Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Review: The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney

If you are looking for a thorough history of the Church of Scientology, then this book is not for you. I'd recommend Piece of Blue Sky or Inside Scientology instead. But if you saw either of John Sweeney's Panorama documentaries and came away wondering what happened between scenes, like I did, then this is most definitely the book for you.

John Sweeney's "exposes" of Scientology turned into more a study into just what the Church does to those who try to expose it. And here, with the benefit of hindsight and evidence from the Church's side of the story, John Sweeney paints a vivid picture of a Church that is dying from within but still strong enough to lash out at those it feels oppose it.

It was fascinating reading the (allegedly real) leaked documents showing the communications between the infamous Tommy Davis and Scientology HQ. The level of abuse in those communications is not surprising to someone who has been studying the workings of the Church for a while, but the documents still leave one
feeling very uncomfortable.

It's an easy read, and makes a good way to introduce yourself to some of the basic history of Dianetics and Scientology. That history is nothing if not utterly fascinating and, occasionally, deeply disturbing.

And to get a picture of the inner workings of the Sea Org, Scientology's holy order, and to get corroboration  for what may seem some outlandish claims made by Sweeney, check out Blown For Good.


Anonymous said...

One of the most fun times I have ever had was on a bored day walking around poole around 20 years ago and being stopped by some Scientologists who asked me if I wanted to have a personality test. Given it was cold and there was nothing better to do, I said OK. I was taken to some shabby, hastily rented former office and given a multiple choice questionaire which I completed by making a pretty pattern down the row. It was run through their computer.
Guess what?? My life was in ruins and could ponly be enhanced by Sciengtology. I was a recent Philososphy Grad at the time so started asking questions, paticlarly about 'Dianistics. I asked if it was anything to do with Dianism. The women ( a petite and fearsome blonde women) had never heard of Diansim...so I told her, graphically...that is to say that it was part of a tantric sex ritual. I then questioned every other 'statement' she made about my life, knowing that none of it was real because I never actually answered the questionaire. After 45 minutes she was in tears and told me to leave.

They are not as powerful as you think unless you let them be. They are actuqally good sport if you have nothing better to do on a rainy day.

Jae Kay said...

I had my own little run in with them when I was in San Francisco. They had a stall in the street offering stress tests, my other half wanted to give one a go. As soon as I sat down and saw the e-meter and the Dianetics books I chuckled to myself. Basically the e-meter found my mother was the cause of all my problems.

I then told them about my boyfriend and started to discuss L. Ron's history when I was promptly waved goodbye too. Funny that ;)

Paul Brownsey said...

My experience is very similar to Anonymous's. About 40 years ago, as a new Philosophy lecturer, in much the same spirit as Anonymous, I entered Scientology premises in Edinburgh and did the 'personality test'. I was told the results showed I was a very unhappy person. I agreed I was and showed enormous delight at the finding. The interviewer kept trying to get me to see that this was something that needed remedying; I insisted it was great news, the confirmation of my hopes. Deadlock and my exit.