I’m going to look at a number of books related to Scientology. I’ve already looked at Blown For Good by Marc Headley and I have a couple of science fiction books of L. Ron Hubbard’s in my queue which I will get to looking at eventually.
You can divide the history of the Church of Scientology into two sections. During the life of it’s founder and after it which is still on going (Marc Headley writes about the latter in his book) I thought I would do a post on the founder himself by looking at a biography of his life.
Bared-faced Messiah is an overly detailed and very honest look at L. Ron Hubbard’s life (The Church of Scientology itself thought it was too honest and hated the book).
Miller goes into detail about Hubbard’s early life when he was travelling because his father was in the navy, his work as a science fiction author, his time in the Navy during the Second World War, his early interest in the occult, how he created his own religion with the process of doing that along with details of his private life. We also see how far Hubbard would go to get what he wants.
If Miller had not written it backed up with his sources, you would find some of it hard to believe, Hubbard does come across a remarkable individual but also someone with a lot of flaws and alarmingly ruthless. Russell writes how Hubbard was not the most caring man to his wives (his second one in particular) to how he created a book based on a way of thinking and self improvement and finding his own religion. Hubbard comes across as a man who could lie to justify his points and to get ahead. We read about how people were captivated by him, his charisma and we also read about how many saw him as mentally unhinged, towards the end of his life it looked like everything he created to make people ‘clear’ and better, never worked on himself.
L. Ron Hubbard created something that did not just have an affect on his own life but on his family’s lives and that of his follower’s even after his death. Some would say it had a positive affect, others of course would say otherwise.
There is the suggestion and theory (not just by Miller) that Hubbard must have had some mental health problems. These however, were never diagnosed but can definitely be inferred from distant observation (you can say this about a lot people to be fair). Towards the end of his life, he was getting paranoid that his supporters were trying to go against him and everything he created.
As stated above I do think Bare Faced Messiah is an overly detailed in some chapters on Hubbard’s life (which though may leave you thinking is a bit ponderous) it shows how Hubbard shaped himself into the man he became. L. Ron Hubbard clearly had some talent and I think if he had someone who could have pushed him in the right direction he could have been someone completely different. Although unflattering Bare-faced Messiah is a fascinating insight of a twentieth century man who managed create a significant impact on people’s lives and his legacy is still preserved within the Church of Scientology today.