Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
By Lawrence Wright
Lawrence Wright won a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (**** Nov/Dec 2006). In 2011, he wrote a long piece on Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, a chief defector from Scientology; this new book is an expansion of that profile.
THE TOPIC: "What do its adherents get out of [Scientology]?" Wright asks in this history and expose of the religion known for its far-fetched creation myth, secretive nature, and controversial proliferation. "How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible?" In attempting to answer these questions, Going Clear covers the life of Scientology's founder, brilliant science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and his successor, David Miscavige; its complicated cosmology, celebrity culture, and clergy, who sign a billion-year contract; and its most famous practitioners, including the overzealous Tom Cruise and now-heretic Paul Haggis. As Wright makes clear, Scientology is like no other religion on Earth; indeed, his research suggests a culture of blind loyalty and narcissism, power struggles and abuse, paranoia, violence, rigidity, and suppression.
Knopf. 448 pages. $28.95. ISBN: 9780307700667
Los Angeles Times ****
"Going Clear catalogs many abuses, from the covert effort to infiltrate the IRS to the church's employment of ex-CIA officers to spy on its own members, as alleged by Wright. ... [Hubbard's] religion, combining money, celebrity and enlightenment as it does, is unmistakably a product of Southern California. It may be the truest religion of the land." EVAN WRIGHT
NY Times Book Review ****
"'Naive' doesn't begin to describe the credulousness and sense of entitlement that has allowed actors, writers and directors to think they were helping themselves and the world by hanging around the Scientologists' 'Celebrity Centre,' taking 'upper level' courses and gossiping about who was about to be labeled a 'Suppressive Person' (bad guy). ... Going Clear is essential reading for thetans of alllifetimes." MICHAEL KINSLEY
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ****
"Mr. Wright's reportorial techniques seem impeccable; this is nothing if not balanced, so whenever Mr. Wright reports on something that might offend Scientology's hierarchy, he qualifies it by seeking official comment. Still, details will out, like these substantiating the 'bromance' between Tom Cruise, a...