Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology seeks to provide the first unbiased and holistic overview of the divisive faith that is Scientology. Reitman focuses on five key elements of the Scientology story: a history of the religion's rise, as well as the rise of its creator, L. Ron Hubbard; a detailed account of the vicious internal coup by current leader, David Miscavige; the sad and shocking story of the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson; an outline of the controversial "celebrity strategy"; and multiple narratives detailing the current mass exodus from a corrupt and abusive church.
Narrator Stephen Hoye does an excellent job with the book, which presents many unique challenges. He successfully tackles a wide range of subject matter from Hubbard's sterile, futurist terminology to some of the more personal, emotionally gripping stories. Hoye serves as a calm voice of reason, guiding us through a potentially confusing world of Orgs, Tech, and more acroynms than a high-level business meeting.
The picture that emerges is a multifaceted one. Outsiders with cursory knowledge of the faith generally associate it with a crackpot Sci-Fi writer looking to make a buck, brainwashing techniques, salacious scandals, never-ending lawsuits, and a creation myth featuring aliens, volcanoes, and movie theaters. While Reitman doesn't exactly dispel these notions completely, she does provide rich historical background and a true look inside this mysterious faith. The truth about the religion, after all, is much more complex than what's presented on the surface.
The promises of Scientology range from the enriching (freedom from mental and emotion anguish) to the humanitarian (providing aid to developing countries and ways out of drug addiction) to the transcendent (immortal life, free of an earthy body). While people are drawn to the faith for all kinds of reasons, Reitman shows us that most Scientologists are just normal people trying to do good in the world and better themselves. Unfortunately, some of these people have been swept up in a devastating new movement within the upper ranks of the church, which has become increasingly obsessed with greed, domination, and power.
Perhaps the most artful facet of this book is that, in true journalistic style, Reitman does her best to simply present the facts and leave the conclusions to the listener. After all, like Hubbard used to say, "What's true is what is true for you." Gina Pensiero
Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of "volunteer ministers" offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse.
Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an even-handed account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology's development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.
Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to church officials, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is the defining book about a little-known world.
©2011 Janet Reitman (P)2011 Tantor
"A detailed and readable examination of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church, and his successor, David Miscavige." (Publishers Weekly)
As you listen to this book you wonder just HOW so people can give their lives and souls to such a corrupt organisation and laughably silly "religion". You will hear how absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. The narration is excellent considering this is non-fiction - the narrator captures the emotions and desperation of some of the protagonists of the account very well.
Despite Scientology providing so ammunition for the author to attack with, the author does try credibly well to produce an balanced account - indeed some of the "pro" Scientology accounts are some of the most interesting parts of the book - where current Scientologists come across as deluded optimists. The scariest part of the book was in the final few pages when a current 2nd generation Scientologist declares they want to study law and be a judge. After listening to this book, you want no one from this religion in any kind of position of authority, let alone a judge!
Tom Cruise, Ron L Hubbard and aliens where the only three things I knew about Scientology when I started this book.
However, if Janet Reitman's book is anywhere close to the truth, Scientology is a business that Michael Corleone would be proud "run". As I listened to this book, I continually thought of the scams of Bernie Madoff. Talk about selling absolutely nothing to somebody.... As with the other religions available, there is nothing tangible to show after you donate, tithe or volunteer your time, however, most religions will expect something around 10 percent. This religion is never satisfied until it's followers are broke.
The recruiting methods used to pull big names such as Cruise and Travolta were astounding. The fact that these actors are not aware they were manipulated by people who were strategically placed into their day to day lives is unreal.
This book allows you access to information that 99.99999 % of the Scientology followers can not access.
This book was written and spoken superbly. I have several biopic and historical books in my audio collection. This is the first of that genre that kept me sitting in my vehicle waiting to see what was happening next.
I'm serious, this book reveals a side of this cult that I found quite disturbing.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
It continues to amaze me how my reading habits seem to line up with the other reviewers that I follow; with that in mind, let me say that Melinda just wrote an excellent review on this book yesterday; so I'm just going to add my additional two cents.
I want to stress that as a religious person myself, I know there is a HUGE difference between what an individual person interprets their religious views to be and the actions of some people running the "church institution". Religion is the set of beliefs in an individual's heart and mind that guides them to be the best person they can be. Churches are fallible, man made organizations that are susceptible to corruption. When I reference Scientology here, I'm referring to the fallible man-made organization, not any individual that uses that word to describe the set of beliefs they use to to guide them in trying to be kind and useful.
As referenced in other reviews, this can be DRY reading. I especially had trouble getting through the first two or so hours; I thought I wasn't going to make it. Then it picked up a little and became more interesting, while still admittedly dry. I hovered between giving the narration a 2 or a 3, but decided that My Hoye did the best he could have with the material he was working with.
I found it fascinating that Scientology was never meant to be a religion; that it was always a money making scheme, and they decided to categorize it as a church to avoid the regulatory issues they were having with the fact that their "councilors" had no legitimate accreditation, and also to avoid paying taxes. Saying they were a religion helped with both these issues. Being from Phoenix, I also found it fascinating to find out that L Ron Hubbard spent a little time living here while setting up the church, which I'd never known.
If you're picking up the book because of certain current events going on in the news, particularly a certain divorce in the headlines, I'll admit this book gives you a lot of information regarding some of the specific concerns or accusations that are flying out there. In particular, the book spends a good deal of time going over the inception and first few years of "Sea Org", which is the ship based program that (if you believe the stories) is one of the main concerns in the current divorce; the fact that the mother is concerned that her daughter was soon to be sent to this program.
