Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

by Lawrence Wright


$14.36 $15.95 Save 10% Current price is $14.36, Original price is $15.95. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, October 23


The Basis For The New HBO Documentary. A National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.
Scientology presents itself as a scientific approach to spiritual enlightenment, but its practices have long been shrouded in mystery. Now Lawrence Wright—armed with his investigative talents, years of archival research, and more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—uncovers the inner workings of the church. We meet founder L. Ron Hubbard, the highly imaginative but mentally troubled science-fiction writer, and his tough, driven successor, David Miscavige. We go inside their specialized cosmology and language. We learn about the church’s legal attacks on the IRS, its vindictive treatment of critics, and its phenomenal wealth. We see the church court celebrities such as Tom Cruise while consigning its clergy to hard labor under billion-year contracts. Through it all, Wright asks what fundamentally comprises a religion, and if Scientology in fact merits this Constitutionally-protected label. Brilliantly researched, compellingly written, Going Clear pulls back the curtain on one of the most secretive organizations at work today.

New York Times Notable Book
A Best Book of the Year: The Washington PostThe Boston GlobeNew York magazine,SlateChicago TribuneHuffington PostNewsdayEntertainment WeeklyPeopleThe WeekPublishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews
A GoodReads Reader's Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307745309
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 90,036
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 7.94(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He is the author of a novel, God’s Favorite, and has also authored six previous books of nonfiction—City Children, Country Summer; In the New World; Saints and Sinners; Remembering Satan; Twins; and The Looming Tower. The Looming Tower received many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is also a screenwriter and a playwright. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.

Lawrence Wright official website: http://www.lawrencewright.com/


Austin, Texas

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1947

Place of Birth:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


B.A., Tulane University, 1969; M.A. (Applied Linguistics), American University in Cairo, 1971

