How escaping Scientology weirdly relates to wedding planning

Updated May 23 2017
arielmstallings
PT19
Photo by Wild About You Photography

Like lots of us this past month, I watched HBO's "Going Clear" documentary about Scientology, which featured interviews with a bunch of former Scientologists, talking about how they escaped the church. After watching the doc, I went down a deep rabbit hole online, ending up at the blog of Marty Rathbun, one of the folks featured in the documentary. I read this thing that he wrote and was like Wait, this weirdly relates to wedding planning. I know that's an odd thing to say, but stay with me here:

Choosing a side and then obsessively resisting against another side causes one mental and spiritual dissonance. One doesn’t get relief from one’s dissonant self by changing sides and carrying on with resisting.

Many a trap sells jazzed up forms of resistance. Inspection of the salesmen on either side of most dramatic conflicts shows close parallels to those whom they invite you to resist.

An easy mark for resistance recruiters is someone who has been deeply conditioned to resist. Such folk are sitting ducks for re-enslavement by entrainment. Resisting against that which you once resisted for appeals to the denialist mind looking for return to the seeming comfortably numb stasis of two-valued thought.

[Read the full post.]

What really strikes me here is that Marty is talking about non-binary thinking, which applies to a lot of things including, yes, wedding planning. I don't mean to minimize the horror of escaping from a controlling church by comparing it to the frivolity of wedding planning — I'm just saying there are lessons to be learned here that apply to all sorts of aspects of life.

Whenever people are like ROAR MAINSTREAM WEDDINGS I HATE THE WEDDING INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX BOO FUCK THE WIC RAWR, I'm always like "I get your frustration there, guys — but stop fighting so much against what you don't want, and start proactively working to determine what you DO want. Construction is always more difficult than demolition!"

I get the frustration, I really really do. I just think it's too easy to get caught up in simply fighting and rallying against something. To me feels just as blind a pursuit buying into a mainstream vision that doesn't resonate for you. Conforming is too easy, and rebelling doesn't actually get you any closer to actual self-awareness.

In Offbeat Bride's early days (way back in early 2007 *waves cane and pats MySpace profile*), a much higher percentage of my posts were reactionary and focused on resistance. Even subtle framing like "Wedding invitation wording that won't make you barf," sets itself in opposition to barfing. (SOME OF US LIKE BARF, OK.)

I slowly realized that I wasn't doing anyone any favors by being so reactionary and oppositional. What if some people like barfy wording? What is my wording about OTHER than not barfing? Once readers aren't barfing, what's my next strategy for keeping them around? Big picture: being an anti-bride or a rebellious bride doesn't really say much about who you are, just who you aren't.

Offbeat Bride shifted to be more inclusive, more focused on creation than demolition, more focused on supporting people's choices instead of just bitching about the existing options. Sure, we still feature guestposts thoughtfully examining the mainstream pressures and limitations of the Wedding Industrial Complex (it's an issue that drives our readers crazy, for reasons I totally understand!) but generally, I'm not interested in what the quote above calls "two-valued thought."

When you're planning a wedding (or a life), the options aren't just "for/against"… they're as limitless as your capacity to create and execute a vision.

Let's hear it: what are you firmly FOR in wedding planning?

SCIENTOLOGY pin

  1. I am firmly FOR:

    – setting yourself up for success with the person(s) you want to create a family with
    – having the tough conversations about what that means in practice and really recognizing what you're promising to each other
    – having a freaking awesome time celebrating in whatever fashion works for you!

  2. Totally in agreement here!
    My wedding was so different from what one expects here in the US that I completed skirted the whole WIC as well as it's anti-realm. I simply did my own thing and it was such a lovely process!

    No, it wasn't all a la-la-la-let's-skip-through-the-rainbow-dew-of-the-hippy-forest journey, but it also wasn't a reactionary "I don't want this because *everyone* wants this" pouty-fest. It was a reflection of hubby and me and everyone loved it.

  3. Yes! This, 1000 times.

    Back in 2011 I got caught up in the Los Angeles arm of Occupy Wall Street thanks to my then-adored-now-ex-boyfriend. While I was all for the rallying cries against the 1% that brought together legions and sparked international protests, after about a week I found myself in deep conversation with people about what exactly we were doing. Inspirational quotes from non-violent leaders were bandied about, but the one that seared itself in my brain was "Be the change you want to see in the world."

    I eventually distanced myself from the movement because the tone focused on the destruction of a lot of things. Instead I began to explore what kind of world *I* wanted to live in, which led to a lot of personal changes. I pursued work that I felt contributed to a better world. I started gardening, as well as I could as an apartment-dweller. I began thinking about where I spend my money and what kind of message my purchases send, because the gross truth of our time is that our money speaks louder than our words. And I love this site because the message *is* one of self-expression and support, rather than anti-whatever.

    So thank you for this post. I think this is something a lot of us need to be exposed to and/or reminded of, especially those of us who come from counter-culture backgrounds. Counter-culture is inherently reactionary and anti. Let's remove the negativity and build something we can be proud of instead of focusing our energy on tearing down something we don't like.

    • THIS THIS THIS:

      "Counter-culture is inherently reactionary and anti."

      …and I say this as someone who has lived and loooves counter-cultures and has spent the last 18 years working in counter-cultural media. Knowing what you don't want is a POWERFUL first step. Creating what you DO want is the journey for the rest of your life…

  4. Firmly FOR planning a marriage, not just a wedding. For us, that means FOR conserving money and energy, FOR thinking small, FOR allowing our family members to assist us, and FOR taking our time to do it right.
    Neither one of us makes tons of money, and we want to use what we have responsibly.
    This is not my first wedding, but it is his. If it was just up to us, we would elope, but he really wants his parents to be part of the day, so we are FOR a small wedding in town.

  5. I am firmly for:
    – inclusive language
    – non-binary modes of thinking and being
    – positivity through creativity
    – Offbeat Bride keeping on being such a fabulous place that never stops learning and never stops inspiring me to learn, you guys rock!

  6. Yes, this, thank you!

    I often get distracted by trying to be unique, and have caught myself wanting to not do a thing because a friend already did that, or that's what "everyone" does and I don't want to be everyone. But I know that I do this, and I'm learning to step back from that part of myself and really think about what I want and like, without comparing – and then maybe asking folks I know who do or have that for advice! In wedding planning, this of course expands to include what Fiance & I want and like.

    I don't want to define myself by what I'm not; I want to define myself by what I AM.

  7. So much THIS, Ariel! In so many different aspects of life, people try to see things as "anti" or "without" or "against" and that's no way to live. It's also an existential dilemma if that oppositional thing is toppled or disappears. (There's something in that idea about the mental crisis of a soldier without a war but I can't formulate it properly. And an organization without its fighting catalyst . . . or an oppositional coalition which breaks up upon success . . . )
    Only in a dictionary can a definition solely exist in a negative.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.