ravana would rule the universe.

However, the monkey king realized that if he could find the right herbs, he could save the brother's life and Rama could return to the fight.  He flew to a mountain and searched for the right herbs, but was surprised to see thousands of plants that he didn't recognize.

He had to get the right herb to Rama - but which one?  There was only time for one trip.

In response to this dilemma, the monkey king  picked up the whole mountain and brought it back to Rama and his brother, thereby saving the life of the person most dear to Rama and allowing him to continue on and win.

I love this story.  It is a story of devotion and demonstrates that no individual - even a reincarnated god - survives alone.

I'm fortunate to work with several people who, like the monkey king in the story, would move mountains to achieve our goals.  You know who you are.

The images in this blog were taken from "Ramayana: Divine Loophole" by Sanjay Patel.  It has become one of Allie's favorite picture books - and I have read it a number of times.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is better in the morning than coffee?

I received this email at 5:30 this morning... It was better than a cup of coffee.  

Hi Chad,

I just woke up before the alarm went off this morning and had a huge realization that I have not made a contribution to the general operations of the Org in a long time.  We have events to raise money for the building and for charitable activities across the dynamics, but what about the day-to-day operations of the Church and helping out our own nearly-volunteer-yet-working-full-time staff?

This is the place that I get to hang out with incredible, up-tone people.

This is the place that helps me learn the tools to live a better life and grow stronger.

This is the place that reaches out and provides hope to others with the Tech to improve their lives.

This is where I met and married my incredible partner. 

This is the place that feeds my spirit.

Today, I cannot make a huge gift, but I will contribute an ample amount; and I will continue to make a donation every month for this purpose; not because I have to, nor because I should, but because it is absolutely the right thing to do.

And I hope that others can have this same kind of realization for themselves.

And then act on it.  Often. 

 It is the action that produces results.

Thanks to you, the Staff and LRH for your unwavering dedication to the Truth.

Keep up the good work and fighting the good fight.

Mankind needs your level of dedication.

Flourish and Prosper,

[name omitted to protect the innocent]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Drum roll please

The B's are done!

Bet you think they look beautiful!

What's next?!

Ask any preschooler...

The C's!

Come one, come all and catch CF fever as we congregate to complete a concatenation of filing.

Contact Madison for details, or just Come on in.

 - Chad

Monday, November 14, 2011

How do you eat an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant?

First, some specs:

Elephants are the largest land animals in the world.  

Elephants can weigh up to 14,000 pounds - the equivalent of 5 Porsche Boxsters.

If an elephant had to find a skirt for the prom, she would need to locate a size 162.

If an elephant fell off the vegetarian wagon, he would consume 800 Big Macs a day and still have plenty of room for as many orders of  fries.

So... How do you eat an elephant?

For one thing, you'd have to be pretty interested in accomplishing your task.  Once you started, you'd have to keep going.  It would look at times that you were never going to get through that thing.  

Ron describes this in the article, Happiness and Interest. He says, "Believe me, it takes a lot of interest to get you through the task of digging half a mountain away to find some gold or sawing down a redwood tree. (And they didn't used to have saws when they first cut those things down; they had very bad axes.)  It takes a lot of interest to keep a fellow at a job all the way through."

This doesn't quite answer the question, though, does it?  I mean, where does that interest come from?  There is no prize at the end of our entree - just the satisfaction of a job well(?) done.  Maybe elephants don't taste too good... 

Further in the same article, Ron says, "Interest is not at fault.  It isn't because a person has become interested in things and then had been disabused and betrayed and so had to withdraw from them. That is not what is wrong with the person.  It is simply that he failed to keep on generating interest in what he was doing."

Apparently, we have to generate interest in our plate of pachyderm.  It is not a question of whether it is good or bad or whether we've already made elephant stew over and over again.  Instead, it is simply a question of whether or not we are willing to keep at it until it's done.

Although I hadn't thought of it before just now, I guess this could apply to any large undertaking - not just eating an elephant, but even such things as raising the money to renovate a 60,000 square foot building!

The good news is that generating the interest for a large undertaking is not as arduous and dull as it may seem.  Rather, generating interest  is the key to happiness.  As Ron says, "Well, the clue to happiness is being interested in life.  People's happiness is as great as they can create it.  They will not experience happiness from any other quarter than their own generation.  They will get the amount of happiness that they can generate...  The anatomy back of it is simply this: how much interest can a person generate, and can he generate enough interest to get him over all the heavy energy which has to be invested along the line.  It is how much interest he can generate himself, how much he himself can keep interested in life that makes him happy.  Because happiness is application of self to existence.  That is all there is to happiness."

So, how do you eat an elephant?

Happily, one bite at a time.

It's art!

