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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Beyond Belief ~ Jenna Miscavige Hill

I consider myself fortunate.

I grew up in a loving home with both of my parents, my sister, multiple pets, vacations, friends....After 34 years my parents are still married and are in love (as much as the thought of them all kissy kissy makes me gag)
Not everyone is that lucky.
One thing that played a huge role in my upbringing was religion and spirituality. A Pastors daughter (yeah yeah, go ahead, crack the jokes) I grew up reading the Bible, attending Sunday School, church functions etc… It wasn’t until I was a bit older I realized that this wasn’t the case for everyone. At times I envied my friends who got to sleep in on Sundays. (Hell, even now I envy anyone who gets to sleep in....)
While I don’t necessarily attend church on a regular basis anymore, I still very much am firm in my beliefs and try to teach my children what I was taught.
That said, I do have a vast interest in other religions. I am fascinated by them. I have great respect for what other people believe. I would never try to sway you or argue with you that I am right and you are wrong.  (Unless you show up on my doorstep...) I love inquiring and learning about so many different faiths and traditions.
I'm not going to lie, I even ask questions about my own religion. Why? Because I think it's better to ASK the questions than assume that I (or anyone else) has all the answers. (I'll deal with that when it's my turn to go meet the Big Guy in the Sky) I try to remain very open minded and live life the way I feel is best.
 I have faith.

All that said, there IS an exception to the rule.....
(Here comes the possible hypocritical part to my post) 

I can't help but be very skeptical, Scientology makes me raise my eyebrows due to how 'new' it is on top of the ‘secretive’ nature behind it. (Things that make you go...hmmmmmm)
Why are all these people (Celebrities included)  flocking to a 'religion' created by some author just last century? (L.Ron Hubbard is his name and the book that started it all is called "Dianetics" )
You must be familiar with it with all the drama surrounding Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes when it comes to the controversial church, or be able to name the popular celebrities who are involved. The media is constantly painting Scientology in a negative light.

Needless to say, I wanted to know what the appeal of this particular faith is. 

Like, What's the deal with 'auditing' each other (aka. a tin can-like lie detector test)? What are these 'levels'? (That can allegedly kill you if you unlock them too soon, so they are apparently super secret) Why is it that as a Thetan have you not already unlocked the secret to this faith in a past life and not remember it in THIS life..? (So, do you have to redo all the levels in every life?)

With it being so mysterious and 'exclusive', I was absolutely ecstatic to see a book by a former Scientologist hit the shelves in an explosive "Tell All"!! The author is the niece of the current leader of Scientology to boot! Hey, if this chick is running out and writing a tell all about this 'hush hush' religion, well than you can bet your ass I am going to read it!

And what is the name of the book making waves recently??? If you haven't heard about, get comfortable.
Here is the book description from Amazon.com:

From its science fiction origins to its stranger-than-fiction reality, much is speculated but even more remains unknown about one of the world’s most controversial religions: Scientology. Now, for the first time, an insider with unprecedented access tells the story of her childhood as a member of the Church of Scientology and her harrowing escape.

In this memoir, Jenna Miscavige Hill-the niece of David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology-pulls back the curtain of this secretive organization. She tells the incredible story of a childhood too strange to be believed and exposes the inner workings of Scientology’s celebrity culture through her own knowledge as well as her husband’s experience as a former employee of the Scientology Celebrity Centre.

Aspects of the organization that have baffled and alienated the public are fully brought to light in this real-life work of suspense. Hill addresses questions that have been raised about Scientology in the past, such as claims of forced and child labor practices, exploitative fundraising, coerced abortions, and the dissolution of families. But, with her unparalleled insight into the inner world of Scientology’s highest order, what Hill reveals is much, much more-and bizarre beyond one’s wildest imagination.


My Take:

Without giving too many spoilers (because really you need to read it to believe it) Jenna Miscavige (Hill) was sent away  as a small child to live at The Ranch (a boarding school exclusive to Scientologists) Unlike me, she didn't get to grow up in home surrounded by loved ones. There were no bed time stories, no mom or grandma baking cookies every week, no elementary school or high school....she was lucky if she got to see her parents once a week.
At the age of seven Jenna had to sign 'a billion year contract' dedicating her life to the religion. Apparently children aren't considered children, because Thetans (their term for their spirits) live forever, taking one body and gaining the next in a form of reincarnation.
Jenna tells her readers how we (the regular ol' non-Scientologist folk) are referred to as 'WOG's' ~an abbreviation that stands for 'Well and Orderly Gentleman' (meh....I've been called worse) and the author claims that the Celebrities are actually kept 'in the dark' and away from the more shocking truths about what really goes on behind the scenes, such as child labor, families forced apart for 'the greater good'.. brainwashing, intimidation....

She goes on to share how she always found herself caught between questioning things and suddenly believing whole heartedly in Scientology.. back and forth....forth and back....like a game of emotional and spiritual tug of war.

The whole book reads like a nasty game of chess. An extreme sociology experiment.
A sad tale of a girl who was robbed of an all American childhood, the allegations brought forth in regards to Scientology are jaw dropping. I could go on and on about the insanity that unfolds throughout her story, but I have to say there is so much you just need to read for yourself.  (FYI any religion telling you to supply your social security or credit card information for their records, as well looking for details on your sex life...as this book alleges.. well... don't walk....RUN to the nearest exit.....can you say red flag much?) It paints a picture of isolation, abuse and greed.

Jenna discusses how she and her husband eventually escaped and left the church, in the footsteps of others and how these former members are trying to get their stories out there. 
I admire Jenna for the tenacity, the bravery and the courage she has shown in speaking out and sharing her story with the world. After reading the book, the final chapters are incredibly moving.

I'd call the book an eyeopener if it wasn't more or less suspicions being confirmed. (My suspicions at least, you read it for yourself and than draw your own conclusions on the topic)

The writing and way the story is told makes it easy to grasp the concepts and dynamics of Scientology and should you find yourself confused, there is a Glossary in the back to assist you. The learning is woven into the story as she describes what is happening.

The Church Of Scientology naturally has denounced Beyond Belief.

If anything, this memoir has me asking MORE questions about Scientology than ever. Questions for both members and ex members of the faith. I am just naturally curious. I would LOVE to sit down and chat with Ms. Hill one day and hear more of her story. (She has now been added to my fantasy dinner party guest list, you're off it Tom Cruise!)

Fascinating, Heartbreaking and Shocking.... You have to read it!

Happy Reading.





1 comment:

  1. Im not sure Ive read any religious based books...or maybe I have and never realized it. You have peeked my interest, Im going to have to give this subject a try...Thanks Irene another great post to keep us reading ♥

    ReplyDelete