Although it is evident that the author is not a professional writer....this book is filled with a lot of great information and does leave you wanting to hear/read more!
Absolutely recommended. It's a gripping and insightful story that gives a believable look inside Scientology and the ability of cults to convince people that really strange and appalling things are normal. If you were ever curious about what happens on the inside, this will definitely scratch that itch.
Reads just a little like a high school report, but this doesn't take away from the experience and maybe even adds a little contextual texture to it. However I will say that by the end I never wanted to hear the word "as" again.
It's like living the story. Not only is the recording spot-on, but the narrator speaks clearly and conveys all the correct emotions at the right times.
The story was captivating because it was all true and literally beyond belief. What happens in Scientology is unimaginable and really needs to be stopped. It is hard to believe that this can occur in our society today.
Learning what kind of life the children at the ranch had to live. The responsibilities and lack of contact the kids had with their parents makes you wonder what was going on in the parents heads!
A lightness in her voice that helps keep the book from being very depressing and dark.
It made me outraged that this continues to go on and made me feel like doing something about it. I actually went to one of the survivor websites and donated to their cause.
The information in this book needs to be spread far and wide so fewer people get caught in the Scientology web of lies.
Yes. The emotional roller coaster was amazing. I left the book feeling close to the writer and the other people in the Sea Org.
All of them
In the U.S., religion and the freedom to practice it is a kind of shibboleth — because we have enshrined the First Amendment, we are very reluctant to impose any sort of restrictions on religious practice, and even most people who don't care for a religion will be loathe to categorically state any particular religion is wrong, bad, or evil. The exceptions are generally either bigots or folks whose own religious beliefs are so exclusionary that by necessity they must regard all other faiths as antagonistic.
L. Ron Hubbard and his church have taken great advantage of this fact, running what can only be called a pyramid scheme organized like a police state but wearing the trappings of religion. Any objective study of Scientology, its history, and its methods will not allow a reasonable person to come away in doubt as to its nature. And yet we have to put up with Scientologists donning the First Amendment to shield themselves from criticism while engaging in the most despicable dirty tricks against their enemies (who are legion, especially in LRH's paranoid cosmology).
When I read another book about Scientology, "Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion," by Janet Reitman, one of the things I wondered was how do they actually get people to believe this nonsense? And what makes people stay in such an abusive, irrational cult when they could walk away at any time?
That book gave two answers: first, the Internet has not been good for Scientology, which is why their members are generally forbidden to access it. Second: the remaining hardcore "faithful" are basically the children and grandchildren of Scientologists who grew up in the "church" and have never known anything else.
That is the perspective of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who is the niece of the David Miscavige, current leader of Scientology and heir to L. Ron Hubbard's Empire. She was born and raised into Scientology, and even as the surrounding world seeped into her awareness, she was essentially kept in a Scientology bubble until her late teens. Given this, it becomes a little surprising that she rebelled as much as she did.
For anyone who's read other books about Scientology, there won't be much new information here, but Jenna Miscavige Hill gives an unrelentingly grim picture of the "church," without even meaning to, because while in her conclusions, following her escape, she makes it clear that she considers the church and its leaders to be abusive, lying, and unethical, everything she experienced along the way was "normal" for her, so perhaps the full horror of growing up in what amounted to a system of work camps supervised by snitches and political officers ready to take away even the smallest privileges and shut you in a room to be yelled at for hours at the slightest breach of rules, never completely registered with her. She learns, only after leaving the church, how "weird" other people find her upbringing.
For all that she had such an exceptional and scarring upbringing, Hill is personable and clearly a person of integrity (it was her unwillingness to throw friends and family under the bus on demand, which the Church of Scientology demands frequently, that consistently got her into trouble). The church very carefully tiptoes around the law, so most of their practices aren't quite illegal as long as their members voluntarily submit to it - which they do, because the deeper you become immersed in the church, the more it makes up your entire world, and support system, and life, and to be cast out and declared a "Suppressive Person" can leave many of the faithful with literally nowhere else to turn.
Against the background of Scientology, Hill's day to day life is actually pretty mundane, and many of her tribulations are just the normal ones of a slightly mouthy teenager feeling her oats. Even Scientology can't keep kids from being kids, nor can they keep star-crossed lovers apart. Well, actually they can, and do, but not always. They separated Hill from her first love, and almost turned her husband against her while they were still in the church and on the cusp of leaving, but eventually they did leave, still negotiating the church's insane and cumbersome rules so as not to be excluded from ever talking to their families again.