Your help
is needed for 
Lafayette Square
Parlor tour
12 Scientologists needed as assistants
for one day.
Duties will include:
Passing out cider and cookies
Passing out The Way to Happiness
Spreading Holiday cheer
at the largest "parlor" 
on display.
This will be the first time that the Church of Scientology of Missouri will open the doors of its newly-renovated auditorium to the general public.  Come help make it an amazing day!  Email me if you would like to participate. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We will now pause for a public service announcement

Chuck sent this in response to yesterday's blog.  I am reprinting it here as a public service.

What am I Thankful for?

I’m thankful that my wife of twenty-five years is my best friend and support. I’m thankful we both create our relationship. When I was younger and yearning for a good partner, I never thought it would be like this. Wonderful!

I’m thankful for all the create that the St. Louis org staff does - day after day – putting an org here in St. Louis. And a good one too!

I’m thankful for the Golden Age of Knowledge and all of the work that was put into it by those who brought it out and all the work by staff in getting it out. What a product. Back in the day just one tiny part of it would have been drooled over by staff and public. All of it together? Fabulous!

I’m thankful for the Golden Age of Tech. This is the best training lineup - by far! - that I’ve ever seen in my 38 years in Scientology. And that’s coming from a tech person!

I’m thankful to see the 3rd & 4th dynamics wins Scientologists are making in the world. The inroads that The Way to Happiness, Applied Scholastics, Narconon, Youth for Human Rights, Volunteer Ministers and Citizen's Commission for Human Rights activities are causing are amazing.

Chuck Ridenour

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It never gets old

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  G.K. Chesterton

A crisp wind blows the remaining leaves from the trees and batters against the windows on the third floor of the church.  The squirrels have packed on the pounds and the fur on their tails heralds a more permanent change in the weather. Schnucks is selling candy canes.  Thanksgiving approaches!

I enjoy Thanksgiving immensely.  It is a final moment of rest before the end-of-year frenzy and hopefully, a moment to reflect with friends and family upon the wonder of "everyday" life.  The premise for the holiday - that of giving thanks - helps to remind us that gratitude is, indeed, the highest form of thought; and that wonder at life is a much more appropriate emotion than cynicism.  This is easy to forget when we are daily immersed in constant demands for our attention in the forms of advertising and a news media that treats the trivial as though it were immediate and threatening.

I have much to be thankful for.  My wife has now lived with me for over ten years and somehow still enjoys my company.  My daughter, despite being deaf, has learned to read and write well and "sets the standard for the rest of her peers." (this is a coded term, meaning that she is bossy.)   This is the result of a tremendous amount of patience, work and donations from myriad people.  And, I don't like to brag, but the parishioners and staff of my church are the best in the world.  They make my job easy and a joy.

What are you thankful for?  How would your life be different were it not for the people and groups who surround you?

Email your responses to me at or post them in the comments below.  I am very interested in hearing from you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What is more fun than playing Angry Birds?

We know that there are three components to a human being.  A person is a spiritual being who uses a mind to control his body.

When a human learns to perform an activity such as playing the piano, he uses the facility of his mind to "teach" his body to obey his intention, which is to play some Beethoven to impress the ladies.

As a church, we have a "body," which is the facility itself.  You are familiar with that... you donate for it, you sweep its floors, you pour over the space plans so that you may offer suggestions.

The staff of the church are its "spiritual being."

These are the guys that give direction to and will activate the "body" and give it life and action.

You are also familiar with that... some of them are your best friends.

Is there a component which is the "mind" of the organization?  If so, it must be pretty important.  Imagine our human trying to learn to play Beethoven if he never learned to read music or if he repeatedly forgot the function of a piano, but instead tried to play it like a trumpet.

Yes, there is a "mind" - and it is our Central Files.  Composed of over 20,000 files, it represents our ability to reach out to and contact those very same people who will donate to complete the church fundraising and who will later join staff as we approach our grand opening.

The value of getting these files in proper order now, rather than at the end of our renovations, is that we can then use the files to acquire more friends to help us get our renovations, fundraising and staff procurement done faster.

We already have several volunteers working on the files, but there is quite a bit of work to do.

You can devote as little as an hour a week to the project with benefit - although no one will complain if you choose to work at it 60 hours a week, either.  Each person who works on the project for an hour will receive a commendation, and there are bigger and better commendations the longer a volunteer is active as a participant.

I'd like to invite you to come in and help out.  In the words of one volunteer, "Working in Central Files is more fun than playing Angry Birds... ok, well... at least it's more productive."

Madison is heading up the project every Tuesday and Thursday night - come on in and he'll get you started.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remember, Remember the 5th of November...

We are approaching the 5th of November.  Guy Fawkes day.  Although this is a British holiday, I know of the date because I have watched V for Vendetta 50 million times.

The lone man single-handedly leading a group of oppressed people against an overwhelmingly powerful government using only kung fu, homemade explosives and a few videos is uniquely entertaining.  The movie is exceptionally well-done and strikes a similar chord as The Matrix, which I watched 9 times in the theater.

