Jenna was raised to obey.
She is the niece of the leader (David Miscavige) of The Church of Scientology. While still a toddler, Jenna’s parents became members of The Sea Organization, the church’s, elite, inner clergy. Such membership demanded all of their time and attention, leaving Jenna and her brother to be raised by other caretaker members of the Church, until their formal education at “the Ranch” began at the age of seven.
The clocks do not strike thirteen in Jenna’s world and this is not some imaginary place, but people still call her mother Sir. I had to remind myself of these things as I read her indoctrination to a life that served the greater good of The Church.
A life of work, study, measure; audit, correct and control. Lather, rinse, repeat; Jenna’s was a life of strictly imposed conformity, strange rituals, back breaking work, mind- numbing, repetitious training routines; with endless audits, peer evaluation, hunger, sleep deprivation and an active, obsessively enforced devotion to L. Ron Hubbard and his teachings. During our course period, we were now required to get a daily meter check, to be administered by a supervisor. The supervisor would use an LRH invention called an electro-psychometer, but everybody called it the E-Meter. The person being assessed held two soup cans. Then, a tiny electrical current was passed through the cans into his body as he was asked questions. The E-Meter had a needle, and after each question, the needle would fluctuate; those movements were then interpreted by the person operating the machine. By carefully watching the motions of the needle, the operator supposedly could figure out whether someone was telling the truth. The E-Meter was viewed as a tool that helped the auditing process.
Jenna tells her story in a very down to earth, matter of fact, child like voice, that drew me in right away and was easy to understand despite all the Scientology speak that litters the narrative.
I read this three weeks and three books ago and I have still not succeeded in evicting Jenna’s world from my mind. It is like an inner rage that cannot be quieted. I have sat down several times now in an attempt to purge this rage by writing this review, still it remains unquiet. Maybe that’s because despite all the controversy over the real number, Scientology still has thousands of followers or perhaps because children are still being raised on one version or another of The Church’s “ranches” or could it be that this oppression that starts with a c and shares a u, but should never be considered a church; also enjoys public endorsement from some rather well known celebrities.
It is alive and well and thrives among us, in a free and democratic country. The quiet my mind seeks eludes me.
A final thought from the founder himself, L. Ron Hubbard, whose own death is shrouded in mystery and controversy.If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion.