Finding the right gift for everyone in your family can be a real bitch. Your mom just wants a phone call. Your dad wants you to find a job. These are not easy people to shop for. But what about your second cousin who moved to L.A., got introduced to Scientology by an actor friend, joined the church to make connections, and found himself amassing a fortune in credit-card debt while digging out a new infinity pool for David Miscavige? I would argue that he’s the hardest relative to shop for. After all, what do you get for the man who has nothing?
Thankfully, the Church of Scientology has compiled this handy catalog of L. Ron-approved holiday merchandise. Please note the ORDER NOW—PRICES INCREASE ON JANUARY 1ST banner across the cover of this thing. Normally, prices go down after peak shopping season. Ah, but in the Church of Scientology, the holiday means a generous discount on being blatantly defrauded. SO ACT NOW BEFORE THAT E-METER TRIPLES IN PRICE!
Now, you might be wondering: Do Scientologists celebrate Christmas? Of course they do, silly-billy! According to this website, “Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard honored the great religious leaders of the past for the wisdom they brought to the world, writing that Scientology shares ‘the goals set for Man by Christ, which are wisdom, good health and immortality.’ It is in this spirit that Scientologists celebrate the holiday season, whether Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or any other religious or cultural tradition.” Emphasis mine! Immortality! So gather round the Yachting tree with the three loved ones you haven’t yet reported as Suppressive Persons, and feast your eyes on the magnificent presents LRH and his minions have bequeathed you!
Copy: “Your guarantee of total freedom … With this meter, your auditing will never be the same again. Your preclears will make spectacular progress up the Bridge. The Mark Ultra VIII meter’s unequaled precision, clarity, and ease of operation are here for you … with accuracy guaranteed for eternity.”
Drew Says: I like that this product is supposedly guaranteed for eternity, because a) that is obviously not possible, and b) I bet if your shit breaks, and you take it to your designated Sea Org admiral, he’ll make you buy six more. For $5,000, this piece of shit oughta make you a decent cappuccino, operate your home thermostat remotely, and finely dice vegetables. But instead, all you get is a lie detector that doesn’t work. It doesn’t even have WiFi. Now how am I supposed to upload all of Cousin Jenny’s thought crimes to the cloud? WHAT A RIP.
Please note that the Mark Ultra VIII comes with free electrodes! “Our gift to you,” the copy says. Why, you’d practically be losing money if you didn’t buy the thing now. These electrodes look like anal-probing suppositories, but you actually hold them in your hand while the church’s local hired goon audits you. I assume the fancier e-meters come with free nipple clamps.
Copy: “The Student Hat Dictionary contains every technical term, every slang word and phrase, every historical reference, defined exactly in the context Ron used them. This is a dictionary Scientologists have long dreamed of. With over 4,500 definitions ….”
Drew says: Yes, 4,500 definitions! All of them wrong! Imagine paying $75 for your child to unlearn the language of English. Ah, but this dictionary of gobbledygook (sample entries: “all but,” “all-out,” “all the way through”) is a bargain compared to the rest of the literature on hand in this catalog. In fact, if you want to talk like a weird old dead guy who once thought aliens were buried in volcanoes, this is pretty much your cheapest option. As you will see …
Copy: “Ron presents the senior laws of existence, distilled into a single lecture series with one purpose: to make a Scientologist who knows how to handle life—and thus be larger than life.”
Drew Says: Please note the cover, which features a lion (ASLAN?!) flanked by a pyramid (seemingly designed by Nintendo circa 1989) and the letter S ringed with two triangles, which I assume stands for the dual triangulation of learned learning. If you’re gonna invent a religious cult, it’s important that all your holy texts look like the cover of a shitty metal album, and that you also add many cryptic symbols, so that people will feel like they’re watching National Treasure 6. If I can just figure out what the triangles mean, I’ll find GOLD!
Price: $50-$125 per volume. Will you be buying all the volumes? This knife to your throat says yes!
