Category Archives: Paul Haggis

‘Going Clear’ Muddies the Water

To true-believer Scientologists, Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear will be an extreme test of faith.   To independent-minded Scientologists the book will be a test of how well they understand Scientology and correspondingly how well they differentiate the technology of Scientology from personage of its original author.

This is so because the majority of the book is little more than a compendium of greatest shots by L. Ron Hubbard’s many erstwhile enemies.   There is no balance, but for the occasional gratuitous, condescending nods to L. Ron Hubbard’s power of imagination.

Having read a number of Wright’s previous works, I anticipated much more from the Pulitzer prize winning author.   I never wrote a review of Janet Reitman’s  Inside Scientology because I considered it a rather dry, overly academic history of Scientology.  While it was more comprehensive and balanced than any previous outsider look at the subject, I found it to be rather turgid, impersonal and careful.  It, like all books by outsiders who haven’t experienced that which they write about, lacked the vital subjective component that truth requires.  Note, some level of subjective experience is essence in covering a subject (religion/philosophy/spirituality) that is  by academic and scientific standards wholly subjective. Having seen how Wright made the entire Middle East vs. Western culture divide personal, and understandable in his The Looming Tower – from both the Middle Eastern and Western perspective – I believed he might do the same for the sorely misunderstood subjects of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology.

Instead Wright spent 2/3rd of his book regurgitating what several before him had already done: indicted, convicted and sentenced L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology to death.  It was sad to see a gifted author  with an advance allowing him two years to investigate squander it by essentially cutting and pasting from a twenty-seven year old biography penned by British Author Russell Miller (Bare-Faced Messiah).    About the only thing Wright added was to make it more salacious and one-sided by sprinkling it with the death bed accusations of a former Hubbard wife (which incidentally conflicted with her earlier shrill, divorce-court accounts given to Miller) and giving it a far less charitable and objective slant than even Miller – who did little to mask his hatred for Scientology – did in 1986.

The rest of the book is a disjointed account of the post-Hubbard years in Scientology, the bulk of which had been reported long ago on this blog and extensively by other media outlets.

Despite having a formidable team of researchers and fact checkers, next to no critical examination of credibility of sources was done.  If someone had something lurid to say about L. Ron Hubbard, regardless of how improbable, it was stated as authoritative fact.  By way of example, had the Wright team took me up on my pre-publication offer to review their facts ahead of time, they would not have published these inventions that I personally know to be manufactured or grossly inaccurate:

–          Tom Cruise was being audited by Marty Rathbun at the Gold base in 2002.

–          Marty Rathbun (or anyone for that matter) was serving as Nicole Kidman’s ethics officer in 2002.

–          Marty Rathbun was auditing Penelope Cruz.

–          There was no ‘convincing evidence proving the facts were wrong or the reporter was biased’ presented in the Scientology vs. Time magazine case.

–          Church funds were used to purchase assault rifles and explosive devices for the perimeter of international headquarters.

–          A campaign was run to blackmail attorney Charles O’Reilly.

–          O’Reilly’s house was bugged and his office was infiltrated.

–          Most Sea Org members at the Int Base did not know their own geographical location.

–          Miscavige attempted to get damning taped admissions from Mary Sue Hubbard so her husband could turn her in to the justice department.

–          L. Ron Hubbard demanded a divorce from Mary Sue Hubbard and she refused.

This is a partial list containing only items that Wright was either informed were false or reasonably should have known were false.   Granted, the verifiable allegations condemning Hubbard and Scientology in the book are legion.  And I recognize that the list of inaccuracies doesn’t put a dent on Wright’s conviction of both the founder and Scientology.  But, they highlight the velocity of the rush to judgment Wright was apparently engaged in.

Ultimately, Wright is guilty of what journalists  and critics have accused Hubbard and the church of Scientology of, not without justification, for decades.  To wit, rather than tackling the issues taken with the subject, Scientology policy calls for attacking the credibility of the one raising the issue.  Thus, we see over 400 pages of a book promising to answer the question ‘what makes Scientology so appealing to so many?’, never even attempting to explain what Scientology is and does.   Instead, Wright takes one esoteric teaching that Scientology asserts could not possibly be understood by someone not well-steeped in Scientology practice, and pretends that is all there is to a subject consisting of some 50 million other words.  With that straw dog firmly in place, Wright proceeds to burn hundreds of pages reciting the accusations of avowed enemies of L. Ron Hubbard.

