Saturday, August 17, 2013

Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman (CBR-V #31)

Cannonball Read V: Book #31/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 444
Genre: Nonfiction

I'm officially burned out on Scientology books. I actually bought this one before Going Clear, but figured since I already bought it, I might as well read it to. I figured it would be pretty redundant since Going Clear was so thorough, but I was surprised to find some new stuff in Janet Reitman's book.

I'm just going to say this again: Scientology is scary. I don't really care what religion people want to believe in, but when a religion refuses to allow people to leave that's when it starts crossing the line over into cult territory (at least for me). Although Scientology constantly is refuting the claims of abuse from ex-members, I'm finding it really hard to believe it's not true with all the first-hand accounts. And those are just from the people they haven't scared or paid off to keep quiet. 

That said, the history of Scientology and it's founder, L. Ron Hubbard is pretty fascinating stuff. While Going Clear was a very dense book full of facts and figures, Inside Scientology is a more personal account. It's written more like a magazine article than a term paper (Janet Reitman is an editor for Rolling Stone). Both books were great accounts, but this is probably the more "user friendly" of the two books. The journalistic approach makes for easy reading in Inside Scientology.

The book did go into much more detail with several stories that were skimmed over in Going Clear. For instance, the tragic story of Lisa McPherson. Lisa was a scientologist who was declared "clear" by David Miscagive himself. Being "clear" is when a person is declared free of negative emotions and past trauma and a huge thing in Scientology. David Miscagive has been the head of Scientology since L. Ron Hubbard died in the 80's. Lisa had a mental breakdown very soon after being declared "clear" and it was a public relations nightmare for Scientology. In trying to cover it up and "cure" her, Lisa McPherson ended up dead. Enough witnesses have come forward since then to paint a pretty good picture of what happened. 

The overall picture of the religion was pretty much the same as any other book I've read on the subject, but this book definitely took a more journalistic approach and included stories from many ex-members. I would probably read this one before Going Clear and if you are still interested, read it for a more in depth look at the religion itself.

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