March 29: Going Clear (#29)

I've been waiting weeks for this day. In fact, I was so anxious about tonight that I actually skipped yesterday (day 28) of #DocuMarch to clear my mind for what it was about to watch. (not really, I actually had to work all day yesterday & didn't have time to write 

It was sort of serendipitous, really. I only heard about HBO's revealing, scathing documentary on the Church of Scientology 'Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief' a couple of weeks ago via Reddit. Film festivals were buzzing about it and some were describing it as the possible 'end' of Scientology itself, so of course I was excited that it was to be released in the month of March. 

Thanks, HBO. I appreciate that. 

Going Clear profiles eight former members of the Church of Scientology, from its roots in the mind of founder L. Ron Hubbard to its rise in popularity in Hollywood and beyond. The heart of the film is a series of shocking revelations by former insiders, including high-ranking and recognizable members as they describe the systematic history of abuse and betrayal by Church officials, including the current leadership of the Church.

Anyone who watches Going Clear will indeed walk away with a greater understanding of Scientology — but that doesn’t mean they won’t be enraged and horrified by it. This documentary, whose convincing allegations have been vetted by 160 HBO lawyers, might well turn out to be the last nail in Scientology’s coffin.
— Scott Meslow, TheWeek.com

THOUGHTS

From the very beginning of Going Clear, author Lawrence Wright (on whose book the documentary is based) says: "My goal wasn't to write an expose, it was simply to try to understand Scientology." Without that sentence I don't think I would have realized that I don't really know sh*t about Scientology, either. I've always just assumed they were a bunch of whacko's with no identity who wanted to believe in something other than traditional religion (not unlike a lot of traditional religious people, I might add). Not only were nearly all of my questions about Scientology answered... but I learned things that I would have only learned if I was able to spend weeks reading the 500+ page book that this doc was based on.

Most of us know about Scientology from the odd interviews Tom Cruise & John Travolta have given on the subject or about ex-members who talk out after they've left the church (and the subsequent psychotic videos on YouTube that they release of members bullying them). I didn't, however, know about the horrific & absurd stuff in Scientology. Things like the billion-year contracts, pressures to have abortions (because children are an "unpractical burden"), and being forced to 'disconnect' from your family because of their perceived transgressions - or sexual preferences - against the Church. And the most absurd of all: the creation myth about Xenu, an ancient alien who fought overpopulation by freezing his subjects and dropping them into volcanoes.

The Church of Scientology is essentially people voluntarily live/working in a prison because they're too terrified to leave. The documentary ends with a former member (who reached the highest rank within the Church) saying: "I'm fighting back by communicating." 

I hope it works. 

TL;DR

The absurd & horrific story about the origin of the most cult of Scientology. 

5 of 5 Stars!

Onwards,
--Justin