Monday, February 7, 2011

The Apostate

In this week's New Yorker magazine, Lawrence Wright tells the story of writer/director Paul Haggis leaving Scientology in an essay entitled The Apostate. There are links all over the Internet to the story, including on the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo, but putting it here on my humble little blog means it's gone viral, which I guess is supposed to be a good thing.

If you've read The New Yorker, you know what to expect in an essay. It's long and meticulously researched. If someone tells an anecdote, everyone involved in the story is given a chance to state their recollection. Wright has a fondness for simple declarative sentences. Though emotions run high both in church members and in those who left the church, the tone of Wright's writing is so calm, it almost feels like a dissection.

Nearly everyone living mentioned in the article is given a chance to respond. The notable exception is David Miscavige, the man who at the age of 25 took the helm of Scientology after the death of founder L. Ron Hubbard and has helped it grow remarkably in the past 25 years. If we accept the official version from Scientology, Miscavige is a wonderful human being. If we listen instead to the formerly high placed defectors, he is a violent bully with terrifyingly quick mood swings.

Miscavige declined to be interviewed. While other Scientologists who knew Haggis are quoted by Wright, the only official who goes on record is Tommy Davis, son of the actress Anne Archer, who has been practicing Scientology since Davis was a young boy.

It will be interesting to see how the church responds to this story. According to Haggis, a tenet of Scientology is to listen to all sides before making up one's mind, but not surprisingly, every Scientologist will find a dozen good reasons not to believe anyone who leaves the church.

I've never been in the church. I think most of you can figure out whom I believe.

It's a very good read. Matty Boy says check it out.

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