Friday, July 29, 2011

Daring to be yellow

"Religious growth requires action, the actual doing of right things instead of the wrong.  We advance only by doing." 
      - William Danforth, I Dare You

William Danforth is a St. Louis native who founded Ralston Purina.  Chances are that if you've owned a pet or livestock in the last 100 years, you've purchased some of his company's products.

In addition to being a tremendously successful businessman, he was also a very active philanthropist, a tradition which has been carried forward by his family, which still resides in St. Louis.  He graduated from Washington University in 1892, and today, that very same campus is named for him.

He was terribly interested in helping youth, and he wrote the above-quoted book, I Dare You, as a guide for successful living to help young men and women improve their lot.  It's a fine book with many solid precepts.

I thought of this quote when reviewing the work of our volunteer ministers in Joplin.  They demonstrated that it isn't enough to "think good thoughts" or "be good," but rather, that we must also act to help others.

The Local Messenger just published a very nice article about our St. Louis Scientology Volunteer Minister activities.  You can read the article and view the photos here:

If you have not yet subscribed to The Local Messenger, may I suggest that you do so.  The owner, Janette Lonsdale, is a very pleasant person whose editorial policy seems to focus primarily on the positive aspects of our community.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Stranger on a Plane

I read The Stranger by Albert Camus while flying to LA last week.  The below paragraph was worth the effort required to read the rest of the book, as it reminded me of a wonderful story.

"I know that at one time or another you've wished for another life."  I said of course I had, but it didn't mean any more than wishing to be rich, to be able to swim faster, or to have a more nicely shaped mouth.  It was all the same.  But he stopped me and wanted to know how I pictured this other life.  Then I shouted at him, "One where I could remember this life!"
                                                                           - Albert Camus, The Stranger

I love this statement.  Imagine if we could "remember" the results of all the decisions we'd made before we made them.  How would our lives be different?

A woman and her mother came into the church and asked to hear about the Purification rundown.  I was the person available to tour them.  The mother was obviously nervous, but interested.  Her daughter, who appeared to be in her mid-40's, was nervous to the point of distraction.  It was clear to me that she was in pain of some sort, and that this kept her from being "present" enough to answer even the simplest of questions.

During our discussion, I discovered from the mother that her daughter was experiencing drug withdrawals.  She had quit taking meth just three days prior.  Their family had reached a breaking point and the mother felt something had to be done.  The daughter could not hold a job and was unable to care for her child, who was cared for by the mother; and the mother feared that if the daughter did not recover soon, she would become a "new mom" again and would raise the son to adulthood by necessity.

The daughter did the Purification rundown and some additional counselling to assist her with her drug addiction, during the course of which her body and face once again took on an appearance more appropriate to her age - 26.

Since that time, the daughter has gotten married and has re-united with her son, and is stably employed in a career which she enjoys.  I talk with the mother periodically, and she explains that while neither she or her daughter describe themselves as Scientologists, they tell everyone they know about Scientology and how it saved her daughter's life.  The daughter now has the opportunity to live a new life while remembering the results of her earlier decisions.

The Stranger is a horrid little book.  Mr. Camus used it as a vehicle to express the philosophy of "absurdism," which demands that humanity cannot find meaning in an apparently meaningless universe; and further, that one must recognize that this conflict is impossible to resolve - which amounts to the worst sort of apathy.

Mr. Camus and other materialists who hold similar views can keep their universe in which human kindness, dignity and courage don't mean a thing when pitted against an uncaring cosmos.  In the meantime, I'll keep working with people - those of any faith or decency - who think that it is worthwhile to relieve the pain of drug addiction or to re-unite a mother with her son.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in July

Today is my "first date" anniversary. 

While I personally find it strange that someone as amazing as my wife would agree to marry me or would even remotely find me attractive, this would hardly make for appropriate blogging material, except for this fact -

Were it not for the countless and unnamed people who, through their charitable efforts, kept the church going for the past 40 years, I would not now be married.

Unnamed - isn't that interesting?  There are innumerable people who paid the rent, somehow kept the electricity turned on, bought buildings and kept the St. Louis church going long enough for me (and my wife) to find it.  

Behind all of us, there is a long line of anonymous donors, urging us into the future.  They donated money and sweat so that we could now take up the banner and carry the church forward.  

