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A fascinating look into the history of Scientology and the personalities that control it...

  • Mar 24, 2013
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I've always found Scientology a fascinating topic. Not for the philosophy behind it, but for how it came about and how it's shrouded in secrecy by those who lead the organization (I refuse to call it a religion). I picked up Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright at the library, and it was one of those books I had a hard time putting down. Wright did a thorough job in documenting the history and lives of those involved in Scientology's leadership. It amazes me that a group of people can be so hypocritical and lie so completely, while apparently feeling little remorse or regret while doing so.

Wright's book title is indicative of the three-part approach to his investigation. The first part covers the history of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. I had always wondered if Scientology was sort of a fantasy joke that got out of control for Hubbard. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Hubbard mixed science-fiction and fantasy into a pseudo-belief system that promised god-like abilities if someone could become a "Clear", or someone who had eliminated all the traumas of their past and suppressive people in their lives. He lied about many aspects of his life to show how he was an example of Scientology's power and truth. In reality, he was a physically frail individual who was psychotically abusive to those around him.

The second portion of the book deals with how Scientology targets the Hollywood elite for both money and prestige. The usual insecurity of actors and actresses make them especially vulnerable to Scientology "training courses" which promises improvements in personality and speaking skills. That is usually the hook to get them to spend even more money for "auditing" courses which ties them even closer to the belief system. Personalities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley have bought into the system completely, and Scientology exploits their status in society to make their organization seem more acceptable in mainstream society.

The final part of the book covers how difficult it is to leave Scientology. The brainwashing that occurs is incredibly strong, and even those who are horribly abused and taken advantage of have little recourse due to the way they've been indoctrinated. Those that try to "blow" or escape are often found and forcibly, for lack of a better term, incarcerated by the organization. Their current leader, David Miscavige, is as psychotic and hypocritical as Hubbard was, and ruthlessly controls Scientology and the leadership to preserve his affluent lifestyle.

Wright is to be commended for putting together such a comprehensive and damning expose of Scientology. Given the criminal activity of Scientology members when it comes to espionage and death threats against those who speak out against the organization, Wright put himself at risk to write Going Clear. I know it's probably wrong to read a book like this and accept it as the absolute truth about the topic. However, it's hard to ignore the vast amount of documented material that Wright uses in the book. Add to that the track record of those who defend the organization, and it's pretty clear (no pun intended) that Going Clear is required reading for anyone who is interested in Scientology from any angle or perspective.

Disclosure:
Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed

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review by . March 24, 2013
I've always found Scientology a fascinating topic. Not for the philosophy behind it, but for how it came about and how it's shrouded in secrecy by those who lead the organization (I refuse to call it a religion). I picked up Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright at the library, and it was one of those books I had a hard time putting down. Wright did a thorough job in documenting the history and lives of those involved in Scientology's leadership. …
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Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #43
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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Praise forGoing Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief,by Lawrence Wright   
        
 
 “Powerful . . . essential reading.” —Michael Kinsley, the front page ofThe New York Times Book Review

“Who’d have thought a history of a religion would offer so many guilty pleasures?   Lawrence Wright’s enthralling account of Scientology’s rise brims with celebrity scandal. To anyone who gets a sugar rush from Hollywood gossip, the chapters on Tom Cruise and John Travolta will feel like eating a case of Ding Dongs.”
      —Evan Wright,The Los Angeles Times

“An utterly necessary story . . . A feat of reporting. The story of Scientology is the great white whale of investigative journalism about religion.”—Paul Elie,The Wall Street Journal

“Wright’s account of the church’s history and struggles is helpful, admirably fair-minded and, at times, absorbing . . . The book’s most intriguing aspect, though is not its treatment of Scientology, in particular,  but its raising general questions about the nature of faith and reason and the role of religion in American life.”
       —Troy Jollimore,Chicago Tribune 

“A wild ride of a page-turner, as enthralling as a paperback thriller . . .I could go on and on, listing ...
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