Touring the New Scientology Flag Building in Clearwater, FL

The Grand Lobby of the Church of Scientology Flag Building in Clearwater, FL.

The Grand Lobby of the Church of Scientology Flag Building in Clearwater, FL.

While down in Clearwater, Florida for a family Christmas Vacation, I had the opportunity to tour the new Flag Building, opened by the Church of Scientology in November.  Although there have been a vast number of new Scientology church buildings opened in the past years, none has been even close to the scale of this building, it being the spiritual headquarters of the religion.

As I only brought my camera phone with me, my photos of course are relatively worthless compared to the full photo tour you can get on the Church’s site here, or on Freedom Magazine here.  However, I did want to share some of my thoughts I had in touring the building.

Church of Scientology Flag Building - Night/Fountains

The new Church of Scientology Flag Building – taken from the new park across the street, adjacent to the Fort Harrison Hotel.

The most obvious thing about the building is that it’s gorgeous, inside and out.  The exterior lighting makes it a gorgeous building at night, and as such even rudimentary camera phone photos (like the above) came out great, as I marveled at the building while my kids ran around the new park adjacent to the Fort Harrison Hotel.

The building is physically stunning inside.  The grand lobby is much more capacious than it seems in photos, and walking through reception I can’t stop feeling like I’m walking through a computer rendering – it has a space-age, surreal feel to it.   However, the physical beauty of the building wasn’t really the element of it that struck me the most.

What struck me the most was how intensely purposeful every single last piece of the building was.  

I’ve gotten a chance to work in, take services in, and tour around a great number of Churches of Scientology around the world.   And a quality this building has that it shares with no other is that it was developed from the foundation to the roofing tiles for extremely exacting purposes, designed explicitly to allow for the delivery of Scientology services, and to facilitate the organization of a Scientology church.

The Chapel of the New Flag Building in Clearwater, FL

The Chapel of the New Flag Building in Clearwater, FL

Especially knowing a thing or two about how a Scientology organization works, it shocked me how much attention to detail went into the thousands of little details throughout the building.  Some examples:

  • Digital Directories: Peppered throughout the interior of the building, in lieu of signs or directories, are touchscreen maps of the massive building.  Each contain a list of all of the major places a person would need to get to in the building – and touching one of the locations gives you a 3D, multi-floor directional map showing where you are and what path would be the fastest way to get there.  Like Google Maps for a building, it is a slick and intensely workable solution for navigating a 377,000 sq ft building.
  • Consolidation of Spaces: The Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization is the largest Scientology church in the world.  With 2,300 staff members, the Church services thousands of Scientologists on a weekly basis – with each doing a variety of different services – from the Purification Rundown – a program used to rid the body of toxins and enable one to think more clearly, to intense courses of study and one-on-one spiritual counseling.  As the church grew in size from its initial 200 staff to the present 2,300, the delivery of the various services the church offered ended up spreading out to all manner of different buildings around Clearwater.

    The opening of this building meant that nearly all of these services could be consolidated back into a single building, picking up massive efficiencies along the way.  Now the flows of one thing to the next for the average parishioner are all done in the same building, allowing folks to progress through faster.

  • Those Courserooms: One of the chief things done in a Scientology church is study.  Students study courses not only to apply to the basics of day-to-day life, but also to study to be a Scientology counselor – or “Auditor”.  The courserooms have countless tweaks done to make them efficient and effective places to study, from digital progress boards so that supervisors can track ones’ progress and help those that are in need of assistance, as well as a ton of other details that would make it just a joy to study in.

For some time after my first experience with the building, I just sort of sat in amazement of the sheer number of details that had to be pored over, compared and executed for all of the myriad spaces in the building, to allow all of the many staff and parishioners to work in harmony to achieve the building’s many goals.   My hat is off to Mr. David Miscavige and the many church staff members who worked to bring this to fruition.

