Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wright, Lawrence (Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief)

What interested me most going into this book was whether it was fair. In a non-fiction book, I'm all about knowing whether a book is designed to be sensational or whether it is actually doing its best to be impartial on the subject matter. I don't think any book of this type can be all one way or the other. I mean, it would be asking a lot to think that Wright didn't try and find a subject that interests a great deal of people when he chose Scientology to investigate. He certainly did that.

For the very large part of the book Wright lays out the facts for us. I think I only noticed him resort to opinion and disdain a few times, and he only veered off course once. (This was when he was describing the interesting life of Paul Haggis and in particular a film that he created and which won an Oscar. The description of the film was unnecessary, but it was only a couple pages, and it was clearly intended to show the ups and downs of Haggis' life in Scientology and in Hollywood, so we can give it a pass.)

About a billion things have already been said (trumpeted! worried over! frothed at!) so I'll limit myself to saying that while I have nothing against the Scientology method, or what Scientologists believe will help and heal them, I am as concerned as the next person about an organization that has gone beyond manipulation to keep its membership intact, gone beyond mere lauding to keep its most important people present, and sustained a leadership that it would be hard to believe is not completely crazy-cuckoo.

Fortunately, I think there is no way such an organization can sustain itself for long without the cracks starting to really show. Implosion is likely imminent. I will say that I feel sorry in advance for those day-to-day Scientologists who will find it difficult to impossible to practice their beliefs after that happens.

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