What do you think?
Rate this book
430 pages, Hardcover
First published January 17, 2013
“This is not a church or a religious organization,” the labor minister, Norbert Blum, told Maclean’s magazine. “Scientology is a machine for manipulating human beings.”Yes, I already saw the HBO documentary 'Going Clear' based on this hefty tome by Lawrence Wright, and so it was obvious that I'd just have to read the book that made it possible. After all, for any dedicated reader the idea that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' simply means that there are thousands of words that should be read instead.
"In the United States, constitutional guarantees of religious liberty protect the church from actions that might otherwise be considered abusive or in violation of laws in human trafficking or labor standards.”Wright does not spend as much time on Scientology as a religion - after all, bizarre and religions tend to frequently go hand in hand. He focuses on the celebrity worship, money making schemes and the culture of intimidation and espionage which he lays out through the examination of the lives of a few key players and a few more peripheral players/victims throughout the years Scientology has been around. We get the stories of those who tried to expose the misdeeds of the organization only to suffer the consequences of intimidation and smear campaign, with clear criminality in all those actions - Paulette Cooper being one of the victims. We get a thorough exploration of L. Ron Hubbard's life as well as a look at where the current leader David Miscavige comes from. There are the stories of the former enforcer and now a loud anti-Miscavige voice Marty Rathbun. Many of the pages are spent on Paul Haggis, an Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, once a devout Scientologist who finally left the church once the bigotry he felt affected his his daughters made him go to internet for some research on the church - the activity that is very much discouraged. John Travolta gets a bit of attention - but nothing even close to the amount of pages dedicated to the current loud pro-Scientology mouthpiece Tom Cruise.
”I have spent much of my career examining the effects of religious belief on people’s lives—historically, a far more profound influence on society and individuals than politics, which is the subject of so much journalism. I was drawn to write this book by the questions that so many people have about Scientology? What is it that makes the religion alluring? What do adherents get out of it? How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible? Why do popular personalities associate themselves with a faith that is likely to create a kind of public relations martyrdom? These questions are not unique to Scientology, but they certainly underscore the conversation. In attempting to answer them in this book, I hope we can learn something about what might be called the process of belief. Few Scientologists have had a conversion experience—a sudden, radical reorientation of one’s life; more common is a gradual, wholehearted acceptance of propositions that might have been regarded as unacceptable or absurd at the outset, as well as the incremental surrender of will on the part of people who have been promised enhanced power and authority. One can see by this example the motor that propels all great social movements, for good or ill.”