Beyond Belief is the autobiography of Jenna Miscavige Hill who grew up in the Church of Scientology. As the niece of Church leader David Miscavige she had a unique view of the organisation, from the idealism to the abuse of power. I didn’t really have any sort of opinion of Scientology before starting the book – I mean, apart from the ‘Tom Cruise is a nut job’ opinion that everyone has, I just enjoy reading about different walks of life so I thought I would give it a go.
I’m glad my idle curiosity lead me in Beyond Belief’s direction. More than just a insiders view of a modern cult, I found it to be a really interesting view of human psychology. If you give people purpose and structure they will actually keep ticking along, day after day, like bees in a hive. But if you also give them a ‘solution’ to believe in (be it an afterlife, OT Level or promise of a mystic cupcake) they will commit without question.
It was also quite fascinating to see how a controlling organisation like the Church of Scientology copes in a world of TV, internet and Twitter i.e. badly. It must have been a lot easier to run a cult back in the days before everyone could own 140 characters.
Aside from that, the book is a really good read – both interesting and slightly disturbing, what more can you ask?