I have always felt like an old soul in a young body. More specifically an honest, old soul, or at least that’s my excuse. It turns out when people ask you a question, whether as a child or an adult, they don’t necessarily want the truth. Jack Nicholson hit the reason on the head: “You can’t handle the truth!” As far back as I can remember people have had to continue to be reminded of this after a conversation with me. A case in point is what happened on my elementary school class trip with my teacher while we were in Philadelphia at Betsy Ross’s house (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/09/for-city-of-brotherly-love-benjamin.html).
Leah Remini, like myself, was born and raised Brooklyn proud, and we have many famous allies out there in Hollywoodland. My favorite Brooklynite, who I still miss dearly, is Joan Rivers (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2013/06/for-learning-to-laugh-out-loud-at-all.html). There will certainly never be another like her. Other so called “big mouths” from Brooklyn that have taken over our world are the “Notorious R.B.G.” a.k.a. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2014/10/for-notorious-rbg-justice-ruth-bader.html), and last but not least presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Thinking back, I first watched Leah on TV on “Who’s the Boss?” and “Saved by the Bell”. But I am the biggest fan of “King of Queens” and watch the repeats on numerous channels daily. It is pure magic each and every time. However I do like how she is currently mixing it up on “The Exes”.
Leah has been getting a lot of press over the last few months as she has left Scientology and been pretty vocal about why. As if staring on a reality show wasn’t sharing enough, she has authored her first book appropriately titled “Troublemaker”.
Once I found out about the books release this week I sort of got swept up into the perfect storm. I went from reading about it, to learning about her book tour, and lastly finding out (via social media) she would be doing a reading/ signing at the Barnes and Noble nearest me all within a few minutes. It was almost too much for my brain to handle but luckily my stars were all aligned. Leah and I were destined to meet.
This past March I attempted to learn about Scientology through the HBO documentary by Lawrence Wright called “Going Clear”. It was a big deal that someone was finally going to “break in” their world so to speak, and share it with us outsiders. But after a few minutes I had to shut it off. It was triggering a migraine as I tried to follow the complicated language and path. No matter how much I tried to go back and start it again, I was never entirely clear (no pun intended) on what Scientology was/is. All I know now is what I knew before which is that Tom Cruise is the biggest supporter of this made up religion. I also thought why didn’t I make up something bat-shit crazy and make millions off it? Turns out I don’t have the dedication that it takes.
As I sat in the very crowded bookstore awaiting the beginning of the talk, I looked around the shelves surrounding me. The first book to catch my eye was one by Stephen Hawking. How ironic it seemed to me that I was in the presence of greatness trying to comprehend utter nonsense. I could really have used Scientology for dummies book, but it was nowhere to be found.
As Leah talked to Paul Haggis, an Emmy winning film director and ex-Scientologist, I sat in awe. What I heard sounded like cult behavior that an intelligent person couldn’t possibly fall for. But as I heard the story of how they each joined and eventually left it seemed like some appalling experiment that threatened your livelihood, family, and self-worth. Leaving required sending a resignation letter to the church and meant you were subject to public scrutiny especially for the very famous members. The only other situations I can imagine close to this is the hysteria that occurred during the Salem Witch Trials or during McCarthyism in the 1950s.
There are so many things that now rush through my head trying to absorb this “religion”. On second thought it was more like a cult with a mafia strong arm behind it. I know of no other religion that threatens your safety, family, or career if you walk away. I assume I would never fall for this kind of scheme because I am a tough, smart, New Yorker. But so was Leah. The strategy Scientology used to get her was a smart one- it was all for a way for higher spirituality as you supposedly helped the world when in reality the church was raking in millions from its members. Millions that never made it back out of the church doors.
Despite my shock I could tell the exchange between Leah and Paul was real. They were communicating in their own language as survivors who left with a case Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It was fascinating and appalling all at the same time. I would have gladly sat there for days listening to them. It certainly was an education even though it only touched the surface I’m sure.
After the talk, Leah was kind enough to pose for selfies and sign books with our desired personalization. She was polite, real, and lovely. It was clear she was nervous but very much grateful for the support. She seemed surprised by the large crowd and had been in New York City for a few days doing talk shows and the like. I hear that outside of several tapings there were crowds of Scientologists and/or their supporters trying to intimate and humiliate her. I think after thirty years as a parishioner there was nothing new they could throw at her. As Leah moves on and continues to share her story the large prison like walls Scientology built will begin to come down around her.
Watching Leah’s interview on 20/20 was akin to watching “Blackfish” of religion. You could have guessed something wasn’t quite right but you had no idea the extent to which corruption went on.
The only other place I have heard such unfounded loyalty was on the Discovery ID’s show “Deadly Devotions”. It comes down to the difference between lying to followers and actually doing harm. Staying in a religion after the fact should be impossible. As I have heard many times “once you know better you do better”. Or at least should try to do better.
“Well behaved women seldom make history.”
This is one of my all time favorite quotes.
This is a very powerful statement considering I first learned about it after reading it on a coffee mug in the gift shop of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/06/for-rock-n-roll-ribs-and-reflection_02.html). I have since learned of its rich history (see link below). I immediately associated myself with it and I liked that.
I am sure that for most this phrase implies exactly the behavior Leah and I share. They do not want women who do not stay in their lane and keep their composure no matter what injustices they see. I think our world is a much better place because of this kind of behavior no matter if it is history making or not. I hope others will be inspired by her bravery.
But upon a second glance it can apply to many women in pop culture and in history that I admire, Leah Remini included. Sitting quietly, holding back your truths does not help advance society or oneself. It turns out being a troublemaker means you are also a truth teller. At least I am in good company.
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