As far as great and powerful wizards go, L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, and other high-level thetan-counters at the Church of Scientology have at last reached the pay no attention to the man behind the curtain phase. High-level defections, public embarrassments, and excellent journalism have exposed the church that the press once feared. It now seems less mighty, more controlling, and much weirder than had long been rumored. (This might be the first time that the New Yorker completed the knockout of a target that South Park softened up.) Janet Reitmans book Inside Scientology provides the fairest, most thorough account of the church yet. Reitman, who speaks tonight, traces Hubbards big idea from conception to self-help manual to money-suck religion to purported evil empire to motivator of Tom Cruises hyperactivity. Along the way, she digs deep into the alarming stories of ex-members who have escaped from the church, the maritime mysteries of Sea Org, the tragic death of Lisa McPherson, Miscaviges disastrous courting of celebrities such as Cruise, and the now-familiar accusations of abuse and chicanery that Scientologys army of lawyers have been unable to stanch.
Tue., Sept. 13, 7 p.m., 2011