Tag Archive | autobiography

Beyond Belief… A Second Look into Scientology…

Totally boned this one… this review has been sitting in my drafts for too long! OOPS! Well, here goes.

In a not too long ago review entry I took a look at the book Going Clear HERE. This book was a rather indepth look at not only the history of Scientology and its current status but at the history and life of its creator – L Ron Hubbard. I have to admit, not only did I find this book educational and interesting but at times humourous. Especially when the author documented many questionable remarks and accomplishments shared by Hubbard to his “church” and the world at large. It was common to read about some honour he claimed only to have it follow up with… and the US army showed that he was … not there, somewhere else, absolutely unable to do such a thing. I found Going Clear to be an amazing introduction to something I had only had prior knowledge of in connection to stars and some comment about aliens…

Now the autobiography Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill was a completely different sort of read for me. I warn you now this is a PERSONAL recount of life inside the organization that is considered under law a church starting at childhood. In the beginning you get the eyes of a child who is wanting to enjoy and please everyone. A child seeing adventure slowly moving into loneliness, confusion and coercion. Then a teenager full of questions, hormones and loneliness and finally the adult she was and then the woman she became.

I found it hard at times to remember how young Jenna was. So much occurred as she grew up and the expectations of behaviour and understanding were so out of whack with what I would consider my own children capable of that you would be shocked when the author reminded you of her age at one point or another.

As a parent the idea of following a religion or organization that demanded you leave your children behind to be raised and molded to fit a specific ideal is repugnant. Jenna and her brother were for all intents and purposes abandoned to be raised by the church… this is where I honestly had to slow down and take breaks in my reading (something I have rarely had to do with a non fiction book).

Beyond Belief allows you to see the process of indoctrination and acceptance of something that seems (to me) almost ludicrous and infantile. The author brings you along through it all… through her childhood, the lack of freedom and the lack of family… through the teenage years with confusing regulations and absolutely no soft place to land, through love and loss and romance and marriage (and a firm understanding that she had to fight for it all against belief, family and regulation) and finally to escape.

Jenna’s story is even more intriguing when you look at her maiden name – Micavige is the name of the current head of Scientology and her blood connection to the man she calls uncle. The actual level of control and manipulation due simply to who she was born as is not clear until the ending. But what is clear is that Jenna has worked hard to become what she is today… a brilliant mother, spouse and advocate.

Once you have made your way through this book please do check out her website that is run with help of other past Scientology kids… www.exscientologykids.com. There is something to be said for hearing about a community from the inside as well as the outside looking in. I think that these two books together – Going Clear and Beyond Belief are a wonderful way to get a good grasp not only on what Scientology is but on how it can keep people so enthralled.

As always I would love to hear the opinions of others on the books I have read… so do comment if you are familiar with the books or have something to share to better my understanding!15827066

The Lost Daughter… a Book Review

The Lost Daughter by Mary Williams is a touching autobiography of a woman who survived an exceptionally difficult childhood moving into her teen years a lost and later abused woman… that is until she is accepted into the loving and supportive family of Jane Fonda. Mary is proof that a childhood of hardship and pain does not have to lead to a lifetime of loss. 

Born the 5th daughter to two members of the Black Panther association Mary was a forgotten child in a home of poverty. A world traveler Mary took her move to the Fonda’s home in stride and accepted, for the most part, their support and love. There are ups and downs and sadness and joy. There are two sides to each coin and with leaving her family to join a new one there were losses and benefits. 

What I loved about this book is as you read it it is like Mary is sitting right there telling you the story. In a twist of fate Mary is offered the opportunity of a lifetime, leave the oppressive poverty stricken family with a matriarch who has simply given up and an absentee father and join the actress and her family that she met by chance at a series of summers at camp. What is amazing is this book goes full circle, not only does Mary escape the clutches of a cycle of abuse, poverty and crime but she DOES return to mend a few bridges, as delicate as that mending is. 

Mary Williams has more adventures than many people would in multiple lifetimes, she spends time in different areas across the globe with her eyes wide open. We are given brief glances into Jane Fonda’s life during this time, through two marriages and her relationships with her children. The road is far from smooth  but our adventures with this strong and amazing woman are page turners. I found myself unable to put the book down. 

She does not simply degrade her past and see only the negatives, we experience the joy with the tribulation, the questioning with the answers. We walk along this woman’s life and truly get a feel of who she is and what she was and who she could become! This is the perfect book for quiet contemplation, a bit of a giggle at times, connecting with an adventurous soul.

This book touches on the Panther movement, the fall out (in a small part) of being a part of the anti-Vietnam rallies, rape (not graphic), drugs, alcohol abuse but also being a part of a family, travelling the world, helping others, enjoying the outdoors and simply finding your way in a world full of options and choices. The Lost Daughter is full of emotion and written to draw you in. When it comes out in April I would absolutely suggest getting a copy, freeing up all the reading time you can and immerse yourself in Mary William’s life. 

The Lost Daughter