Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of BeliefGoing Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Given my fascination with religion, faith and belief, this book was on my TBR from the moment that I heard it was coming. And Lawrence Wright certainly delivers ... this is one of the best nonfiction books I've read this year.

I knew next to nothing about Scientology going into the reading of this book but was fascinated with the little that I did know. The religion felt rather cult-ish to me but I really didn't know enough to truly understand if that was the case or not. This book really educated me so much on Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard and the current leadership of Scientology. And, all I can say is WOW! This is one of the most comprehensive, well researched and well written books that I've read in the history of my reading life. That Lawrence Wright took on this subject despite the harrowing experiences of others who have done the same is commendable.

I cannot even put into words just how astounded I was as I read this book - the tenets of this belief system, the way Hubbard set this religion up, the way the average member is treated, and the numerous abuses and violations by the Church that have been documented over the years. It's all just so horrendous. I find it so sad that so many people searching for something to believe are finding it in Scientology since I now believe the entire religion was made up in the mind of a man that I'm convinced suffered from severe mental health issues. I have a hard time understanding how intelligent individuals can buy into much of what I read in this book. I guess that it's a testament to the power of belief.

More than anything, however, this book confirmed my discomfort with the role celebrity plays in Scientology. The 'celebrity' appears to be one of the only members of this group that isn't faced with abuse and terror. They ultimately seem to feed off of the efforts of the 'common' Scientology member without accepting any responsibility or asking any questions about the treatment of others despite quite a bit of evidence that there are abuses going on. I will no longer support projects connected to these Scientology celebrities (Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, etc). I just cannot support these people who seem to be so clearly benefiting from the abuses within this organization. I find their lack of awareness to be self-serving.

If you're a Scientologist, you will certainly hate this book and find offense throughout this entire review (if you're even allowed to read it which is unlikely based upon the information in the book). I would say that if you're curious about this particular religion, it's relationship to science, and it's relationship to celebrity - this is definitely a great piece of investigative journalism and will answer most questions you could have about Scientology. I found this book fascinating and it has changed my own thinking about Scientology in many ways. I strongly recommend this book!

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