Notes on GOING CLEAR: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright tells you more than you'd ever thought you'd learn about the pseudo-science beliefs of Scientology and the enforcement of its secrets by its creepy hierarchy. Stranger than Science Fiction!

What a fascinating topic! There were 8 of us at our Lakeview Book Club Meeting in August to discuss Going Clear by Lawrence Wright. Most had read it all. Some read most parts or didn't quite finish. Two were new to our group. One of the new people came, because of the topic, while not having had the opportunity to read the book.
 
Lawrence Wright, an investigative reporter,  is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. He is from Dallas, Texas and is a graduate of Tulane University and English in at the American University in Cairo in Egypt and received his MA in applied linguistics in 1969.
 
Going Clear was based on extensive research and over 200 interviews of current and former Scientologists. It covers the history of founder L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscovich, the current leader of Scientology. Wright gives an in depth report of the involvement of Toms Cruise and John Travolta in Scientology.
 
The pace of the writing was swift and intense like the muckraking books of Upton Sinclair. We thought there was a little repetition toward the end of the expose that distracted us just when the book should have finished with a symbol crash!
 
Most of us had only little knowledge of the inner workings of this group, based on articles we have read and acquaintances who dabbled briefly in it. The book was a disturbing revelation of the mish-mash of mythology, science fiction and megalomania upon which this world view was based.
 
We all agreed that Scientology is not a religion, but a very successful business, based on the emotional manipulation, fear, slave mentality, crazed dictatorship and legal maneuvering which finally got it classified as a religion by the government. It is a billion dollar in cash organization with frightening power over most of the people who have gotten deeply involved. It took over Clearwater, Florida and brings in $1.5 million a week.
 
Most of us thought that Scientology founder, L. R. Hubbard, was a charlatan, snake oil type salesman, who was emotionally very unstable and dangerous. His science fiction was less than stellar, yet prolific. He was a failed screen writer, who was living out one of his science fiction plots and moving the people around like chess pieces on a board. We thought he must have believed that there is "A Sucker Born Every Minute."
 
In addition to the inner core, which punishes members with isolation and depravation of food and basic comforts of life, there was outright criminal activity where files were stolen from the FBI.
 
The group lionizes celebrities and milks them for the branding of the group. Tom Cruise has been treated like a biblical visiting potentate, complete with the hosts providing him with a woman/women for his use and possible marriage. John Travolta has been blackmailed with exposure over his sexual orientation. Recently the group has lost some celebrities.
 
We compared L. Ron Hubbard to Jim Jones, in his ability to get people to believe his strange philosophies and manipulate government powers. For some, his beliefs were mesmerizing and his personality charismatic. We agreed that many religions are based on strange beliefs and started by charismatic people.
 
There are some elements in Scientology that have worked for some people. The process of getting rid of past hurts has given people some confidence. Some have been able to rid themselves of drug and alcohol addiction, but there is a price, a very substantial one. As people are trained in the processes, they confess to transgressions. A record is made of everything said and then used against the person, should he or she try to leave. People who wish to leave are billed bankrupting amounts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to achieve their freedom.
 
Some people who have wished to leave have had to actually escape from a prison environment and are currently living in hiding and in fear. There was one case where medical care was denied to a woman, who died as a result.
 
Some people really do not know how to leave. The life is all they know. One common denominator for many of the members is a previous broken life with no real attachments. Many are really smart, but uneducated and are easily sucked in by the pseudo-science and comparative religion studies the group does. The group has given them a sense of belonging even if the conditions become unbearable. An analogy might be the dilemma of the abused housewife who never leaves, i.e. where would she go? She has no friends in the outside world and the evil batterer will come find her and do worse. Many have no skills, because they have spent their entire lives in the organization.
 
Speaking of violence, Miscovich, whose parents were Scientologists, was groomed to take over from Hubbard. Miscovich has been noted for his violence, as was Hubbard, beating their wives. Requiring abortions has been another destructive element in the group's practice.
 
