Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Inside Scientology’s Secret World: “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright

Jan 15, 2013 - The Daily Beast

scientology-going-clear-coverIn his new book, New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright goes inside the Church of Scientology to explain its appeal for celebrities. James Kirchick salutes an investigative work with revelations about Tom Cruise, John Travolta, L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige—and unsettling questions about the Church’s behavior.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief By Lawrence Wright 448 pages. Knopf. $28.95.

Two years ago, New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright published an exhaustive report about screenwriter and director Paul Haggis’s theretofore unknown travails in and out of the Church of Scientology. Alongside global celebrities Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Haggis, (who wrote the back-to-back Academy Award-winning films Million Dollar Baby and Crash) was a Scientology poster boy. He was precisely the sort of show business star whom Church officials could trot out as an example of their religion’s ability to help adherents “go clear,” Scientology lingo for the achievement of a state of enlightenment via a long and expensive process of Church-administered courses. Wright revealed how Haggis, who had joined Scientology in his early 20’s as an aspiring television scribe, had recently undergone a painful split from the Church, triggered by its bigoted attitudes on homosexuality (Haggis has two lesbian daughters). Through the story of this single individual, Wright illuminated the highly troubling behavior of the religious movement that many consider to be a dangerous group.

The story of how a normal, well-adjusted, and goodhearted person like Haggis could be so deceived and for so long cried out for a longer study, which Wright provides in a revealing and disturbing new book. In Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Wright deploys the skills he demonstrated so ably reporting about another totalitarian religious movement in his Pulitzer Prize-winning tome The Looming Tower—Al Qaeda—to explain the “enduring appeal that survives the widespread assumption that Scientology is a cult and a fraud.”

Full article including video of Tom Cruise

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