I recently read up on Guy Fawkes, hoping to find a fascinating tale of heroism and bravery.  I thought that perhaps it would be a story of inspiration to impart to the readers of this blog.  Instead, I discovered that Fawkes was actually a failed terrorist.  He attempted to blow up parliament, but was betrayed by his comrades when they discovered that the plot would hurt innocent people, captured by the police and finally tortured until he confessed the names of his accomplices.  The only noteworthy aspect of his execution was that he managed to break his own neck before being drawn and quartered, thereby saving himself the agony of being disemboweled while he was alive.  Some even say the plot would have failed in any case because the gunpowder his group had amassed was too wet and old to create an explosion... not a very inspirational story.

Guy Fawkes ostensibly became a member of this plot to protest a lack of religious freedom.  He failed because he failed to apply the principles of his religion to achieve that goal.  Jesus was a clear advocate of nonviolence as a means of protest.  The idea of murdering even the worst oppressor would have been abhorrent to the founder of Christianity.

The problem with using Mr. Fawkes' likeness as a symbol of personal freedom is that he symbolizes not freedom from oppression, but rather enslavement to the very forces that have dominated mankind's history of violence, war and thievery for thousands of years.

In the words of Gandhi, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."  Guy Fawkes was truly blind.  He failed to recognize that the world is not composed of action heroes and evil villains, but of human beings; and that if effective change is to be achieved, it will be not through death and destruction, but through increased communication and empathy with one's fellows.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Say what?

"There are three reasons why Upjohn is here taking an interest in these [psychiatric] diagnoses.  The first is money.  The second is money.  And the third is money." 
                                                  - CEO Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, maker of Xanax

Working only for money has a long and venerable tradition.

In fact, the first that comes to mind is piracy.  Of course, as Bela Kiraly said, "Even pirates, before they attack another ship, hoist a black flag," whereas makers of psychotropics follow no such code.  The FDA must force big pharma to hoist their jolly roger in the form of their "black box" warning labels; but only after bright, sunshiny ads have spirited millions of people away on the dangerous ship of "take a pill to be happy," travelling the uncharted and treacherous waters of thousands of side effects.

One could also be a mercenary.  Free from the responsibility of fighting for such higher goals as love of one's country or honor, one is free to pillage foreign lands as has been done for centuries.  Mercenaries of old would go from land to land, sometimes switching sides mid battle when better pay could be obtained elsewhere.

"In order to survive, we [psychiatrists] must go where the money is." 
Steven Sharfstein, Ex-President, American Psychiatric Association

Finally, there is the oldest and perhaps most cynical money-making profession of all.  Mentioned in the Old Testament, practitioners of this trade have long discarded any semblance of what human decency or love their acts may have once represented - all in the name of money.

"There is no definition of a mental disorder.  It's bullshit.  I mean, you just can't define it."
Dr. Allen Frances, psychiatrist and chief editor of the DSM-IV

"The more disorders you put in, the more people get labels." 
Michael First, psychiatrist and editor of DSM-IV

At least we know where the editors of the manual for diagnosis of mental disorders stand.

On the street corner.

I would like to invite all of you to attend the IAS event with me this Saturday.  It is important... remember the words of Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."


Thursday, October 27, 2011

If you want something done...

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to talk with the Mayor of University City, Mayor Shelley Welsch.  I had a great time talking to her - the conversation was very much a demonstration of Ron's description of "people of good will," from The Way to Happiness, "Factually, the society runs on men and women of good will.  Public workers, opinion leaders, those in the private sector who do their jobs are, in the great majority, people of good will... The violent criminal, the propagandist, the sensation-seeking media all tend to distract one's attention from the solid, everyday fact that the society would not run at all were it not for the individuals of good will.  As they guard the street, counsel the children, take the temperatures, put out the fires and speak good sense in quiet voices, one is apt to overlook the fact that people of good will are the ones that keep the world going and Man alive upon this earth."

She has the marvelous idea to establish a "volunteer clearinghouse" - a way to easily match willing volunteers with projects and organizations that need their efforts.  It is demonstrable that there are many more people who are willing to help improve their society than there are people who would rather descend into apathy about it, or worse, harm it.  There are innumerable opportunities to help right here in our own community.  I think that a project such as this would allow for all of us to coordinate our activities and muster our resources.

She has asked for help with the task of getting this project up and running.

Given the fact that you are among the most avid volunteers that I know, and that many of you are able communicators and organizers, I am asking that anyone who would like to help with this contact me, so that I may put them in contact with Mayor Welsch.  This is a great opportunity to help establish something with far-reaching effects in our community.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Handling pressure

Sometimes when travelling a path, we encounter opposition.  The opposition can be either external ("You're not doing that right!  Sorry, I don't have time to help you do it correctly...") or internal ("Is it time for bed yet?")