Having decided that he or she would help "the future generation," someone paid a Scientology fundraiser 20 years ago.  They didn't even know that they were helping me, specifically; and further, they didn't know me.

This concept is at the very center of the definition of the word, "charity."  Perhaps Jesus said it best, as he is quoted in the gospel of Mark, when he said, "If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have?  Don't even tax collectors do the same?  And if you care only for your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Doesn't everyone do that?"

I look at my family and my life, and recognize what a gift they truly are.

I am humbled by the understanding that my life is not solely the result of my own actions; but that I have been the recipient of countless acts of charity from people who never expected to be thanked, and who knew they would never meet the people they helped.

The only appropriate acknowledgement of thanks that I can give is to work to ensure that someone in the future has this same opportunity.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to increase your pay

Why does "getting paid" conjure images of drudgery?  Isn't it true that when we speak of being paid for our work, it is usually attended by feelings of ill-will towards our employer - who doesn't pay enough; or towards the government - who takes too much?  

Somehow, when we count our pay in dollars and cents, it never seems adequate.  The minutes and hours of our lives - items subject in infinite deflation (you can't save them - each minute is useless whether it's spent or not.) are traded for crumpled pieces of paper that cannot compare in value to the stuff of life itself.

Yet, we are instructed from childhood to look forward to our pay - that this is the goal of work, and that if we are lucky and save enough of it, we can some day use it to buy time with which to do what we really want in life.

It is possible that the "pay" for living isn't money.  L. Ron Hubbard said, "The pay is communication, sensation, affinity, reality and communication, understanding, cooperative endeavor, enthusiasm over goals, activity; the feeling one is going someplace and doing something.  These are the only payments that can be make to anyone for living."

By this definition, it becomes clear why volunteers are able to enjoy their work out of proportion with the paid employees who surround them, doing the same function.  It also makes clear how it could be true that people feel better paid for their efforts when they donate the work to accomplish a project which inspires their passion than when they are recompensed financially for their efforts.

Mark Hanses, the St. Louis org Fundraising Chairman, came with me to LA to attend the fundraising convention this weekend.  He wasn't paid to do this; and in fact, he missed many hours of sleep as well as a family function, and used God knows what supreme ability to even arrange the travel, which was impossible to arrange but which "magically" worked out around him.

We spent the time at the conference working out how to complete the St. Louis org building fundraising project, carefully "battle-planning" the next six months.  While this was not easy work, it was necessary - akin to finding the building in the first place, which was done by Mark and his crew of volunteers.

We now have a plan to achieve our goal and have, by virtue of this, given ourselves a lot more work.  But - it is assuredly the only work for which we can expect to receive any pay at all.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

California dreaming

Disclaimer:  This blog is not funny, nor is it well-written.  You'll have to excuse me - I'm a bit distracted.  I'm leaving for LA in a few hours to attend a fundraising conference.  And while I will love the conference and meeting my friends and co-workers in sunny California, I don't like travelling to LA.  I'm a Midwest kind of guy.  I like the Midwest.  I love St. Louis.  Even with triple digit heat and horrible humidity, St. Louis is the best.  Why? The people are the best.  The people here are honest (not the blunt, antagonistic honesty of New York - just truthful), and they are friendly.  (Not Southern smile-sweetly-and-gossip friendly - just friendly.)

The below text is actually very poorly written and difficult to understand.  The only consolation I have to offer anyone who reads all the way through is the possibility of winning this hat -

You have been forewarned.  Read on if you must.

You may think that these words stop making sense, however, it's a sure thing that if you read the stuff until the end, it will become clear with sudden impact that something wild is going on with this blog.

Announcing a St. Louis fundraising event in extremely bad taste, at which the clothing will leave you breathless!

The girls will look pretty in pink stirrup pants, and the boys will earn their stripes and go over the top with their break dance outfits.  It's the big phenomena you've all been waiting for, when ordinary people become 80's renegades who are willing to say anything and to make a certain sacrifice, all to dream a little dream and make an ideal org.

So, get a clue and let everyone know that you're playing for keeps.  You don't want to miss the night that will ensure that August 2011 is remembered as one crazy summer.

The event will be near dark, at 7pm, August 20th at the Church of Scientology of Missouri.  Don't miss it - it's going to be rad!

The thing is, numerous 80's movies made their way into this blog and disappeared without a trace.  Anyone who thinks that they have uncommon valor can make a splash and earn some glory by sending me an email with a list of contraband movie titles hiding out in this blog.  A hat to the winner that shows real genius.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Childish poetry for heroic acts

'Twas a man who helped students at night,

By name, he was known as Jackson

He helped students through e'ery plight,

Despite their strange reactions

By day, Salena assists others get better,

this she's done for eighteen years.

She helps them cast off their fetters

and solve irrational fears.

This week was the best by far,

As their students will surely attest;

They've now become super stars,

because their statistics were amongst the best!

Congratulations to Jackson and Salena this week, who got more students auditing each other this week than in any previous week on record!  You guys rock!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Name that quote

Read these words and try to determine their source.

"Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  Bribery and corruption are common.  Children no longer obey their parents.  The end of the world is evidently approaching."

Were they spoken by members of the political left or the right?  Were they heard on CNN, NPR, Fox news or on an End-of-the-world-Mayan-calendar-2012 blog?

Before I answer that, I'd like to say something about the philosophy of pessimism, which has some prevalence in society today.

This is a wonderful philosophy for those who wish to never be wrong without exertion.  With smug superiority, anyone can look at a project, a civilization or a planet and say, "it'll fail."  Then, all one needs to do to apply his philosophy is sit back and wait.  Any apparent success is just further fodder for a belief in failure, as everyone knows that, "The higher they fly, the further they fall."

Most of the people I know are not pessimists.  Anyone who would donate to a building or to a church must have some belief that their actions can create a positive result.  A pessimist would look at any such effort and write it off as doomed for failure.  Here, I agree with G. K. Chesterton, who said that a pessimist is someone who "thinks that everything is bad, except himself."

Optimists are not starry-eyed dreamers who believe, with Candide, that "it's all for the best in the best of all possible worlds."  Rather, an optimist believes that his (and his society's) endeavors will go well  - because he's willing to do something to make them go well.

Optimism does have a cost - it requires action.  However, I believe that we are willing to pay that cost in the interest of getting the show on the road.

By contrast, there is no cost for being a pessimist.  It's a very comfortable position to adopt, as in the end, one can always claim he was right.

The above quote is not a modern one.  It was not spoken by Rush Limbaugh or written in a pithy New York Times editorial.

It is inscribed on a gravestone which written in 2800 BC.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Invisibly Essential

Winnie gave me new photos of the building renovations yesterday.  I looked at them, and indeed, they are very impressive.

However, when I considered placing them on this blog, they fell flat.  Despite the demonstrable beauty of the renovations, I realized the sudden difficulty of making the photos appealing to everyone.  I've encountered this before - when showing space plans, renderings and such - they have apparently limited value when on display.

This poses a riddle -

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is more valuable than a picture?

For the answer, I'd like to refer to one of my favorite books, "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

The little prince is a young man from another planet who comes to earth so that he may escape the abuses of a vain and petty flower, who refuses to show him love despite his constant care and attention.

The flower has lead him to believe that she is the only flower like herself in the universe.  However, the little prince soon encounters thousands of such flowers in a rose garden on earth, and cries when he realizes the treachery of his flower.

He meets a fox, who sets out to teach him the qualities of friendship and value.  The prince then returns to the rose garden, and says,

"You are beautiful, but you are empty, one could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you-- the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except for the two or three that we have saved to become butterflies);  because it is she that I have listened to when she has grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she has said nothing.  Because she is my rose."

He then returns to the fox, who teaches him a final lesson:

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"It is the time you have spent for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it."

These pictures are valuable and interesting to the degree that they represent something that you and I have created.  The physical appearance of the building means not very much at all.  Indeed, it is the hope embodied in the completed building that makes it valuable - the vision of a bettered society. Saint-Exupery is right - what is essential - about you and me, and about this project at 2345 Lafayette, is invisible to the eye.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ben Franklin - inventor, statesman... fundraiser

I had the opportunity recently to read Ben Franklin's autobiography, and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Spurred by the Saturday morning "history lessons" of my youth, my thoughts regarding Ben Franklin have been based on visions of an old man running in the rain with a kite and a key in New England by night, engaging in debate and helping to write the founding documents of this nation by day.  As romantic as this vision may be, it is actually merely a small part of all that Franklin accomplished.

