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Scientology Hardcover – 1 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 462 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195331494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195331493
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 4.3 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,516,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Church of Scientology has often been viewed from the narrow perspective of legitimacy: Is it a true religion or merely a (destructive) cult? Here is a book, consisting of 22 articles by 27 authors, that views Scientology from the broader perspectives of culture, religion, and philosophy. The outcome is a sober and balanced presentation of this most controversial contemporary religion in the Western world that no doubt will be appreciated by fair-minded and inquisitive readers. A truly outstanding collection of essays for all students of religion, beginning or advanced. (James A. Santucci, Professor and Chair of Comparative Religion, California State University, Fullerton)

About the Author

James R. Lewis is an extensively-published scholar of new religious movements. He currently teaches in the University of Wisconsin system. His reference books have won New York Public Library, American Library Association, and Choice book awards. He has been interviewed by the LA Times, the NY Times, NPR, the BBC, and Meet the Press.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
its not the book i had a problem with it was the delivery. i ordered it as a xmas pressie and opted for express, then it was unavalible. very disappointed
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8d7e7c78) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
58 of 76 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x951936d8) out of 5 stars Caution!!! 24 April 2009
By cautious - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Oxford University Press has done a disservice to the academic community by publishing this work which claims to be an academic study of Scientology. It is virtually a promotion by Scientology which, no doubt, gave the various authors much of the material they used in their evaluation. In the introduction, written by the editor of the project, we see a list of a great number of high level Scientologists who are thanked for their help in the production of the work. A passing note states that some un-named critics did not wish to respond. There are scores of academically solid researchers who would have been able to give their criticial evaluation of organization.

The first article which was written by J.Gordon Melton, is the first chapter of his book called Scientology. Not only does his work contain factual errors but clearly is sympathetic to Scientology. For instance, Melton claims that L.Ron Hubbard never claimed to have an academic degree. I have a copy of a publication called "The Problem of Work" by L. Ron Hubbard, CE, PhD. It has been confirmed that the PhD was given by Sequoia College, a degree mill shut down by the State of California. Melton minimized the legal difficulties of Scientology by calling the arrest and conviction of ten Scientologists for breaking and entering government offices to steal information about the group a minor event. I hardly call sentencing ten members of the group to four years in jail a minor event.

Throughout the work he neglects to mention or minimizes many of the reports given by literally hundreds of former members who have recently had the courage to post reports of what has happened to them while in the organization. And nothing is said of over 23,000 persons who have been named Supressive Persons, persons who in the words of Hubbard can be "destroyed". And Scientology hails him as great humanitarian.

For a more complete list of works which give a different picture of Scientology, to, or google alt.religion.scientology. You will be amazed at what you find.
41 of 56 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9519372c) out of 5 stars A book all Scientologists will enjoy 24 April 2009
By Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I would welcome an unbiased survey of the Church of Scientology, and might expect one from such a venerable publisher , but alas this book is not it. The editor, James R. Lewis, is a long-time apologist for organisations others might describe as cults, including The Children of God - in his book of 1994, "Sex, Slander and Salvation" - and Japan's Aum Supreme Truth. Among the eyebrow-raising assertions in "Scientology" are that "the basic outline of L. Ron Hubbard's life is not contested" - certainly not the view of Hubbard's most reliable biographer, Russell Miller - and (in an essay written by a lecturer in tourism management at Griffith University, Queensland Australia, that firefighters at Ground Zero were spared injuries thanks to mental "assists" given by Scientology ministers volunteering at the site. Much else here - including the blind eye given to criticism leveled against the Church by courts around the world - give rise to worries about the scholarly disinterestedness of this volume.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89f13fc0) out of 5 stars Better than I expected! 1 Feb. 2014
By Josh James - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was not expecting this book to be as good as it actually was. I get sick of only finding books on Scientology by ex members. Mainly because I am already familiar with many of the horror stories. This was more of a scholarly approach which I found extremely informative.
20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8a03357c) out of 5 stars Disappointing 6 July 2009
By Bamber Gascoigne - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It is depressing how completely the NRM sociologists have been captured by the NRMs. This volume, especially the pieces by the most distinguished scholars, reads like a PR write-up. The most prominent scholar is J. Gordon Melton, who wrote a 2000 book about the church. His lengthy overview of the Church's history in this volume ("The Birth of a Religion"), exemplifies the book's failures, omitting or soft-pedaling aspects of the church's history which might cast it in a poor light: 1. the high payments the Church extracts from members; 2. its policy of harrassing critics by litigation; 3. the existence of dissident groups within the Dianetics / Scientology movement.