In either case, we can rest assured that feeling the pressure of that opposition is "part of the process."  While swimming in a choppy sea, it may be difficult to fight the crashing waves and gravity.  It requires much less effort to let go and to sink.  However, there is no pay received for death at sea, other than the dubious honor of being allowed to feed the creatures of the deep.  The only pay comes from persisting and winning against the elements, internal and external, that potentially deny us the opportunity to once again share a day in the sun with our friends, our family.

Again, I return to Chesterton, who said, "The principle is this: that in everything worth having, even in every pleasure, there is a point of pain or tedium that must be survived, so that the pleasure may revive and endure.  The joy of battle comes after the first fear of death; the joy of reading Virgil comes after the bore of learning him; the glow of the sea-bather comes after the icy shock of the sea bath; and the success of the marriage comes after the failure of the honeymoon."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On day 344

December 10th, 1901 - the first Nobel prize was awarded....

December 10th, 1948 - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN...

December 10th, 1958 - the first commercial jet flight in the US....

Decmber 10th, 1961 - the Grateful Dead played their first concert with Jerry Garcia....

and now this...

December 10th, 2011 - Annual Holiday party and Ideal org fundraiser

This will be at Applied Scholastics.  I have placed the order for 3 inches of snow and a horse-drawn carriage.  It will be the premier event of the year for the St. Louis Church of Scientology - not to be missed.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to back a winner every time

When I was in the Twin Cities this weekend, I had an opportunity to witness the final few days before that church opened.  It was a spectacle.  Hundreds of people worked around the clock to get that Church opened so that Scientology could be delivered to that community.  I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this process and contributing to it.

I talked to a Humanitarian who had been filing folders for 26 hours straight when they finally finished the last box of folders that ended the project - less than 12 hours before of the Grand Opening.  She was thrilled to be part of the final hours.

It struck me that she could have sat back to "see" whether or not the filing got done in time for the opening.  She had certainly donated, and no one could pretend that she hadn't contributed to the church - her name as a Humanitarian on the plaque in the new building attested to the fact that she wasn't a slouch; however, she was in there pitching, along with a few dozen other people.  They made that project go right in the final hours, and somehow I doubt that they begrudge their hours of lost sleep now that it is done.

We love to back winners.  We love to know that the guy/gal/church/ army/wife/runner/boxer/team we are rooting for is going to win - that our love and appreciation, our cheers, our financial support and lost sleep are well-spent and that we do not waste our precious resources.  After all, we all have limited time and money to devote to a cause.  We would like to know that those coins are spent in the best manner possible.  We certainly don't want to be "wrong" about our choice.

Chesterton describes this position well in his book, What is Wrong with the World.  He points out that we can never actually back a "winner," as when we are backing them, they haven't won yet.  In his own words, "There is no such thing as fighting on the winning side; one fights to find out which is the winning side."

The spectator who has doubts and so hangs back, the sneering satirist who thinks that pessimism is viable social policy, the lazy gal who sleeps while her friends work their guts out, may all think that they avoid "wasting effort" and avoid "looking silly" by trying to get anything done at all, however, I think it's only the people who try to make a winner that ever will.

I'd personally like to congratulate the staff and the volunteers of the Church of Scientology of Twin Cities - you've all set an example for what it is to persist and to win.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sixteen again

Do you remember when you finally got your driver's license?  The years of yearning, preparation, smooth-talking parents for the keys, study and (gasp) actually taking the driver's test culminate in that moment when you, by yourself, finally turn the keys of the car and you steer onto the open road, knowing that you could literally go anywhere.

I've been in Twin Cities for a few days, and the air crackles with that feeling right now.  We are in the middle of the final moments before the TC staff and public get to "turn the keys."  The staff are alight and the donors I've talked to  - particularly the Humanitarians - have absolute certainty that their dreams are about to manifest after years of sweat and sacrifice.

We in St. Louis can take something from this experience - there is an end goal, and it is absolutely attainable.  As Ron says,

"When you are engaged in the task of making the world sane, you have to keep your eyes on the mountain.  You have to know that you are making the world sane.  THere are advantages to getting the job done.  You do the job fast as you can.  You intend to do it, and you intend to do i t as quickly as it can be done.  The intention is what causes the job to get done.  All the steps that follow the intention are just technical details."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You know you're in the Midwest when...

In honor of the first opening of a beautifully renovated Church of Scientology in the Midwest, I present the following top ten list:

You know you're in the Midwest when...

10.  You find yourself wearing shorts when the first snow falls.

9.  You brought your heavy jacket to the ball game and you have to use it as a stretcher to help the guys with heat stroke.

