Chet Warrington, Ron Hubbard and Scientology

When I began to put together this web site in late 2004, my central purpose was to document my grandfather’s accomplishments as an aviator and an aviation enthusiast. Those of you who have visited Positive Infinity know that my interests spread far beyond that; those of you who read my epilogue know that my view of things varies in many points from my grandfather’s.

A confluence of history that is a part of this story deserves some comment. The subsequent career of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, for our purpose a reporter and aviation enthusiast in the Washington area during the 1930’s, as the founder of Scientology is yet another link to a greater historical context.

That link wasn’t obvious from my grandfather’s own papers, the primary source for the material on this site. My first inkling of the connection came when I found out that he had done some flying from Congressional Airport. Then I discovered that his foundation had loaned some of his Langley Day and other photos to the aviation museum at the College Park Airport. Finally Russell Miller’s book Barefaced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard mentioned that Hubbard had written an article about Chet for the magazine The Sportsman Pilot:

In October (1933), Ron contributed another feature to the Sportsman Pilot, this time a profile of Chet Warrington, a well-known Washington pilot, and in November he wrote an article about the infant science of radio navigation. (Miller, p. 62)

If Miller hadn’t noted this, I would never have known it either. Chet had many newspaper articles about himself in his aviation scrapbook, but Hubbard’s article wasn’t in the collection. Why this is I don’t know, but obviously it wasn’t as important as some would like to think.

Note: some of Hubbard’s write-up on the 1933 Langley Day can be found here.

Our Thoughts About Scientology

Our idea about Scientology boils down to what we feel are its two objectives:

  • To be a religion that addresses the issue of modernity head-on.
  • To do so in such a way as to generate maximum cash flow for its leadership.

Modernity is very much at the centre of this story, and its unleashing was a dangerous business for most of the twentieth century. Attempting to build a religion in that context is no safer of an enterprise than building a political system or an ideology. Hubbard added to it the element of fantasy, which is also a product of modernity. The ability of an individual, a political party or the state to build its power based on the projection of illusions was a well trodden path in the twentieth century. As for the cash flow aspect, the evidence suggests that this part can be called an unqualified success.

There are many sites that deal with Scientology on an adversarial basis, and the Scientologists are not afraid to use any means at their disposal to try to rid themselves of these. As a Christian, however, my view is different from many of Scientology’s opponents. True freedom is to be found in the saving, resurrection power of Jesus Christ, God’s son, not in Scientology and not in the Lodge which my grandfather was active in all of his adult life. That conclusion is in some measure the result of the legacy my grandfather left, but that’s another story altogether, and my purpose has been and is to be as complete and broad in my scope as I know how.

Perhaps there is one place where L. Ron Hubbard assumed some of my grandfather’s legacy. Somewhere along the line he became the chairman of the “Bologna Club.”