Posted in Scientology

Scientology Cross at the Founding Church in Washington, DC

Via Flickr:
The Scientology Cross at the entrance to the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C.

Video tour of the building: www.scientology.org/david-miscavige/churchopenings/a-new-…

Posted in Uncategorized

Event Night at the Founding Church of Scientology – My Thoughts

Event Night at the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, DC

Event Night at the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, DC

My wife and I just finished attending the first of a two-night event series at the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, DC.  The events are rebroadcasts of a series of fairly epic events just held last week in Clearwater, FL, and are the announcements of the completion of a number of large-scale projects that the Church has been undertaking over the last 20 years.   And “large-scale,” in and of itself, is a tough one to communicate adequately unless you were at the event itself, or were involved in the projects themselves.

Personally, I’m still in awe of what’s been accomplished. 

It would be nearly impossible, with words on a blog post, to accurately summarize what it was we all saw in the event tonight.  It had huge significance to us as Scientologists and the way in which we practice our religion.   It demonstrated to all of us the lengths to which our church goes to ensure that everything that is done in Scientology is as the Founder of the Religion intended, and is done in such a way that it works.  

You may have seen, on the various bits of news media that covered the live event that was held in Clearwater, FL, a massive tent in downtown Clearwater that had the letters “KSW” emblazoned upon it.    KSW stands for “Keeping Scientology Working“.  Scientology, being an applied religious philosophy, only goes so far as it works.   As noted in this video explaining what Scientology is – Scientology isn’t something you “believe in” — it’s something you do.

And the subject matter of the event was Mr. David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of our religion, detailing the massive lengths that the Church has gone over a 20+ year period, spanning a myriad of different projects, to ensure that what we are practicing in our churches is by-the-books Scientology, that we all are getting the expected benefits and gains from our services, and that they are being done precisely as L. Ron Hubbard had originally intended.

To the non-Scientologist, it may sound dry and uninteresting.  To me, it portends quite a bit, and it makes me quite hopeful and excited for the future, and indeed quite proud to call myself a Scientologist.

 

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Posted in David Miscavige, Scientology

“The Big Pour” – The Foundation of the New Flag Building

The Big Pour, originally uploaded by jetteroheller.

With the new Flag building of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, FL set to have its Grand Opening in the coming weeks, I thought it interesting to stumble across this little photo – one that I took on the 7th of August 1999 with my very first digital camera.

It’s a photo, taken from the Fort Harrison in Clearwater, at what was termed “The Big Pour” — the pouring of the foundation of the massive new Flag building.

My sister was working on the project at that time, and was working to help organize things for this pour, so I had a little inside data on the massive scale of this particular operation. Owing to the fact that the foundation of the new building was below the water table, it was apparently imperative for the entire foundation to be poured in one, massive go. The point in this was to avoid any small cracks by which seepage from underground water could force their way in. The entire foundation had to form a single, impenetrable unit.

So, despite the logistical nightmare this posed, they ended up having to orchestrate an 18-hour continuous concrete pour, with 4 separate concrete pumpers running all day and night, each being fed by a nonstop army of cement trucks – literally hundreds of cement trucks in and out of the area.

It was quite a sight to behold. And, owing to tight organization, they ended up finishing the pour something like 6 hours ahead of schedule.

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Posted in Scientology

Church of Scientology Washington, D.C. – Night Shot

Church of Scientology Washington, D.C. - Night Shot

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Posted in Uncategorized

How I Feel about Scientology in Portland

The stunning new building for the Church of Scientology of Portland, Oregon.

The stunning new building for the Church of Scientology of Portland, Oregon.

Recently, you may have caught wind that Scientologists in Portland, Oregon held the grand opening of their new Church building.  It is a massive new building, gorgeous in every way, and intensely purposeful in design.   Definitely check out the photos of the building – it’s impressive.

For me – despite the fact that I live on the opposite side of the country – I feel just as proud as the local Scientologists, and just as hopeful for the future as to what this church will bring.

See, for me, Portland is not just another city, but is where I really came into my own as an individual, as an adult, and as a Scientologist.  There are so many ways that the Church of Scientology played an inextricable part of that growth, that I wanted to share at least a bit of that.

How do you quantify personal growth?

Looking back on my history in Portland (where I lived for around 9 years before heading back Eastward), my time in and around the church was punctuated by a number of fairly significant turning points in my life – all of which were helped along by staff and Scientologists around the Portland church.

  • Cutting my Teeth as a Community Volunteer:  It was fitting, I think, that the Executive Director of the Portland Marathon spoke at the Grand Opening of the Church, as it was at the Portland Marathon that I did my first work as a Scientology Volunteer Minister – helping runners as they came across the finish line.

    I’ll never forget my first experience there – watching as a confident runner — thinking he was far and away the victor of the marathon – came running energetically to the finish line.  Little did he know, another runner was flying up behind him, and ended up passing him in the final 10 yards of the race.   That formerly-confident runner collapsed in a heap in my arms – his sweaty body now ice cold and feeling like a cadaver.   Getting him helped into a thermal blanket and brought back up to being functional with fluids and a Locational Assist sticks in my mind as my first real action as a community volunteer where I knew for sure I’d helped someone personally.

    It continued with other volunteer work I did with Portland’s Volunteer Ministers, helping sandbag homes and save a local catholic church during the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996.

    It really was in Portland that I decided that my life needed to be about helping others, as that’s where the real satisfaction lay.

  • The Key to Life Course:  For quite some time, on my way through high school and college, I had formed a strange personal conclusion that I was unable to learn anything really technical.  I was OK as a designer, I could tinker with computers, but I was stuck making near-minimum wage doing fairly low-end work.  Then, one summer, I decided to do the Key to Life Course at the Portland Church.  The course picks apart the subject of language and one’s ability to understand things conceptually, and what all that has to do with communication.  It is, in a woefully inadequate word, incredible.  Within months after this course, I had upgraded jobs twice, putting me on a new career path as a systems engineer – a career I’ve enjoyed to this day.
  • The Use of Communication in Life: On another note, related to the above, I took two different communication courses at the Church in Portland.  After the more advanced course I had come to what was, for me, a pretty life-changing realization:  That any social or life situation could be resolved using communication alone.    It seems so basic – and not only that, but obvious.  But it was something that I really knew then, for myself — that using communication, one no longer had to “hold grudges” or have to have arguments & fights, or harbor disagreements or any other variation of such.And that, in and of itself, is one of the most cherished points of stability I’ve gained as a Scientologist — that you don’t have to sit around with a problem – it can be handled with communication.

There are so many other angles and facets to why the Portland Church of Scientology is so special to me.  Part of it, also, lies in how much this was a whole-community effort spanning so many years, to bring this new building into existence.

As such, I know that there will be so many more stories like mine borne out of this new Church – which has as its mission the empowerment of others and thus the community.

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Posted in Scientology

Live Performance of L. Ron Hubbard’s Science Fiction Short “Tough Old Man”

This weekend, my wife and I attended another excellent performance of L. Ron Hubbard‘s Stories from the Golden Age at the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, DC.

Like the earlier performances I’ve written about, including LRH’s sci-fi short “Battling Bolto”, and the quite-entertaining performance of “One Was Stubborn”, the performance was a multicast audio reading of one of Mr. Hubbard’s stories from the 1930′s golden age of pulp fiction, and was done replete with lighting and audio effects to make it a rather immersive performance.    Author Services, the literary agent for Mr. Hubbard’s works, does a tour through the area once a year, and these performances are always a treat.

I’ve been listening to more and more of these stories lately, seeing as I have to take an 8-hour each-way road trip once per month for work, and audiobooks like these make an excellent trip companion.

If you want to get hold of this story itself, it’s one of the short stories in the book When Shadows Fall which you can get here.

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Posted in L. Ron Hubbard
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