“Blown”: A Novel Set in the World of the Sea Org

BlownBlown| Lauren Halsted Burroughs | 2016 | ISBN 978–0-692-68160-2 | Read Online

There is currently only one other novel (that I know of) set in the closed social world of Scientology, “The Symphony of Lief“, by Paul Y Csige. “Blown” is a welcome addition to this tiny sub-genre.

“Blown” is written by an outsider who is acting as a ghost writer for an ex-Scientologist. The content is based on her principal’s experience as a young, female, second generation Scientologist, who joined the Sea Org at an early age.

The Sea Org presents itself as equivalent to a monastic order, where the most dedicated Scientologists dedicate themselves to the cause. They wear pseudo-naval uniforms because the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard served in the US Navy. Although his career was actually undistinguished, Scientologist are told that he was a war hero.

The reality of Sea Org ‘service’ is equally disappointing. Many members are children of Scientologists who are pressured to join, or recruited straight out of Scientology schools (Download Evening Standard article about the UK’s “Greenfields School”). Having had no meaningful education they are consigned to a life of manual labour, for example restoring buildings bought by the Church of Scientology.

At the same time, they are required to ‘study’ Scientology and are subject to direct control over every aspect of their lives. This occurs both indirectly (through the requirements of Scientology and practice) and directly (though the application of military-style ‘discipline’ that is indistinguishable from abuse).

“Blown” principally follows the lives of two sisters (Amory and Riley) and their friend Daisy through their early careers in the Sea Org, and shows how destructive this kind of total institution is to human relationships and welfare. Continue reading

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“It Works” by RHJ – Wishful Thinking in Fringe Ideas and its Influence on Scientology

CoverIt Works | RH Jarret | Download as .pdf (Click on ‘Download in Browser’ button)

In my previous post, I discussed a book by Ron Miscavige, entitled “Ruthless”. Ron, the father of David Miscavige, the present ‘leader’ of Scientology, wrote about his son’s rise to power and his own career in Scientology, which culminated in an escape from a guarded compound.

Despite this experience the text reveals that Ron:

  • Still believes that the practice of Scientology itself has some value.
  • Committed himself and his family to the organisation almost on a whim – his understanding of  his own ‘philosophy’ seems to me to be extremely superficial

Some reviewers have blamed Dan Koon, his ghost writer, for Miscavige Sr’s apparently sympathetic attitude toward the teachings of L Ron Hubbard.  Koon is an ‘Independent Scientologist’, who rejects the ‘official’ Church, but continues to practice his conception of Scientology, so he might have influenced the text.

I think it more likely that Ron is simply the kind of person who accepts such fringe ideas uncritically, especially if they are persuasively presented.

The ‘further reading’ list at the back of Ron’s book provides support for this view. It recommends a pamphlet called “It Works” (which you can download from the link a the top of the page). This text has no connection with Scientology, but shares many of its basic ideas and promotional tricks.

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Suppressed Documentary about Scientology “Going Clear” to be Broadcast in the UK – Please Help me Spot Spoiler Ads

London Thinks – What Has Scientology Got To Hide_ #LondonThinksXenu - YouTube_2015-08-05_16-48-29At a presentation yesterday in the Conway Hall in London, Tony Ortega  dropped the bombshell that Sky Atlantic will broadcast the Alex Gibney documentary film “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” in the UK in September. This has subsequently been confirmed by the BBC.

The broadcast of this  documentary film had previously been postponed, apparently due to doubts about whether Sky would fall foul of the more repressive libel legislation still in force in Northern Ireland, and be sued by the Church of Scientology. It seems that Sky (which cannot exclude Northern Ireland from its coverage) has decided to call Scientology’s bluff.

Ortega (on the left) is an investigative journalist who writes the best blog about Scientology and appears in the film as an expert on Scientology. He knows whereof he speaks. This presentation was fascinating in itself and there is more about it after the break (including the video). However, before we move on, I would like to appeal for information from readers.

Before the UK broadcast of “Going Clear” was postponed, the Church of Scientology launched a Metro sic ad imagemedia blitz. They promoted their front groups in full-page ads in publications such as “The New Statesman” and “Metro”, on social media and electronic billboards.

The advertisement in “The New Statesman” regarding ‘Volunteer Ministers’ was the subject of a complaint to the UK Advertising Standards Association. As a result the Church of Scientology agreed not to present VMs as if they were a relief organisation in future.