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
The Convert
London, Ontario, is a middling manufacturing town halfway between Toronto and Detroit, once known for its cigars and breweries. In a tribute to its famous namesake, London has its own Covent Garden, Piccadilly Street, and even a Thames River that forks around the modest, economically stressed downtown. The city, which sits in a humid basin, is remarked upon for its unpleasant weather. Summers are unusually hot, winters brutally cold, the springs and falls fine but fleeting. The most notable native son was the bandleader Guy Lombardo, who was honored in a local museum, until it closed for lack of visitors. London was a difficult place for an artist looking to find himself.
Paul Haggis was twenty-one years old in 1975. He was walking toward a record store in downtown London when he encountered a fast-talking, long-haired young man with piercing eyes standing on the corner of Dundas and Waterloo Streets. There was something keen and strangely adamant in his manner. His name was Jim Logan. He pressed a book into Haggis’s hands. “You have a mind,” Logan said. “This is the owner’s manual.” Then he demanded, “Give me two dollars.”
The book was Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard, which was published in 1950. By the time Logan pushed it on Haggis, the book had sold more than two million copies throughout the world. Haggis opened the book and saw a page stamped with the words “Church of Scientology.”
“Take me there,” he said to Logan.
At the time, there were only a handful of Scientologists in the entire province of Ontario. By coincidence, Haggis had heard about the organization a couple of months earlier, from a friend who had called it a cult. That interested Haggis; he considered the possibility of doing a documentary film about it. When he arrived at the church’s quarters in London, it certainly didn’t look like a cult—two young men occupying a  hole- in- the- wall office above Woolworth’s five-and-dime.
As an atheist, Haggis was wary of being dragged into a formal belief system. In response to his skepticism, Logan showed him a passage by Hubbard that read: “What is true is what is true for you. No one has any right to force data on you and command you to believe it or else. If it is not true for you, it isn’t true. Think your own way through things, accept what is true for you, discard the rest. There is nothing unhappier than one who tries to live in a chaos of lies.” These words resonated with Haggis.
Although he didn’t realize it, Haggis was being drawn into the church through a classic, four-step “dissemination drill” that recruiters are carefully trained to follow. The first step is to make contact, as Jim Logan did with Haggis in 1975. The second step is to disarm any antagonism the individual may display toward Scientology. Once that’s done, the task is to “find the ruin”—that is, the problem most on the mind of the potential recruit. For Paul, it was a turbulent romance. The fourth step is to convince the subject that Scientology has the answer. “Once the person is aware of the ruin, you bring about an understanding that Scientology can handle the condition,” Hubbard writes. “It’s at the right moment on this step that one . . . directs him to the service that will best handle what he needs handled.” At that point, the potential recruit has officially been transformed into a Scientologist.
Paul responded to every step in an almost ideal manner. He and his girlfriend took a course together and, shortly thereafter, became Hubbard Qualified Scientologists, one of the first levels in what the church calls the Bridge to Total Freedom.
Haggis was born in 1953, the oldest of three children. His father, Ted, ran a construction company specializing in roadwork—mostly laying asphalt and pouring sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. He called his company Global, because he was serving both London and Paris— another Ontario community fifty miles to the east. As Ted was getting his business started, the family lived in a small house in the predominantly white town. The Haggises were one of the few Catholic families in a Protestant neighborhood, which led to occasional confrontations, including a schoolyard fistfight that left Paul with a broken nose.
Although he didn’t really think of himself as religious, he identified with being a minority; however, his mother, Mary, insisted on sending Paul and his two younger sisters, Kathy and Jo, to Mass every Sunday. One day, she spotted their priest  driving an expensive car. “God wants me to have a Cadillac,” the priest explained. Mary responded, “Then God doesn’t want us in your church anymore.” Paul admired his mother’s stand; he knew how much her religion meant to her. After that, the family stopped going to Mass, but the children continued in Catholic schools.
Ted’s construction business prospered to the point that he was able to buy a much larger house on eighteen acres of rolling land outside of town. There were a couple of horses in the stable, a Chrysler station wagon in the garage, and giant construction vehicles parked in the yard, like grazing dinosaurs. Paul spent a lot of time alone. He could walk the mile to catch the school bus and not see anyone along the way. His chores were to clean the horse stalls and the dog runs (Ted raised spaniels for field trials). At home, Paul made himself the center of attention—”the apple of his mother’s eye,” his father recalled—but he was mischievous and full of pranks. “He got the strap when he was five years old,” Ted said.
When Paul was about thirteen, he was taken to say farewell to his grandfather on his deathbed. The old man had been a janitor in a bowling alley, having fled England because of some mysterious scandal. He seemed to recognize a similar dangerous quality in Paul. His parting words to him were, “I’ve wasted my life. Don’t waste yours.”
