May 25, 2021

Book Review: Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed

Book Review: Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed
Miles Ferguson
Cult Observer
Cultic Studies Journal, 1994, Volume 11, Number 1, pages 123-125.

“Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed"

A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed. A Lyle Stuart Book from Carroll Publishing Group. 1990. 428 pp. $21.95. 

The true history of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology, its deceitful origins, underhanded dealings and harassment of critics, is thoroughly documented in this new book by Jon Atack, an Englishman and former Scientologist.

A Piece of Blue Sky was delayed several years by infamous Scientology legal tactics aimed at gutting the original manuscript. But Atack finally prevailed in New York federal court and the volume is now headed for bookstores.

It was worth the wait. While Atack's concise writing style and dry sense of humor make for enjoyable reading, his tale ultimately is a horrifying account of a destructive cult that escaped collapse on several occasions, only to grow and prosper as we enter the 1990s.

"The Church is a very rich and very dangerous organization," he writes. "There is no indication that it will change its ways. Hubbard's policy is now considered ,scripture,'. . .[and] there is no possibility of change. While promising freedom and claiming honesty, Scientology will continue to practice deception and generate tragedy."

In a sense, A Piece of Blue Sky completes a trilogy. First there was Bent Corydon's L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?, a hard-hitting account of abuses by Hubbard and his messengers. Released in 1987, Corydon's book broke important new ground. But its format- a string of anecdotes and testimonials-proved hard to follow and left some readers confused about the overall picture.

Also in 1987, Russell Miller's Bare-Faced Messiah was released. An accomplished English journalist, Miller was able to track down and interview dozens of people who had spent time with Hubbard. The result was a revealing, critical

biography that was so well-written readers could breeze through its 500 pages in a short time. The problem was that the Scientologists were able to use a loophole in U.S. copyright laws to successfully prevent the book, which quoted from Hubbard's unpublished materials, from being distributed in the United States. Moreover, Miller's book focused entirely on Hubbard and paid little attention to the Church of Scientology.

Atack makes it very clear that the Church is Hubbard's "alter ego." He quoted a California judge who said of the Church, "The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and the bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder [L. Ron Hubbard]."

Atack observes: "Scientology makes more sense when seen in the light of Hubbard's psychopathic tendencies, and his paranoia. His bouts of exhilaration in the belief that he had conquered some deficiency, and his bouts of intense and usually private depression when his deficiencies once more took hold, created a pattern which runs throughout Scientology."

Like Miller's book, A Piece of Blue Sky traces Hubbard's life from boyhood to struggling science fiction writer to cult leader. It offers strong evidence that Hubbard falsified much of his past, including his claim to have been a war hero wounded in action, a member of Naval Intelligence and a nuclear engineer. Especially chilling are the accounts of Hubbard's relationships with Aleister Crowley's black magic cult.

In 1961, Hubbard in a letter to President Kennedy, compared himself to Albert Einstein and offered his "mental technology" to assist the President put a man on the moon. The book quotes Hubbard's letter to the President: "Such an office as yours receives a flood of letters from fakes, crackpots and would-be wonder-workers. This is not such a letter......

Atack writes "Hubbard did not receive a reply from the President. On January 4, 1963, however, the Food and Drug Administration raided the Washington Church, and... seized a huge quantity of E-meters and books."

A Piece of Blue Sky offers the first comprehensive account of Scientology's dreaded "Guardian's Office," responsible for dirty tricks, legal harassment, and intelligence gathering. One chapter details the GO's illegal infiltration of various federal offices, including the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department. It was these escapades that eventually led to the arrest and conviction of 11 GO operatives including GO boss, Mary Sue Hubbard, Ron's wife.

Atack shows how the Church went to great lengths to distance Ron Hubbard's connections with the Church's illegal activities so he could plausibly deny that he was involved.

The book details the rise of "The Messengers," in Hubbard's waning years, and their victory in the internal power struggle to gain control of the organization in the wake of Hubbard's death. The Messengers consisted mainly of individuals who spent their adolescence and teen-age years growing up under the influence of Scientology. They were typified by David Miscavige, now the boss of several Scientology organizations.

Atack writes the "Miscavige was a cameraman with the CMO Film Unit in 1977, at the age of 17, and had gained a reputation for bulldozing through any resistance. Miscavige could get things done, and had even been known to stand his ground before Hubbard. His parents were Scientologists, and his older brother, Ronnie, was also in the CMO. David Miscavige had trained as an Auditor at Saint Hill [England] at the age of fourteen. He was not a long-term messenger, but his dogged determination led to a rapid promotion."

In 1982, Miscavige led the power struggle that put his clique on top, and squeezed out the more independent "Mission Holders." An intense campaign of harassment against the so called independence movement followed. It was during this period that Atack woke up and decided to leave Scientology. Many people who have never been in cults find it difficult to understand how intelligent people can fall for the con games that cults play. Atack's personal account of how he was drawn into Scientology is both powerful and frightening as it shows how others, given similar circumstances, could be drawn in as well.

Atack believes that government can play an important role in stopping cult abuse, but he criticized such efforts as President Nixon putting Scientology on the "enemies list" and the CIA passing inaccurate information on to foreign governments. "These underhanded tactics all eventually backfired, making sensible measure curbing the Church of Scientology's abuses more difficult," he wrote.

His chapter on "Scientology and the Law" confirms that filing lawsuits against the Church has been one of the most effective forms of fighting its abusive practices. Such lawsuits have also prompted some of the most poignant criticisms of Scientology by judges in the United States and England. Atack keeps in his attic one of the world's best collections of materials on Scientology, which Russell Miller said made possible his writing of Bare-Faced Messiah.

In the preface, Miller writes, "It is my firm conviction that Jon began to assemble his archive because he had become aware that he had been fed untruths for years and he simply wanted the truth to be known about the antecedents and antics of his former church and its founder.... Jon Atack believes that people have the right to know the truth about Scientology. That belief is the laudable genesis of this book."

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