8.  People let you cut in line at the grocery store when you only have a few items.

7.  When someone smiles at you as they walk by, you don't check to see if your wallet was stolen.

6.  Everybody you know is anxiously awaiting the release of a hybrid pick-up truck.

5.  The children are tan because they play outside.

4.  You have pet names for your favorite pot holes.

3.  You make fun of people who use a definite article when talking about a highway.

2.  "Morality" is not a bad word.

1.  When you ask for help, you get it.
Thank you to Terri A., Matt D., Kevin F., Joelle H. and Donna W.,  who are traveling to Minnesota today to help me help the staff up there get their church opened.  It'll be a great time! 

More people will be arriving over the next day or so - I'd love to see you up there as well.

                                                                                                        - Chad

Monday, October 17, 2011

When you wish upon a spar

As a race, we love to write things for people to read in the far off future.

Chesterton used recently-discovered cave paintings as evidence of man's divine origins.  He used their beauty to counter the materialists of the day who posited that primitive man clubbed their wives and stole them.  His point was that anyone who could make art like this wouldn't need to club their women.

Other evidence of our propensity for scribbling on walls can be seen in Pompeii, where the same ashes that smothered its population helped to preserve the bathroom scribblings and political slogans of 2000 years ago.

Recently, I blogged about some of our donors who wrote immortal words for future generations on old floorboards, to be placed underneath our new auditorium floor.

These boards are now permanently enclosed within the hardwood and concrete of  the site of our future events.  They'll be there for generations to come, heralding a bright new future for St. Louis.

Winnie has located one final board.  We all have things we'd like to say - I am inviting everyone to come in to the church this week and sign it.  This is your chance to have your words preserved and hidden in a place in the new building... of course, no one will read them, but that just makes them a bit more wish-like, a bit more likely to come true...

Friday, October 14, 2011

No oxen here

"A man there was, some thought him mad -
     the more he gave, the more he had."

                                          - John Bunyan

John Bunyan was not a huge man with an ax and an ox.  He was a preacher who lived in the 1600's.  He was jailed many times for "preaching without a license," a crime that ensured that only state-approved religions were disseminated.  Despite imprisonment and slander, he continued to preach.  At times, he resorted to adopting various disguises so that he could steal into town and deliver a sermon while escaping arrest.

It is interesting to reflect on the barriers that people have overcome in order that they may practice their religion.  It makes our goal - a world where the able are free to rise to greater heights - seem all the more worthwhile.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When a critic isn't a critic at all

     Many people have the capability for seeing that something is not right.  There is no shortage of critics.  However, it is rare to find someone who sees that something is wrong and then volunteers to fix it.

     I remember my first visit with Mike about making a donation to the church.  It was one of my first efforts at fundraising.  We were sitting in an office and discussing the International Association of Scientologists event that we had watched earlier that evening, and Mike was considering a donation that would increase his status.  It would be the largest single donation to the IAS that our own local group had ever produced.

     We talked about many things that night.  One of the things that he mentioned was that he did not like the fact that the carpet in the church was getting old.  This was valid - we had been in the building for 10 years, and what with the heavy traffic, the carpet had seen better days.  I had no rebuttal for this - it was a fact, and fundraising isn't a matter of snappy comebacks and wrangling objections.

     As we continued talking, Mike recounted the story of why he was an ardent supporter of Scientology and the IAS -

     Mike had been a soldier in the Vietnam war and came home feeling depressed.  As a result, he became a psychiatric patient.  Rather than cure his depression, the shock treatments he received simply erased his memory.  He was hobbled to the degree that he lost his job, and after his last round of "treatments," he couldn't remember the name of the girlfriend that came to retrieve him from the hospital.

     After several months of clouded memory and eclipsed ability, after losing both his girlfriend and his job, he lay awake in his bed with tears in his eyes.  He could see no route to follow other than that of suicide.  Before drifting off to sleep, he said a prayer. "God, if you show me a way out of this, I will dedicate my life to helping others out as well."

     That morning, he awoke to a Scientology radio hour on KSHE.  After listening to the program and walking into the church, he knew that this was the way out that he sought, and so has dedicated his life to helping others with Scientology.

     Many have told stories about how Scientology saved or changed their lives for the better, but none so dramatic.

     Mike paused for a long while after this and said, with tears in his eyes, "I'll make this donation on one condition."

     "I want you to let me buy new carpet for the church as well."

     Happy birthday, Mike.  You continue to be an inspiration to all of us.  May this be the year when your greatest dreams are realized.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


 It might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. 

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.  

Because children have abounding vitality, 
because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. 
For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. 

It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them....  The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE. Heaven may ENCORE the bird who laid an egg."

G. K. Chesterton

I hope that your every day is an encore of the day before. - Chad

Monday, October 10, 2011

I don't have a job

A vocation is one's calling in life, especially something that requires great skill.

An avocation is a hobby -the derivation is Latin, "a calling away."

"Job" and "vocation" are not interchangeable.  One may sometimes need a vacation from a job, but one never needs a vacation from their vocation.