In high school, Paul began steering toward trouble. His worried parents sent him to Ridley College, a boarding school in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls, where he was required to be a part of the cadet corps of the Royal Canadian Army. He despised marching or any regulated behavior, and soon began skipping the compulsory drills. He would sit in his room reading Ramparts, the radical magazine that chronicled the social revolutions then unfolding in America, where he longed to be. He was constantly getting punished for his infractions, until he taught himself to pick locks; then he could sneak into the prefect’s office and mark off his demerits. The experience sharpened an incipient talent for subversion.
After a year of this, his parents transferred him to a progressive boys’ school, called Muskoka Lakes College, in northern Ontario, where there was very little system to subvert. Although it was called a college, it was basically a preparatory school. Students were encouraged to study whatever they wanted. Paul discovered a mentor in his art teacher, Max Allen, who was gay and politically radical. Allen produced a show for the Canadian Broadcasting Company called As It Happens. In 1973, while the Watergate hearings were going on in Washington, DC, Allen let Paul sit beside him in his cubicle at CBC while he edited John Dean’s testimony for broadcast. Later, Allen opened a small theater in Toronto to show movies that had been banned under Ontario’s draconian censorship laws, and Paul volunteered at the box office. They showed Ken Russell’s The Devils and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris. In Ted’s mind, his son was working in a porno theater. “I just shut my eyes,” Ted said.
Paul left school after he was caught forging a check. He attended art school briefly, and took some film classes at a community college, but he dropped out of that as well. He grew his curly blond hair to his shoulders. He began working in construction full-time for Ted, but he was drifting toward a precipice. In the 1970s, London acquired the nickname “Speed City,” because of the methamphetamine labs that sprang up to serve its blossoming underworld. Hard drugs were easy to obtain. Two of Haggis’s friends died from overdoses, and he had a gun pointed in his face a couple of times. “I was a bad kid,” he admitted. “I didn’t kill anybody. Not that I didn’t try.”
He also acted as a stage manager in the ninety- nine-seat theater his father created in an abandoned church for one of his stagestruck daughters. On Saturday nights, Paul would strike the set of whatever show was under way and put up a movie screen. In that way he introduced himself and the small community of film buffs in London to the works of Bergman, Hitchcock, and the French New Wave. He was so affected by Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow- Up that in 1974 he decided to become a fashion photographer in England, like the hero of that movie. That lasted less than a year, but when he returned he still carried a Leica over his shoulder.
Back in London, Ontario, he fell in love with a nursing student named Diane Gettas. They began sharing a one-bedroom apartment filled with Paul’s books on film. He thought of himself then as “a loner and an artist and an iconoclast.” His grades were too poor to get into college. He could see that he was going nowhere. He was ready to change, but he wasn’t sure how.
Such was Paul Haggis’s state of mind when he joined the Church of Scientology.
Like every scientologist, when Haggis entered the church, he took his first steps into the mind of L. Ron Hubbard. He read about Hubbard’s adventurous life: how he wandered the world, led dangerous expeditions, and healed himself of crippling war injuries through the techniques that he developed into Dianetics. He was not a prophet, like Mohammed, or divine, like Jesus. He had not been visited by an angel bearing tablets of revelation, like Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Scientologists believe that Hubbard discovered the existential truths that form their doctrine through extensive research—in that way, it is “science.”
The apparent rationalism appealed to Haggis. He had long since walked away from the religion of his upbringing, but he was still looking for a way to express his idealism. It was important to him that Scientology didn’t demand belief in a god. But the figure of L. Ron Hubbard did hover over the religion in suggestive ways. He wasn’t worshipped, exactly, but his visage and name were everywhere, like the absolute ruler of a small kingdom.
There seemed to be two Hubbards within the church: the godlike authority whose every word was regarded as scripture, and the avuncular figure that Haggis saw on the training videos, who came across as wry and self-deprecating. Those were qualities that Haggis shared to a marked degree, and they inspired trust in the man he had come to accept as his spiritual guide. Still, Haggis felt a little stranded by the lack of irony among his fellow Scientologists. Their inability to laugh at themselves seemed at odds with the character of Hubbard himself. He didn’t seem self-important or pious; he was like the dashing, wisecracking hero of a B movie who had seen everything and somehow had it all figured out. When Haggis experienced doubts about the religion, he reflected on the 16 mm films of Hubbard’s lectures from the 1950s and 1960s, which were part of the church’s indoctrination process. Hubbard was always chuckling to himself, marveling over some random observation that had just occurred to him, with a little wink to the audience suggesting that they not take him too seriously. He would just open his mouth and a mob of new thoughts would burst forth, elbowing each other in the race to make themselves known to the world. They were often trivial and disjointed but also full of obscure, learned references and charged with a sense of originality and purpose. “You walked in one day and you said, ‘I’m a seneschal,’ “ Hubbard observed in a characteristic aside:
