Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lawrence Wright

Lawrence Wright's latest book is Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

From his Q & A with Andrew O'Hehir for Salon:

It occurs to me that one difference between Scientology and other religions is that they have zero tolerance for what you might call semi-apostasy. I spent much of my childhood in a largely Mormon town in rural California, and there were a lot of kids who drank and smoked and had sex but were nominally Mormons, the people sometimes called “Jack Mormons.” Of course that’s not approved of, but no Mormon would deny that such things happen, and it’s not like they were exiled from their families because they drank a beer. Every religion has those people, who identify but don’t really follow the creed. Scientology doesn’t have those people yet.

Another parallel that’s interesting: My first book was about the Amish. It was set in a little valley in the center of Pennsylvania that’s famous among anthropologists because of its schismatic face. There were three different buggy colors denominating different groups of Old Order Amish. There was the white, the black and the yellow. Then there were Mennonites who were affiliated but no longer a part of the Amish circle. But if your daughter was a yellow-buggy type and she married a white-buggy guy, you would never talk to her again even though you would live in the same valley. They would get along with each other as long as they’re not related. In Scientology that is termed “disconnection.” In Amish society it’s called “shunning.” Whether one or the other, it’s cruel and shattering. People love the Amish, they treat them like endangered penguins or something; they’re adorable. But they are a fanatical sect. It’s a beautiful culture and I loved our experience there but it’s hard to condone the practice of shunning. They see that as the only way of preserving their religion. So it’s not unique to Scientology, but...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue