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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

108

"Going Clear," Lawrence Wright

Upon finishing this week's Physical Book, the superlative "Going Clear" by Lawrence Wright (Amazon | Indiebound), your Books Editor decided to go deeper into the belly of the beast.

Auditor: Are you hungry?

Us (puts down E-meter cans excitedly): Wait, are there snacks?

Auditor: No, but the process is not as accurate if you are troubled by physical hunger, have slept less than 7.5 hours the previous night, have been drinking alcohol or taken drugs within the last 24 hours, or find the room drafty.

Us: That is...thoughtful! I cannot provide the answer you would like to literally any of those questions, but would like to proceed just the same.

Auditor: What did you think of "Going Clear"?

Us: Wait, how did you know I was reading it? Did you send an electrical current through the cans?

Auditor (points to the book sticking out of our purse): So, what did you think?

Us: It's incredible. It is an incredible, fascinating read. It is like a pirate novel, but there are celebrities in it. I admire his chutzpah, he's like Don Quixote:

Hubbard explained to his agent that he ultimately decided to withdraw the book from publication because the first people who read it were so shattered by the revelations that they had lost their minds. The last time he showed Excalibur to a publisher, he said, the reader brought the manuscript into the room, set it on the publisher's desk, then jumped out the window of the skyscraper.

That is absolutely what I'm telling people who ask if I do "real writing" too, from here on out. Honestly, until he started beating his wife, it made me really love L. Ron himself, who was human and wanted to be loved, "Everybody Hurts," etc. Did you know he wrote a thousand and eighty four books? It's in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Auditor: Obviously, I know that.

Us: RIGHT. Of course! Of course you do. Oh, and when Paul Haggis opens the envelope that has the dumb foundational story in it! I remembered that part from the New Yorker article, of course, but it means so much more once you understand how much time and money and psychological OOMPH someone has already given the church before they reveal how nuts it is.

Auditor: Please do not tell me about that. It could kill me if I hear it before I'm ready.

Us: Oh, sorry. Just know, it's pretty out there. Which is not that important? That's what I admired so much about Stella's Scientology series, right? It's not your dumb foundation story that makes the church so unpleasant; it's the degree and the nature of the control you exert over your followers. It's the literal enslavement of the Sea Org. It's WHERE IS SHELLY MISCAVIGE? It's the separation of family members from each other. Although, again, to be fair, I guess Christ was supposed to come with a sword to divide fathers and sons, and so on. And auditing, right, is fine, it's obviously just talk therapy. Everyone should try to figure out if they mess up their lives and relationships because they're shackled by past mistakes.

Auditor: You can go now. I don't mean to be dismissive, but it doesn't seem like you're going to be interested in taking further classes and finding the source of your ruin.

Us: Can I ask you a question?

Auditor: Yes.

Us: Do you think this book will end your religion? Like, not tomorrow, or anything, but in the next five years?

Auditor: If getting thrown to lions didn't put a dent in Christianity, I somehow doubt that a book and a withering episode of "South Park" will be the destruction of Scientology.

Us: Fair enough. Hey, thanks. I hope this makes you happy and that David Miscavige never kicks you repeatedly in the gut.



108 Comments / Post A Comment

MoxyCrimeFighter

"And auditing, right, is fine, it's obviously just talk therapy."

It'd be finer if the stuff they told people in auditing wasn't, from my understanding, kinda whackadoo. It's like going to your priest for advice because you don't feel as happy as you should with all the blessings in your life, and having him tell you to whip yourself and pour salt in the wounds until you feel better.

Nicole Cliffe

Scientology seems to be a curious outlier in that it seems demonstrably worse and scarier to be in the clergy (Sea Org) than in the rank-and-file, unless you are in the VERY upper echelons. I tend to feel bad for those conducting the auditing, too. Despite being, again, totally full of whackadoo.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Nicole Cliffe I need to read more about it (and it seems like this is a great place to start!), but that makes sense to me, if you view the church as a corporation - the middle clergy are basically salespeople, responsible for hitting certain quotas, so the pressures from above coupled with the deliberate lack of information, or miniscule amounts doled out, must be crazy-making. Not that they could admit that.

I guess maybe the lower-level auditing is more like calling a peer-counseling hotline - people who are doing their best to give good advice and be helpful but aren't really qualified to do anything but consult some cheat sheets handed out by their supervisors.

Cavendish

@MoxyCrimeFighter Actually, I think the lower-level auditing is the most helpful, at least it was for me. And it's the cheapest too. You're totally right that the mid-level church "staff" have to reach what are basically sales quotas, so though I think for the most part they are basically good and trying to help people their intentions can be...influenced, consciously or subconsciously, by the need to get their "stats up."

(I grew up in Scientology, and am now not one though my Mom still is.)

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Cavendish Thanks! That's really interesting. My general assumption for almost any organization founded on some sort of ideological principle, and moreso the larger it is, is that the lower level and upper level people are the most fervent - because they've either proven themselves and risen to positions of power, or they're just starting out and haven't been disillusioned. But the middle people know just enough to see the man behind the curtain and don't get the benefits of being on top, so, cycnicism.

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I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I judged this book HARD by its cover, and if you hadn't written about it, I would have passed it up because it looks both cheap and like a self-help book. (Clearly I need to take off these judge-y pants and put on something a bit more comfortable.)

JessicaLovejoy

I'm at the library right now! Immediate hold, please.

whizz_dumb

I want to respect others' religious beliefs but when those religions lead directly to abuse and even destroying lives, my silent respect is sarcastic and judgmental.

Myrtle

@whizz_dumb Quotas, brainwashing, impossible schedules that keep people from family and friends-and no money. Scientology or Apple?

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Holy crap, started this book on the train this morning, and all I want to do it hole up somewhere and read it ALL DAY.

ALL DAY, FOREVER.

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As according to dubturbo review "Scientology seems to be a curious outlier in that it seems demonstrably worse and scarier to be in the clergy (Sea Org) than in the rank-and-file, unless you are in the VERY upper echelons. I tend to feel bad for those conducting the auditing, too." Which is the best statement on that blog.

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