Copy: “Educated preclear = maximum gain.”
Drew Says: Holy shit, it literally says INDOCTRINATION right in the product! “No, no, we’re not a twisted, abusive pyramid scheme at all! Now, here’s your indoctrination pack. Don’t forget your chloroform kits!”
Copy: “Perfect clarity on the route to knowledge.”
Drew Says: Yep, that’s $400 for a fucking Discman. Oh, I’m sorry. A LISTENING SYSTEM. And this old Betamax player I’m selling for $500 is a VISUAL LEARNING ACCRUAL CONSOLE. Please note the complimentary carrying case can hold up to “14 complete LRH lectures,” which you will also be purchasing. Carry nothing else in this bag. If I find that you used your little Discman purse for Tic Tacs and bubblegum, I’m reporting you to Sea Org. Can’t they just make this stuff podcast-able? It’s almost as if eternal salvation in that church isn’t free! Color me shocked.
Copy: “16 volumes, 3,653 pages … 75 LRH poems and songs.”
Drew Says: Would you like to hear LRH sing? Oh, my friend. Oh, you are in for a treat …
Why, it’s like a ransom note in musical form! Please note that the above video includes a duet by John Travolta and Frank Stallone, and somehow Stallone ends up being the better singer. By contrast, Robert Caro’s ongoing biography of Lyndon Johnson is, as of right now, 12 volumes and 600 pages shorter then this LRHpedia. And LBJ was a fucking president, who did actual things.
Price: $3,500 for the whole package
Copy: “This is your path to knowing how to know, unlocking the gates to your future eternity. Follow it.”
Drew Says: Unfortunately for you, spending $2,500 on 19 hardcover books (no Kindle edition?!) and 14 lectures is NOT the end of your path to knowing how to know. Because on the very next page of the catalog is …
Price: $2,500 for the whole package
Copy: “No matter which Congress you listen to, you will want them all … It’s what Scientologists speak of when trying to describe the unique feeling one gets just from listening to Ron.”
Drew Says: But wait! You’re still not all the way up that Bridge yet, amigo! Because four pages after THAT comes …
Price: $6,000 for the whole package
Copy: “A total of 1,020 lectures.”
Drew Says: That’s right. After the Basics and the Congress, you still have over a THOUSAND boring-ass lectures to sit through with your stupid Discman. (Which comes free with this set! Why, it’s almost as if it was never worth anything to begin with!) Fortunately, the Church of Scientology has your household budget in mind, because they have combined all of these books and audiobooks into …
Price: Ten goddamn thousand dollars
Copy: “The Basics, the Congress, and the Advanced Clinical Courses … Owning the Legacy Collection is owning every book and lecture series one needs for a complete chronological study, not to mention the full sequential body of LRH wisdom comprising the Materials Guide Chart.”
Drew Says: Again, that’s $10,000 for what amounts to a crazy man’s full collection of YouTube comments. And if you somehow make it through 1,517 lectures without dying of old age, there’s probably a SECOND Scientology Christmas catalog that demands you listen to 1,517 on your eight-track player for a cool 20 grand. Or more than that! The end of this catalog features an item so expensive, it doesn’t even have a price ….
Price: “Contact the Planetary Dissemination Unit at Flag, the Freewinds, or Bridge Publications for donation information.”
Copy: “Three breathtaking colors.”
Drew Says: Yes, go to the Planet Dissemination Unit for the price on your green e-meter and for any PLANETS they also might be looking to unload. “Here’s your $50,000 e-meter, and the deed to Zorbox 6-Q in the Breeglefart Nebula. You are welcome.”
Apart from children raised in a Scientology household (shudder), I really don’t know how anyone is dumb enough to get suckered into a scam that is this transparently inane and phony. I really don’t. If you’re gonna join a cult, at least join one that won’t bore you to death this holiday season. That’s all I ask for. There are better paths to false immortality than this.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter@drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew’s book,Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
Image by Jim Cooke, photo via Getty.
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