"Ruthless" by Ron Miscavige : Book Review

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
A book review of Ron Miscavige's memoir "Ruthless" about his time as a member of Scientology. His son, David, is the leader of the church.

Submitted: June 26, 2016

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Submitted: June 26, 2016



Ron Miscavige has written a thoughtful memoir about his relationship to the Church of Scientology and its impact on him and his family. The reputation of the church that L. Ron Hubbard founded casts a long shadow and Miscavige works hard to bring the organization into the light. The author has a unique perspective on which to comment about the church since his son David has been the leader of the church since the 1980’s.

The elder Miscavige attended his first Scientology meeting at a cafeteria in Woodbury, New Jersey. The session was led by the owner. Eventually, Ron Miscavige brought his nine-year-old son David to the man for help with his serious case of asthma. The author titles the chapter describing the visit, David’s Miracle, I needn’t say more.

If you’re looking for a gossipy anecdote-driven account of Scientology that drops the names of celebrities at every page turn, continue your search. I can only recall three celebrities mentioned, John Travolta, Lisa Marie Presley and of course Tom Cruise. Their presence in Miscavige’s story is not meant to titillate, but rather just helps get the tale told.

Miscavige, who is a musician worked with Travolta at times. Presley, whom Ron Miscavige describes as a personal friend, interceded with the church leader after the elder Miscavige left Scientology and allegedly the church encouraged other members of his family to completely disassociate themselves from him. Scientologists call this practice “Disconnecting”. Tom Cruise is portrayed as an influential church member who is catered to and has the ear of the leadership of the church. 

So what did Scientology mean for Ron Miscavige and his family? At first, it seemed like a great family adventure that included living at the church’s English headquarters at St. Hill in East Grinstead, south of London. The author initially made the trip alone in 1971 and spent two months being schooled in the tenets and practices of Scientology and reaching “Clear”. Miscavige defines Clear as using the religion to “rid oneself of hang-ups that had prohibited one from being truly oneself.”

In the summer of 1972, the Miscaviges sold their house, bundled up their savings and moved to St. Hill. The decision was based on the success that Ron had experienced since achieving Clear and the hope that it would improve the lives of the rest of the family. According to his father, no member of the family was as committed as his son David, who was then 12 years old. The future leader of the church insisted that everything he did be done according to the church’s “Standard Tech”, which in Scientology speak means “by the book”-no exceptions.

Sea Org is Scientology’s live-in community of its most committed members. In the summer of 1985, Ron Miscavige drove to Los Angeles and became part of Sea Org for “the purpose of making a better world.” He was assigned to Golden Era Productions the church’s creative arm and became one of the Golden Era Musicians. Although he felt a sense of payback for the help the church had given him in the past, he was, after all, working at his passion of being a musician.

But there was a dark side to Scientology and Miscavige describes it without reservation. For instance , in 2004 David Miscavige instituted what became known as “The Hole.” The leader used a Hubbard directive from the late 1970’s that decreed that if management ever dismantled the church’s marketing efforts the managerial division should be re-booted. Ron Miscavige says that his son used Hubbard’s writing to justify confining management personnel by posting a guard at the door, barring the windows and requiring them to write down or verbally confess their sins.

 According to the elder Miscavige, each day those being confined would be marched down to a maintenance building for a shower. For some of the executives this treatment went on for weeks and months and per published accounts some persons were treated this way for years. The church denies that under David Miscavige’s leadership this conduct was fostered and that he ended it and dealt with the abusers accordingly.

Even though they were never in the Hole, it is no surprise that Ron Miscavige and his wife decided to “Blow” which is the church’s word for escape. They established a Sunday morning ritual and religiously adhered to it. It involved driving across the highway to a store and returning soon after with a gift of food for the security guards. On March 25, 2012, they followed their regular routine but just kept driving, unfortunately, this decisive action was not enough to end their dealings with Scientology.  

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