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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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6975113,645 (4.1)1 / 51
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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Shelf Notes Review

Dear Reader,

This was the perfect type of book to listen to in the car, which is the format I used. I normally like my audiobooks to be non-fiction, I find missing parts of a "story" can get me lost more than "facts" from a non-fiction book. I thought I was going to like this just as much if not more than a book I read awhile back called "Inside Scientology" by Janet Reitman, published in 2011. You can find my very brief review of that book on goodreads, here. The hype was all over the place when "Going Clear" was first published, it was hard to miss it. I was skeptical about reading yet another book about Scientology but caved in when I signed up with Audible again and it popped up on clearance. I do love a good controversial book about crazy people that exist, which is essentially what this book is.

I think where this book succeeded was in the details, the Author also made sure we saw both sides and ALL the facts. I love and hate when this is done because when you've been over-bombarded by all the facts, sometimes things get boring and this book had quite a few of those moments. However, this didn't take away the creep factor, that wacky side of the religion that makes everyone laugh. I have to admit that given all the facts, some aspects of the religion started to make "a little" sense. The thought behind getting rid of these "bad" things that hold you back... this is a common idea that fits with many "self-help" ideas. Everyone wants to get rid of those bad vibes, bad emotions, bad memories that hold you back, and Scientology pulls you in with the lure of taking all the BAD away. Who wouldn't think twice about that, especially someone who isn't well informed about the evils of Scientology. Not many people see the whole picture, that the religion will try and suck you dry (of every penny you have), that they will record every confession and then use it against you when you try to leave. They will use every tactic imaginable to keep you, and you'll be so intertwined within the religion at that point (so finally invested as well) that it doesn't make sense to leave. How scary is that?

I wish everyone could read this and understand the dangers Scientology brings forth to society. This is one powerful religion, mostly due to the wealth they've accumulated. Not even the IRS could touch them, awhile back Scientology was in a legal battle with the IRS and Scientology won (meaning they will forever be considered a religion (along with any new branch they decide to create regardless of religious base). How convenient, right? The book starts with the history of L. Ron Hubbard, flows into his life and how he discovered and created Scientology. The book ends with David Miscavige, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and all those other celebrities. It explains how the celebrities were coaxed with lavish surroundings, slaves from the Sea Org to cater to them and fantasy retreats for them to escape to. They don't see the side of Scientology that takes someone from the middle class and makes them destitute within a few years. The entire religious scam they have going on angers me and scares me, and this book just heightens all of that. I want people to be aware of this, so I'll recommend the heck out of this book even though I only gave it three stars.

Happy Reading,
AmberBug ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
A very interesting and well written book. However, it seemed like a lot more information than I ever really needed to know about Scientology. I would have been happy to have read a book half this size. ( )
  KamGeb | Aug 9, 2014 |
Scientology is a strange thing. Based on the writings of the late L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, it was achieved the dubious distinction of being, arguably, the most controversial "religion" currently practiced. Adherents like Tom Cruise claim life-changing and enriching experiences. But wrapped up in these experiences is a demand for total adherence to the philosophy's precepts mixed with continuing demands for bigger donations -- to the extent where many well-to-do people have found themselves bankrupt.

On top of these demands is the oddness of the belief system, something so peculiar that I'm not sure I can relate them fairly or honestly. For me, this is extraordinary since I have spent most of my life in studying the religions of the world, looking for one that would fit my cosmology and philosophy. There are times, in fact, when Scientology almost feels like that serpent who penetrated the Garden of Eden.

Lawrence Wright has done an excellent job in presenting both the positives and negatives of the religion. It is a good read even if, in the end, you have more questions than answers. ( )
  bfgar | Jul 31, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (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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