At first blush, L. Ron Hubbard seems quite disturbed. He is described as an accomplished liar. Even his memories of his military career cannot be documented as he wrote it. Most of the information in his background, that he provided, is unsubstantiated and false. He seems like a philanderer, without values. He cheated on his wife, was a bigamist and an abuser. He was a prolific writer, however, and his books sold and still sell millions of copies.
His main interest seemed to be to accumulate wealth and power. His doctrine was based on the simple premise that you can decide what is good and bad for yourself. If you think something is good, than it simply is, regardless of what others think. His followers were largely wealthy entertainers, actors who played roles in life and perhaps lost touch with what was in the real world. Writers of science fiction, like Hubbard, followed him and supported him financially, as well. If nothing else, they all had creative imaginations.
Many of those who associated with him also created wild, untrue narratives about their lives and experiences. Perhaps in writing science fiction, they too lost touch with the real world.
Hubbard’s fame is mind-boggling to me. How could rational people pay any attention to him, how could they dismiss his lies? Yet, this is a charade that many fell prey to, and many still do. This is a man who was sued often but nothing ever stuck. There was never enough proof. Scientology, designated as a religion, is exempt from many things ordinary people and business are subject to, and therefore, Scientology can get away with a great deal in the interest of religious freedom.
The bulk of the book is a very detailed and precise exploration of the founding of Scientology and its practices and progression to the current day, but the author also delves into other unusual religions at the end of the book. He talks about the Branch Davidians, the followers of Jim Jones and their mass murder/suicide, the Amish, and the Mormons, among others. However, most of the book is about Scientology and it followers.
The religion would appear to be ruled with an iron hand by a harsh master. Severe punishment is meted out to those who commit infractions, though they may not even understand what they have done; they are virtually kept prisoners and find it difficult to leave or escape. After years of living with and following the guidelines of Scientology and mixing only with Scientologists, it is difficult for the follower to adjust to the outside world and interact with others. It is almost like they are brainwashed. The whole was more important than the individual and, as a result, the individual often was unable to act independently. In addition, secret files were kept on the followers to blackmail them should they desire to leave.
Although I did not love listening to the book because there was sometimes too much detail, I have to admire the amount of research that went into it. It was such a thorough examination of this “cult-like” religion. It was so deftly done that the reader will come away with an understanding of the complexity of the religion and its followers, in so far as the author understands it. I think it will be impossible for the reader to drawer any other conclusion, other than the one that Wright puts forth and seems to prove.
Hubbard seemed insane as does David Miscavige who stepped into Hubbard’s shoes. He is a cruel taskmaster, was odd as a child and is even odder as an adult. Many famous names are associated with Scientology. Tom Cruise, Sonny Bono, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, Paul Haggis, Kirsty Allee, among many others who were at one time or another associated with Scientology, and many of them still are. They donate millions to keep it alive and well. It is beyond me that they can look beyond the punishments meted out, the demands made of the followers, the hierarchy and its inequity and still believe in, follow, and support its doctrines. They don’t seem to practice what they preach. Hypocrites, they live in rarefied air, and they either don’t care about others, or they simply want the rest of the followers to smell foul air. How can they not see the insanity in the leader, the inequity in the approach of the religion and the greed of the Church itself? It owns real estate, businesses and it would seem to own people as well. Followers are afraid to leave for they might find themselves exiled to a place where no one will ever find them. Even L. Ron Hubbard was in exile, apparently, for the last half-dozen years of his life, kept that way by Miscavige.
Dianetics, the most famous book written by Hubbard, was probably written by a Sociopath, by a very disturbed man, and yet, people read it and follow its path and still respect the man named L. Ron Hubbard. They believe the practice of Scientology helps them. It is Hubbard’s cure for all the ills of the world. Actually, he claimed he could cure almost everything, blindness, diabetes, cancer, etc.! How can sane, intelligent people believe the ravings of someone who was sometimes a madman? Wright made it seem like Scientology was a corrupt, deceptive religion, existing only to make the “Church” and the higher-ups wealthier and more powerful.
Has Hubbard pulled a fast one, has he pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes, eventually creating a monster, the monster of unintended consequences? Was he really only writing science fiction which attracted a fan club? In his own madness, did he then believe his own imaginings? Reader, read on and draw your own conclusions!