Scientology is scary.
I went into this book thinking that scientology is some weird, relatively harmless religion. It is not. It's as terrifying as it is ludicrous.
The book works hard be factual and unbiased, providing comments from people and organizations mentioned.
Riverrunner, Powderhound, Pizzaiolo, Mountainbiker, Fisherman, Dzedo to James
This is first rate reportage specifically about Scientology but generally also about faith based belief by one of our best investigative journalists. Is Scientology a religion? a cult? a commercial enterprise? What is the difference? What is the role of religion and celebrity in contemporary American life? These are central questions in this excellent book. There's a lot of Hollywood gossip packed in it too which makes for an easy read/listen. The wacky underpinnings of Scientology are explored and juxtaposed against more conventional faith based creeds and the listener is left to question how, and to what extent, Scientology is any wackier than traditional (conventional) religious forms. The Scientology leadership comes across as lacking all credibility, which is not to say that the reportage is biased. In fact, Wright goes out of his way to give Scientology a fair shake. He reveals the extent to which Scientology has recruited many intelligent, sincere and accomplished believers. He also reveals that the system has helped more than a few people live better lives. Yet he does not shy away from revealing Scientology's dark side which he convincingly derides as a "prison of belief" which has led to the subjugation of many of its less celebrated adherents. Tom Cruise figures prominently in the book. His symbiotic relationship with Scientology is revealed at great length. Given Scientology's propensity to sue and its history of intimidation, Wright, Knopf and the New Yorker deserve Kudos for publishing this important work. I thought that Sellers' narration was good but nothing exceptional.
Exceptionally well researched history of Scientology and it's founder. I knew almost nothing about L. Ron Hubbard's early years, and it is amazing that his ideas ever took hold among intelligent, well educated and wealthy individuals. Even more surprising is that people continue to "believe" in this cultish "religion" despite the lack of evidence, and despite verified evidence of enforced servitude of members and fraudulent claims about the universe. But... they have learned from the best... Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, etc.....
This book is very detailed, and may be offering more than some readers want. I would encourage readers, however, to stick with it. No where else will you receive such complete documentation of the evidence. Furthermore, as a student of comparative religions, I found it an enjoyable read... something often missing from nonfiction. I agree with the NY Times review that Wright tried to be "fair"... "just the facts, mam". For those of you interested in the Scientology we know today, you won't be disappointed with revelations about Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Paul Haggis, and other famous Scientologists.
Essential reading for those skeptical of organized religion!!
No. I wouldn't listen again because I heard and understood it well the first time. I listened to become better informed.
Knowing L. Ron Hubbard--his type, the nature of his charisma, his bombastic personality, his fertile imagination, his relative lack of integrity--helps a lot to understand scientology. Later Miscavige takes the ball and runs with it, adding his own tyrannical personality to the science fiction narrative doctrine of the "religion," its rituals and sacraments. I'm so glad I never succumbed to the pitch when I was younger and potentially more vulnerable.
It was well written, abundantly documented, and read with confidence by Morton Sellers. Lawrence Wright was able to penetrate further and more widely than many earlier journalists were able to do.
Lawrence Wright knows how to write! This is yet another stupendous work showing that Wright is worthy of yet another Pulitzer.
This is meticulously researched, carefully crafted, and stunningly written exposé that compels readers and listeners forward as clarifying prose cascades over one's consciousness and through one's imagination. Wright points up both the humanity and inhumanity of Hubbard, his minions, and his successor.
"The Personalities, the Power, and the Politics" • I think one of the most significant features of Wright's exposé is how Miscavige was able to pressure a massive government agency to waive the large part of a massive tax penalty and grant a religious tax exemption. But he succeeded in pulling this off. It is this constellation of corruption and cover up that begs, absolutely begs, for its own exposé.
I always had a mild fascination with Scientology and cults in general (after reading the book, I think you'll agree that "cult" is not too strong of a word). Most of my understanding of the religion was through wikipedia articles and blogs. I found it interesting, but figured my impression was being somewhat skewed to be overly negative.
It is broken into 3 sections, as the title kinda implies. The first section is about the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the church's larger than life founder. I thought this was the most interesting section because every other minute there would be some insane anecdote that literally had me shouting to myself (Hubbard's dabbling in satanic rituals, the time he led a military ship on a hunt for a non-existent submarine, the fiasco of an alleged psychic that he trained being grilled by the media at a press conference). The next section shifts the focus to the church's recruitment of celebrities and an orchestrated coup to take control of the church after L. Ron passes. The last section focuses on members of the church trying to leave it behind. In particular, it focuses on famous director Paul Haggis.
The book is always fascinating. It never feels like a hatchet job either. The author often portrays many church members sympathetically and he does give the arguments others have made that Scientology can have a positive effect on peoples' lives and that it is no less valid than other religions.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks during my long commute and I'm usually reluctant to get one that is kinda long because I figure I'll get bored of it quickly. That wasn't the case with this. I was excited to sit in the car for 2 hours to listen to more.
Frighteningly ignorant people.
A study in how to manipulate idiots.
It is a little long and drawn out, but overall is worth it.
Well researched, organized, balanced, and articulated book telling of the life of L Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, his family, the genesis, evolution, and beliefs of the Church of Scientology, and the lives of many within the church including well known celebrities. The Epilogue is worth listening to/reading more than once.
I bought this after hearing part of an interview with the author on public radio, and was so engrossed in it that I couldn't stop listening. While I knew a few things about Scientology, I knew next to nothing about L. Ron Hubbard, and it was fascinating to hear his history (particularly compared with the sanitized history put forward by the COS). Honestly, it was quite shocking to have to keep in mind that this man had somehow founded a powerful religion with a net worth in the billions. He frankly comes across (in his OWN WORDS) as a delusional, paranoid narcissist. I also recently read a book about Jim Jones and People's Temple, and I was really quite struck with the similarities between Jim Jones, L. Ron Hubbard, and David Miscavige. In fact, I found myself chuckling at the irony of L. Ron Hubbard having his empire more or less stolen by another charismatic charlatan.
It blows my mind that so many people could buy into such weird ideas, or that any such belief could persist after the first instance of abuse that is described as affecting all but the high-priority celebrities. I had no idea the COS was so endemically homophobic, or that there was any connection between it and Prop 8.
It was an eye-opening look at current celebrities and their relationship with the COS. I'm sure that Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Jenna Elfman, and others will be very upset about having some of their activities involving the Church detailed. (Travolta actually comes across as a fairly decent guy.) The story of the Church auditioning actresses for the role of "Tom Cruise's new girlfriend" was so sexist and appalling that I think I will henceforth refuse to ever watch another movie he's in. If it is in fact the case that he and other celebrities involved in Scientology are unaware of its abuses, it is only through willful blindness- and they should be ashamed of it.
I am a Clinical Medical Hypnotherapist with specialities in Auto Immune, PTSD, ADHD, Cancer, and Autism. I focus on very difficult cases.
This is one of the more interesting books I have listened to. The reason is the author in my opinion tried to be objective, neutral, and present both side of the story in a fair and balanced approach, and by the nature of the topic that is difficult to do.
too many characters to mention
no, but his voice is fantastic
The overall structure. Regardless, if it is a religion or not, it is a business, and apparently a well oiled machine.