Religion has gotten a bad rap with the advancement of modernity. In earlier millennia, religion served as a sort of one-stop shop for community, tradition, law, spiritual insight, moral rectitude, knowledge about how the world works, what comes after death, the origin of the world, and so on. Civilization has whittled away at many of these areas of assumed expertise by developing better methods of gaining insight into these questions. One no longer asks a priest why the stars look the way they do. We ask an astrophysicist. Or we get our own telescope and start exploring with our own eyes and ingenuity. In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence available at our fingertips, one has to do outrageous intellectual backflips to be able to assert that, for example, our Earth is a mere 6,000 years old or that humans do not share common ancestry with other animal life forms.
Yet the fundamentalist orientation has persevered behind its entrenchments, along with positing superstitious moral norms, rejecting the obvious joys of life, and placing the fate of humanity in the hands of some idiosyncratic deity, billions other people’s ideas be damned! The fundamentalist in their panic against Knowledge—whose “faith” is so fragile that they fear it will crumble unless all of society is forced to follow their ways—has dragged all of religion down with it. This has understandably soured the thinking person’s view of what purpose and value religiosity serves at all.
But where does that leave us?
Thelema is here to redeem religion. Every facet of Thelema is a lens into, a fractal branch of the most atheistic maxim any religion has dared put forward: “There is no god but man.” This assertion is akin to the Declaration of Independence, casting off thousands of years of enslavement to the idea that we are beholden to anyone other than ourselves.
Yet with all advances in freedom there is the tacit implication of a consequential responsibility. In the case of Thelema it is “thou hast no right but to do thy will.” We are to do our will, and nothing but. We are to be emphatically ourselves, and only that. “Do what thou wilt” sounds at first blush like the perfect “get out of jail free” card. It is not so simple. Being oneself requires discipline, perseverance, fervency, devotion, generosity, and ferocity. These are not so easy to come by.
This is where Thelema and the Gnostic Catholic Church bring to bear their fruits. Thelema is a tradition predicated on supporting individuals walking the path to self-knowledge and the accomplishment of their will in the world. The Gnostic Catholic Church and its governing organization Ordo Templi Orientis are the foremost proponents of Thelema in the world. Our purpose and service is to aid mankind by establishing traditions, promulgating practices, and inculcating an ethics appropriate to our new age.
Against the cataclysmic backdrop of having shrugged off the yoke of the slave gods of the past, our newly understood sense of absolute liberty has a fragility. With so much of the structures that held our personal, psychic, and social welfare being tossed in the air, the natural trend for a person is to descend into idleness, debauchery, materialistic greed, or nihilism. It takes strength and fortitude to refine this freedom into joy, meaning, and charity. And it takes teamwork and community.