The Church of Scientology is unlikely to let the broadcast go without some media response – which may break their promise to the ASA or lay them open to complaints on other grounds. If anyone in the UK sees an advertisement, especially in  a newspaper or print periodical, promoting Scientology front groups please let me know about it in the comments, or via the feedback page.

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“The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” – A Review (Part One)

UnbreakableCover2015 | “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely | Tony Ortega | ISBN 9781511639378
Author’s blog “The Underground Bunker”: tonyortega.org

The Church of Scientology is the subject of many critical histories. The essential texts which cover the period up to the death of the organisation’s founder are, “A Piece of Blue Sky”  (first published in 1991, and republished in an expanded form in 2013) and “Bare Faced Messiah“. These books remain definitive, and difficult to surpass

“The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” also deals with this period, but from a new perspective which adds considerable depth and a human dimension to the story.

Its subject is Scientology’s treatment of a  journalist (Palette Cooper) who published a book critical of the Church entitled, “The Scandal of Scientology” in 1971.

After her book appeared, the Church of Scientology  subjected her to an organised programme of persecution. This included a libellous (but anonymous) smear campaign, endless litigation, the tapping of her telephone, being ‘befriended’ by undercover agents and being framed for sending letters containing bomb threats.

After many years of legal action the Church succeeded in obtaining the copyright of her book and suppressed it. Nevertheless, you can download and read it here.

All of these operations (and more) were  undertaken by the Church of Scientology’s  ‘intelligence’ branch (which still exists and operates today, under a different name). While it was persecuting Cooper, the “Office of the Guardian”also infiltrated multiple US Government premises, where they copied (and planted) documents which they thought could be used to their advantage. This bizarre espionage story is extensively covered  by Ortega, not least because it had  unexpected consequences for the subject of his book.

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“The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” (A New book by Tony Ortega) Announced. Do Publishers No Longer Fear the Church of Scientology?

UnbreakableCoverTony Ortega is a investigative journalist who has written extensively on the subject of Scientology in (almost) daily blog posts over a period of years. These began in the Village Voice.  In 2012 he resigned his position as editor of the Voice to “[…] pursue a book proposal about Scientology in its time of crisis”. He continues to post daily on his own site The Underground Bunker.

Ortega recently announced the publication of a book he has been working on for the past two years.

It will tell the story of the extraordinary persecution of  fellow Journalist Paulette Cooper by the Church of Scientology’s ‘secret police’ after her critical book, “The Scandal of Scientology” was published in 1971.| Read Online | Download as .pdf .

Ortega’s book, “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” will be published by Silvertail books in May 2015. Much has changed for the Church of Scientology in the intervening years Continue reading

Stripping the Gurus and The Joy of Sects

Up to this point, I have avoided giving bad reviews by discussing only books that are, one way or another, worth reading. However, Scientology-watchers are a thorough bunch of people and it’s easier today to find and buy an obscure book that you think might be hidden gem… and be disappointed.

A few warnings may be order. For example, here are two books that may not be worth your hard-earned.

 strippping the gurus 2009 Stripping the Gurus:
Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment
Geoffrey D Falk
ISBN-10: 0973620315
ISBN-13: 978-0973620313
View Online.’pdf
View Online .html
Download as .pdf 
 the joy of sects small 2005 The Joy of Sects
Sam Jordison
ISBN-10: 1861059051
ISBN-13: 978-1861059055
The author has a blog

“The Joy of Sects” (plural) should not be confused with “The Joy of Sect” (singular) a book (and website) by Peter Occhiogrosso. Continue reading

What the Moonies Have to Teach Us about Scientology

220px-Unification_Church_symbol.svgThe Church of Scientology is a difficult organisation to study. It is secretive, and typically responds to requests from academics to observe its activities with refusal, suspicion and hostility.

However, all New Religious Movements are not like this. In its early days, the Unification Church (AKA ‘the Moonies’) allowed sociologists free access to its activities.

Two classic studies of the Unification Church were made during this period. Both closely examined the process of  ‘conversion’  – that is, how outsiders are persuaded to think of themselves as believers.

Both studies made interesting observations about the process of ‘conversion’ and collected reliable figures about the success rates of Unification Church Missionaries. These insights can help to make good estimates of how successful Scientology’s recruitment efforts are  – something Scientology keeps strictly secret.

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