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A Billion Years: My Escape from a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology

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You could never predict whether you would be in or out with Misavige. I think this was deliberate. It was a tactic famously used by Stalin - keep your subordinates divided, fearful, confused, and off-balance. No cabal to overthrow the king can form if no one at court is certain of their position. One minute I was digging ditches and the next I was heading up external affairs for all of scientology." (p. 147) PIs to infiltrate IRS meetings" (he cites not a single one because he cannot), use of "front groups" (names not a single one - there was no IRS-related groups that Scientology was not overtly associated with), and "smear campaigns against individual revenue agents" (citing no particulars because I suppose he is just too lazy to create them). Incredible. I listened to the audiobook and Mike did such a good job with the narration here. I've listened to quite a few books where the authors did their own narration, and it's not always great. It's really an ideal way to do an audiobook though if you've got the skill for it. Rhodesia may seem a strange choice, but Hubbard had his reasons. First and foremost, he believed he had been British imperialist Cecil Rhodes (after whom the country was named) in a previous life, and he was going to return to claim his rightful kingdom. (Hubbard did not announce this past life to those outside his inner circle, likely because Rhodes was a racist and often seen as the father of apartheid.) He also believed that the new government there, which had recently broken ties with Britain, would be sympathetic to his own problems with the establishment.

In the four years since most of that material has been publicly available, no one from ASC has attempted to refute a single word of it. Not Rinder, not Gibney, not Wright, not Ortega. None of them. Their response instead is clear in Rinder's book: if you cannot prove history, and you wish it were different, then just recreate it. Rinder, for the first time in 15 years since leaving Scientology, suddenly claims to have played an integral role in attaining Scientology's tax exemption. and 1992 - let alone involved in the IRS, Scientology struggle - it could not have escaped him that the IRS was having its head handed to it on a daily basis in that trial. As each day progressed it became more clear to even Scientology-suspicious observers (e.g., editors of Tax Notes) that a) Scientology parishioner donations would be recognized as exempt and b) the IRS would likely be nailed to the cross for discriminatory practices in a fashion no federal agency had been since theI didn't actually consider the dirty work itself to be degrading...It was the humiliation of being sent to do the lowest grunt duties in front of all the Freewinds crew." Our most basic instinct to belong and to be accepted is our biggest weakness in the end. Our desire to connect convinces us that we will improve or enlighten ourselves. Or at least receive support and acceptance. There's nostalgia and remorse in Mike Rinder's case. And heartbreak. In fairness to Scientology, there are a gazillion books written by deserters/runagates/apostates of many religions, political believes, or ideologies. Mike Rinder is just one of many. He is telling his story. It's sad, but positive. An encouraging, albeit in-depth experience for the reader.

Germany to this day have issues with Scientology, according to Mike. There are other countries as well, I just cannot remember right now. Still, Rinder bought into the doctrine that his personal comfort was secondary to the higher purpose of Hubbard’s world-saving mission, swiftly rising through the ranks. In the 1980s, Rinder became Scientology’s international spokesperson and the head of its powerful Office of Special Affairs. He helped negotiate Scientology’s pivotal tax exemption from the IRS and engaged with the organization’s prominent celebrity members, including Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley, and John Travolta. I listened to many testimonials and experiences of people on Youtube, who were mentioned in the book. Too many people 'escaped'. Too many folks lost their families and friends in 'disconnection'. As much as he attempts to paint himself the adorable victim, Rinder continually betrays his barn-sized ego throughout his book. Never, in my thirty plus years in and around Scientology have I encountered a person so admittedly in it to satisfy his own vanity. Fortunately, his editors have The author was inspired by books such as Educated by Tara Westover, and influenced by Russell Miller's unauthorized biography of Hubbard, Bare-faced Messiah(2012). Another book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright(2013), remained a thorn in Scientology's side for many years.

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There are even more religious mantras based on the writings of Madame Blavatsky, who was a Russian mystic and author, a co-founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875. She gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy. Her theories were plagiarized big time and even taken over and adjusted by Eugenics. At what point, if ever, did she influence Hubbard in establishing his non-Christian Church? There are rumors to the effect though. Next, fifteen years after leaving Scientology Rinder suddenly emerges now as the cause of Scientology's tax exemption. He was mum on the subject for fifteen years - rightly deferring to me on that subject - precisely because he had little to nothing to do with the dozens of court struggles I hate bullies. That's not alleged, that is fact. I'm giving this book five stars because, again, I hate bullies! Nevertheless, the read taught me a couple of things about Rinder which helps to put him into accurate perspective. That is useful in the process of letting go. And so I thank Mike for his effort. But is it all true? You wonder why people would want to remain in scientology with everything that's told. For some people it clearly worked. Kirstie Alley (RIP) did stay until she 'left her body to move on' and always said Scientology safed her life. But the price seems extremely high.

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