Among the Scientologists: History, Theology, and Praxis

Oxford University Press
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The Church of Scientology is one of the most recognizable American-born new religions, but perhaps the least understood. With academic and popular interest on the rise, many books have been written about Scientology and surely more will follow. Although academics have begun to pay more attention to Scientology, the subject has received remarkably little qualitative attention. Indeed, no work has systematically addressed such questions as: what do Scientologists themselves have to say about their religion's history, theology, and practices? How does Scientology act as a religion for them? What does "lived religion" look like for a Scientologist? This is not so much a book about the Church of Scientology, its leaders, or its controversies, as it is a compilation of narratives and histories based on the largely unheard or ignored perspectives of Scientologists themselves. Drawing on six years of interviews, fieldwork, and research conducted among members of the Church of Scientology, this groundbreaking work examines features of the new religion's history, theology, and praxis in ways that move discussion beyond apostate-driven and exposé accounts.
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About the author

Donald A. Westbrook (Ph.D. Claremont Graduate University) has taught at UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, Fuller Seminary, and is affiliated with the Faculty for the Comparative Study of Religion and Humanism (FVG) in Antwerp, Belgium.
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Additional Information

Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 1, 2018
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Best For
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Religion / Scientology
Social Science / Popular Culture
Social Science / Sociology of Religion
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The book begins with the timeless reverie of A Season For Hymning And Hawing.

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The Scient

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An eye-opening, no-holds-barred memoir about life in the Church of Scientology, now with a new afterword by the author—the outspoken actress and star of the A&E docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.

That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.

Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.

But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.

Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

Praise for Troublemaker

“An aggressively honest memoir . . . Troublemaker is the most raw and revealing Scientology memoir to date.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Leah’s story is a juicy, inside-Hollywood read, but it’s more than that. It’s a moving story about the value of questioning authority and how one woman survived a profound crisis of faith.”—People
National Book Award Finalist

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.
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