Questioning Scientology amid Katie Holmes's Divorce from Tom Cruise
It's hard to explain why I have always liked Tom Cruise. His heartthrob years were a little before my time (not that the 50-year-old actor is unattractive now—have you seen Rock of Ages?), I had loved his ex-wife Nicole Kidman since I "discovered" her on Disney's Australian series Five Mile Creek, and around the time he started jumping on couches and scolding Brooke Shields for her use of antidepressants, practically all my friends were denouncing him. Loudly.
That same popular dislike has re-emerged in the past two weeks as an attitude of schadenfreude following the news that Katie Holmes has filed for divorce after a nearly six-year marriage to Cruise. Although neither has commented on the reasons for the split, Cruise was reportedly blindsided and devastated, and Holmes, moving quickly, has taken up residence in New York City. The popular narrative claims that she sought to "escape" him.
Most reports blame Cruise's Scientology for the split, citing previous clashes between Cruise and Holmes's Catholic family (even though she "embraced" Scientology when they married) as well as some of the odder aspects of Cruise's religion.
I don't have any insight into what went on in the union or eventual divorce. But I predict that in the weeks ahead, as intimate details begin to leak into public view, Cruise will have friends who advocate for his side, and Holmes for hers, as well as (unfortunately) those who testify against them. I can only hope that both Cruise and Holmes will have the grace to still advocate jointly for the well-being of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri; as a daughter of divorced-but-friendly parents, I know this makes all the difference. To me, the saddest aspect of the dissolution of a marriage is that it declares loudly—to the world and to each other but most painfully to the children—that two people are no longer committed to being the other's advocate.
Cruise, of course, is well known and much maligned for his advocacy of Scientology. In a series of tweets last week, News Corp president Rupert Murdoch called the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 "a very weird cult" and claimed that Cruise is the "number two or three" leader in the religion's hierarchy. As Christianity Today has noted, Christians have a number of reasons to be skeptical of the new religion that prioritizes self-help and has been accused of manipulating and financially defrauding its members. But I have long suspected that the public scourging of Cruise has more to do with the intensity of his beliefs than the content of them. And I see in Cruise's laser-like, all-in attitude toward Scientology the kind of attitude I am called to and ought to demonstrate toward my own—even while the contents of our respective faiths couldn't be more different. I don't know that much about Scientology, and most of what I do know I can't defend, but I find people who have the courage to state their unpopular beliefs endlessly fascinating and undeniably admirable.
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