January 21, 2013

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

A new book, given an excellent review in WaPo, here:
“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....

23 comments:

chrisnavin.com said...

Is Leftist global humanism kind of a religion?

A substitute for religion?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

You really miss having Crack around, don't you?

dbp said...

If this post doesn't get Crack back, nothing will..

Michael said...

Reading this book now. Very creepy bunch, very odd cosmology. Only rival would be Rastafarians.

kentuckyliz said...

There is another religion based on science fiction: the British government recognizes Jedi as a religion.

Robert Cook said...

"How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible?”

Doesn't this question apply equally fairly to any religious faith, to the Hindus as well as to the Muslims as well as to the Jews as well as to the Christians, (to name only the most prominent of today's widely practiced religions), as well as to political ideologies?

TML said...

Wright has dabbled in warped beliefs before. Read his exceptional and terrifying book, "Remembering Satan" about the Paul Ingram case in Washington. Really great book. "The Looming Tower" is also a great read.

TML said...

OK, "dabbled" was just the wrong word. "Delved into" is better. I didn't mean to make it sound like he just toyed with the topic of ritual Satanic abuse. He didn't. If you lived through the idiocy of the Fells Acres/Amirault thing and the McMartin thing, you'll want to read "Remembering Satan" too.

LilyBart said...


"How can seemingly rational people subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible?”


Funny, I always ask myself this very question after spending time talking to a liberal democrat.

Marshal said...

Both links go to Amazon, I presume you intended to link the article.

bpm4532 said...

I think Organizing for America has the potential to become the official church of Obama. Millions have been trained to think of him as godlike.

He'll get fabulously wealthy if he just gets a management fee of 5%. 5% x 50 million people x $100/year = $250 million/year. Then there are all those courses all must take to clear themselves of impure (conservative) thoughts.

He'll make Al Gore look like a piker.

edutcher said...

Doesn't Newsweek tell us this week is Sort of God's Second Coming?

Shouting Thomas said...

Doesn't this question apply equally fairly to any religious faith, to the Hindus as well as to the Muslims as well as to the Jews as well as to the Christians, (to name only the most prominent of today's widely practiced religions), as well as to political ideologies?

No.

Robert Cook said...

Shouting Thomas: WRONG.

Shouting Thomas said...

Cookie, you're very confused.

You're the crackpot. It's your ideology that is laughable.

Shouting Thomas said...

Apologies, Cookie.

You're not really a crackpot. More of a "whack job!"

traditionalguy said...

The false prophet that created the Scientology cult was more than a Science Fiction writer. Hubbard had been a practicing shaman/wizard who interacted with the spiritual dark side that had spawned Hitler and his SS friends.

He started the religion only because he needed the money.

traditionalguy said...

Spinoza's strictly rational approach to the world and religious beliefs was a popular philosophical system to many atheists, such as Bertrand Russell and Crack Emcee.

I recently learned about him from the Professor's recommended history book, The History of the Jews.

Spinoza's dividing line is still the red line among Theologians today.

grackle said...

Sure, it's a religion within the legal definition but I think certain religions are scary to the Westerner, and especially to Americans, because of the extreme amount of control of the lives of their adherents that is intrinsic to those religions.

Our tradition of the freedom of the individual is in cultural conflict with Scientology. To me personally the moral message of Scientology is chilling. It seems to be part chain-letter, part Amway-like pyramid scheme, wrapped up in humiliation(referred to as "auditing") and other types of psychological coercion.

geoffb said...

http://www.islets.net/faq.html#Anchor-Was-47857
"Ellison: That's true. He wrote "Dianetics" in one weekend, and you know how he used to write? He used to take a roll of white paper, like paper you wrap fish in. He had it on the wall, and he would roll it into the typewriter and he would begin typing. When he was done, he would tear it off and leave it as one whole long novel.

We were sitting around one night. ... who else was there? Alfred Bester, and Cyril Kornbluth, and Lester Del Rey, and Ron Hubbard, who was making a penny a word, and had been for years. And he said "This bullshit's got to stop!" He says, "I gotta get money." He says, "I want to get rich".

Wings: He is also supposed to have said on that same night: "The question is not how to make a million dollars, but how to keep it."

Ellison: Right. And somebody said, "why don't you invent a new religion? They're always big." We were clowning! You know, "Become Elmer Gantry! You'll make a fortune!" He says, "I'm going to do it." Sat down, stole a little bit from Freud, stole a little bit from Jung, a little bit from Alder, a little bit of encounter therapy, pre-Janov Primal Screaming, took all that bullshit, threw it all together, invented a few new words, because he was a science fiction writer, you know, "engrams" and "regression", all that bullshit. And then he conned John Campbell, who was crazy as a thousand battlefields. I mean, he believed any goddamned thing. He really believed blacks were inferior. I mean he really believed that. He was also very nervous when I was in his office because I was a Jew. You know, he was afraid maybe I would spring horns or something.

Anyhow, the way he conned John was that he had J. A. Winter, who was a doctor, who was a close friend of John's, and he got him to run this article on Dianetics, the new science of mental health."

Amartel said...

"You really miss having Crack around, don't you?"

Well I do. I don't agree with his method all the time but he's totally right about cults. Also, don't necessarily agree with his insistence that new age per se is the root of it all (I think the root of it all is "dumb people" and "free time" and "other people's money"). Crack's an interesting thinker and occasional shit stirrer. We could use some more of that around here.

Snark said...

Has anybody found this as an ebook anywhere?

HT said...

"Sure, it's a religion within the legal definition but I think certain religions are scary to the Westerner, and especially to Americans, because of the extreme amount of control of the lives of their adherents that is intrinsic to those religions."

I'm not sure what you mean.

These kinds of religions ARE American.