The other big take away I had from the book is how little L Ron Hubbard had to do with what the church is currently; how out of touch with it he was in his last years of life, with other power players taking the helm.
Do you want to read this? I don't know. It's dry, it's very detailed, but I'm glad I did; I found the information was good and it gave me a lot that I didn't know before. It's certainly not a light beach read, but if you're really interested in learning more about how this organization morphed into what it is, it certainly gives you that.
I've always been somewhat wary of Scientology ever since meeting a few of them in my college days. The book is very good about giving a history of the organization and it's founder L.Ron Hubbard, a singularly greedy megalomanical individual.
For me there were no likeable characters. They all seemed very damaged and harmed by Dianetics/ Scientology. Although I'm very sympathetic towards their stories, I can't help but feel that their continuing desire to clear the planet which is a tenet of their belief is so misguided.
There were multiple vignettes that painted a very colorful picture of the organization. I could almost feel the frustration and pain of the musical chairs incident that was organized by David Miscavige, another thoroughly loathsome individual.
Scientology : A Cautionary Tale, be advised.
There was an apocryphal story told about L.Ron Hubbard, where he stated that a man could become extremely wealthy if he started his own religion. Hubbard began a self help movement which was in reality a cult of personality from the base of his science fiction writing. Hubbard is American as any snake oil salesman, as much a fabric of the American subculture as was Aimee McPherson, Joseph Smith and a whole cadre of founders of other looney religious movements.
The book gives a fair historical perspective to the history of Dianetics and Scientology. Very balanced, non-judgementalof the belief system and members. Slightly weighted to the negative experiences of those that have left the "religion". I had hoped the precepts of this belief would be more greatly represented. I guess I'll just have to read Dianetics and get a better foundation of knowledge. I'm sure there are good things in this system, but this audiobook would keep me away from the organization.
This is the story of how a dreamer can become a charismatic con man and then a religious leader with thousands of fanatic followers, and his very own pretend navy. It's a story of how those fanatics will swallow anything and will bully and harass anyone who opposes them, until even the mighty IRS is afraid to stand up to them. It shows that no matter how ridiculous the story, if you call it a religion and really sell it, someone will buy it. If anyone can read this book and not be inspired to go out and find their own army of fools, I will be not surprised. Because there are so many idiots in this world, and Hubbard has surely sucked them all in already.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
Most of this information was new to me. I have heard of Scientology and even experienced some of their tactics to get me to join in the 70's, but I knew little of the beginnings and dirty dealings of this so called religion. This book was an eye opener to me. I was engrossed in this book for a lot of the time.
When the book gets into the death of Lisa McPherson, it's like an Ann Rule true crime book. I listened straight through that section, dreading what was going to happen to her. I won't forget that for along time.
Mr. Hoye was adequate. Not great.
When the woman whose husband had left Scientology finally is able to escape from the church by jumping over the wall and finding her husband waiting on the other side I almost cried. I can't remember all of their names but that whole section was a tear jerker.
I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the beliefs and tactics of Scientology. It's hard for me to believe they get away with this kind of stuff. To me it's not a religion but a self help group out to make money and not pay taxes.
I didn't know much about scientology. I admit I thought they were weird and had heard the OT3 beliefs that I thought were crazy.
I didn't know the half of it. I walked out actually fealing sorry for them in many ways.
This is the first of three major books regarding Scientology that I have purchased to listen to this year and I believe I got off to a great start with Janet Reitman's excellent book on the subject.
As a longtime crusader for the rights of all, I often found myself publicly defending (vocally and in written blog articles) Scientology and Tom Cruise for their outspoken opinions regarding the drugging of our children with prescription drugs, the drugging of america, psychiatry, and other issues that I have had strong opinions about for years.
Some of the concepts of Scientology I agree with; however, they go way beyond reasonableness and as a result many people apparently have been injured or lost their families, friends, or even their lives as a result of the extremeness of the church.
Reitman clearly has done her homework and clearly demonstrates that Scientology goes way too far on many social issues and appears to be a very extreme organization that hides behind the label of "religion." By claiming to be a religion and having tax-exempt status from the IRS, they have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public and government officials all too often.
They use their "religion" label to hide behind billions of dollars in profits without paying taxes; they hide their human rights abuses of their members; and there are clearly people who died in the name of Scientology (such as Lisa McPherson) who I am convinced would be alive today if it weren't for the extreme policies and procedures of this so-called religion.
I will try to hold final judgment on Scientology until after reading "Going Clear," by journalist Lawrence Wright, as well as "Beyond Belief," by Jenna Miscavige Hill, but I think perhaps Reitman may have already convinced me about what I currently think about Scientology, and it isn't pretty. Scientology may very well be responsible for some of the most serious cover ups of all time!
The narrator, Stephen Hoye, was phenomenal in helping tell Reitman's story about a book that should have been published more than a decade ago!
Haven't read the print version -- the audio version kept me listening long after I should have turned it off and started doing something else!
There was no favorite character -- the people described in story range from kind of pathetic to downright scary. I've heard many negative things over the years about Scientology, this just confirmed what I've heard in the past. I finished the book wondering how anyone could be pulled into such a money-centric "church".
Haven't listened to any of his other books. He did a great job reading this one.
I didn't laugh or cry, I just kept asking myself, "how could anyone get pulled into this organization, and not see Scientology for what it is -- a huge money making operation????
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