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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the…

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Lawrence Wright

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6594814,584 (4.14)1 / 48
Title:Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Authors:Lawrence Wright
Info:Knopf (2013), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Non-Fiction, Sociology, History, Religion

Work details

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (2013)

  1. 00
    Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Although Wright missed it completely, Scientology seems to be yet another in a long line of American religions/self-help groups influenced by the Positive Thinking Movement. If you want a wider vision of how these groups function, I highly recommend Ehrenreich.… (more)
  2. 00
    Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Although he never joined the group, Manson dabbled in Scientology. It is interesting to draw parallels between Manson's treatment of his "Family" and life in the Scientology's Sea Org.
  3. 00
    Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Two similar journalistic exposes of Scientology, both of which take a surprisingly even-handed view of the group. I preferred Inside Scientology, although both are great primers on what is going on under David Miscavige's regime.

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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
It's Wright's revelations regarding Scientology's "prison of belief" that made news when the book was originally published, particularly those concerning the "billion-year contracts" signed by members of its clergy, the Sea Org (often at very young ages), and the extreme, sometimes abusive conditions under which those members work. Many of his primary sources were once high-ranking executives within the Sea Org or other Scientology divisions. In some cases, their departures were more like escapes, and much of the information they've given the author was closely guarded by--and within--the church. Most of this material is made public for the first time in Going Clear...and much of it is may still remain unknown by current, committed church members, who will likely be directed to ignore or denounce the book (if they have access to it at all).

MORE: http://www.3rsblog.com/2014/02/audiobook-going-clear-lawrence-wright.html ( )
  Florinda | Jun 30, 2014 |
In Going Clear, Lawrence Wright takes an in-depth look at Scientology. One of the problems that faces anyone outside the church trying to get information is the wall of secrets and lies built up around it since its inception.

With a founder like L. Ron Hubbard, a pulp writer with a penchant for tall tales, both professionally and in his personal life, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Wright does the best he can, getting the inside scoop from those who have left the church, and whatever information those still inside would allow him to know.

Wright splits his book into three parts; the life and mind of L. Ron Hubbard and the origins of the religion, the effort to build a celebrity following to increase the popularity of the church through the power of Hollywood, and the horror stories of those who claim to have been mistreated over the years and their desperate escapes from the church (while I believe these stories, I say "claims" because the church outright denies them and vilifies anyone making such accusation).

If you've ever been curious about the truth behind one of the most controversial new religious movements, this book is definitely worth a read. Wright is detailed and tries to present both sides of the story (though the church's counterpoint is often made through attorneys and not through the actual person involved, especially in the case of Tom Cruise and David Miscavige, current head of the church). ( )
  regularguy5mb | May 31, 2014 |
Lawrence Wright provides in Going Clear a clear and deep insight into one of the most controversial new religious movements of the twentieth century, Scientology. Drawing on extensive interviews, with both current and former Scientologists including former high-ranking officials such as Mark Rathbun former Inspector General of the Religious Technology Centre, and extensive archival research Wright outlines the life of L. Ron Hubbard and the inner workings of the movement.

What Wright thus shows is how Hubbard developed the unique cosmology of Scientology, how the church pursues celebrities, how numerous young people have joined the Sea Org and signed away one billion years of existence in servitude, the trauma of disconnection - when members must cut off all contact from friends and families perceived as hostile, and troubling stories of callous and indifferent violence perpetrated by the current head, David Miscavige.

Wright has expertly synthesised all this research into a compelling and at times disturbing narrative that traces the full history of Scientology from its curious genesis to the celebrity culture that permeates it now.

At times, the narrative slows and its focus on Paul Haggis, while giving a personal touch to the story and providing focus, sometimes diverts too much attention. The repetition of allegations against Miscavige and the church countered by the latter's denial while highlighting a toxic mind-set in the church's hierarchy is all the more depressing because of the categorical and repetitive denials.

