Sorry I've been quiet recently. Mother-in-law has been for a visit, work intervened and I'm rediscovering my love of reading. Which is what I'm here to post about today.
As regular readers know I have obsessions with both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and with the Church of Scientology. I find both religions fascinating, inspiring and disturbing in equal measures. They have extremely similar backgrounds of charismatic prophets, tight control of followers, evangelism, mixing politics with religion and persecution.
Currently I'm reading Under the Banner of Heaven, which is both a concise history of the Mormon faith and the tale of a modern-day murder of a mother and her child by Mormon fundamentalists. The interposition of the two stories makes it a compelling read and a really good introduction to the faith for a non-believer.
What I find truly fascinating about the "Lafferty" murders is how Ron Lafferty (one of the murderers) used his religious beliefs to excuse the murder of his sister-in-law in his own mind when he had plenty of real-world reasons to do it. The human mind is a complicated beast.
Inside Scientology. Whilst I already have a rather large Scientology library, my reading of this long excerpt shows this book may well prove to be one of the most well written and well researched critiques of the Church since Jon Atack's brilliant history Piece of Blue Sky.
Scientology is a very secretive religion, still in it's infancy and, like Mormonism before it, desperate not to show anything other than sweetness and light to the "wog" world (as they refer to non-Scientologists). It's a particularly interesting time at the moment as whilst there have been "Free Zone" splitters before, we may well be witnessing the beginnings of a more successful schism in the Church thanks to independents such as Mark Rinder. Exciting times for us Scientology watchers.
On a related note there are two musical stories of late which I think need to be shared. Firstly the Book of Mormon musical has pride of place on my mp3 player at the moment. I am totally overly excited by the prospect of it being released on the West End next year. Check out All-American Prophet for a taster
The other piece of news is a bit late but none-the-less hilarious. A Scientology song. With David Miscavige singing! Priceless.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist