Thursday, February 07, 2013
Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life inside Scientology and my Harrowing Escape, Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer. New York: Harper Collins Publishers/William Morrow, 2013. e-book, 356 pps.
When I spied Beyond Belief, I immediately got on the list to buy it the first day it was available to the general public. I've read a bunch of books on Scientology, Mormonism, gurus, and thought-blocking in connection with some extended research that I've been doing. I was curious about this latest entry in ex-Scientologist memoirs and waited rather impatiently for the thing to load on my e-reader.
[To those who are against e-readers: I don't like the idea of them either. The problem is that I cannot read regular printed books for any length of time due to the brain damage and resultant perception problems].
Beyond Belief started out with Jenna as an infant and toddler living an average life until her dad impulsively decided to join up with Sea Org and signed a billion year contract. Her mother then had to join also. Couples could not remain married if one was in and one was out. Thus started apartments and nannies and then living and working at The Ranch for Jenna and her older brother. Jenna included very specific information about her relationships with her family, including her uncle David Miscavige, which served to underscore the difficulties that she had in untangling herself from the Sea Org and from Scientology itself. Although Jenna was not aware of the human rights violations carried out under her uncle's predecessor, she gradually woke up to the things that were happening under her uncle's reign. It is to her credit that she was able to get out at all.
Jenna addressed the role of Anonymous in her awakening and specifically thanked Anonymous for picketing and getting the word out about Scientology and its' history of human rights violations. None of the other memoirs that I read did this. I was surprised and happy that Jenna had thought to include Anonymous in her memoir.
I came away from Beyond Belief with a visceral sense of who Jenna Miscavige Hill is as a human being. I was delighted to discover that she is one of the co-founders of the most excellent website http://www.exscientologykids.com/
sapphoq reviews says: Although Beyond Belief didn't detail the abusive nature of Scientology in the same manner that other memoirs did, this book is a valuable addition to the library of anyone seeking information on the subject matter. Jenna was in a unique position as the niece of the current head of Scientology, and this position would of course reflect the differences in her experiences from those of other ex-Scientologists who also authored books. There were some familiar names in Jenna's book. Beyond Belief is a story of the coming of age of a sheltered Scientology kid. Worth a read for anyone struggling with the hold of any abusive religion as well as for those who enjoy unusual memoirs about experiences that are beyond the realm of "average." Highly recommended.