It was a sad day in the middle of February 2018 when I was diagnosed with the flu. I sulked from Student Health Services back to my room in Freeman House and was left to my own devices for the rest of the week. I was required to isolate myself, so as to not spread the virus and recover in the most expedient way possible. I was initially worried about missing class, falling behind on work and just not being able to entertain myself for that long. Before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole of internet conspiracy theories that culminated with my discovery of perhaps the most fascinating, interesting topic.
I was on a random gossip website and stumbled upon a video of actress Leah Remini recounting her experience with the Church of Scientology. I found her account to be fascinating and I had to know more about the religion, which I had only ever heard of in passing. I read the Wikipedia page on Scientology and still wanted to know more. I heard there was a documentary on HBO called Going Clear that is based on an in-depth analysis of and research into the church. Even though I am Film Studies major I do not generally watch documentaries. I am more on the fiction filmmaking track. I put my biases aside, however, and had watched the documentary before I knew it. But I still wasn’t satisfied.
I knew that I wanted to write an honors thesis even in my first year at Conn. I heard about the opportunity from some of my senior friends and knew that I was going to pursue Sociology down the line. I initially planned to theorize some ideas surrounding the sociological relevance of deviance and psychopathic/schizophrenic disorders (this idea sprouted from my obsession with Dexter). When I came across Scientology, the idea felt more tangible and like something I could really sink my teeth into for my entire senior year. I did the research for what it takes to write an honors thesis at Conn. I would need three things: five sources, a thesis adviser and a deep passion for my topic. I had one of those. I just needed two more.
I enrolled in “Sociological Theory” this semester and was immediately enthralled with the class. My professor, Robert Gay, so clearly outlines the complex foundational theories and helps the class relate them to contemporary society. I knew that I liked his style of teaching and that he would push me to become a better writer. I proposed my thesis topic to him, what I now refer to as “The Sociology of Scientology,” and his curiosity was piqued. The easy part was over. Now, I just had to write a 3-5 page proposal to the department essentially spelling out why my topic is important and prove that I have what it takes to complete the study.
I have to submit my proposal by May 1 … so it is quite daunting that I have not started it yet. But I am confident I will get it done in time and succeed in getting my topic approved. I have a 4.0 GPA within my major and self-discipline that I think bodes well for me. I am thrilled to even have the chance to gain academic credit and knowledge through a pursuit of my own topic. On the one hand, senior year is around the corner and that scares me. I can’t believe I am going to graduate so soon. On the other hand, senior year is around the corner and that means I’m that much closer to unearthing the mysteries of L. Ron Hubbard and his Church of Scientology.