By way of comparison, by the time one reads The Looming Tower (The book that Wright won the Pulitzer prize for) and Going Clear, there is little chance the reader will fear Osama Bin Laden more than he will fear L. Ron Hubbard.  While the former is journalism at its highest attainment, giving the reader an understanding of a figure made nearly impossible to understand by popular media culture, the latter can be characterized, at best in my opinion, as piling on.

While the church of Scientology can be partially credited with the result by its easily discreditable insistence on portraying L. Ron Hubbard as God, Wright had access to dozens of Scientologists unaffiliated with the church who gave far more measured, rational and credible accounts of what Scientology is capable of achieving in de-radicalized hands.

Wright chose to simply ignore the latter and shoot the sluggish, fat fish the former  placed in a barrel before him.   Good work if you can get it.   But, do not delude yourself that Going Clear is any insightful, definitive, and least of all, balanced look at either L. Ron Hubbard or Scientology.

Now that the big guns have issued, I can settle down to attempting to deliver something more along that line.

Rock Center with Lawrence Wright and Paul Haggis

I have a feeling that Rock Center’s segment tonight on Scientology from the viewpoints of Paul Haggis and Lawrence Wright is going to be rather interesting.  You may not agree with all you see and hear, but I suggest you ought to see and hear it.

NBC Rock Center Scientology segments

And, A preview from NBC Today show.

Scientology Inc. Obsession With Celebrity

For how  Scientology Inc.’s obsession with celebrities turned its greatest Public Relations assets into liabilities,  see excerpts from Lawrence Wright’s book concerning the courting of Tom Cruise and  John Travolta.

Is there something about Scientology that would lead to this inevitability, or is this simply a Miscavige Scientology Inc. deal?

While the Miscavige/Cruise business is in a league of its own in terms of excess and obsession, is the inhumanity exhibited by Scientology Inc. pre-Miscavige (as most of the cruelty reported in the Travolta sections are) any more tolerable in a civilized society?

 

 

 

Long Cold Winter for Scientology

Beginning sometime around the turn of the new year and through the rest of the winter, the reputations of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology are going to take perhaps the biggest press shellacking they have ever received.  Some news outlets have reported that Lawrence Wright’s book about Scientology (Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief) is going to have an initial print run of 150,000 copies. That means the unbecoming photo of LRH on the cover will be peering at Americans from virtually every book outlet in the country for several months.   What I expect will appear in the book will make the photo look complimentary.   Wright’s publishers have invested heavily in the production of the book and will have to invest that much more in making it, and its author, omnipresent – or they will lose money.   Wright will appear on virtually every widely viewed television and radio talk show.   And a headline topic will be revelations about less than admirable events in L. Ron Hubbard’s life.  Wright will be followed by the far less influential, but likely as scandalous, book by Jenna Miscavige Hill.  That book too is bankrolled by a large publishing outfit that will roll out the ready-made, full-scale press tour for the author.

If someone you know who cares about the future of Scientology has not read my books I recommend they do before the long, cold winter begins.  It has nothing to do with concern for my book sales.  They are not even in the same universe in terms of distribution and readership the Wright book is headed for.  Instead, the concern is that absent a good gradient on loosening up and reckoning one’s ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ in Scientology (and an increase in one’s independent thinking and contemplation about what he or she actually knows and finds valuable about the subject), the Wright avalanche is likely to create a huge ridge between corporate life and independent life.   Many of those who are under the radar, on the fence, or sitting on the sidelines are liable to get sufficiently disaffected from the subject that they are likely to blow from it entirely.   Those drinking kool aid will no doubt be implanted into some bizarre new world order conspiracy theory to explain the far-flung effects of Wright’s expose.  They will be herded into an even more black and white, us versus them mentality than they already harbor.  Their ears will be shut off to reason entirely.

I wanted to put the issues into complete and full context (understanding philosopher Ken Wilber’s and Quantum Mechanic’s understanding that to get to the most accurate picture requires subjective as well as objective reality).  But, given the cost and diversion time created by corporate Scientology’s four year siege I have yet to complete my extensive volume on the history of Scientology.   Having been resigned to come on the tail end of the Wright storm to do what I can to give the more complete context, I am also resigned to suggest that in the interim to get my existing books into the hands of those whom you care about.  I think those books, What Is Wrong With Scientology? and The Scientology Reformation, will help prepare folks mentally and emotionally for what is coming.

Billion Dollar Babies – Cruise and Miscavige

While I was going through my decompression from Scientology Inc. my wife and I watched Paul Haggis‘ Oscar-winning film Million Dollar Baby.   The movie prompted me to have the first in-depth discussion on the subject of Scientology that I had had since leaving the cult.   I pointed out to Monique Haggis’  wonderful depiction of a number of elements of L. Ron Hubbard’s seminal work, The Code of Honor.

I was to later learn that David Miscavige and his deputy Tom Cruise had quite an opposite reaction to Haggis’ award-winning work.

Movie guys Tom and Dave on a date

I covered it in The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know, as follows:

At first, Wilhere acted as if this surprise encounter and Tom’s immediate cottoning to Nazanin (Boniadi) would take priority over the “secret mission” for which she’d been selected. But after Nazanin lived with Cruise for a couple of weeks, the heights of Miscavige’s conceit apparently made him forget to inform Nazanin that the “secret project” had been cancelled. Nazanin began to suspect her encounter with Cruise was set up from the beginning.  She was so overwhelmed, though, by the affections of the number-one movie star in the world and the number-two Scientologist in the world, that she was afraid to create an upset. Her trepidation was exacerbated by the fact that she was constantly being coached by Tommy Davis and his then-wife Nadine, as well as Tommy’s future wife Jessica Feshbach, on how to act around Cruise. They were clearly working for the boss, David Miscavige, and the coaching was constantly reinforced with implications that her pleasing Tom Cruise was the most important thing in the world of Scientology.

Ultimately, Cruise’s own behavior became so erratic that Nazanin had difficultly continuing to play the obedient wife-to-be.

One evening, while Miscavige and his wife Shelly were visiting Tom’s home in Telluride, Colorado, they watched a private screening of the Paul Haggis written, Oscar-winning movie Million Dollar Baby. David Miscavige proclaimed extreme distaste for the movie, saying the content indicated that Paul Haggis, a Scientologist at the time, was a depraved person.

“Yeah,” Tom piled on, “what is up with Haggis? Is he back on board?”

Miscavige asserted, “No, that film was so low-toned and completely psych-oriented.”

“Yeah,” Tom double-piled on, “he needs to get his ethics in.”

Tom and Dave apparently prefer billion dollar babies to million dollar babies:

The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know

I am in the process of having a book published by the above title.  It ought to be available at Amazon books sometime later in the week.

Here is the short description that will apear with it at Amazon:

Why Scientology must be reformed.  It answers the most frequently asked questions about Scientology today, including:

  1. What is behind the madness and violence widely reported on Scientology Inc. supreme leader David Miscavige?
  2.  Why does Tom Cruise continue to support Miscavige despite international media reports of his increasingly sociopathic conduct?
  3.  What does Tom Cruise know and when did he know it?
  4. Does Cruise follow his mentor Miscavige’s penchant for bullying and violence?
  5. The whole story of Miscavige’s pimping and pandering for Cruise.
  6. Where does all the money go?
  7. Can Scientology survive all the exposure?
  8. What is the future of Scientology?

While The Scientology Reformation was primarily written for Scientologists, it is written in such manner that non-Scientologists can read it and might find it informative and useful.

Because the book delivers on the assertion made in the subtitle (What Every Scientologist Should Know), it will be published in small, paperback format for easy, concealed conveyance into and out of corporate Scientology influenced organizations, businesses and homes.  When you read it I think you might agree it warrants wide distribution among fence-sitters, sideliners, under the radar folk and all of their friends, associates and family members.

Once you have read it, some may find it useful, and think of some opportunities, for larger distributions among Scientologists.  If you fall into that category, you can contact me for bulk quantities at reduced prices around cost that can be drop shipped to you.  Once you’ve read it, and if you are interested tell me the numbers you have in mind – 25 minimum for bulk rate – and location for shipment and I’ll be able to quote you a price.

I’ll share with you  here the Dedication page:

To L. Ron Hubbard,

Long may you run…

—–

Who is Nazanin Boniadi?

ABC News did a pretty good job answering that question this morning:

ABC News ‘Who is Nazanin Boniadi?’

ABC’s original story on Nazanin (5 Sept 2012)

reference:  Scientology Inc. reaction.