Saturday, March 02, 2013

I agree...but too lazy

To write a great review like Lyndsey Beyerstein does of Lawrence Wright's "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" book.   Wright wrote what I've mentioned on this blog before is the best book I've read on Al Qaeda, "The Looming Tower" which netted him a Pulitzer.

I've never had the slightest interest in Scientology.   Once I left the religion I was quasi-raised in (two church services a year Christmas and Easter and maybe one or two more) Methodism, I never looked back and have been an agostic leaning to atheism since.   I didn't even know much about Scientology, nor cared -- except it seemed a crackpot, if harmless, bit of new age mumbo jumbo that didn't like mainstream religion but really saved its hatred for mental health professionals.

Wright's book makes it clear that my assumption was correct for the most part -- except for the "harmless" aspect.   Oh, it isn't a huge threat, but it really does abuse many of its rank and file (small as they are in numbers) and grift from its wealthy adherents in a way that even traditional organized religion generally hasn't been able to match in per capital donations.

Wright is a great writer and the book isn't as absorbing to me as "The Looming Tower"  because the main characters are not as malevolent (though they are definitely malevolent) nor as interesting (L. Ron Hubbard smells of snakeoil and shinola from the moment he appears) it is still a tremendous read.

1 comment:

Montag said...

Hubbard, hence Scientology, has always fascinated me, primarily because anyone who could mold a phony religion out of bad science fiction novels and half-assed pop psychology must have the art of the con down cold, able to work a grift like no one else. Hubbard makes Palin look like an amateur flubbing the pass in three-card monte.

It's also very interesting to see how a cult of personality is shaped by the founder and, with enough time, eventually displays most or all of the founder's tendencies. In the case of Scientology, it's paranoid, deceptive, bullying, egomaniacal, grandiose, authoritarian and money-grubbing, all attributes Hubbard showed to excess.

But, Hubbard really had a knack for exploiting human weakness, and that makes him one of the century's most accomplished sociopaths, and makes him worth studying.