Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: 2013
Length: 15 hours, 40 minutes
Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
From the publisher:
Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world’s fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of “volunteer ministers” offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse.
Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an even-handed account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology’s development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.
Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to church officials, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is the defining book about a little-known world.
I think if Scientologists weren’t so secretive about things I probably wouldn’t care. I’ve been intrigued by the whole history, religion and organization for years. I’m glad I finally got around to listening to the audio of this.
Reitman is a journalist and contributing editor to Roling Stone. Her book created a lot of online chatter when it was released as did Going Clear by Lawrence Wright. Again, if the Church of Scientology wasn’t so adamant about discrediting the authors it probably wouldn’t be so interesting to me.
The traditional religious bedrock – worship, God, love and compassion, even the very concept of faith – is wholly absent from its precepts. And, unique among modern religions, Scientology charges members for every service, book, and course offered, promising greater and greater spiritual enlightenment with every dollar spent. People don’t ‘believe’ in Scientology; they buy into it.
Reitman’s book is partly a history of L.Ron Hubbard and how he went from science fiction author to founder of a religion. It’s also about how after his death, David Miscavige took control of the Church and it’s many related organizations. The most interesting parts however, are the stories she learned from former church members.
In my opinion, L. Ron Hubbard may have been a complete whack job but his successor David Miscavige is disturbingly power hungry. Some of the stories of the way he has treated the people suipposedly in is inner circle are downright strange.
I found it interesting that many people have left the Church of Scientology yet continue to practice many elements of it. There seems to be a number of former members who have left because of David Miscavige and how he is running the organization and not because they no longer believe the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.
I’m a little confused by the choice to have Janet Reitman’s book narrated by a male. Stephen Hoye is adequate as a narrator but where Reitman is telling things from a first person perspective it seems odd to have that coming from a male voice. Hoye’s reading pace is also a little slow for me and I ended up listening to much of this book on the faster speed.
The book is a little dry in places and sometimes rambles a bit but it’s quite interesting, a little disturbing and worth reading.
Rating 4/5 for the book
3/5 for the narration