I am sorry to hear people tell me that they don't like what they do "for a living."  This circumstance is an inverted one - 180 degrees different than the ideal.  The professional life of such people has become an "avocation."  They are being called away from what they truly want to do so that they may trade their time (which is infinitely valuable, yet subject to instant depreciation) for money.

This is why working for a church is such a unique joy.  There is a certain simplicity involved in the knowledge that one isn't working for money or career advancement, but strictly for the love of what is being produced.  I believe that this may explain why the average tenure of a staff member far exceeds the national average for length of time at a job.

I've heard donors describe the fact that they, too, get a similar feeling from making donations.  In these cases, they get to experience the joy of working as a staff member for a greater cause.  Although they may be building houses, neutering cats or filling cavities, they yet have an opportunity to work for something greater in those moments - they get to work for humanity.  And as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Their war paint is sharpie ink

(apologies to Kimya Dawson for swiping her song lyric.)

Last year, this group went to our new building.

This was to celebrate the start of the renovations project for 2345 Lafayette.

The group was very excited - and good looking, too.

Winnie gave an enthusiastic tour of the building, and then...

Everyone present had an opportunity to write their well-wishing and thoughts for the future generations of people that would attend services in the new building.

They wrote these postulates with sharpies on some old auditorium floor boards that Winnie had saved.  I could see that the participants put thought into their words as they stretched their thinking into the far-off future.

Yesterday, Winnie placed these boards underneath the new floor of the auditorium, which is now being completed.

When you attend our grand opening, remember that these inscriptions in sharpie ink are there - underneath your feet - representing the postulate that you, too, will go free.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There's something I'd like to tell you...

There's something I'd like to tell you something today, but I'll let this guy say it.  

The first five minutes are the best.

                                                                                                         Thank you.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Ideas and friends = peanut butter and chocolate

"The world is founded on thoughts and ideas, not on cotton and iron."   Ralph Waldo Emerson

I found those words above the entrance to our Midwest convention this weekend.  I can think of no better reminder of why we were there than this.

This quote is at the center of any charitable activity, including our own.  Donors first decide on a vision, which creates the space in which that vision can occur.  They then contribute the money (energy) required to amplify that idea across that space, and by doing so, they make it manifest in the physical universe.  Without the vision and energy of our donors, even the best ideas will fall flat.  The  matter and energy of the "real world" has inertia that must be overcome, hence the interjection of time between vision and actualization.

A month ago, I discussed the fact we can be made to feel that there is a shortage of resources on this planet to support the human race, but that actually, the only shortage is one of ideas.  I have also discussed the fact that we are not short on friends to make our idea of a cleared planet a reality.  This weekend once again demonstrated that the idea behind our building campaigns is sound, and that we certainly have more friends than we ever may have considered.

Thank you to all of you who went this weekend to Chicago - I had an amazing time.  I'm so happy that many of you have rededicated yourselves to completing our beautiful building in Lafayette square.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's not easy. So why do it?

"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered." - G.K. Chesterton

The trip to Chicago this weekend is like that.  Is it an inconvenience?  It sure is.  However, it is also, rightly considered, an adventure.

Life requires adventure.  If we don't get it or create it through our normal life circumstances, we run aground the shores of monotony.

This perhaps answers the question of how it is that the average American watches 28 hours per week of television.  We as a culture have been persuaded to "delegate" our adventures.  We now watch others learn how to dance with the stars or how to survive in a bizarre mix of personalities on a remote island and live vicariously through these experiences.

I, myself, have encountered this phenomenon.  I used to play video games.  At some point, I realized that I had little "time tags" of my existence that didn't actually exist.  I experienced a false sort of joy of accomplishment from attaining epic goals - defeating dragons or whatnot, while in reality I was... staring at a screen and moving my thumbs.

Since coming to grips with the truth of this form of entertainment, I've also come to terms with the fact that if my life requires some canned adventure, it is because I am boring and I need to pick up the pace on my own, self-created, adventures.  I will say that life has been much more fun for me since I've made this differentiation.

I look forward to going with you to Chicago this weekend.  It is something rather new and I'm not quite sure of the result, except that I will get to spend time with my friends, and hopefully will meet some new ones.

"We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults.  The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one's life.  But anyone who shrinks from that is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being."  G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When will it be done?

Mr. Hubbard said that, "A datum can be evaluated only by a datum of comparable magnitude." 

In this spirit, I'd like to look at the effort of another local church to build its house of worship.

This is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

It is 60,000 square feet - the same size as our building in St. Louis.

Planning for the building was begun in 1870.

The ground breaking ceremony was conducted nearly 40 years later, in 1907.

The building was consecrated in 1914, but not fully completed until the mid-1980s.

It required $3,000,000 to build in 1914, which is $63,000,000 today.

The mosiacs inside, which cover 87,000 square feet of wall space, were designed to remind visitors that, "God reaches into our earthly lives."

I have been in the Cathedral Basilica.  It is an amazing place to visit.  The church has accomplished its goal. The building itself speaks of the spiritual nature of man and his relationship to God.

Although there required over 100 years to plan, build and complete it, I am quite certain that none of its parishioners - of the past nor of the present - regret their participation in creating this beautiful facility.  When viewed against the span of time to complete the Basilica, our own efforts to complete our own ideal building in St. Louis are put into their proper perspective.  The months or years that we spend now are nothing compared to the decades of the future that we are actively creating.

Are we there yet?  No.

Will we get there?  Assuredly.

When?  Exactly.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to handle distractions

What would you do if you didn't have to do the things you were doing?

Would you be an auditor?  Join the Peace Corps?  Join staff?  Become a Humanitarian?  Get full-time auditing at Flag?

(Yes, I know my audience... you aren't the type to sit and do nothing at all.  You'd help others)

"If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work.  The only people who achieve much are those that want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable.  Favorable conditions never come."  - C. S. Lewis

I know that in a few days, I'll be riding a bus to Chicago for 5 hours on Saturday, then back to St. Louis for 5 hours on Sunday.  If you'd like assistance figuring out how to achieve those goals you've got, get on the bus and let me know.  Bring your computer.  I'll bet we can all help each other work out quite a bit in 10 hours.  Let's pave the way for your best year ever in 2012.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"mu." it's not just for cows, anymore.

With a windshield smeared with the innards of bugs from four states, my car found a spot right outside the Kansas City Church of Scientology.  We had just journeyed to Omaha and back, and now I had coaxed the vehicle to make the stop so that I could have lunch with an old friend.

In days of old, Kansas City and St. Louis churches didn't get along.  God knows why.  There was no reason for it - there's too much ground between the groups for there to be any real competition.  Perhaps we simply recognized ourselves in the other.  Who else are you going to have a game with, other than the people that are doing the same thing you are doing?  However, as Ron says, "Competition is a trick of the weak to fetter the strong,"  and I had just traveled across enough of the state to realize that its 68,886 square miles and population of 6 million people was large enough for not just our two churches, but several others besides.

I had the opportunity to see their new building.  It's gorgeous.  Like ours, it is monumental in size and the exterior is phenomenal.

I can hear the question, "Is it better than the St. Louis building?"  I can answer that.  The question is like a Buddhist koan - a puzzle designed to make one think.  The answer is properly "mu," meaning that the answer is "Both yes and no," or, "You are asking the wrong question - look bigger."

The true answer is that, given the distance, there is no comparison possible between the two buildings.  It's a bit like an elephant comparing himself to a whale - each is suitable to its own purpose.

As we ate lunch, I was able to reflect on the fact that eventually, Kansas City and St. Louis will be the emanation points of other, more localized churches.  Eventually, our centers will be as ubiquitous as those of the Baptist or Catholic - and even then, there will be no competition - even between denominations.  There are simply too many people, too much help that is required -  we could all work for a thousand years and never be worried about "stealing" each other's parishioners.

The materialists of today present a unified front.  They attack all concepts of religion and spiritual belief, without discrimination.  They are as at home attacking a Baptist's belief in biblical authority as the are in attacking the Catholic concept of the Trinity or the Scientologist's belief in past lives.  It is our responsibility to also present a unified front.  We do not have the billions of dollars in resources that are available to the materialists.  What we do have are the better segment of the population - the awake ones, the ones that want to help their fellow man.  Between money and the living force of beings that are alive, I'll take the power of life force any day.  It remains in our hands to direct that force outward - toward attacking our real enemies and helping our true friends - rather than at each other.

I look forward to seeing our friends from Kansas City and the other churches at the Midwest conference in Chicago this weekend.  May it be the dawn of a new era for all of us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's special about tomorrow?

"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."  
                                                           Thomas Aquinas

This picture poses several questions.

Let's ignore the questions about the silly hat.

Instead, let's answer this -

Who's the guy getting the hug?

Well, he's a Humanitarian.  And a Patron with Honors.

He's also the guy who helped me recover my relationship with my dad.

When I was a new staff member, one of the first counselling actions that I received was Key to Life.  I distinctly remember modeling various life situations in clay and getting a chance to examine them.

One of the things that I had the opportunity to look at was my relationship with my father.  Not unlike many young adults, I felt beset by difficulties on this front - although he was what I would now describe to be a kind and caring individual, at the time I didn't see things that way.

During this course of counselling, I came to the startling conclusion that my father was not the source of the problems in that relationship.... I was.  This one shift in viewpoint lead directly to my calling him up and reconciling with him completely.  I have no doubt that this one action is a key reason that my daughter has such a relationship with her "papa" that the first thing she does when she gets a new calendar is mark Grandparents Day - even before she marks her own birthday.

And so it is with good reason that I wish Chuck a very happy birthday tomorrow.  I count him as a friend, as I hope that he considers that I am his friend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A lesson in geography

Let's confront this map.  What is this?


No.... it is not an extended suburb of California.

It is not "corn and nothing more."

Nor is it a way stop on the way to New York.

This is the Midwest.

This is the home of millions of amazing people, who are stereotypically known as caring and friendly people.

This is the home of Neil Armstrong, Walt Disney and Abraham Lincoln.  Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were born here.  Mark Twain plied his trade here.

I've often said that a new civilization will be born here.  My reasons are quite specific.  The people are real.  They see when something needs to be done, and without much fuss, just get it done.  This is an important trait when discussing such things as improving moral standards in society - we have less distance to go here than.... elsewhere.  (Sheila, shop glaring at me.)

We are holding a Midwest Scientology conference on October 1st and 2nd in Chicago.  We will be providing the transportation for all Scientologists who want to go - leaving Saturday mid morning and returning on Sunday evening.  The only cost to you is the cost of the hotel room that night - food, entertainment and transportation are all taken care of.  We will have an opportunity to talk with some of the people who are making Ideal orgs happen around the world, in a beautiful venue over amazing food, and meet some of the parishioners from all corners of the Midwest.

This is an opportunity for St. Louis to arrive in force and demonstrate who we are.

I'd like you to come with me - I think it'll be a great time and these sorts of trips have always produced amazing results.  And, as Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

Let me know that you can attend so I can reserve your seat!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Delmar trivial pursuit

As you know, we've been located in the Delmar building since 1997.  Dozens of people walk in to this building every week to find out more about Scientology.  This is the reason that we are keeping this building and transforming it into an information and community center, rather than selling it.

We will be keeping many of the original fixtures in the building, which are unique.

I've devised this quiz to see how well you know your building:

1.  The building in which the Church of Scientology of St. Louis currently resides was built by what fraternal organization?

A.  The Elks
B.  The Masons
C.  The Knights of Columbus
D.  The Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo

2.   What slogan is clearly visible in large concrete letters on the outside of the building?

A.  "Veni, Vidi, Vici"
B.  "Novus Ordo Seclorum"
C.  "To God and country, home and family, freedom and independence, we dedicate this temple."
D.  "To the great Truths of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity"

3.  What animal stands atop a pillar in our front yard?

A.  A lion
B.  A panther
C.  A very large house cat
D.  Goooooo cardinals!

4.  What is very good about the location of our building?

A.  It is located 50 yards from city hall.
B.  It is located at the head of one of the "Ten best walking streets in America"
C.  It is one block away from Washington University.
D.  All of the above.

5.  True or false:  This building will be the site of the largest Scientology information center on the planet.

6.  The interior and exterior of the building was done in "Egyptian revival style."  This is due to the fact that it was built during the same era that Howard Carter discovered the treasure of Tutankhamun.  What two creatures are worked into the stained glass of the lights inside the building?

A.  The sphinx and eagle
B.  The cat and the sphinx.
C.  The scarab and the snake.
D.  The scarab and the elephant.

7.  Because of recent expansion, we had to turn my office into another courseroom.  As a result, I'm typing this on the third floor.  What substance was used as part of the ceiling treatment in my new office?

A.  Paint
B.  Acoustic tile
C.  Tin
D.  Bamboo from Winnie's yard

Correct answers:

1.  B.  Masonic symbols are imprinted on everything in the building, from the tile on the fireplace to the doorknobs.  Every few years, a large tour of Freemasons comes into the building to look at it.

2.  C.  Nice, huh?

3.  A.

4.  D.  Great spot for an information center.

5.  True.

6.  C.  The scarab was used in ancient Egypt to represent the sun, as well as resurrection or rebirth.

7.  D, of course!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Holding the lantern

Tomorrow is Auditor's day.  What better people to acknowledge than those who not only devoted a few years of their lives to learn how to help others, but who then have the spiritual fortitude to continue to work with people, day in and day out, to make their lives better.

I really like the idea of a holiday that celebrates these people in present time.  It's a different sort of holiday - rather than commemorating a past glory, we are helping to acknowledge people who are heroes now.

I've had a number of great auditors during my 20 years as a staff member.  It is such a gift to be able to look back through the years and recognize that as time has passed, I've become more enthusiastic about living life - more excited about where life is going.

I have a special affinity for my current auditor, Carla.  When we go in session, I know that it is her intention that I do better.  That intention goes a long ways when dealing with things that have bothered me for a very long time.

To quote from Mr. Hubbard, "I think of an auditor as a person with enough guts to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  This quality is rare and this quality is courageous in the extreme....  If this world has any faintest chance of surviving it will not be because I write, but because auditors can and will think and do... The most decent people I have ever known have been auditors."

Thank you!

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