more on religion -we definitely need the humor-
-and, oh yes, if you didn't, do check out the click-on's on the last posting.


August 7, 2005 Los Angeles Times
A celeb-seeker's quest: Scientology brunch vs. hot Kabbalah women
By Joel Stein

I THOUGHT BEING A JEW was going to carry me. But after two seasons of making sitcom pilots that didn't land on the fall schedule, I needed a new religion to further my Hollywood career. I was going to have to choose between Scientology and Kabbalah.
   Scientology not only has some really big celebrities involved Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Beck, Juliette Lewis, Doug E. Fresh, Anne Archer, Jenna Elfman, Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes, Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee, Kirstie Alley but it's conveniently located at the bottom of my street in a building called "the Celebrity Centre." The only way Kabbalah was going to be able to compete with that was if it had a place in my backyard called the "Network Development Executive Centre."
   Plus, on Sundays, the Scientologists have a $25 brunch open to anyone. I fell in love with Scientology before I even walked in the door. Because the building has free valet parking. I like a religion that doesn't nickel and dime you to death. Somebody had learned something from 16th century Rome.
   Any nervousness I had was dispelled as I walked by a woman playing "You've Got a Friend" on a piano in the center's gardens, where happy families ate surprisingly good croissants, awesome smoked salmon and great sausages around the fountain. None of them was a celebrity. I figured they were pre-celebrities. Though, to be honest, I can get that at the Apple Pan.
   As I was walking around the center, reading about the myriad accomplishments of L. Ron Hubbard (screenwriter, explorer, horticulturalist), a helpful guide asked if I wanted to see a short movie about Scientology. Knowing that short films are the best way to pick a religion, I headed to the screening room.
   It was, I am sad to say, one of the worst films I have ever seen. And it was not short. And though my very nice guide warned me that the end of the movie would be scary, I was unprepared when the host in the film walked up to the camera, the music turned intense and he said: "You could walk out of those doors and never mention Scientology again. But that would be very stupid. You could also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out." If Tom Cruise really cares about Scientology, he will remake this movie immediately.
   Still, one bad film is not a good reason to reject a religion. If it were, I would have quit Judaism after "Shadows and Fog."
   Though Kabbalah is practiced by Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and Britney Spears, its literature stresses names such as Moses, Newton and Einstein. When Sir Isaac Newton gets a production company, I'll care.
   The Kabbalah Centre is on Robertson Boulevard in an unimpressive building that, unlike the Celebrity Centre, seemed unworthy of its British spelling. But inside it had a much more modern, Ian Schragery feel with a gift shop selling candles, Fred Segal-level T-shirts and books about sex. And though there were no celebrities in sight, it was packed with hot Jewish women.
   As I signed in for the free lecture on Tuesday and Thursday nights, Renit told me she liked my shirt. Then she looked at my questionnaire, where I put my date of birth, and wished me a happy birthday. I was ready to put little red strings around all my appendages.
   I arrived at the small lecture room first. There were flowers on each table. Candles burned. "All You Need Is Love" played gently in the background. I felt relatively sure I was about to get a massage from a hot Jewish chick. I decided I would not say no if offered a Happy Shalom.
   Of the 14 people who trickled in, only three were men. Before we started, each table was assigned a mentor. Mine was a hot redhead named Serena. I do not think she is Jewish, but I think I would be able to make a convincing argument to my grandmothers.
   The speech was given by eye doctor Erica Lehman, who is also hot. From what I can gather, Kabbalah, much like Scientology, wants me to understand that I have an incredible amount of untapped potential that can be unleashed. I planned to unleash it on Serena.
   Before I enrolled, I asked Dr. Lehman if Kabbalah would help my Hollywood career more than Scientology.
   She assured me that there is no comparison. "If you can tap into your potential, your power, your wisdom, the light then it's good for your career," she said. More to the point, Her husband used to run the TV Guide Channel and is now a producer.
   After incorrectly guessing that I was a Gemini and then an Aquarius, despite the fact that my birthday was right on the sign-up sheet, Dr. Lehman suggested I get my astrological chart read by a woman at the center because I only knew my sign based on the bogus Gregorian calendar and not the classic lunar calendar. She also informed me that I had past lives.
   Talking to hot chicks in L.A. is tough.
   Still, though everyone at the Kabbalah Centre seemed smart and friendly, and the Scientology Centre felt like the Friars Club in the '50s, I'm going to hold off. They both involved too much self-improvement for me. Sure, a prime-time show would be nice, but I'm too lazy to sit through a bunch of lectures to get it.
   Not with the kinds of ratings networks pull in nowadays.

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