Apparently, we as people are the sum of some equation which includes a master lord stuffing us into volcanoes and detonating a massive explosion. We can cleanse ourselves by holding onto two metal cylinders and talking about our feelings until our past lives are recalled and our meter reading hits zero. Spiritual enlightenment consists of forward moving levels that culminate in the ability to impose our will on others. All of this for the low, low price of an estimated $400,000. Where do people get this stuff? As it turns out… right here in Oregon.
Scientology, in all of its Tom Cruise couch-jumping, John Travolta aliens-exist hoopla, is a controversial issue. It’s catapulted itself out of the mundane limbo all other new wave religions wallow in only to be constantly and continuously attacked in main stream media. But really, if former members are emerging to say that you lock people in a trailer in the middle of the desert if they refuse to sign a million year contract to man a ship in the middle of the sea, don’t you deserve it? In all reality, Scientology seems to be a lot of kooky ideas cloaked under the one amendment that hasn’t seen policy put an end to it (despite the old college try by some right-wing groups). But is it any of our business? Moreover, religion is a free market and those who wish to subscribe to the ideals of Scientology, and the sticker price, are more than welcome to. Just as the rest of us are welcome to think it slightly strange.
Also strange? Despite having its flagship center in Los Angeles and various posh locations to choose from, the legacy of Scientology founder R.L. Hubbard has settled here, in Oregon.
On a sprawling hilltop in Sheridan, the Delphian School houses a handful of young minds, educating them in the ways of Scientology. Promotions for the 800-acre institute flaunt student testimonials where, one after the other, beaming kids tell the camera how magical Delphian is. A modern day Hogwarts. Now, while the entire Harry Potter series was built on a fictional, off-beat premise, even that world has limits.
At Delphian, students are not all Scientologists. However, the core of the curriculum is based on the most fundamental Scientology principals. According to the religion, all learning difficulties (not disorders) stem from a simple misunderstanding of words. Most commonly, the most basic words such as ‘the’ or ‘at.’ To remedy this problem, students are forced to memorize the definitions of these small words and mandated to re-read any page they stumble on over and over and over again until they can read it aloud without a pause or stammer. It seems simple enough, as does the premise that no student moves onto the next level without fully understanding the previous. However, not all practices inside Delphian seem as acceptable.
After paying $42,000 a year in tuition, students are subjected to “training routines.” As detailed in the UK’s Daily Mail, these routines consist of students sitting completely still and staring at each other for up to two hours. If they flinch, they must start again. When they grow older, the boarding school mandates that students sit still while fellow classmates barrage them with teasing remarks. Sponsored bullying, if you will.
This technique does, however, allow them to socialize in a group setting as other instruction at Delphian are mainly self-study. This includes molding “abstract ideas” (like the number three) out of clay to better grasp the concept.
As ridiculous as some of these methods sounds, some former students (such as the founder of EarthLink) credit Delphian for their success, singing the school’s praises. Other students, however, raise issue with the boarding school in the middle of an Oregon forest which apparently turns out 21-year-old “high school” graduates who can’t read properly, interview for a job or assimilate back into society. They can sculpt a mean clay form though.