James R. Lewis, Jim Lewis, interviewed, shows what's on the mind of a NRM scholar


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Over the years, for whatever reason, if you wished to stay up on a new religion scholar, and what is on their mind, and what they research, this interview of Jim Lewis gives you the insider view as to what a Jim Lewis is interested in.

Scientology is a new religion, and people like Lewis and his new religion studying colleagues do an outer layer study of these new religions, and of the people who get involved in new religions.

Obviously, what I've now learned, is that people who've been observers and participants of the chat sites on Scientology, are far more expert in all sorts of details relating to Scientology, compared to these scholars who look at the outer layers and at the factors they are interested in.

The chat site participants, often have read at least, the ex member books, like all of the ex Scientology member books out in recent years, this list are likely not read and not even something the new religions scholars would even be interested in this degree of insider detail.

One thing I got from this Lewis interview, is the fact that the surveys Jim tries to get done, do have value, even if not completely satisfying to us ex members of Scientology, who are way more expert in all of the inside the movement trends and fads and un-reported still important details, that new religion scholars don't choose to become interested in.

Anyways, this interview is a good raw data interview to see what a new religion sholar like Lewis, is interested in.

The very end of the interview, he compares US new religion scholarship to EU scholarship and interest, which means to me, that EU Scientologists and ex Scientologists will find a more interested and informed group of scholars, overall, in EU countries.

Lewis names names of some EU scholars, who ex Scientologists might profit to contact and assist.

I think "we" ought do a lot more in helping scholars get their surveys done.

Petey C

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Thanks for posting Chuck. Do you know where I can access an analysis of the survey results without actually having to listen to Lewis?


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One big problem with U.S. religious studies scholarship on Scientology occurred to me a few years ago when I was taking an introductory religious studies course. One of the major approaches -- if not THE major approach -- to religious studies in the U.S. has been "phenomenological." As best I can understand it (and remember, it was an undergrad course, so take this with a grain of salt), this means that religious studies scholars are mostly interested in finding out about the subjective experiences of current adherents in relation to their religious beliefs and to their group affiliations. This is, I have to say, a completely legitimate and extremely valuable kind of data to produce. But this is also why people who look at religions from this perspective tend to be thought of as "apologists," which isn't always fair, in my judgment. (Sometimes it is, especially when they intervene in the legal arena.)

What seems to be needed in Scientology studies is more the approach of a historian or a political scientist -- an analysis of a culture or system that is less interested in describing subjective regimes of belief than in sifting through primary sources (documents and testimony) to create an outside view of a group in ways that can be demonstrated with evidence. (I've come to think of Scientology as a political group as much as a religious group anyway...)

In other words, the kind of knowledge that religious studies scholars produce is perfectly valid as far as it goes, but it doesn't meet the needs of the society at large, which has an interest (whether it knows it or not) in the amelioration of the harms Scientology causes.

ETA: I would be extremely interested in hearing reactions to this point of view, hostile or not. I struggle sometimes with the question of how to deal with Scientology in an intellectually responsible way, and I tend to value the perspectives of exes over any others.
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