While it is true that Mr. Franklin was a statesman, author and inventor nearly without peer, he was also a dedicated fundraiser.  In his autobiography, particularly chapters 10 and 11, can be found the evidence that he was not merely satisfied with helping to shape the new nation through debate and politics, but through industrious action and monetary support.    contains his own description of his efforts to fundraise for and build a church, a library and a school, among other things.

Also of note is the fact that he, himself, was a donor.  (True of all excellent fundraisers)  In chapter 10, he describes the circumstance of listening to an appeal of a preacher for donations to build a new orphanage, the exact plan for which he disagreed:

"I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me, I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory made me asham'd of that, and determin'd me to give the silver; and he finish'd so admirably, that I empty'd my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all."  - The Autobiography of Ben Franklin, Chapter 10

Some may remember his advice regarding saving, such as "A penny saved is a penny earned," and feel that this is at odds with his own frequent philanthropy.

However, he answers this in his definition of "frugality," which he lists as a virtue -

"Frugality.  Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
                                                - The Autobiography of Ben Franklin

This is, after all, perhaps a better definition of being frugal than the ones with which we are more familiar.  By spending our money wisely, ensuring that it is used to do good to others or ourselves, we are being frugal - hence, a donation to help another is never a waste - which is why Franklin could donate all the gold he had in his pockets for an orphanage and continue to extol the virtues of saving pennies.

Friday, July 15, 2011

And the winner is...

Whoa whoa whoa.

As I announced on Monday, Randy Smith, one of our cattle-owning Scientologists in rural Missouri, offered a prize of 50 bucks to whomever could guess the design of his cattle brand.  I said I'd throw in a hat.

Well, I guess I should have known that Randy was a horse trader.

He has upped the ante on the cattle brand game.

He will get the list of submissions this weekend.  If anyone won the game and has correctly guessed Randy's brand, he will let me know that there was a winner and will send them 50 bucks and the hat.

HOWEVER - the winner will be sworn to secrecy regarding the identity of the brand, and if the losers want to find out what the design actually is, they will have to make a $50 donation to the building renovations project.

IF no one has won, Randy will let everyone know and they can continue to submit entries - for a donation of 10 bucks per guess to the new building - until there is a winner.

Very sneaky, Randy...

I will have Robin forward an email to Randy tomorrow with all guesses thus far, so if you'd like to sneak in a guess, email her or me by the end of the day today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Taking the bus

I read an article yesterday that you may find interesting -

It describes very briefly a small museum which has been recently dedicated the activities of the freedom riders of 50 years ago.

Fifty years - it's a blip of time.  However, the conventions of segregated entrances to public buildings, swimming pools and drinking fountains that were the norm in the south at that time are now properly viewed as grotesque by mainstream culture.  No argument for these activities could be entertained as remotely rational today.

However, 50 years ago, the participants of the freedom rides endured fire bombs, beatings, mob violence and imprisonment in depraved conditions (all of which occurred with the consent of local governments) to ensure that whites and blacks could sit next to each other on a bus.

They succeeded, not only in this, but in beginning to alter the very conception of what was acceptable behavior in American society.

It proves what a small group of determined people can accomplish when they set out to change the world.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yes, I do have a time machine.

I had an opportunity this morning to fix up my time machine and overhear the following conversation, which happens 150 years in the future.  I came back immediately to blog about it because I like you and wanted you to have the information.


"Alright, children, it's time to gather around your grandfather and let him tell you a story."

"Aw mom - he drools!"

"Everyone drools when they're 187 years old.  Settle down, now.  He's waking up from his nap."

"Humph.  Alright, children.  I will tell you a tale of long ago - one that took place before cell phones, Ipods and the internet.  This is a tale of... 1990."

"Pappy, is it true?! I heard that back in those days, cars still used... gasoline?!"

"Yes, little Jimmy, it is true.  That and many crazy things, besides. In those days, the Church was in a warehouse."

"A warehouse?!"

"That's right.  We shared our facility with a dry cleaning company."

"I have photos right here to show you...

"Eventually, the dry cleaning company moved out and we used the extra space to add a volleyball net.

"Then, on October 31st 1997, we moved to a larger building.  This building was much nicer and closer to people walking around and all that.  It was a smart idea and a whole lot of people helped make that possible."

"Here's a photo of what that building looked like..."

"The move was such a good idea that we had too many people and too little space.  Staff members had to share desks and the classrooms would get crowded and hot.  No one could talk to each other without bumping into someone else.  Heck, we didn't even have a cafeteria in those days, can you believe it?!"

"No cafeteria?!"

"Yup.  Well, then we had to find a bigger building.  We looked and looked, then found one.  It was incredible."

"Do we still have it?"

"Yes, you'll recognize it as one of the buildings we have today.  Here's a photo."

"It sure looked boarded up and dirty and stuff."

"Yeah.  A whole lot of people helped to make it look as beautiful as it does today.  You can still read the honor roll of all the original donors that made that building happen."

"I look at that honor roll every time I go in there.  It's always seemed to me that those people were sooooo lucky, that they got to put something here that was soooo important."

"Yes, that's very smart of you.  You're right.  And you bet - those people are very proud of what they did - and rightly so.  Due to the work of all those people, the world is a much happier place today than it would have been otherwise."

"Gee, thanks, pappy!  That was a great story!"


That's it.  After that, I zipped back to 2011 with all speed.  Keep sending those guesses on Randy's cattle brand.  I'll let you know the winner on Friday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who knew?

Who knew that the internet could be a source of factual information?

A lovely article about the new building, written in April of this year, with photos.

This was later picked up by the Post-Dispatch as well.

The author of the article, Janette Lonsdale,  is also the owner of this internet magazine.   Each time I've had the pleasure of talking with her, it has been evident that she is a very interested, social person.  For those of you that are local, I recommend subscribing to her magazine - it's free.

Church of Scientology of Missouri building project website:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cattle brand contest announced!

Randy Smith, one of our cattle-owning Scientologists in the middle of Missouri, has issued a contest -

Recently, one of his neighbors told Randy that they thought the brand on his cattle stood for, "Scientology."  A cattle brand is typically  2 -3 letters or symbols, and is relatively simple.  He chose it in 1976, before he was a Scientologist.

He said he'll give 50 bucks to the person that figures out what brand he uses.  I'll throw in an ideal org hat to sweeten the deal.  Send me an email by Friday with your guesses!

Susan Mattingly, Humanitarian, modelling the hat.

Send me an email or phone in your guess by Friday -

What is Randy's cattle brand?

Friday, July 8, 2011

A midsummer's day eve

This is an exact transcription of a recent conversation.  I have written it into a short play, as the format best illustrates that some people are geniuses in areas where others are... not.

Two people, male and female, enter stage left.  

The female, "Winnie," appears slightly harried.  Her clothing is casual and stained with dirt, mulch and bits of plaster.  Two hammers, a cell phone and a large roll of plans hang from her belt; there are bits of leaf in her hair.

The male, "Chad," appears nondescript, except for horn-rimmed glasses.  His demeanor betrays the fact that he may be a bit muddled.  

Winnie:  Chad, we need tuckpointing.

Chad:  (Reaches behind and feels his waistband) Huh? Oh, thanks.  Is my shirt hanging out again?!

Winnie:  No, Chad.  The building.  The new one?

Chad:  (nodding vacantly)

Winnie:  It needs tuckpointing.

Chad:  (bobble head motions continue, then gradually fade.  Checks his phone for texts, eventually refocuses his attention back to Winnie, who continues to look straight at him.)

Winnie: (looking matronly, hands on hips) You know the auditorium is fully paid and nearly done, right?

Chad: (nodding once again) 

Winnie:  And you know we completed the roof?  And you know the design and planning are fully paid?

Chad:  Yup.

Winnie:  The next step is tuckpointing.

Chad:  (head goes still, blank stare.)

Winnie: t-u-c-k-p-o-i-n-t-i-n-g.  Tuckpointing.  Repairing the exterior.  Making it look purty.  Keeping the bricks where they belong - on the building and not in our yard.

Chad:  Oh!  Like the three little pigs!

Winnie:  (blinks rapidly)

Chad:  Right.  Can't let the wolf in.  Gotta keep the bricks where they belong.  So... you need me to do more fundraising?

Winnie:  Yeah. Like right now.  We have the bid and can start immediately.  Then the exterior will look brand-new and we can do the windows.  Then, can you imagine?! (enthusiasm building, words coming faster) After the windows, the exterior and the auditorium are fully done, it will look incredible.  All the neighbors can come and check it out and everyone will really be able to see what it's going to look like when it's done and we can hold events in the hall and it'll be.... really cool!!!

Chad:  Wow Winnie, that is really cool.  I'm sure glad you're around and handling all these contractors and stuff.  We've made a lot of progress since you started doing this.  I like fundraising a lot better now that I don't have to worry about the building as much!

(Chad and Winnie high-five, lights dim, curtain falls.)

Building project website:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

There's something about Mary

This is Mary.

She is a staff auditor.

Mary lives in a geodesic dome.

     (Mary's house)            

After 15 hours of counselling, her preclear took a new personality test, and this is the result.

He was pretty happy.

R. Buckminister Fuller invented the geodesic dome.  He also said the following,

"If humanity does not opt for integrity, we are through completely.  It is absolutely touch and go.  Each one of us could make a difference."

Thank you to Mary and all auditors for making a difference!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A few good (wo)men.

Are girls smarter than boys? 

I've gathered evidence that answers this age-old riddle to my complete satisfaction.

First, I present exhibit "A."

This, believe it or not, is a fundraiser.

The white stuff on the floor is a 1/4" coat of fine dust particles left over from the sanding of the walls and ceiling.

Can you say, "asthma?"

Notice that even the photographer saw fit to shoot this in black and white.  You can't see the Ridenours huddled in the back with blankets and particle masks - God bless them that they didn't even peep a complaint or an exaggerated sneeze.

Now, I bring forth exhibit "B."

Ok... hmmm....

Chairs?                       check.

Food?                         check.

Climate control?          check.

Particle masks? Not required.

Any fundraising event has as a basic purpose the generation of goodwill.  Its intention is to help prospective donors love their organization and donate to its cause.

At the event pictured in exhibit "a," do you think that this was accomplished?

What about exhibit "b?"  Doesn't it exude warmth and happy feelings?!  Even those snowflakes in the background were created by children - how perfect is that?!

Now the million dollar question... What is the singular difference between these two events?

Do you need a hint?

That's right - in the "bronchitis event," Cherie played no part. 

Yet, in the "good feelings happy donors let's all make it happen" event, as with any others in recent memory that had such things as... well, food, chairs, entertainment, participants and a coherent theme, Cherie played a huge part.

You see, I apparently don't think of such things when it's time to do a fundraiser.   And while we may have a good time in any case, I guarantee that people are more excited to be able to sit down, breathe and hear the speaker.

I believe that her feminine touch - and Cherie's insane ability to correctly organize a fundraiser and remember all the little details (chairs) that I forget about - has lead to far greater success with our efforts than would otherwise be expected.  And while we each have the same goals when planning a fundraising event, I must admit that Cherie is much better at it than I. 

G. K. Chesterton made the point that, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."  That's good and true.  Even if we do something in a way that could have been better, we are better off that we did it.  However, in my case, I'm thankful for Cherie and her crew of volunteers that can make the kind of event that we all enjoy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why you are good

I recently came across definitive proof that you are good.  I thought I'd tell you about it.

A few days ago, I had the privilege of talking with one of our new parishioners.  He has been receiving full-time counselling with Carla and as a result, he's glowingly happy.  This guy is walking around the church with his head held high, bursting with enthusiasm and willing to talk to anyone who will listen about "how good this stuff is."

Seeing him so chipper, I dug up the success he'd written and read it myself.  It said that life seemed fresh and new, that he was noticing his environment as if he were young again, and that he'd regained some of his hearing.

The fact that his hearing had improved struck me as an unusually good success story, and I met with him to discuss it.

When I sat down to talk to him, he happily told me all about his bettered perceptions and several other wins.  However, he had a complaint - he said that he couldn't figure out how to tell friends and family "about this stuff" so that they would also want it.  The concept that he would be unable to successfully get others "in the know" was a heavy burden for him.

I've heard this same statement repeatedly - in fact, this impulse is a major driving force in our fundraising efforts - when people have something that works, they want to share it with others.  In fact, they donate and volunteer long hours; not to benefit themselves, but to help people they don't even know and may never meet.  Isn't that a wonderful illustration of the goodness of people?

Evil people would use any devices to keep others from learning about themselves and how to get along better in life.  Evil people would not want those in their vicinity to survive better.  But, the world over, people daily make efforts to help others find their way through life.  This phenomena isn't merely confined to Scientology.  It is the datum behind "word of mouth."  Try as they might, advertisers can't create "word of mouth" about a product that isn't any good.  This is clear-cut proof that Misery, in fact, doesn't love, much less want company.  Happiness, however, does.

