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Magick & Liber AL

To: "Ooo Mau Mau" 
From: Tim Maroney 
Subject: Re: Magick & Liber AL
Date: Sat, 7 Sep 96 13:04:51 -0700

J. B. Bell wrote:
>And now a question:  can one be a Thelemite without accepting parts of the
>Book of the Law?  Not merely creatively interpreting parts of it so that
>they become effectively null, but simply saying "I think Crowley was
>suffering a major brain fart when he wrote AL:III:67-90."  (Note:  verse
>pulled out of hat; don't assume anything!) I must agree with Tim Maroney's
>implication that torturous "interpretation" is simply not that
>intellectually honest.  But then if we unhook the idea of Thelema from
>Liber AL, what is left?  This is a conundrum that has vexed liberal
>Christians for centuries now, and there's no clear resolution.

I'm not sure this is a conundrum. I was raised a Catholic during the 
liberal Vatican II period, and there was never any suggestion that the 
Bible needed to be taken as an absolutely accurate document for it to 
have great spiritual value. A liberal Christian's relation to scripture 
remains well-defined and respectful despite the possibility that 
scripture contains errors or mistakes: the process of inspiration is seen 
as an interaction of the human and the divine rather than as a simple 
manifestation of the divine, but scripture is a record of the interaction 
of humans with the divine and as such is very useful for those forging 
their own relationship.

In this liberal Christian viewpoint, the divine is still seen as 
inerrant, with which I could not agree without turning in my credentials 
as a card-carrying existentialist. The divine is only an aspect of the 
human and so even the original source of inspiration may be mistaken. 
Humans may have any number of different and contradictory inspirations; a 
poem may be transcendentally beautiful and yet be wrongheaded. I 
recognize the exhortations to trample down the weak in the Book of the 
Law as genuinely inspired -- that is, partaking of a communion with a 
deep source of unconscious motivation well beyond the everyday 
consciousness -- and yet I believe that these motivations would lead us 
astray if we were to follow them.

As for the question of whether one can be a Thelemite without respecting 
the necessary truth of every word of the Book of the Law, it is useful to 
note that the word "Thelemite" has been with us for centuries longer than 
Crowley or his Book. In one of the many ironic sections of his books, 
Francois Rabelais inverted monastic virtues to create a kind of 
anti-morality and postulated a group of people who lived in accord with 
it: drawn to virtue rather than in flight from sin; playful rather than 
somber; self-loving rather than self-loathing; free rather than laden 
down with oaths; mixed in gender rather than segregated; and honest 
rather than hypocritical. There have always been people like this and I 
hope there always will be. As for the more recent meaning of "Thelemite", 
meaning a follower of Crowley's system, I submit that this is an inferior 
definition and we might be better off without such people.

Tim Maroney

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