The Church of Scientology

  • by Hugh B. Urban
  • Narrated by Contessa Brewer
  • 9 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Scientology is one of the wealthiest and most powerful new religions to emerge in the past century. To its detractors, L. Ron Hubbard's space-age mysticism is a moneymaking scam and sinister brainwashing cult. But to its adherents, it is humanity's brightest hope. Few religious movements have been subject to public scrutiny like Scientology, yet much of what is written about the church is sensationalist and inaccurate.
Here for the first time is the story of Scientology's protracted and turbulent journey to recognition as a religion in the postwar American landscape. Hugh Urban tells the real story of Scientology from its cold-war-era beginnings in the 1950s to its prominence today as the religion of Hollywood's celebrity elite. Urban paints a vivid portrait of Hubbard, the enigmatic founder who once commanded his own private fleet and an intelligence apparatus rivaling that of the U.S. government. One FBI agent described him as "a mental case", but to his followers he is the man who "solved the riddle of the human mind". Urban details Scientology's decades-long war with the IRS, which ended with the church winning tax-exempt status as a religion; the rancorous cult wars of the 1970s and 1980s; as well as the latest challenges confronting Scientology, from attacks by the Internet group Anonymous to the church's efforts to suppress the online dissemination of its esoteric teachings.
This book demonstrates how Scientology has reflected the broader anxieties and obsessions of postwar America, and raises profound questions about how religion is defined and who gets to define it.

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What the Critics Say

"The most scholarly treatment of the organization to date." (Scientific American)
"A fascinating and oftentimes mind-bending account of how penny-a-word sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard doggedly pursued the 'religion angle' in his quest to create the worldwide Church of Scientology. Urban makes it clear from the outset that he could have written a lot more about Scientology than he has here--perhaps even a few volumes more. Settling on a narrower scope, however, hasn't precluded the author from presenting a thoroughly absorbing chronicle of Scientology's 60-year history in America.... An intriguing introduction into the labyrinthine world of Scientology and its meaning in American society." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Urban addresses his subject as a historian of religion and objectively traces the complex history of a movement that is now recognized as a religion in the U.S.... With his fair, scholarly approach, Urban has written what is probably the best history available of this terribly tangled story." (Choice)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

long and not very informative

I learnt very little listening to this book. It is unnecessarily long, self-consciously academic in style, very repetitive, and despite containing many promises of "astonishing" and "stunning" descriptions of scientology's activities in the hour-long introduction, it never actually delivers any stories about what it is that happens among scientologists which makes the cult so infamous.

The author clearly says that there are many things he cannot say because of a fear of legal action from scientology, and in the end the listener comes away none the wiser about what the problem really is with this group. For example, it is said that ex-scientologists have been bullied or harassed or threatened, but no concrete examples are given of such incidents.

As for the nature of the "religion" itself, it's such goobledygook that there is nothing to understand. One thing the author does not discuss at all is why anyone in their right mind would ever be attracted to it. It seems to me there is room for a discussion about why this kind of organisation appeals to people, but nothing is said about that.

Finally, the author's approach is politically correct in the extreme, maybe not for an American but certainly for a European. That is to say, he places scientogoly on the same plane as any other religion. He says all religions should be regarded in the same light, with both respect and suspicion, regardless of what they preach or of their methods. He even says government agencies should be treated in the same way. In other words, the IRS and the FBI should be regarded with the same amount of respect and suspicion as scientology!

Ultimatately, a two- or three-hour book, or even a Wikipedia page, would give you just as much information as this book does. Don't bother with it.
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- G

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-05-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios