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Review: Beyond Belief

May 5, 2016

Beyond Belief

In Scientology, there was no god, no praying, no heaven, no hell — none of the things that people generally associate with religion.  It was a philosophy and a self-help program that promised greater self-awareness and the possibility of achieving one’s full potential.

Jenna Miscavige Hill grew up in the Church of Scientology.  At first, her family led a fairly normal life but, when Jenna was two years old, they left that all behind to devote their lives to the church in its highest order, the Sea Org.

As members of the Sea Org, their lives were full of work so Jenna and her brother were sent to live in dorms run by other members and were allowed to visit their parents once a week.  Their schooling was limited and the children were put to work at a young age.  Sacrifices were expected for the “greater good,” and Jenna had a lonely, serious childhood.

Jenna  dedicated her life to Scientology and the Sea Org when she was seven years old and, as she grew up, her life became more and more restricted despite the fact her father’s brother, David, is the leader of the church.  Jenna began to question the church’s beliefs and practices and eventually decided to leave but it was harder to do than she could imagine.

I’ve long been fascinated by religious cults and enjoyed the peek into Scientology I got when I read Troublemaker by Leah Remini earlier this year so I picked up Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer.

I’m not sure if it’s because most of the details of the church weren’t new to me or if it was the fact that Hill went into great detail, but this book didn’t grab me the way I expected it to.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, but just didn’t love it.  I was appalled and angered by the abuse and neglect Scientology is allowed to get away with in the name of religion and was impressed with Hill’s spunk and courage.  You might want to check out Beyond Belief if you enjoy memoirs or are interested in learning more about Scientology.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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15 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2016 8:11 am

    I find them fascinating too! I want to read both of these books. I just started watching “The Path” on Hulu (Hulu original, so if you don’t have it you are out of luck—sorry). It’s about a mainstream cult—they call themselves a ‘movement’. It’s fiction, but so good!

  2. May 5, 2016 8:12 am

    I know hardly anything on the subject. It sounds more like a cult than a religion. The book sounds informative.

  3. May 5, 2016 8:50 am

    I find scientology so hard to understand. So much control. I’d love to read a book on it some day. I’d probably pick up Troublemaker though.

  4. May 5, 2016 9:34 am

    I could see where this one might have a little less impact because you’ve already read Remini’s book. Or it could be that this one just flat-out isn’t as good! Either way, it does sound interesting. We’ve got a local author, Shelley Adina (aka Adina Sent), who grew up back in Pennsylvania in a cult similar to the Amish and the Mennonites. It’s fascinating to hear about her experiences and the reaction of her parents.

  5. Patty permalink
    May 5, 2016 9:56 am

    That is such a difficult religion to understand. I thought my life was restricted by going to parochial schools!

  6. May 5, 2016 11:23 am

    It doesn’t surprise me how a religion or cult can grab a person and hold on tightly, especially when the immersion into the belief system starts so young. I am always amazed when someone can break away. Thanks for sharing.

  7. May 5, 2016 1:29 pm

    I might find a copy of this. I read Remini’s book and enjoyed learning about this “religion”.

  8. Jackie permalink
    May 5, 2016 1:44 pm

    Have you seen Going Clear?

  9. May 5, 2016 7:38 pm

    I get the fascination with the “religion” but I think I’d find this one tough to read given the treatment of kids. Remini’s book is still on my TBR list though.

  10. May 7, 2016 10:54 am

    It bothers me so much to see cults like these. Some of them are born of good ideas and go about implementing in all the wrong ways possible.

  11. May 7, 2016 4:53 pm

    I thought this book was really fascinating, but I agree that it didn’t have quite the punch that Remini’s memoir did. But still – I’ll read ANYTHING about Scientology. I can’t get enough!

  12. May 8, 2016 1:37 am

    I love books about cults too. Have you read Going Clear? It goes into detail about Scientology, starting with L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics. It has a lot of interviews with former members. There is also a documentary film called Going Clear based on the book which is really good b/c you can see Tom Cruise’s insanity in an interview about the “church.”

  13. The Cue Card permalink
    May 9, 2016 2:57 pm

    Ugh, this book sounds sad & scary. I can’t imagine being a kid born into a Life like that. How horrendous. thx for the review

  14. May 10, 2016 10:11 am

    I don’t really understand how they get away with calling themselves a religion.

  15. bookingmama permalink
    May 10, 2016 4:51 pm

    I haven’t read anything about scientology so I’m wondering if I’d enjoy this one more than you.

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