"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
"Earth is an insane asylum, to which the other planets deport their lunatics."
- Voltaire, in Memnon the Philosopher
I remember when I was first exposed to Scientology. A good friend of mine in high school suggested I read L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth*. I politely declined. Space opera just wasn't my thing. But I never forgot L. Ron Hubbard. Occasionally, in used bookstores I'd see one of his other books: Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, The Way To Happiness, etc. Again, I would politely walk by. But I've always been intrigued by this funky religion. Perhaps, it has something to do with being a Mormon (we've got our own funky origin, hypergraphiac founder, cosmology, etc).
Anyway, I found Wright's take on Scientology fascinating. Not just as a look into a visible and sometimes very troubled 20th Century religious movement (and the people in it), but also because it funhouse mirrors ALL religions. Like Neil deGrasse "Awesome" Tyson said in a Daily Beast interview in March of 2015, "So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy? Let’s realize this: What matters is not who says who’s crazy, what matters is we live in a free country. You can believe whatever you want, otherwise it’s not a free country—it’s something else."
Going Clear is scary because it makes you think not just that Scientologists, but we ALL are just a bit nuts and in need of a bunch of crazy pills.
* Mitt Romney's favorite book.
The amazing thing about James is he can write with precision and humility about something so completely intrinsic and fraught with pit falls. Most writers run at the subject with some large bias of the mystical, the . You have thousand of books written every year proclaiming their strain of Christianity, Judaism, Vegetarianism, Atheism, Mormonism, Buddhism, as being the only true and living way to view the divine AND the only mirror to view and judge ourselves. James is different. He artfully and carefully presents a measured approach to religion. He picks it apart with affection. He looks at it normatively and then he tries to look at each speck and piece through a value lens.
I believe the magic of this book is James isn't selling a belief. He isn't pimping a lifestyle. He is just curious and very very smart. And it isn't a clinical curiosity either (although his precision could be called clinical). It is a joyful curiosity. A drive to discover how we work and what really makes us tick. He wants to know and explain his hypothesis. God **ahem** bless William James. He wasn't just describing the transcendental condition of mankind, he was establishing and building a framework for others to follow for over 100 years.