We discussed that power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts completely. Hubbard and Miscovich have had ultimate power and used it! Hubbard was able to insulate himself from all legal liability. Others would take the fall, if action was made against Scientology. Though Hubbard is deceased, there is a special home for his return from the other dimension where is resides in outer space. There is speculation that Hubbard committed suicide. One of his last statements was, "I failed." Is his failure that he didn't get to live forever or actually achieve world domination?
 
The story of Scientology is not over. You may see a center opening in a location near you. We believed that the best defense against it is a solid family, education and discernment. Unfortunately many, many people never have any of these elements in their lives.
 
Be aware! Ultimately faith is a choice!
 
Keep Reading!
 
Mary Farrell
Branch Manager
Lakeview Branch Library

Comments

Hello Mary. I have been a

Hello Mary.

I have been a Scientologist since 1981. As it happens, I have found none of what you've written here to be true. By extrapolation, I assume that much or all of what Lawrence Wright has written to likewise be untrue, at least in my experience.

Truly, the likes of what you have written are criminal actions (false imprisonment, blackmail, spousal abuse), and any such organization would not survive long; the Church was formed 60 years ago.

My experience with Scientology has been wholly positive and helpful. I am guessing you have never taken a Scientology course, nor read a book from the Church; I believe your stance would be completely different.

The Church leader’s last name is actually Miscavige, rather than Miscovich.

My greater interest with your article is why the Branch Manager of a public library is using a public organization’s site to attack a religion--and yes, it is a religion. Glancing at the blog home page, I see all unbiased articles with titles as:

Participate in a Discussion - earn $100!
Hand-On Science Books
10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in November 2014
Essay Contest for “War Comes Home” - win an iPad Mini!
Ebola Facts and Fiction
C.L. Dellums: An Oakland Civil Rights Hero
Best Illustrated Books of 201--with a raffle!
You Too Can Play the Ukulele

I believe your blog post belongs on a personal blog page, and not on a public site’s blog.

Cordially,

Glenn Warren
Southern California

Hello Mr. Warren, This blog

Hello Mr. Warren,

This blog was a report of what we found in Mr. Wright's book. One of the attendee's had experience with Scientology and pointed out the benefits to members searching for help. I included her comments.

I appreciate your comments and the correction of the spelling of Mr. Miscavige's name.

Our book club is open to anyone and all get to share opinions on what we read. We often read controversial titles as well as pop fiction and classics. We often do not agree and I make sure those comments are included.

If you are ever in the Bay Area you are most welcome to join us. Tonight we are discussing, The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd, which has a large religious element to it and there will probably be comments on all sides of those issues. Those comments will end up in the blog report on our meeting and very well may trigger comments from people who were not there.

I am so glad you are reading our blogs. I hope you will continue to do so.

Sincerely,

Mary Farrell

Hello again, Mary! Thank you

Hello again, Mary!

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response of 11/18.

I happened upon an article today regarding Wright's book, as HBO is apparently in works to make it into a movie. The article is at http://defamer.gawker.com/hbo-hired-160-lawyers-for-a-lawrence-wright-sc.... In the article, this website is provided:

http://www.lawrencewrightgoingclear.com

Upon checking into it, I found the site is owned and published by the Church of Scientology International. While I only scanned the home page of the voluminous site briefly, the first few paragraphs set the truths of the book succinctly. For example, this paragraph is very telling:

"In a letter of October 14, 2011, a full 15 months before publication, the Church offered full cooperation to answer any questions so as to provide all information Mr. Wright would need to accurately represent the religion, the Church, its leadership and Founder. The Church repeated this request fifteen times, as many of the letters went entirely unanswered while others resulted in only about a dozen 'fact-checks' consisting of question about obscure or mundane subjects out of context ..."

I thought you and the book group may find it interesting.

Best regards, and happy holidays!

Glenn

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