Review: 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.