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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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8475910,623 (4.1)1 / 80
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

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

Recently added byontograph, mattenglishpt, private library, fizzypops, rr-k, jselvidge, ruinedmap, neverd.v, monicai
  1. 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.
  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. 01
    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)

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
This book is not only a comprehensive history of Scientology but also a biography of L. Ron Hubbard. It’s amazing that Hubbard went from an author of pulp science fiction novels to the founder of a major religion/cult. I had to wonder if Hubbard was mentally ill and really believed the stories he told about alien overlords ruling over humans millions of years ago. Or was he intelligent and calculating and knew he could make a ton of money off of his ideas?

The aspect of Scientology that was most surprising to me is the horrific abuse that the non-celebrity members endure. They are punished for various transgressions with being made to perform horrible tasks or imprisoned in unspeakable conditions. I had to wonder how this imprisonment is legal. Why don’t the members who have escaped file charges against those in the church leadership. Partly, it’s probably because the church has so much money that they can literally destroy your life if you speak out against them in any way. I was stunned that an organization in the United States can get away with the things they get away with. Their behavior is that of a fascist dictator.

Paul Haggis (director of the movie Crash) was a Scientologist for 35 years before he finally left the church. His perspective on why a seemingly smart person would remain in the church is insightful. I wanted to read more about other celebrity Scientologists. There is a lot of information on John Travolta and Tom Cruise but not much on anyone else. I have to wonder if the celebrities in the church know about how the rest of the church works – the imprisonment, child labor, etc. Are they so brainwashed that they will make excuses for what the author has uncovered? If they choose to remain in the church, I think they have a responsibility to work to reform it and put a stop to the abuse. I’m sure if they threatened to stop the millions of dollars they donate, the leaders of the church would stand up and take notice.

This book is very well-researched, especially considering the fact the church is so close lipped about what goes on behind closed doors. Wright was able to interview several of the former church leaders who have defected over the years. If you want to know the truth about Scientology, this book is your best bet. ( )
  mcelhra | May 12, 2015 |
I found this book to be a real page-turner. Scientology carries a strange fascination for me from a sociological point-of-view. It has so many characteristics of a cult, and yet unlike most cults it operates fairly out-in-the-open (although, as this book illustrates, the glittery face it presents to the world masks a lot of ugliness underneath).

Still, Lawrence Wright, a writer for The New Yorker, pursues a question of great interest: what causes people to put their faith in an organization/religion even after they have met plenty of evidence that the reality behind it is quite contradictory to its ideals? Wright doesn't dive deeply into the psychology behind it, but it finally comes down in the end to the conclusion that the will to believe can be a much stronger force than mere human reason.

And the verdict on Scientology itself? That's succinctly summed up in a court decision issued against the church in 1984:

"The organization is clearly schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder [L. Ron Hubbard]. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievement. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile. At the same time it appears that he is charismatic and highly capable of motivating, organizing, controlling, manipulating, and inspiring his adherents. . . . Obviously, he is and has been a very complex person, and that complexity is further reflected in his alter ego, the Church of Scientology." ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
This books was very informative and comprhensive. I applaud the author for writing such an open and honest evaluation of the largest cult in operation today. My opinion of Tom Cruise as a person has diminished considerably and I hope that David Miscavige gets his just deserves. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Excellent book, terrifying report. I was frightened after I read it that I would look out the window and see a group of them standing on the sidewalk in front of my house staring at me. ( )
  picardyrose | Mar 22, 2015 |
An informative, but frustrating read in the sense that you just want to pound some sense into the people being exploited and abused within Scientology. Also, too, L. Ron Hubbard and his successor, David Miscavige were (Hubbard) and are (Miscavige) assbags of the first order. ( )
  captnkurt | Mar 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (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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