After reading this book, I had a difficult time deciding how many "stars" to give it in a review.
If I were a true believer in L Ron Hubbard, believing everything he wrote to be true, and thus believed everything written about him by the author, I might have given the book "5 stars" as I love how it spoke against abuses and tried to appeal to scientologists of good heart to get out of a highly abusive "church" and to practice freely outside of it.
If I judged all scientologists to be like my experiences showed Hubbard to be (at times abusive, greedy and prone to lying), I would likely have given the book "1 star" as I disagree with a number of things written by the author and I would have believed the author to be intentionally lying.
If I were someone with no background or experience with scientology I would believe that both "sides" (organized scientology and independent scientology) were crazy.
For example in trying to point out how good or wise Hubbard is, the author makes many quotes from Hubbard, some clearly ridiculous. Case in point is this quote from Hubbard about scientology found on page 9: ".....Contained in the knowable, workable portions before your eyes there are methods of controlling human beings and thetans (spiritual beings) which have never before been dreamed of in this universe".
How in the world can Hubbard with any credibility make such sweeping statements as that? And how would he possibly know all that has been dreamed of since the beginning of time throughout the entirety of the universe?
Other quotes from Hubbard in the book would sound equally ridiculous to anyone who does not have a complete faith in Hubbard as a man of great, great and otherworldly wisdom. So if I were someone with no experience or knowledge about scientology I might give this book a "1 star" rating as clearly silly.
The heart of the book basically compares the horrid abuses and excesses found in organized scientology now with those the author says were found in the Catholic church at the time of Martin Luther.
a. The greed and sadistic perversions of scientology leader David Miscavige are compared with those of pope Leo X;
b. The alleged severe pressuring of Catholics to donate to the building of the St Peter's basilica in Rome is compared to the same sort of pressure applied to scientologists to donate to the building of scientology's "Super Power Building" in Clearwater, Florida;
c. It was alleged that Leo X built opulent cathedrals to deflect the attention away from his own material excesses in a similar way that Miscavige currently does this with his "Ideal Organization" buildings;
d. The author even names Leo X's main fundraiser who hard sold Catholics and seems to compare him with big fundraisers in scientology including the short selling Feshbach brothers, Ponzi scheme artist Reed Slatkin and Brian Zwan;
e. The selling of indulgences to which Martin Luther so objected is compared to the protection from ethics and justice actions given to scientologists who would donate huge sums to organized scientology fronts such as the International Association of Scientologists ("IAS");
f. Miscavige's alteration of Hubbard's policies and "technology" are compared to what the author feels were alterations of the teachings of Jesus Christ by a then corrupt Catholic church; and
g. The author's "Thirty one factors for scientologists to consider" and the author's attempts to stop the oppression by scientology's David Miscavige are compared to the 95 items of abuse listed by Martin Luther in the 1500s and Luther's own attempts to create a "reformation".
Things I liked the most about this book include:
a. The author tells scientologists that they should lose their fear of looking for themselves and their fear of standing up for what they feel is right. That message from the book is what I liked the most. There are many Ex scientologists and Anons who have been trying to help this happen for years;
b. I also really liked how much detail the author went into when telling of fraud and abuse and excesses at the top of organized scientology, cover ups done on major financial scams and even details of many such things that as far as I know have not before been revealed (like Miscavige's role in covering up fraud in Digital Lightwave, Tom Cruise beating and abusing his own staff like MIscavige did, etc., etc.). I think the public needs to know this. And I suspect what the author says is true. Clearly he is not worried about being sued for making false statements. If asked, I would ally with him in testifying on many of the abuses and fraud for which I have information;
c. I like how much the author advocates the free practice of scientology without the control of anyone. Let it go to the public scientologists to do with it as they like. (I have one key reservation about this though that I cover below); and
d. I especially like how the book and things that follow from it can help people lost in organized scientology to break free of it. Personally I think that independent scientology and its far fewer controls of the lives of scientologists is itself a stepping stone out of scientology itself for many.