Word of mouth is generated by a product or service that is useful and valuable.  This then creates in people the desire to share it with their friends.  Every time you've been invited to attend a friend's church service or see a movie, they were trying to help you.  They didn't try to get you to do it because it was horrible for them.  Every time you told your mother about a new shampoo or gave a cousin a Dianetics book, it was not because you were evil, but because you were (and are) good.

Monday, July 4, 2011

It's like a tootsie pop.

I'm now going to compare our recent fundraising to eating a tootsie pop.  Attempting to do this is similar to the task required of our fundraising committee several weeks ago.

We had planned an event.  It was to be a talent show/fundraiser.  How that idea materialized from the depths of the ether, I'll never know.

As we prepared the acts for the show, it became increasingly clear that it would be an utter disaster.  How does a talent show relate to fundraising?  At all?  How does one segue from a back-flipping staff member or a deaf eight-year-old armed with a violin to asking an audience for money to support their church?

Fortunately, two things came to the rescue of this event.  First, this wasn't a normal crowd - these were Scientologists - interested in expanding the church and in bettering society and, fortunately for me, very forgiving.  Second, we were all blessed with the presence of the lovely Fran Turner.

Fran is one of my favorite people.  She is gracious with a capital "G."  Her heart is huge.  Not too many people that I know have the ambition to retire from their job of decades so that they can then work full-time at a church - however, this is exactly what she has done.  She has become our Public Executive Secretary - no minor role, and not your typical "volunteer for a little bit each day" sort of position.

Before the event, Fran came to me and expressed her desire to become a Humanitarian.  She had been working toward this status for quite a while, and she was close.  She wanted to get it done.  Dawn broke inside my head, and I realized suddenly how "talent show" and "fundraiser" went together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Johnnie Brock's has great hats.  Soon, I looked like this -

At the beginning of the show, this lovely lady was my first (and only) hypnotic subject -

Soon, we both adopted our respective roles -

Fran then "hypnotically" donated each time I touched my hat, and was "compelled by forces unknown" to match every donation made by the audience.

Talent show + classy lady with a penchant for being a straight man = the first-ever talent show/fundraiser!

The audience that night had a great time.  The entertainers also enjoyed themselves immensely.  Alvah played "pinaner" and Andy started a sing-along as he lead with the tuba, Sheila and Susan Lograsso each performed stunningly, Kevin broke boards, and Ashley and Wesley danced beautifully.

Speaking of dancing... Matt D was not on the ticket as a performer; however, Sherry dragged him on stage and, waving her credit card wildly, created this...

In short, the evening was messy and impromptu and thoroughly enjoyable.  I wouldn't give up the memories of being with those guys for anything.  Some people go many months without laughing as much as I did that evening.

Funny thing, I never would have had an opportunity to experience that without the persistence of all the people that made it happen.  It would have been very easy to call the thing off a week or two before it occurred, based on any number of factors - including the fact that event itself made no rational sense.

However, many of our events have had similar traits and have also been enjoyable in their own rights.  Not all of them have been high-dollar events, but each has gotten us a little closer to our goal - a completed building and a renewed ability to help others. 

Some might lament that it would be better if "somebody just won the lottery and wrote a big check."  However, I have come to the viewpoint that our method is best.  It's better to travel the road and take each step, and enjoy the company along the way.  The way to enjoy a tootsie pop is to keep at it. 

To see some photos of what the St. Louis org will look like:

A first comment

I feel a bit like Cervantes at the beginning of "Don Quixote" -

"Dear reader - you may rest assured that I wished this book, as the child of my brain, to be the fairest, gayest, and cleverest thing that could be imagined.  But, I cannot counteract nature's law that like begets like; and what, then, could this sterile wit of mine produce but a dry, shrivelled offspring..." 

However, I have been encouraged by several friends at the church to post a regular blog to keep parishioners up-to-date regarding what is happening in the org.  My hope is that the excitement inherent in the subject matter at hand - the wins of church parishioners and our ongoing fundraising efforts - will make up for any lack of wit and writing skill on my part.

I may write about the ongoing renovations and fundraising, or I may instead write about the successes of parishioners on service.  I may write about my experiences as a staff member.  In any case, here it is - I hope that you enjoy it and find the information useful.

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