Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, May 7, 2016

"Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape" by Jenna Miscavige Hill

This is SO not the sort of book I usually choose to read (non-fiction, co-written) but the weirdness of Scientology is something I've always been curious about, like Nostradamus or the Bermuda Triangle or roadkill. While I probably would not have intentionally or directly sought out such a book, it was lying around in close proximity over the past few weeks and I just couldn't help but wonder what it said. So I found out.

This is the story of a girl who grew up in Scientology because her parents were members of the Sea Org (which, as the book's glossary explains, is "the inner core of the Scientology parish"). She spent most of her childhood separated from her parents, and her experience with the "church" was one of control freaks restricting her at every turn. Her life was in some ways improved--but in most ways made worse--by the fact that she is the niece of the head of the church (who is the control-freakiest freak of them all).

This book does not explain to me what I am most curious about (which is this: how does a normal human adult hear about Scientology and actually end up joining the church instead of laughing--or shuddering--and walking away?) because this, of course, was not Jenna's experience. But it did fill in enough blanks in my knowledge about Scientology (which was next to nothing prior to reading this book, and is still sketchy now) that I don't need to hear any more about it.

I couldn't help but wonder how pervasive Scientology is in Hollywood. I mean, everyone knows that Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta are Scientologists, and I did find an online list of others, but it actually wasn't as long as I'd expected--my assumption at this point, though, is that the list wasn't that long because whoever made it doesn't know about all of the Hollywood Scientologists who are private about it. Maybe I'm wrong? Maybe I'm formulating a paranoid conspiracy theory? But I get the feeling that more California actor-types are Scientologists than are not. Because Scientology sounds like the modern equivalent of selling your soul to the devil for fame and success (but since your soul isn't valuable enough, you also have to pay lots of money for the privilege).

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