|Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
"Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have risen in the twentieth century and survived into the twenty-first."
A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the now-classic study of al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack, the Looming Tower. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists--both famous and less well known--and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative skills to uncover for us the inner working sof the Church of Scientology: its origins in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard; its struggles to find acceptance as a legitimate (and legally acknowledged) religion; its vast, secret campaign to infiltrate the U.S. government; and its dramatic efforts to grow and prevail after the death of Hubbard.
At the book's center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant L. Ron Hubbard--whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion tailor-made to prosper in the spiritually troubled post-World War II era. And his successor, David Miscavige--tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church in the face of ongoing scandals and continual legal assaults.
We learn about Scientology's esoteric cosmology; about the auditing process that determines an inductee's state of being; about the Bridge to Total Freedom, through which members gain eternal life. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how young idealists who joined the Sea Org, the church's clergy, whose members often enter as children, signing up with a billion-year contract and working with little pay in poor conditions. We meet men and women "disconnected" from friends and family by the church's policy of shunning critical voices. And we discover, through many firsthand stories, the violence that has long permeated the inner sanctum of the church.
In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of the constitutional protections achieved in its victory over the IRS. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observations, understanding, and synthesis, and his ability to shape a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that goes far beyond an immediate exposé and uncovers the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.
This was the perfect type of book to listen to in the car, which is the format I used. I normally like my audiobooks to be non-fiction, I find missing parts of a "story" can get me lost more than "facts" from a non-fiction book. I thought I was going to like this just as much if not more than a book I read awhile back called "Inside Scientology" by Janet Reitman, published in 2011. You can find my very brief review of that book on goodreads, here. The hype was all over the place when "Going Clear" was first published, it was hard to miss it. I was skeptical about reading yet another book about Scientology but caved in when I signed up with Audible again and it popped up on clearance. I do love a good controversial book about crazy people that exist, which is essentially what this book is.
I think where this book succeeded was in the details, the Author also made sure we saw both sides and ALL the facts. I love and hate when this is done because when you've been over-bombarded by all the facts, sometimes things get boring and this book had quite a few of those moments. However, this didn't take away the creep factor, that wacky side of the religion that makes everyone laugh. I have to admit that given all the facts, some aspects of the religion started to make "a little" sense. The thought behind getting rid of these "bad" things that hold you back... this is a common idea that fits with many "self-help" ideas. Everyone wants to get rid of those bad vibes, bad emotions, bad memories that hold you back, and Scientology pulls you in with the lure of taking all the BAD away. Who wouldn't think twice about that, especially someone who isn't well informed about the evils of Scientology. Not many people see the whole picture, that the religion will try and suck you dry (of every penny you have), that they will record every confession and then use it against you when you try to leave. They will use every tactic imaginable to keep you, and you'll be so intertwined within the religion at that point (so finally invested as well) that it doesn't make sense to leave. How scary is that?
I wish everyone could read this and understand the dangers Scientology brings forth to society. This is one powerful religion, mostly due to the wealth they've accumulated. Not even the IRS could touch them, awhile back Scientology was in a legal battle with the IRS and Scientology won (meaning they will forever be considered a religion (along with any new branch they decide to create regardless of religious base). How convenient, right? The book starts with the history of L. Ron Hubbard, flows into his life and how he discovered and created Scientology. The book ends with David Miscavige, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and all those other celebrities. It explains how the celebrities were coaxed with lavish surroundings, slaves from the Sea Org to cater to them and fantasy retreats for them to escape to. They don't see the side of Scientology that takes someone from the middle class and makes them destitute within a few years. The entire religious scam they have going on angers me and scares me, and this book just heightens all of that. I want people to be aware of this, so I'll recommend the heck out of this book even though I only gave it three stars.