Scientology is strange, perverse, and frankly evil in its execution, an engine for extracting money from its followers and suppressing every independent thought. Like most religions, it comes with doctrines and an origin story and fine-sounding gospel about how to make the world a better place.
Needless to say, Hill and her husband find the discovery of Operation Clambake and the infamous South Park episode on Scientology to be eye-opening.
Hill is a bit too credulous in places, particularly when she praises anonymous for their act of hacking Scientology websites and taking them briefly offline. To her, this was a worldwide movement of activists standing up for her and other victims of the church, when of course anyone familiar with anonymous knows that while they might sometimes seize on a good cause for their shenanigans, they do everything for the lols. She's also frequently (in her retelling of her behavior) whiny and annoying, though given how young she was and what she was being put through, this is understandable.
Jenna Miscavige Hill is really a fairly unexceptional person who grew up in what to most of us is an extreme environment, and came out of it as normal as can be expected. Her memoir will fill you in on the details of Scientology's operations and what it's like to be a Scientologist, and should scare off anyone even remotely considering treating this cult as a legitimate religion or a place to find answers.
Say something about yourself!
I'm fascinated about religions. I have tried to believe in lots of things in my time and have tried to stay really open minded towards beliefs. Scientology is one of those religions that's kind of hard to find any objective information about. It's always either propaganda for the church or activism against it. This book kind of answers me why that's the case. It seems like Scientology isn't a religion at all, it's an brain washing experiment and a money making scam. It filled me with horror listening to Jenna's story, especially as a father, but at the same time it was very interesting.
I guess the narrator is trying to act a little while reading. In the beginning for instance she is reading somewhat girly, as the author is a little girl (at the time), and that felt odd, but as the book went on, it grew on me and I started liking it. And she isn't a bad actor, actually this was probably just the way a book like this should be read.
Yes, I found this book to be very interesting. The bizarreness that is Scientology can almost be read as a non fiction drama. Which you may assume it was if you had never heard of Scientology. Narration was great and the book kind of played out like a girls diary. The things she saw and her feelings towards those things. Some may think it is a way to poorly write a novel, but I found it to be the most effective way.
Jenna. She got her self into all the trouble that in turn showed us what a dysfunctional group this is.
The whole thing. From the Ranch to the Sea ORG. Fascinating read.
Yes. It was fascinating, if you have never read anything about Scientology this is a great book to start on. I'm always interested in things I don't either know about or do not understand. This exposes a lot of those questions.
This book is a childlike, innocent retelling of what happened to JMH as a child growing up within the confines of Scientology. The treatment of her was harsh, and simply wrong. I cannot conceive of how parents and adults in general could allow it. She has my utmost sympathy, and I'm happy for her that she now has a better life.
However, in the interests of giving an honest book review, I cannot rate this book highly. I understand that she was unable to gain much of an education, and one cannot blame her for that. But as a reader, I would've gained far more from the book if instead of merely recounting separate episodes and isolated events, there had been some analysis of these events, with hindsight, and insight into the basic tenets of Scientology. What was or is her view of these? How does she interpret the events of her life as a reflection of these beliefs?
Why, in her opinion, were things as they were? How do her parents feel now, about having subjected her to this?
I understand that she was brainwashed, but is that the only reason she did not
leave sooner when she had both the opportunity and her parents' support? Since her life to that point had been so bad, surely the painful reality of the past years would have overcome the brainwashing? I don't know.
I find the sequence of events, unsupported by any insightful discussion, too simplistic, childish and incohesive. After all, the book is entitled "Beyond Belief". What is the belief-structure of Scientology, and what caused these events to stretch the beliefs beyond their limits? A fuller account would have made a far better book, in my opinion. Or is the "Belief" being referred to as the reader's unwillingness or incapacity to understand?
I'm sorry, but for the above reasons I regret having wasted a credit on this book. I think that being "nice" needs to take a back seat when evaluating a book purely on its merits.
I did not know what scientologists believed so that part is the book was informative. otherwise this is a well told story of mind control practiced by many organizations to some extent. Scientology is not evil incarnate, but it is a greedy selfish organization.