Things I disliked the most about the book included:
a. Quotes from Hubbard that are supposed to show his genius that in reality show just how wacky he was (such as wild, unfounded conclusions about life, "the universe" and the like);
b. The frequent conclusions given by the author about different points of history as if they are true without anything to show what led to those conclusions;
c. While I like the idea of breaking away from the rigid and abusive controls within organized scientology, and while I agree that we all should be free to believe what we want as long as we do not hurt others I am very concerned about two aspects of this when it comes to scientology.
1) even in independent scientology there are those who are likely going to get involved in potentially very dangerous practices such as the "introspection rundown", the "purification rundown" with its dangerous levels of vitamins as well as other practices of medicine and/or psychology by unqualified people.
Even well intentioned people who believe in Hubbard's non scientific "tech" can still really hurt people by keeping them away from needed therapy because it conflicts with scientology beliefs. A horrid case in point is the tragic death of Kyle Brennan as he was taken off his medically prescribed medication because of their backward beliefs. Here even a non scientologist can be put at risk just by being in the presence of true believing scientologists that wish to enforce their beliefs on him. See the attached with some details about this: "Kyle Brennan - Anybody's Child":
2) even if the leaders of organized scientology are all sent to jail and people leave it in droves, what is to happen to the millions of dollars and other physical assets of organized scientology. Who will control it? And how can they ensure the same abuses do not happen all over again based on Hubbard policy? I wish the author addressed that as I would have been interested in his views on same.
d. There are a number of very beautiful quotes from Hubbard which sound wonderful. To scientologists who do not know the truth, those quotes will be considered what Hubbard was all about and what he truly believed.
But the problem with this is what Hubbard said and what he did were often very different. And this includes examples the author used of Hubbard saying he was not in it for the money while he took millions from organized scientology or an example the author gave of Hubbard saying he was not seeking a monopoly when Hubbard clearly demanded all come under his control with heads on pikes of dissenters, etc .
I can give many examples but this review is already too long. But I will give a link to a posting I once made about Hubbard that show some of my concerns. Much of this contradicts the wonderful things the author says about Hubbard and the beautiful quotes he gives from Hubbard (posting #9 on this thread):
Additionally, despite the author putting responsibility for most of this at the feet of Miscavige, Hubbard was the one to really put into place "hard selling" well before Miscavige took over.
Even benign sounding things like donating to "The Way to Happiness" booklets were hard sold so as to get royalties to Hubbard. I can remember when Hubbard was still running us in corporate via Miscavige that I was sent to Denmark to get scientology's major publications organization to sign their royalty contract with Hubbard. They were not even allowed to read the contract much less negotiate it. It was all about the money and it was controlled by Hubbard.
I also remember Hubbard getting over $40 million dollars of organized scientology money in 1982 alone, much through intimidation, fraud and deceit;
e. A smaller point really is that the author complained that resources for writing Hubbard's biography have been diverted to writing speeches for Miscavige thus ensuring Hubbard's biography was not written. On the contrary, an authorized biography (authorized by Hubbard himself) was written by Omar Garrison and finished in 1982/83. It was entitled "L Ron Hubbard - His Life, His Loves and His Letters". The rights to it were bought out by organized scientology and it was killed before it could be published as it contained too much truth about Hubbard which was embarrassing to Hubbard and organized scientology who were hoping to get a whitewashed version.
Here's some details:
In short, I like the role this book and independent scientologists can play to help so many others who for years have been trying to help scientologists see the fraud and get out of organized scientology.
And I like how the author once again gives details (including some new ones) of abuses for all to see.
My concerns though are the author is just as much rewriting scientology history as is Miscavige, as well as the other points covered above.
Because I see value in the book, and appreciate some of the details and because of the reservations covered above I give this a "3 star" rating which is nothing more than my own honest opinion.
Scientologists have as much right to believe in what Hubbard writes as do other people who have their own views. I just wish that when more scientologists want to know what is right that they not look into a red or green volume (Hubbard's policy and "technical" volumes) for answers. Instead I wish they would just look into their own hearts for the answers to what is right.
And with that in mind I feel that by making Hubbard seem like a better or smarter man than he was, the author is directing people to look for their answers in the wrong places.
And once again I wish all scientologists great healing and recovery.