Slow as ever, I’ve just got round to watching the Tom Cruise scientology video. I honestly don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Yes, his confidence is in inverse proportion to his coherence. Yes, watching celebrities zealously pontificate on life, the universe and everything can be pretty funny. But, simply put, he comes across as nothing more than a bog-standard American megastar who’s got religion. The only reason people are laughing and gawping in such numbers is that it’s scientology, which is a ‘non-standard’ belief system.
A religion is a cult whose founder is long dead. Time and good PR bring familiarity, which renders the absurd mundane.
But it’s hard for that to happen nowadays. Christianity, for instance, had the fantastic stroke of luck of getting official endorsement from Constantine, and then being spread as orthodoxy throughout the empire. The frenetically diverse free media that exist today in pluralistic democracies make such a thing all but impossible. New belief systems can spread, certainly, but it’s harder for them to become mainstream, let alone dominant.
If Jesus had been crucified in the 1990s, St Paul would now be recording podcasts for the Corinthians. And they’d mostly be laughing at the poor quality of them, and putting spoof versions up on YouTube.