Friday, April 19, 2013

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

GOING CLEAR by Lawrence Wright has the subtitle "Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief." Read on audio by Morton Sellers, and published by Random House (the largest publisher in the world), it is an in-depth examination of the history and principal characters involved in creating or spreading the religion around the world. Wright covers the church's tax exempt classification with the IRS, and the church's multiple run-ins with the press. The church denies practically everything in the book, most vehemently the depictions of humiliation, physical abuse, and the methods used to attract followers and keep them obedient. The experiences of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Will and Jada Smith, Anne Archer, Neil Gaiman, Paul Haggis, and many lesser known disciples are laid out (more or less chronologically), but it is the other material that makes this the most exhaustive book yet on the subject. Wright himself is dismissed and vilified as a liar by the church, yet his reputation as a staff writer for The New Yorker is augmented by six previous books of nonfiction, plus the Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. Is Wright right, or is Scientology right? To everyone on the outside, it is obvious, and notable that among all the bizarre claims made by the church, two facts stand out: 1) L. Ron Hubbard once stated that the easiest way to make money was to start a religion, and his church then later forged documents related to his supposed war injuries and education. 2) Scientology claims that the universe is several quadrillion years old, not merely under 15 billion, (as science has determined by multiple means.) A quadrillion is either a thousand million million OR a million million million million OR a thousand trillion. So while the church attempts to appropriate science to attack psychiatry, it isn't "clear" about its own decimal points. Interestingly, Charles Manson incorporated techniques of Scientology into his cult. A fascinating look inside mind control, and our exploitable human ability to believe anything imaginable.  

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