First, Melton's reference to the Church's payment policy for auditing are brief and offhand and don't contextualize it comparatively, i.e. they do not note that few if any other churches charge so much money for their essential religious rituals. The Church of Latter-Day Saints, for instance, expects a significant financial commitment from members, but they can still participate in all aspects of the Church (including, if I'm not mistaken, Temple rituals) while declining to contribute money.

Second, neither Melton's chapter nor those of others in the book refer to the Church of Scientology's aggressive and explicit policy of suing critics (stemming from L. Ron Hubbard's "Fair Game" policy). The book includes a well-researched article by James Richardson on "Scientology in Court," but it ignores this kind of litigation to concentrate exclusively on the Church's struggles for religion status in various countries. And Anson Shupe's chapter on "The Church of Scientology versus the Cult Awareness Network" seems to take clear sides in favor of the Church.

Third, Melton does not say anything about the "Free Zone" body of Scientology organizations outside the official Church; these would seem to be a legitimate part of the "Birth of a Religion." No overview of Mormonism, for instance, would ignore the existence of independent Mormon churches outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Finally, the biographical sketch of L. Ron Hubbard which makes up a large part of the chapter is unrelentingly eulogistic. It is full of charming anecdotes ("Befriended by the local Blackfoot Indians, he was made a blood brother at the age of six") and unconditional rebuttals of criticism. Melton ends the chapter with a moving description of the desk and writing materials kept in each Scientology center "as if one day [Hubbard] might walk into the building and need a place to continue his work." Honestly, the whole chapter would be an effective pamphlet for distribution at Scientology centers.

I do not for an instant question Dr. Melton's or other NRM scholars' good faith or scholarly expertise, but I suspect that the nature of the research, beginning from an explicit (and appropriate, for scholarly research) posture of non-judgment, can slide towards apologetics -- especially since the Church makes an effort to win scholars' good will, as it does with celebrities. I wish that Melton and other researchers would interrogate the Church's point of view as skeptically as those of the Church's critics. Also, while I know nothing about the financial support of Dr. Melton's research, I hope that all NRM researchers will be scrupulous about declaring any financial support for their research from the Church (including paying travel costs and subsidizing conferences). The situation, I suspect, is similar to that of medical researchers who overtime become more or more compromised by the support for their research provided by pharmaceutical companies.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95193bf4) out of 5 stars A terrible waste of time and money. 31 Dec. 2012
By Jeffrey Rudd - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I don't know if anyone from the Scientology cult had anything to do with influencing this book but its clear that it was written in favour of the money grabbing org.
Quite simply (and other independent people can and should check this) the facts that are within it are inaccurate to say the least and at times a complete joke.
Facts have been twisted, glossed over and at times being totally untrue.
The writers simply at times have NOT done their detailed research. In one case, the Ron Hubbard supposedly real qualifications they say in this book that he held - is a clear indicator of just how bad is their fact checking and how much what you read is actually the complete opposite in truth.
Other reviewers have gone into further detail just why this book is terrible - I suggest you read their reviews.
There is more truth in those reviews than their is from the start to finish of this cleverly, sly Scientology propaganda book!

If your looking for a good independent book on Scientology that is at LEAST accurate - this is not that book. Save your money and buy a different one. This one is a sick joke and like the cult, will grab your money and waste it.
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