Beyond Belief: A Book Review
Please don't sue us, nice Scientology people.
Holy thetans, Batman! It’s a book review about Scientology! No, I didn’t read Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard. At least not yet. No, no, no! This article describes my thoughts upon reading “beyond belief” by Jenna Miscavige Hill. Or the long title of “My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape.” I did have a minuscule amount of prior knowledge about the church due to being a weird dude fascinated by weird things and also that South Park episode from way back in 2005. But aside from watching the odd YouTube video or listening to Leah Remini’s podcast, I had never done a deep dive like this into it. Unfortunately, because I have listened to that podcast, I know that I’m probably on a list now. So sorry, fellow Brutes. The Scientologists might be banging on your door soon! Apologies for bringing you down to my suppressive level!
Because I like to live dangerously, I am going to continue with the review, so brace yourself. It’s gonna be saucy. At this point, the year of our Space Lord Mother Mother 2020, there have been a few high profile celebrities who have publicly left the “Church”. The aforementioned Leah Remini, for one, and more recently Jason Lee of My Name is Earl fame. But you’re probably thinking “Yeah I’ve heard of those two people but who the hell is Jenna Miscavige Hill? She doesn’t sound famous.” Well, she isn’t a famous movie star but if you know anything at all about Scientology, that name right there in the middle is quite substantial. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center of Scientology, just so happens to be her uncle and now I bet you feel ridiculous for your previous attitude. Uncle Dave, as she calls him, was a rising star in the Church and when its founder, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, ditched his pesky human body to ascend to more important doings, guess who took over the reigns? Yeah, Uncle Dave, that’s who!
I don’t want to spoil too much of the book with this review but don’t think for a minute that her lineage put her up on a pedestal. Scientology’s senior members don’t seem to mind splitting up families - husband and wives and even parents and children. At one point Ms. Hill claims to have only seen her mother twice in a four year span! But as a third generation Scientologist, and niece of the head honcho, she was probably given at least a little more rope than most of her peers. However, once her uncle decided she was more of a pain in the ass than anything else, all that was thrown out the window. It’s a heartbreaking tale of helplessness and betrayal and since you’ve read the title of the book, I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler to mention that she got the fuck out of that wretched cult. (If I wasn’t on a list before, this sentence definitely sealed it!)
This book is a look inside a young girl’s mind and her recollections of her bizarre upbringing. Without giving too much away, she looks back in awe at her messed up, brainwashed childhood. While most of us spent our formative years playing sports or house or Playstation 1, she was working on a construction crew or offering nursing advice to her fellow Sea Org members-in-training. Because Scientologists believe that the body is just a meat sack and the Thetan within is actually millions of years old, children are expected to act as adults because come on! You’re a pube short of a billion years, kid, you should be able to swing a hammer like Jose Canseco on a 3-0 count! Yeah, Tom Cruise likes to gloss over this part of the religion.
Lisa Pullitzer helped her put this book together and I feel like a surname like that is probably a good bet to write a good tale. I personally found it incredibly easy to read, albeit slightly uncomfortable due to the subject matter, but I was able to plow through it in only a few days. As a kid who discovered Bad Religion and Propagandhi at age 11, I used to enjoy being a snot-nosed prick to religious people for daring to believe in something I didn’t. Thankfully, I’ve since grown out of that outlook and leave people with faith to their own devices (unless they are discriminating against someone vulnerable in the name of it) but I honestly don’t think Scientology deserves the same restraint. If you have to pay hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars to be a part of a church, maybe, just maybe, there is something fishy going on.
All in all, I highly recommend this book if you hold even a passing interest in the Church of Scientology. And if you still think it could be legit, listen to Leah Remini speak on the subject and if you still wanna hop on board L. Ron’s spaceship, watch the South Park episode that speaks to it. And holy crap sandwich, if for some mind-boggling reason, you are still interested in signing up, give me a few grand and I’ll happily make up an origin story of the Universe for you! I’ll even let you talk all the shit you need to about me on the Internet! I found my copy for $4.95 at a used book store and truth be told, I would have paid an even $10 for it. 9 Thetans out of 10!