The Morning Cruise: Tom Cruise Masters The Universe

In the first of a four-part series about Scientology's sudden, Cruise-assisted visibility, Salon.com wonders (note—you may have to watch an ad to read the story) if the actor's recent talk-show antics, unconvincing red carpet tongue-wrestling sessions, and antipsychiatry zeal are tied to his likely ascension to the COS's highest echelons (i.e., where they tell you about the aliens and volcanos):

A current Scientologist who has reached the level OT-V, and who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that considering the amount of time Cruise has been in the church, an OT-VII status seems probable. And Stephen Kent, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta who has published articles on Scientology and Hollywood, also said that Cruise's behavior strongly suggests OT-VII.

Cruise is acting as though he "feels he's more in control over his environment and can convince more people to look into the organization," Kent said. "In the high OT levels one supposedly gains the skills to master one's universe. One is removing countless entities that have been holding people back. Cruise feels that he has freed himself from thousands of errant thetans, and he seems to be in a kind of euphoria he hasn't experienced before."

Perhaps if the impatient Cruise had waited until he achieved OT-VIII, his increased mastery of the universe might have allowed him to score a suspicious relationship with a higher caliber of starlet, like Scarlett Johansson or Jessica Alba. Settling for Holmes was such an OT-VII move.

Elsewhere in Cruise: Fox 411 on home-schooling and the Code of Honor (see the Christmas greetings here!); Today should thank Tom for the ratings surge; the inevitable anti-Cruise internet petition.