Today's post is on Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. It is 430 pages long and is published by Alfred A. Knopf. The cover is black with the title in white. The intended reader is someone who is interested in cults, how they are made, and the people who part of them. There is foul language, talk of sex, and violence in this book. The story is told from first person interviews, letters, journeys, and other first hand documents. There Be Spoilers Ahead.
From the back of the book- 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 workings of 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.
Review- This is a horrifying and fascinating read about a cultic religion I knew little about. Wright gives a full biography of it and the man who founded it. We start with Hubbard's parents and go from there all the way to his death. We follow his writing career, all the major life events, and when he decided to create Scientology. The fascinating part of the book is watching everything come together to make this religion happen and work. The horrifying part is what happens to the people who get trapped in it. They are trapped because we see what happens when someone tries to leave the fold. The interviews with people who left Scientology chilled my blood and made me wonder about religion in general. But I think that a good non-fiction book should make you look at the things in life that are similar to what you are reading about.
I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.