“And this knight with eight-inch spurs, standing there—humph— and say, ‘I’m supposed to open the doors to this castle, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m a very trusted retainer’. . . He’s insisting he’s the seneschal but nobody will pay him his wages, and so forth. . . . He was somebody before he became the seneschal. Now, as a seneschal, he became nobody—until he finally went out and got a begging pan on the highway and began to hold it out for fish and chips as people came along, you know. . . . Now he says, ‘I am something, I am a beggar,’ but that’s still something. Then the New York state police come along, or somebody, and they say to him—I’m a little mixed up in my periods here, but they say to him—‘Do you realize you cannot beg upon the public road without license Number 603-F?’ . . . So he starves to death and kicks the bucket and there he lies. . . . Now he’s somebody, he’s a corpse, but he’s not dead, he’s merely a corpse. . . . Got the idea? But he goes through sequences of becoming nobody, somebody, nobody, somebody, nobody, somebody, nobody, not necessarily on a dwindling spiral. Some people get up to the point of being a happy man. You know the old story of a happy man—I won’t tell it—he didn’t have a shirt. . . ."
Just as this fuzzy parable begins to ramble into incoherence, Hubbard comes to the point, which is that a being is not his occupation or even the body he presently inhabits. The central insight of Scientology is that the being is eternal, what Hubbard terms a “thetan.” “This chap, in other words, was somebody until he began to identify his beingness with a thing. . . . None of these beingnesses are the person. The person is the thetan.”
“He had this amazing buoyancy,” Haggis recalled. “He had a deadpan sense of humor and this sense of himself that seemed to say, ‘Yes, I am fully aware that I might be mad, but I also might be on to something.’ “
The zealotry that empowered so many members of the church came from the belief that they were the vanguard of the struggle to save humanity. “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology,” Hubbard writes. Those breathless aims drew young idealists, like Haggis, to the church’s banner.
To advance such lofty goals, Hubbard developed a “technology” to attain spiritual freedom and discover oneself as an immortal being. “Scientology works 100 percent of the time when it is properly applied to a person who sincerely desires to improve his life,” a church publication declares. This guarantee rests on the assumption that through rigorous research, Hubbard had uncovered a perfect understanding of human nature. One must not stray from the path he has laid down or question his methods. Scientology is exact. Scientology is certain. Step by step one can ascend toward clarity and power, becoming more oneself—but, paradoxically, also more like Hubbard. Scientology is the geography of his mind. Perhaps no individual in history has taken such copious internal soundings and described with so much logic and minute detail the inner workings of his own mentality. The method Hubbard put forward created a road map toward his own ideal self. Hubbard’s habits, his imagination, his goals and wishes—his character, in other words—became both the basis and the destination of Scientology.
Secretly, Haggis didn’t really respect Hubbard as a writer. He hadn’t been able to get through Dianetics, for instance. He read about thirty pages, then put it down. Much of the Scientology coursework, however, gave him a feeling of accomplishment. In 1976, he traveled to Los Angeles, the center of the Scientology universe, checking in at the old Château Élysée, on Franklin Avenue. Clark Gable and Katharine Hepburn had once stayed there, along with many other stars, but when Haggis arrived it was a  run-down church retreat called the Manor Hotel. (It has since been spectacularly renovated and turned into Scientology’s premier Celebrity Centre.) He had a little apartment with a kitchen where he could write.
There were about 30,000 Scientologists in America at the time. Most of them were white, urban, and middle class; they were predominantly in their twenties, and many of them, especially in Los Angeles, were involved in graphic or performing arts. In other words, they were a lot like Paul Haggis. He immediately became a part of a community in a city that can otherwise be quite isolating. For the first time in his life, he experienced a feeling of kinship and camaraderie with people who had a lot in common—”all these atheists looking for something to believe in, and all these wanderers looking for a club to join.”
In 1977, Haggis returned to Canada to continue working for his father, who could see that his son was struggling. Ted Haggis asked him what he wanted to do with his life. Haggis said he wanted to be a writer. His father said, “Well, there are only two places to do that, New York and Los Angeles. Pick one, and I’ll keep you on the payroll for a year.” Paul chose LA because it was the heart of the fi lm world. Soon after this conversation with his father, Haggis and Diane Gettas got married. Two months later, they loaded up his brown Ranchero and drove to Los Angeles, moving into an apartment with Diane’s brother, Gregg, and three other people. Paul got a job moving furniture. On the weekends he took photographs for yearbooks. At night he wrote scripts on spec at a secondhand drafting table. The following year, Diane gave birth to their first child, Alissa.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Part I Scientology

