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Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the…

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

by Lawrence Wright

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,351878,321 (4.1)1 / 109
  1. 10
    Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both books deal with the Hollywood-Scientology connection.
  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.
  4. 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 86 (next | show all)
Scientology, the whipping boy of religion. And after having read this take by Lawrence Wright it seems deserving so. There is a lot of baggage with this self proclaimed religion that basks in its tax free universe.

If there ever was a definition of cult this has got to be it. Many stories of chilling treatment and escapades that makes one wonder here how crazy things can get. Pretty crazy. Yet for the many followers and and true believers it is there guiding light.

Not the first and not the last kid on the block when it comes to new found religions. And Wright sums things up at the end likening Scientology with its many predecessor religions like say Mormonism or even Christianity. Are things so different when we look at some of the claims closely. Maybe not. ( )
  knightlight777 | Aug 29, 2018 |
Even more disturbing than I had anticipated. It's shocking to believe this goes on and on and on. ( )
  DFratini | Apr 23, 2018 |
I've read a few books on Scientology now, and this one is by far the best. The writing is clear and easy but filled with tons of information. It's like talking to an incredibly well-informed person about Scientology, gently letting you know about all the crazy. And damn if it isn't entertaining! Like seriously, you won't believe it. Haha, Wright has such skill that you can barely tell he is leading you toward a complete distrust of the Church of Scientology. By the end of the book, whenever you get official information from the Church you feel like yelling, "Bullshit! Oh, that is such total and complete bullshit!" haha. OMG I'm such a total SP. Honestly though, just get rid of Miscavige, that's a real SP right there. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
Joel and I listened to this as an audiobook. We appreciated the fascinating accounts of the life of Scientology founder (and best selling SciFi writer) L. Ron Hubbard; the belief system (more a philosophy of human nature than religion, in most ways), the origins myth; current practice (isolating, fame-driven & litigious); and leadership transfers. There was too much celebrity gossip and generally too few of the details were edited out. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
Totally bananas. I admit, the limits of what I know about Scientology comes from magazines, Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah's couch (plus his divorce from Katie Holmes), the rumors about John Travolta's sexual orientation, etc. I don't really follow Hollywood gossip that much and couldn't help but wonder if it's really that weird and strange it is.
Sadly, it apparently is. Author Wright takes us through the origins of Scientology,the life of founder L. Ron Hubbard, the move from Hubbard's leadership to David Miscavige's, the influence of Hollywood (and Scientologist's influence within Hollywood), the lives of members, the extent the "church" (cult, really) will go to keep people from leaving, physically and otherwise.
It's a frustrating read. There are too many parallels to other forms of organized religion, from the followers who are reduced to being paid something like $50 a week while Miscavige spends/spent around 2000-3000 dollars on *food* PER WEEK. The physical and emotional abuse, the isolating tactics, the lack of education that child Scientologists get, the refusal to trust science (there are some really terrible stories about denying people medical help for both physical and mental health issues), etc.
I'll admit, the most interesting parts for me was the Hollywood stuff. The workings of the church made me mad and Hubbard's life wasn't all that interesting (but good to know for background). It was interesting to see the book address issues like Travolta's sexuality, Tom Cruise's marriages and relationships, etc. However, I thought it was odd that a story widely reported did not seem to make it here: Scarlett Johannsson was "courted" by Cruise, and after a 2 hour (!!!) lecture/lesson on Scientology, she was taken to another room where a door opened, revealing high-ranking Scientologists waiting to have dinner with her and Tom Cruise, at which she excused herself and left.
That said, despite the interesting topic, the book is not perfect. Wright is a journalist, and while the style works for a long-form read on a Sunday, sometimes it just doesn't here. He also switches storylines towards the end. We follow Paul Haggis (who is one of the major sources of the book) until Haggis leaves Scientology. Then we get a whole chapter on Tommy Davis, who was a former spokesman. Structurally it doesn't work since we had been following Haggis and I really didn't care about Davis. There's a good epilogue where the author makes some comparisons to other religions and/or cults (one and the same to some!) and other groups like the Amish, but it seemed a bit tacked on at the end.
Typically I really don't like books about religion or have heavily religious themes, but this was a fascinating read and I might watch the documentary when I get the chance. I also can't compare it to any other books on Scientology, but as a more formal introduction (and not just via Hollywood gossip) it was definitely a good pickup. I purchased it and don't regret it. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -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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