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.

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