Nevertheless, along with Hugh Urban's [b:The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion] Wright's book provides much-needed discussion and academic research into a secretive and controversial movement. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
At first blush, L. Ron Hubbard seems quite disturbed. He is described as an accomplished liar. Even his memories of his military career cannot be documented as he wrote it. Most of the information in his background, that he provided, is unsubstantiated and false. He seems like a philanderer, without values. He cheated on his wife, was a bigamist and an abuser. He was a prolific writer, however, and his books sold and still sell millions of copies.
His main interest seemed to be to accumulate wealth and power. His doctrine was based on the simple premise that you can decide what is good and bad for yourself. If you think something is good, than it simply is, regardless of what others think. His followers were largely wealthy entertainers, actors who played roles in life and perhaps lost touch with what was in the real world. Writers of science fiction, like Hubbard, followed him and supported him financially, as well. If nothing else, they all had creative imaginations.
Many of those who associated with him also created wild, untrue narratives about their lives and experiences. Perhaps in writing science fiction, they too lost touch with the real world.
Hubbard’s fame is mind-boggling to me. How could rational people pay any attention to him, how could they dismiss his lies? Yet, this is a charade that many fell prey to, and many still do. This is a man who was sued often but nothing ever stuck. There was never enough proof. Scientology, designated as a religion, is exempt from many things ordinary people and business are subject to, and therefore, Scientology can get away with a great deal in the interest of religious freedom.
The bulk of the book is a very detailed and precise exploration of the founding of Scientology and its practices and progression to the current day, but the author also delves into other unusual religions at the end of the book. He talks about the Branch Davidians, the followers of Jim Jones and their mass murder/suicide, the Amish, and the Mormons, among others. However, most of the book is about Scientology and it followers.
The religion would appear to be ruled with an iron hand by a harsh master. Severe punishment is meted out to those who commit infractions, though they may not even understand what they have done; they are virtually kept prisoners and find it difficult to leave or escape. After years of living with and following the guidelines of Scientology and mixing only with Scientologists, it is difficult for the follower to adjust to the outside world and interact with others. It is almost like they are brainwashed. The whole was more important than the individual and, as a result, the individual often was unable to act independently. In addition, secret files were kept on the followers to blackmail them should they desire to leave.
Although I did not love listening to the book because there was sometimes too much detail, I have to admire the amount of research that went into it. It was such a thorough examination of this “cult-like” religion. It was so deftly done that the reader will come away with an understanding of the complexity of the religion and its followers, in so far as the author understands it. I think it will be impossible for the reader to drawer any other conclusion, other than the one that Wright puts forth and seems to prove.
Hubbard seemed insane as does David Miscavige who stepped into Hubbard’s shoes. He is a cruel taskmaster, was odd as a child and is even odder as an adult. Many famous names are associated with Scientology. Tom Cruise, Sonny Bono, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, Paul Haggis, Kirsty Allee, among many others who were at one time or another associated with Scientology, and many of them still are. They donate millions to keep it alive and well. It is beyond me that they can look beyond the punishments meted out, the demands made of the followers, the hierarchy and its inequity and still believe in, follow, and support its doctrines. They don’t seem to practice what they preach. Hypocrites, they live in rarefied air, and they either don’t care about others, or they simply want the rest of the followers to smell foul air. How can they not see the insanity in the leader, the inequity in the approach of the religion and the greed of the Church itself? It owns real estate, businesses and it would seem to own people as well. Followers are afraid to leave for they might find themselves exiled to a place where no one will ever find them. Even L. Ron Hubbard was in exile, apparently, for the last half-dozen years of his life, kept that way by Miscavige.
Dianetics, the most famous book written by Hubbard, was probably written by a Sociopath, by a very disturbed man, and yet, people read it and follow its path and still respect the man named L. Ron Hubbard. They believe the practice of Scientology helps them. It is Hubbard’s cure for all the ills of the world. Actually, he claimed he could cure almost everything, blindness, diabetes, cancer, etc.! How can sane, intelligent people believe the ravings of someone who was sometimes a madman? Wright made it seem like Scientology was a corrupt, deceptive religion, existing only to make the “Church” and the higher-ups wealthier and more powerful.
Has Hubbard pulled a fast one, has he pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes, eventually creating a monster, the monster of unintended consequences? Was he really only writing science fiction which attracted a fan club? In his own madness, did he then believe his own imaginings? Reader, read on and draw your own conclusions! ( )
  thewanderingjew | May 10, 2014 |
Wright and his researchers did an enormous amount of investigative legwork for this book, and he seems to be fair and objective in his interpretations of what he learned. I did find the book's early section, basically a biography of founder L. Ron Hubbard, to be considerably more interesting than the later sections covering the more recent history of Scientology. ( )
  wanack | May 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
That crunching sound you hear is Lawrence Wright bending over backward to be fair to Scientology. Every deceptive comparison with Mormonism and other religions is given a respectful hearing. Every ludicrous bit of church dogma is served up deadpan. This makes the book’s indictment that much more powerful.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Michael Kinsley (Jan 17, 2013)
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(Introduction) Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the twentieth century and survived into the twenty-first.
London, Ontario, is a middling manufacturing town halfway between Toronto and Detroit, once known for its cigars and breweries.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307700666, Hardcover)

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:16 -0400)

"Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists--both famous and less well known--and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative skills to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology: its origins in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard; its struggles to find acceptance as a legitimate (and legally acknowledged) religion; its vast, secret campaign to infiltrate the U.S. government; its vindictive treatment of critics; its phenomenal wealth; and its dramatic efforts to grow and prevail after the death of Hubbard"--From publisher description.… (more)

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