Not everyone in California is a credulous, doe-eyed flake, but if you happen to be a credulous, doe-eyed flake, California is definitely the place to be. The 60s didn't die here, they just morphed into silly new age pseudoscience, a slavish devotion to celebrity self-help and a seemingly endless supply of man-made religions, at least one of which adheres to sci-fi cosmology that even a five-year-old would laugh at. All of this crap goes unquestioned by a shocking number of people, with those who aren't actually bathing in the ridiculousness at least insouciantly walking past the spectacle as if it isn't the least bit odd. This is a great state, but sometimes you really do miss the oh-fuck-you intolerance of the East Coast.
Case in point and serving as a new addition to every California subculture I mentioned just a second ago: One of the stars of the 1999 teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You has started his own religion. Yes, you can do that here.
You probably remember Andrew Keegan as the male cast-member from 10 Things who didn't go on to play an iconic role in a massive hit film, win an Academy Award and die of a drug overdose (not in that exact order). Even if you disregarded the first two facts about Heath Ledger and kept only the accidental suicide, he still would've led a more dignified life than Keegan when you consider what Keegan's been doing with his time lately. As Vice reported recently, Keegan formed a church called "Full Circle" which is located inside a building out in Venice -- surprise -- that was once a Hare Krishna temple. Now, if you're guessing that Full Circle is basically Hare Krishna without the robes and the bad haircuts and that putting it against your standard American faith is a little like comparing Joan Baez to Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, well, you've pretty much nailed it.
Vice's story begins with the author visiting the church and being shown around by someone who calls himself "Third Eye." He says the core members of the church, including founder Keegan of course, are "enlightened" and have come to bring about change. How they aim to do it, apparently, is via the tried and true method of chanting, listening to people play acoustic guitar, smiling a hell of a lot and -- as it appears in one part of a promotional video you honestly have to see to believe -- being visited by former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Middle Earth). Keegan's inner circle, according to the piece, were drawn to him through the "vortex" created by his energy and Third Eye claims that while the church is about "spiritualism founded on universal knowledge," the specific details have something to do with "cosmic energy and ayahuasca." At their services, church-members do things like meditate with crystals which supposedly allow them to focus their power on bringing peace to Israel and the Palestinians.
And now, a brief interlude.
If you're wondering where Andrew Keegan came up with the idea for the church of Full Circle, besides just having grown up in Los Angeles, the story is needless to say every bit as awesome you'd expect.
Like many religious converts, Keegan's spiritual transformation came after a traumatic experience. The actor said he was first awakened on March 11, 2011, when he and two friends were attacked by what he describes as gang members in Venice Beach. One of them pulled a gun on his manager, and after a full-on brawl, Keegan had to go to the hospital for stitches. "The significance of this occurrence is that it happened at the same time the tsunami hit Japan," Keegan said. He then related this incident to a series of odd events, which he believes play a large role in how "synchronicity" brought him to realize his true calling.
"I had a moment where I was looking at a street lamp and it exploded. That was a weird coincidence," he said. "At a ceremony, a heart-shaped rose quartz crystal was on the altar, and synchronistically, this whole thing happened. It's a long story, but basically the crystal jumped off the altar and skipped on camera. That was weird."
Despite the super-stardom of Full Circle's leader, the members of the church say that what they have isn't a cult. Admittedly, in a place like Southern California it takes something truly special to achieve that particular status and as far as anybody knows Keegan hasn't ordered his followers to storm a Benedict Canyon estate and kill everyone they see or make Tom Cruise believe he's defeated an evil alien overlord with the power of his mind. But you've got to imagine he's already slept his way through the bevy of floral skirt-wearing waifs who hang on his every word. That's how it works in this town. If Hollywood won't make you a movie star, you can always make yourself a god.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got the Church of Chez to start.
Can you feel my energy?