1 The Convert 3

2 Source 20

3 Going Overboard 79

Part II Hollywood

4 The Faith Factory 137

5 Dropping the Body 163

6 In Service to the Stars 194

7 The Future Is Ours 217

8 Bohemian Rhapsody 244

9 TC and COB 170

Part III The Prison of Belief

10 The Investigation 307

11 Tommy 331

Epilogue 354

Acknowledgments and a Note on Sources 367

Notes 373

Bibliography 415

Index 419

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 108 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lawrence Wright has written a thorough book. The things that the Church of Scientology objected to or records differently are carefully included. This book has been substantiated by people who have blown or left the Sea Org and lived to tell about it. Those who don't understand, please type "lisa mcpherson scientology" without the quotes into your search engine. And then take a deep breathe. Remember that the beliefs of Scientologists are no more [ir]rational than those of any other religion. Scientology is not the only organization that is guilty of [alleged] human rights violations either. The laws in the USA need changing so that way when violations such as abuse, slavery, and forced imprisonment are found to exist in religious facilities and schools, those violations can be acted upon. I do not expect this review to last as I am quite sure that Scientologists will decend upon the Going Clear listing to leave nasty reviews and to complain about anything remotely resembling the truth. They are not necessarily bad people. Just afraid that the things that they have given their lives to are not worthy of such dedication and loyalty.
writerman70 More than 1 year ago
Sharp, insightful, informative. Mr. Wright has written an exceptional book. Utilizing his exemplary investigative talents, he offers readers an intense, riveting journey through the arcane, theological concepts (and crimes) of a fledgling religion. His acumen is staggering, his research painstaking, his perspective clear-sighted and acute. Not content to cater to tabloid posturing, Mr. Wright delves deeply into an organization that, while calling itself a religion, commits crimes so heinous that they should be unconscionable. The question one is left with is this: Why have those running this organization (really, there is a central controller, who commands subordinates using intimidation and outright violence) not been brought to justice? And why do intelligent people devote exorbitant amounts of money (to say nothing of their lives) to the teachings of a person who himself spent many years evading the law while, in the process, creating his own biography, a good portion of which is in staunch opposition to facts accrued? The book is compulsively readable; with each page, one's amazement and disgust grow. Mr. Wright's work has always been discerning, well-documented, and scholarly. Such pedigree continues to be on display with this, his latest book. Prepare to be reading well into the night. Prepare also to be outraged.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Impeccable research through extensively cited sources--most from multiple corroborating sources--and a critical insight into one of the most controversial cults of our time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did not need convincing that Scientology was irrational, but I found myself continuously surprised by just how arbitrarily bizarre the beliefs are. Also, I wasn't quite aware of just how insidious and cruel it could be. I highly recommend the book. The author keeps the editorializing to a minimum and lets his reporting speak for itself.
9nan More than 1 year ago
If anyone else had written this book, I might not have believed it. Lawrence Wright so diligently documents, and speaks for both sides. After reading "The Looming Tower," and articles by Wright, I believe whatever he writes. I had the pleasure of hearing Wright speak at Book People in Austin, re "Going Clear." He gave insightful, sometimes humorous answers to all questions. I was shocked at the physical abuse, especially by the head of Scientology, Miscavige. I knew it was difficult to leave Scientology, but had no idea how difficult they make it, especially how impoverished its members are. Their designation as religious non-profit by the IRS, exempts them from prosecution for horrible abuses. If you or anyone you love is considering Scientology, please read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buy this version. Don't get the buggy enhanced version
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading and loving Wright's Looming Tower and Saints and Sinners, I was glad to read more of his superb investigative writing. Wright presents a fair picture of Scientology and I am appalled by the abuses of the members. I wanted to believe that the Church of Scientology should be stripped of its tax exempt status, but Wright fairly distinguished between the religion (which while I find it fantasy, others are truly helped), and the abusive behavior of the leaders. I end wishing Miscavege was convicted of the many abuses he thrust on Sea Org members.
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
Going Clear begins with the story of Paul Haggis, a Hollywood screenwriter, who describes his troubled past, rejection of the status-quo, and desire for a new way to live. By individualizing Haggis’ life, Wright manages to both humanize the desire which drew Haggis to Scientology, along with the authoritarianism and lies that later forced him to reject it. First off, thank you Mr. Haggis for being brave enough to go on record and reveal the truth, warts and all. His story alone is amazing, but Wright draws on a larger historical context, documenting L. Ron Hubbard’s life and the church that spawned from his beliefs. Digging deep into Scientology, Wright reports on Hubbard’s own troubled past, including his fabricated war tales and damaged personal relationships. Out of this grew a vast empire, which mirrored Hubbard’s own paranoia and fear of prosecution, resulting in an isolated and secretive church. Wright also follows the tale of Hubbard’s young protégé, David Miscavige, who rose rapidly to become the church’s next chief, and the claims of abuse that followed in his leadership. The book is thorough and well documented, as would be expected from a writer for the New Yorker, and Wright avoids any personal attacks on the church. Highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing the truth behind the Church of Scientology – everything from its tumultuous roots, to the undercover infiltration of the IRS and Hollywood, and even the deep-set needs it fulfills in people searching for a higher spiritual world. Five stars in both research and captivating writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very articulate and thoroughly researched book. I'm so glad there are people brave enough to leave this group and speak out about the vindictive hierarchy in Scientology. Your mind is the only true thing you'll ever own, be very careful who you hand it over to!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As the New York Times book review of Going Clear stated, Wright takes care to be objective and fair in his history and explanation of Scientology. Consequently, the description of events and beliefs in Scientology is compelling and believable.
MaxwellB More than 1 year ago
So much more interesting than I could have imagined. Expected a dry history. But this is a very interesting, yet terrifying, explanation of this so-called religion. Very glad I read it. Only down side: Will never be able to look at Tom Cruise without my skin crawling.
LeapinLizzard More than 1 year ago
This book details the mysterious inner workings of the "Church" of Scientology. Frankly, if half of what is detailed in the book is true I find it hard to see how they call themselves a church. Beatings, forced confinement, slave labor for paltry wages, camps who's security (to keep members from escaping) rivals Area 51 & signing a Billion Year contract...it's all in there. A Very Interesting Read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is at the top of my list on the lunacy that is Scientology. You would be hard pressed to find a better researched or written book on the subject. Scientology is one of the worst cults the world has seen in a long time and this lays it out perfectly.
Forensic-Doc More than 1 year ago
t really shows Hubbard's mindset. I've read a lot of books on Scientology, each with its own viewpoint. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the subject. The book "beyond belief" by Jenna Miscave Hill and The Road to Xenu (Social Control and Scientology) by Bob Penny and Margery Wakefield should also be read. The Road to Xenu cover has Uncle Sam pointing and saying I WANT ALL OF YOUR MONEY See you local IAS REG. An in depth look at how social control really works. If you read the latter two books read "beyond belief" first and then The Road to Xenu since it makes it easier to understand the workings of Scientology. Going Clear delves into the full mind of a man that was a genius but psychologically damaged. This books answers all the why's you have wanted to know about Hubbard and the "religion" thus making all the other books on the subject, well, clear. This book is the link for all other books on Scientology.
alowe More than 1 year ago
well written, thoroughly researched , scary !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellently researched and written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down. I am stunned & very upset that the cult still exists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The origins of Scientology, its evolution and practices are presented in a straightforward, dispassionate way. This enhances its credibility - one must always wonder about the writer's motives when discussing controversial topics - but it does not make for an engaging reading experience. I was also hoping for more discussion about religions in general, and why societies continue to embrace them and create new ones, but that is mostly limited to the epilogue.
