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Tyler

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

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Got this book from the library today. I'm 60 pages in, and it's pretty interesting. It covers parts of L. Ron Hubbard and the story of Scientology that I've heard before, but in much greater detail. (The first chapter focuses on Paul Haggis, BTW).

Written by Lawrence Wright, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower.

Link to The Master, because Going Clear is highlighting even more parallels; some seem to apply to Freddie and some to Dodd, though. Could be a reflection of the dual/competing narratives in Hubbard's own biographies.

This isn't the first time I've thought this, but Hubbard's concept of "engrams" (traumatic subconscious memories, more or less) reminds of how John Eldredge write about "the wound" in Wild At Heart.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Link to our thread on 'Scientology ads' (Jul 2009 - Sep 2012), where this book (or at least its magazine-article predecessor) has come up before.

Links to our even earlier threads 'Tom Cruise reveals Scientology's power' (Jun 2005), 'The NEW Scientology thread' (Aug 2005 - Apr 2008) and '(Scientologist) Isaac Hayes to Quit 'South Park'' (Mar 2006).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I read the New Yorker excerpt from this book and figured I'd pretty much "read" the whole thing, but I'm three discs into a 14-disc audiobook, and there's lots here I don't remember from the New Yorker piece. That New Yorker article was long, but it must not be the whole book.

The first disc had lots of stuff I remembered from the New Yorker piece, but the second and third have gone in-depth into Hubbard's background, marital history and military record -- things I don't remember being addressed in such depth in the article, although maybe it was there and is hitting me anew in audio form. The book is fascinating, even as it makes me wonder if it could/would have any impact on Scientologists.

There's an interesting quote in the book from Hubbard about laughter that I'm sure sheds light on the theme of laughter in The Master. I heard the line and figured I could Google it, but no such luck. I'll try to listen more closely and will share it here after I do.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Yeah, the first half is like a condensed Hubbard biography. The second half shifts focus to David Miscavige (who's genuinely scary, where Hubbard seems more paranoid and deluded) and Tom Cruise.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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I've lost interest in watching The Master, as even the euphoric reviews lost me with its rampant sexuality and its ambiguous ending. Would you say that The Master would be better served by reading this book first, or should I just read the book alone?


Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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I'd say they're different enough that each can be appreciated on their own; that is, you don't have to know anything about Scientology to get The Master (or vice versa). If you do, though (by reading Going Clear, watching the South Park episode, etc.) it probably will change the way you watch the movie. It's interesting try and parse out the Hubbard/Dodd/Quell parallels, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Nick, if rampant sexuality bothers you -- and I'm more with you than against you on that score, so don't take this as a jab -- I'd say you might want to avoid the book as well. I'm only four discs into it, but Hubbard's fascination with masturbation, his serial adultery (repentant at times) and multiple marriages paint a picture of a troubled man that's at least as disturbing as anything in The Master.

Now,if you draw the line at the visual depiction of such behavior, rather than at written descriptions, the book shouldn't present an obstacle, or at least not in the same way, or maybe to the same degree, that the movie does for you.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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For me, nine times outta ten, the visual is overwhelmingly more bothersome than the written.

Furthermore, a fictional character exhibiting such traits is overwhelmingly more bothersome than a real-life biographical sketch. Intent has a lot to do with it. I can "get" what PTA has tried to do with "The Master" by reading expert analysis from bloggers I like, (i.e., Jeffrey Overstreet), but sexual imagery is hard to erase, long after the intent has been deciphered and the PhD dissertation has been submitted. "How It Goes About It" may indeed be more important than "What It Does", but that "How" sure better be worth my while.


Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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Yeah, I loved the movie but recognize that it could be a stumbling block for some -- probably would've been one for me a few years ago, and I view that transition as cause for self-examination, not celebration. FWIW, a friend of mine at church who embraces much of pop culture within a Reformed worldview told me he and his wife had to turn the movie off. Upon further questioning, he revealed that they turned it off well before the infamous "party scene" with all the nude women, which was my guess as to when he might have abandoned the film.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Here's the thing: I find the idea of cults fascinating. How educated people can fall in line with a single charismatic figure, this is a subject matter worthy of a movie I'd pay to go see. How a single conflicted, fallible man can somehow craft a theological narrative and persuade thousands to depart from their life-savings, this is epic.

So imagine my perceived bait-and-switch when it turns out that PTA wasn't really interested in this storyline, and went for one that, for all its other perceived positives, went for the hard-R approach. Talk about losing the plot.

ETA: which heightens my interest in the book "Going Clear". (Whew. Back on topic).

Edited by Nick Alexander

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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This audiobook is gripping, and Wright's story is spectacularly reported. I was aghast at much of what I heard, even though I knew some of it and had heard rumors of other things covered in the book. The challenge, as a Christian, is to listen in horror to the stories reported and realize that some people believe the same things, especially re: abuses, about the faith I followers. Christians have a lot to answer for. But the contemporary ugliness of Scientology, and its attempts to silence every critic, is galling. These folks needed to be exposed.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Ex-Scientologist Leah Remini (she left the church in June) has filed a missing person's report for Shelly Miscavige, the wife of David Miscavige, current leader of the church. She hasn't been seen in public in several years, though church officials insist she isn't missing.

 

What might have happened to her is covered toward the end of Going Clear.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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And it's horrific.

 

But by that point, not at all surprising.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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