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“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.


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