Saturday, August 5, 2023

Book Report Post


"Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & The Prison of Belief" by Lawrence Wright 

General overview: 

The book “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright discusses an in-depth look of Scientology and what this type of cult-like religion is about. The first part of the book describes the founder of Scientology named L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard invented Scientology through his work as a science-fiction writer. Wright describes Hubbard as someone who was suffering from mental illness and was abusive toward his family. His reasons for creating Scientology were to make everyone seem like he was creating a better life to the surface for anyone who joined, and not letting them understand the true meaning of Scientology until they had spent some time in to learn about a science-fiction sounding story with a galactic overlord named Xenu. His other reason for creating Scientology was part of a scheme that would make him and his religion very wealthy by taking payments from members of the group. Hubbard welcomed celebrities to join Scientology to use them to expand both financially and using them as spokespersons. Celebrities such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise have been known members of Scientology.

After Hubbard passed away a new leader named David Miscavige replaces him as the new face of Scientology. Miscavige carries the torch and stands by everything that Hubbard believed in. Once Miscavige takes over, the reader gets more of an insight into how members of the church are treated. Children that belong to the church are forced to work for them and not go to school. Ex-members of the group described Miscavige as causing physical harm and immoral punishments to anyone that questioned the beliefs of the church. If family members were shunned from the church or deemed a suppressive person, their families have to disconnect from them as well. Miscavige would attack anyone to better Scientology, especially the IRS to make their organization tax free. Though they declared their organization as a nonprofit, it is hard to believe this to be true as of all the money they acquire and spend. Miscavige was able to succeed in getting what he wanted through the church being protected under the first amendment and brainwashing all members into giving the church donations, and in return, they have the answer to everything these members could ask for.

Favorite Part:

My favorite part of the book was the clear indication that the members and celebrities like Tom Cruise were being brainwashed by having the leader of Scientology make them believe anything they wanted. The overall goal of Scientology was to give the illusion that anyone who joined would be saved and people saw the answers to issues so vivid and clearly. Behind the scenes, the church would eventually corrupt them. The part about controlling the members was my favorite because the reader discovers the intentions of the church, and how they plan to use their manipulation for the greater good of Scientology. This is the part where the cult-like behavior appeared more dominant.

 I thought it was interesting to see the steps these leaders of Scientology took and how they manipulated the members to get exactly what they wanted. They state an issue that relates to the specific member and how they can fix that problem. They claim they have all answers, and they can cure mental illness or an answer to anything wrong in the world such as war and violence. They keep hidden the upper tiers of the religion to make people believe there is an ultimate answer that the average individual could not handle yet. The organization then has its members so brainwashed that they feel obligated to give donations to Scientology of thousands of dollars. People even accept getting punishments and beatings from this church. This part aligns with what we learned in various lecture slides of someone who believes myths to be true such as using tricks to believe in a creature or an illusion that one has psychic abilities.


The book Going Clear relates to our lecture of using ten percent of our brains and out of body experiences. On top of the variety of beliefs and practices they perform, Scientology’s main belief is that humans are immortal. It is discussed that the spiritual being of Thetan is the spirit of the body and commands the vessel. Scientology also believes that individuals have suppressed power, like the idea of people only using ten percent of their brain. The church believes that they can gain their full potential if they are cleared of impurities, like the idea of becoming perfect versions of themselves by activating a higher percentage of brain power. Much like explaining the real reason behind telekinetic ability, taking away the tricks and illusion and you are left with the truth. Scientology claims to be backed by factual information but there is nothing that is compatible with scientific method.


Below is a link to a screencast of the website of Scientology. I delved deeper into how they reach out to new members of the group. It is interesting to see how positive everything is on their website and how it is straight forward that they have the answers to fix common issues in the world. Much like what Lawrence Wright was explaining in the book. Their intentions are to bait in new members by showing positivity and by joining Scientology, all problems will be solved. I have also included a link that discusses some facts of Scientology and the type of scary cult that it is.


Facts of Scientology as a cult


Thinking of this book outside of class, it brings up a real-world problem which in this case that many people seek things to make them feel better, things that make sense to them, or ways that they can benefit and get a sense of belonging. Scientology wants people to believe that they have all the answers to many unsolved questions and issues to the world. We as individuals need to find answers and seek help when we are struggling. If something seems too good to be true, then it usually is. Scientology touches on current issues in the world like relating to people with mental health issues and drug abuse problems. They want the public to believe that their organization can cure people struggling with mental health and other issues they face in the world. What is crucial is the public need to see through this scheme and know that cult organizations like this are not really interested in bettering the lives of others. They are filled with greed and only want to benefit themselves, as well as their organization. The evidence that backs up David Miscavige and Scientology’s great is the net worth of being worth at least one billion dollars.

 Going Clear by Lawrence Wright can help solve the current issue because it calls out Scientology for the cult that it is and ensure that the past members voices are heard about the lies, abuse, corruption, and manipulation that is behind Scientology and David Miscavige. There are many organizations and affiliations like Scientology in the world, and Lawrence Wright addressed the issue at hand with Scientology through the book Going Clear.

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