Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction, 2014
Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.
In this tell-all memoir, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider's profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood's brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
©2013 Jenna Miscavige Hill (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
This book was heart wrenching and fantastic. It was amazing to see what life the author grew up in, and amazing how she was able to get herself out.
I really enjoyed this book, but I have to say that I didn't find Jenna to be a likable person which makes it even more real. There were times where her descriptions made her sound flat out crazy to me. I guess living in a different reality then everyone else can do that to you. I'm very glad she wrote the book and that I could learn from her experience.
The book feels like it's being written for children because of the tone it sets. I think it might have something to do with Jenna's limited education. That being said it was still entertaining and well performed.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with ears.
It isn't often that you get the perfect meeting of a great performance and a gripping story: this is one of those times. The title "Beyond Belief" is apt; it is hard to understand how seemingly mild-mannered people (Scientologists) can allow their children to be treated so poorly. Jenna Miscavige Hill describes her extremely unusual childhood in Scientology and her gradual desire to leave the only life that she ever knew. Because she is the niece of the current leader of Scientology, there is even more credibility to her story. Before this book, I thought of Scientologists as being a bit odd, but basically harmless. This author's story underlines the need for more careful scrutiny of this organization, particular in the way that they utilize small children for forced labor and break apart families. Suddenly they don't seem harmless any more. Kudos to the author for what must have been a painful journey in writing this memoir.
The narration deserves special recognition...it is one of the most superb readings I have encountered on Audible. The book is a journey from the author's experience as a young girl to a grown woman, and the narrator is able to make the transition easy and smooth and believable without being over the top. I don't often buy the book after purchasing the Audible version, but I bought the book in this case because the story is so riveting. As I read the book, I hear the narrator's voice in my head, which is not a bad thing! It makes the story that much more real.
If you enjoy true life stories, you cannot go wrong with Beyond Belief.
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
People often find faith when a) Their parents bring them up in itB) when a crisis occurThe author had no real choice as a child, her uncle being the new leader in Scientology, while her parents eagerly worked for the org.I hate the word cult and feel people use it wrongly. With Sciontology I must ask, if you can save us, why charge fees few can pay?You see, I think their is something good in the famous book "Dianetics" but it is NOT a church. Each member is isolated to avoid doubt and unlike Christian Churches which people may leave and then comeback, I have yet to hear an ex-sciontologist wish to return.People state that most cults remain because people want to come back. Scientology however becomes smaller as time goes on. This story is a tragedy, because too many can say it did not just happen to this author. Ex-sciontologists worldwide can give the same account. They can because the system is the same. For Sciontologies official version of their faith go to scientology you owe them to see their side too. After all, faith is a human right.
This is a story of faith turned into a fanatic money marchine. Their is nothing to like, yet facts to learn.
She read it nice and clear
"My life inside Dianetics"
If you are an active scientologist and enjoy it, good for you! It is your right to practice what you desire as long as your kid gets the ame choice. A one-time listen I am very glad I bought. Well written and most importantly:She has proof which is a must.
This fascinating account of being raised within the Scientology was a real eye-opener. It's a huge pyramid scheme that traps people in a life of servitude. Children working at hard manual labor, living in squalor, separated from parents and getting NO education. Unless one has connections within the cult, something special to contribute (like fame and connections) or lots of money, you are screwed. People are kept in place by guilt, intimidation and punishment.
Give it a shot. You'll be telling all you friends about it.
This book opened my eyes to the very sick and deranged world of Scientology. I have always been curious about this book and I appreciated the perspective from someone who grew up knowing nothing else. The obvious abuses that she went through, as well as others, and the isolation is disturbing. I don't actually know how celebrities can subscribe to this theology, unless the religion that they are receiving is much different than those in the Sea Org. I wouldn't doubt it since much of the money the church seeks is from large donors such as celebrities. It is truly shocking that people can get so brainwashed and watch their families split apart and allow it to happen! It's truly crazy making.
I really liked this book and think it shines a bright light on a very dark religion.
This book was incredibly moving and I couldn't put it down until I was done. While I'd seen and read other books and programs on Scientology, I don't think I've ever seen such detailed information about the life of a child in the Sea Org anywhere else. I definitely cried at some parts and found the story gripping and dramatic. No issues with the narration, though it was nothing spectacular. Definitely get this if you're interested at all in Scientology or cults.
If Scientology comes calling, run the other way
This is a revealing insight into the "Sea Org", the shock-troops/Gestapo of the so-called Church of Scientology. Jenna Miscavige, the niece of current potentate David Miscavige (successor to L. Ron Hubbard), recounts her mostly parentless upbringing in the Sea Org, including signing up for a billion-year term of service at age 8. It's a harrowing tale of forced servitude, child abuse, lack of schooling, mind-control and coercion, culminating in her escape from the cult in her early 20's. I learned much I didn't know from this book.
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.
Not sure I could listen to this book again. It was a great book but realizing how Jenna was robbed of a childhood along with the other children is heartbreaking. I didn't know much about Scientology before and wow...I know more than I want to now. No wonder Katie Holmes took off like she did!
This was a great book and a must read.
The narration was great.
Beyond Belief would be a good title.
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