“Going Clear” starts with exactly the right questions: “What is it that makes the religion alluring? What do its adherents get out of it? How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible?” And in his early chapters, [Lawrence] Wright implicitly draws parallels between this religion and those with which readers may be more familiar.
Scientology is, in its components, a stew of traditional religious concepts. There’s immortality, transcendence, salvation and ethics. There are rituals as well as ritual punishments. There’s a founder, or a prophet, mediating capital-T truth for the people and transcribing it in books and pamphlets that serve as scripture. All this is wrapped up in a package that, while not recognizably Christian, or Buddhist, or Freudian, or Jungian, or occult, has elements of all.
Wright knows that crazy-seeming religious beliefs and practices are not, in themselves, sinister or evil....
January 21, 2013
A new book, given an excellent review in WaPo, here: