Tag Archive | Scientology

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

Going Clear – Examining Scientology

So I was a little torn about even reviewing this book on my blog. Not because of the story itself, it is marvelous, but the subject matter is a little off of what I generally share here. I am a born and raised Lutheran who has in turn (thus far) raised our 5 kids in the same faith. Ken is less committed to a particular strain of Christianity or religion really, than I am but agrees Sunday School (or Jesus School as Echo calls it) is a marvelous way for our kids to not only socialize in a school like environment but learn some wonderful classic moral structure. In saying all of that I AM a Religion and Philosphy major (joint concentrations with a Bachelor degree graduating with distinction) who spent a large portion of her education looking into world religions. There is something amazing in seeing more opinions and faiths. Add in the philosophy portion and I have never lost my wish to simply know more.

Now with Scientology I have to admit my only knowledge came from the media. John Travolta, Tom Cruise… though my exposure through Tom Cruise was such to make me LESS enthused about the ideology honestly… and more recently Lea Remini’s leaving and Haggis’ impassioned letter of resignation after the treatment of his openly gay daughters and homosexuality as a whole within the organization. In fact, I was originally looking for the new HBO documentary about Scientology when I came across the link for the book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright.

I figure the best way to review is to be honest… I absolutely LOVED the voice of the author. His writing was clear, and had an unbiased feel (as unbiased as any one person can be). This was a man determined to find as much factual statements as he could, and with religion (or a closed community such as Scientology seems to be) that is never a simple black and white. The back of the book is full of notes and acknowledgement of source. Surprisingly a large portion of his resources came from the University of Alberta. (the university that has bought Augustana where Ken and myself got our degrees) This is not a book thrown together without an attempt to corroborate material. Though there are multiple places where the official Scientology account differs from other sources…

I PERSONALLY found the history of the creator of Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard) and the early history of the organization to be the most interesting. Though the more current step by step growth and evolution of a society working to be declared a formal religion was also gripping.

The entire book walks you through first the life (birth onward) of L. Ron Hubbard on through to the creation of Scientology the written work and organization, past his death and into the more current status of the “church.” Wright has multiple sources including defectors and what information he could glean from the internet, other reporters and texts, the published writings of Hubbard and what Scientology would officially confirm or deny. There is a bit of a taboo on writing about Scientology, especially in the 80’s and 90’s where it is documented that authors have been sued, harassed and potentially blackmailed.

Now there is some dogma in the book, a lot of personal experiences (often collaborated with at least another person) and what has been released in the media. All in all it combined to be a read I simply could not put down. I was very grateful for the long weekend.

Now I would consider this book a wonderful peek into the inner workings and beginnings of Scientology based on the accounts of insiders AND the author who is in no way affiliated with the community. I am sure this is biased on some levels but I feel the author really tried to back the claims, histories and philosophy with text and numerous accounts. I think that this book has given me some insight into what some consider a cult, others a church and still others simply an organization based on a money making scheme. What you draw from it is your own. It definitely held my interest. So check it out if you want to know more about Scientology and for sure, let me know what YOU thought about it! o-GOING-CLEAR-facebook