It’s difficult for us to imagine being completely controlled. It’s not a situation we would want to find ourselves in. We wouldn’t want our agency to be taken away. We would want to be able to sleep when we wanted. We would want to be able to work where we wanted. We would want to be near our families. It would be very difficult to live in a world where we couldn’t do those things, but Jenna did live in a world like that and this book is her story.
Jenna is the niece of Scientology leader Dave Miscavige. She grew up in Scientology. Her youngest memories are of being in a Scientology nursery and going to a Scientology preschool with her brother. Her parents were rarely around. Later on the children were moved to a ranch, where they were made to do strenuous manual labor. Children were crammed into rooms. There were strict rules about everything.
In addition to all of that, there are strict rules and practices in Scientology. Jenna is well-versed in the Scientology talk of L. Ron Hubbard, or LRH, as everyone calls him. The church lives and breathes by acronyms, and, yes, it is home to the worship of people like Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Jenna didn’t get to see the celebrity Scientology experience, which is much different than what Jenna experienced.
Scientology is psychological and not psychological at the same time. People are “encouraged” to explore their daily actions, their thoughts, and how they behave around others. They’re encouraged to understand all the words they come across. These things would seem like good things if they were not lumped in with all the other detriments that Jenna faced.
Jenna grew up without a formal education. Jenna grew up without her parents. Jenna grew up without knowing what an average childhood was. Jenna grew up without typical teenage experiences; she was working the entire time. Jenna’s entire life was scrutinized.
Things got worse and worse. At one point, Jenna decided to leave, but it was not easy. Jenna got out to tell her story.
What I liked
I honestly hadn’t known a lot about Scientology before reading this book. I knew that L. Ron Hubbard was the Scientology guy and that Tom Cruise was a Scientologist. That was what I knew. Jenna introduced me to the world of Scientology and, crazily, it’s taken the place of the FLDS church in my brain for the most screwed-up church. It’s so odd to learn that there is this entire world that I didn’t really know anything about and I’m a person who knows quite a bit about the world, at least, compared to your Average Joe.
I am so glad that Jenna is out.
What I didn’t like
Why do people think it’s ok to treat other people like this? How does one small group of people get away with thinking that’s it’s ok to micro-manage people’s lives like this? Really, who thinks it’s ok to take a person away from their family and take away their individuality and then tell them some bullcrap about the planet Xenu?
This all sounds like the biggest load of crap to me. Let’s not say kind words about this. It’s crap. It’s crappy how these people were living. It’s crappy how these people were treated. It’s crappy how they end up treating each other. It’s all crappy.
I used to think that the FLDS was pretty much the worst church group I had come across in my research because they brainwashed people, and split children from their parents, practiced polygamy and believed in some stupid things like black people being evil. Scientology has now taken the place of the FLDS church in my head. Good Lord, they make the FLDS church look like heaven. If, for some odd reason, I had to choose between one of these two religions I would put on a prairie dress and marry a man with five wives rather than go into Scientology. At least the FLDS are Christian and do actually value family.
I feel so sorry for all the people stuck in this life. To be clear, public Scientologists aren’t going to be oppressed like Jenna was. Being a public Scientologist may be an ok deal, besides the money you have to spend for all those weird courses, but being in the upper Scientology group, like Jenna was, would be a nightmare.
This is another example of how someone perverted something that was once valued and respected by people. L. Ron Hubbard was a weirdo. He believed in weird things. He defrauded people, but there were a lot of things he did that really resonated with people. There are good aspects of Scientology, but there are also good aspects of what the Nazi party did in Germany such as building up infrastructure and education. I get some of the reason why people like Scientology. You’re this eternal thing. You have the power within yourself to do many things. Scientology teaches people to be direct. It teaches people to be confident in many situations. It teaches people not be so sensitive to others’ negativity. Those are all good things.
When there are more bad things than good things about a given situation or group, it means that situation or group is toxic. This applies to anything in life, a job, a marriage, a friend, a church, a store, a video game, just whatever. When a situation has more bad things for you than good things, it begins to damage you. Jenna was damaged. Scientology was toxic to her, just as it is toxic to many people she knew.
It’s just so hard for me to believe people actually live like this.
Don’t take the pamphlets.
After knowing even part of Jenna’s struggle, would you consider Scientology?
How hard do you think it was for Jenna to undo some of the brainwashing she endured?