The New Republic's Michael Crowley is reporting that Mitt Romney's favorite novel is a tome by L. Ron Hubbard. Crowley thinks this is "amazing". I find it less so, since Mormonism and Scientology are both made-in-America Gnostic religions with science fiction undertones. Gnosticism appeals in America because of its individualism and sense of narcissism.
Traditional Gnosticism believes in a Platonic metaphysical dualism that sees the world and all of creation as evil. Since creation is evil, it cannot have been created by a benevolent God. No, the creator is an evil God, a demiurge, often identified with the God of the Jews. Beyond all this lies a greater God, a good God. And here is the crux: within every human being lies a "spark of the divine" that is itching to be re-united with this greater God and escape the confines of the evil materialistic world. And how to escape? Escape comes through knowledge, gnosis, often hidden esoteric knowledge available only to a select few.
Both Mormonism and Scientology have imbibed key aspects of Gnosticism, in that they see the difference between God and creation as one of degree, not of kind, and view humanity as returning to some kind of equality with God. Mormonism views God not as an uncreated supreme being who created everything out of nothing (the Christian view) but as (in the words of Damon Linker) "a finite being who evolved into his present state of divinity from a condition very much like our own and then merely 'organized' preexisting matter in order to form the world". Pious Mormons hope to be "Gods" some day, in charge of their own planet. Scientologists believe that there are trapped "thetans" (immortal spiritual beings) inside every human body yearning to escape. This, in particular, is no more than traditional Gnosticism with some science fiction thrown in for good measure. No wonder Romney likes it!