archerPM More than 1 year ago
The book is well researched & pleasant to read. It's also very sad to read how people can be manipulated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm learning a lot about LRH and Scientology, but this book is a bit tedious.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an old friend of Ron's, it hurts to see him constantly dragged through he dirt. The SO went to the dogs later in his life when he was drugged and suppressed by individuals who had different plans for the world than Ron. So this might make for good sensationalism, but please remember that there are two side to every story, and one side of this story isn't being told. RIP Ron.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It can be a bit rambling, as real life is not built in a story format, but everything is researched and documented. Excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the HBO documentary, so some of the book was not new news to me. However, I found this book so in- depth about LRH. Some page I had to read twice, because I thought I had read it wrong, no I had read it right. It was in fact that strange! Anyone who wants to know about the secretive world of Scientology, read this book.
AnnetteOC More than 1 year ago
After reading insider Jenna Miscavige Hill’s tell-all memoir Beyond Belief about her growing up in the Church of Scientology, I thought it would be a good idea to read something that would give me a slightly more objective view about L. Ron Hubbard and his religious creation. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Knopf, 2013) was just the thing. In this book, author Lawrence Wright pulls together material from considerable research and numerous personal interviews to tell story of one of the newest and one of the most controversial religions around today. He starts off with Hubbard’s early life and goes into his wobbly career with the U.S. Navy, his involvement with the Occult, and his stormy relationships with his wives (both official and common) and children. This helps the reader really put Hubbard’s science fiction writing, development of Dianetics, and founding of Scientology into a larger perspective. While at first, Going Clear might appear as a Hubbard biography, later on the book shifts focus, discussing the suspicious take-over by David Miscavige, the church’s turbulent relationship with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, charges of abuse, and other scandals and lawsuits. Wright fills his narrative with testimonies of members past and present, both famous and not-so-much, providing a variety of perspectives about Scientology, its legitimacy, and where it’s headed. As the work of a previous Pulitzer Prize winner, I wish the book had been a smoother read. It seemed to jump from here to there at times, probably because there was so much information and so many people to discuss. It made it difficult to remember who was who sometimes. However, I really appreciated how Wright took the time to explain a lot of scientologists’ practices and beliefs. One problem I had had with Hill’s book was that she often seemed to assume her readers knew what she was talking about, and the Scientologese (Scientology unique set of acronyms and vocabulary) is not always easy for a casual reader unfamiliar with the religion to remember. Some readers might take issue with me calling Going Clear “objective,” and I admit that’s a bit of a stretch. A better word choice might be “fair.” Wright lets both side have their say, while he does betray his own position at times. For example, I think he could’ve been more critical of filmmaker Paul Haggis when discussing Haggis’ upset about the church’s support of CA Proposition 8 (2008) concerning the legal status of same-sex marriage. I thought that Haggis’ correspondence with church officials provided an excellent illustration of how celebrities were accustomed to receiving special treatment. Here was one who thought he had a right to demand a change in the church’s doctrine and political position, regardless of the view of the church’s leaders or other members. Haggis’ behavior shows what problems the church faces when constantly catering to high profile members’ sense of entitlement, and I think Wright was too focused on the discussion about the treatment of homosexual members to make observations like these. I would like to say that, whatever biases might have penetrated the rest of the book, Wright’s conclusion was quite fair. Christian readers might think of 1 Corinthians 15:12-34 and how Christianity stands or falls on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead when, in Going Clear, Wright notes the significance of a statement made by Scientology’s then-spokesman Tommy Davis. In effect, Scientology stands or falls on Hubbard’s claims that Dianetics helped heal him from his war wounds. As Wright shows, Hubbard unabashedly lied about his war record and exaggerated his health problems. All I can say in response is “Case closed.”