Wednesday, 25 May 2016
I was wrong, but...
The elder Miscavige is a longtime Scientologist who introduced the religion to his kids. Now in his late seventies, he and his current wife have left his son's toxic dominion behind them and moved back into the real world. Sort of.
It's quite a story involving private investigators, manipulation, abuse and "disconnection" - the Scientology term for being marked and disfellowshipped. What struck me most in his account, however, is how he still clings, to some degree, to the image he bought into all those years ago. He's willing to see the negative side of Hubbard as a person, and he's brutally honest about how he sees David's leadership as an entirely negative, oppressive force. And yet he sincerely believes that Scientology - at least in the early days - had a lot to offer. With apologies to Ian Boyne, he seems to advocate a "Reformed Hubbardism".
If you're going to make a huge change in your world view, best to do it when you're young. The older we get, the more likely we are to throw in a truckload of "yes, but" statements. It's painful to cut our moorings completely. Cognitive dissonance is not kind to us in the later decades of our lives.
Miscavige tells an important story bravely. He's a regular kind of guy, not overloaded with subtlety in his views or his approach to life. There's no doubt he's recounting things as he sees them and with honesty and integrity. If you get the chance, Ruthless is well worth investing some time to read.
The parallels with many who have left various branches of COGdom behind them is hard to miss. They want to pick and choose from the flotsam and jetsam of their former affiliation. Herbert Armstrong may have been a deeply flawed man, but... Some parts of British Israelism may have been a bit off, but... The church went too far in some areas, but...
I'm glad Ron and his wife have escaped from the Scientologist gulag, but it's not always true - as Rodney Lain maintained back in the early days of WCG Internet resistance - that if you "free your mind, your behind will follow." Some of us want to find a comfortable compromise that allows us to save face, admitting that we were wrong, but not entirely wrong. Miscavige's book illustrates just that point.