There has been a great deal of discussion lately about the Order and what some of us think is wrong with it. Some think that it is crippled by a secular humanism that conflicts with the teachings of Thelema. Some think that the problem is operational transparency. Others (*ahem*) think that we are held back by a romantic notion of poverty and a misguided sense of membership elitism. I believe all these hypotheses are worth consideration and attention because they derived from a great deal of thought by dedicated initiates who, I believe, sincerely want the Order to thrive and succeed (however those two things are defined).
Just for a moment, however, I would like to acknowledge my own love of the Order. I now stand at the center of our initiatory system after 11 years of membership. In all that time, I have gone through amazing changes and have accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I am far from enlightened, and probably won’t get there in this lifetime, but I have a deeper insight into myself and the world around me which has been very largely driven by my participation in OTO. Despite some recent bickering, I love my brothers and sisters, and have a deep gratitude for being counted among them. Our rites and celebrations are sublime and life-transformative, and I am privileged to be able to administer several of them (which has, in no small part, lead to my decision to become a clinical psychologist). In short, being an initiate of OTO has made my life richer, deeper, and more fulfilling, and I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences the Order has provided for me.
I see the Order as having several core components.
- Rites and celebrations (MMM, EGC)
- A bureaucratic structure designed to administer those rites and celebrations, as well as create and enforce general Order policy
- A social organization designed to experiment with a cultural manifestation of Thelema within the context of our mutual oaths and initiatory lessons
The first is what it is. Our Rites and Celebrations, while they might change somewhat over time, are pretty well established and largely define who we are as an Order. They are at the core of our identity. They are the source of our mutual oaths and general social context. This component is clearly defined and highly regimented.
Number 2 is a necessary evil. While elegant in theory, it is often clunky and inefficient in practice. However, it is also under constant modification, and should continue to improve over time.
The third is where things get sticky. The jumble of strong personalities, personal goals, and individual levels of understanding regarding OTO teachings create near constant conflict. Also, the lack of clear Order-level goals regarding this component lead to ineffective efforts, either because of conflicting member goals, confusion about desired results, or lack of member support. Should we be big or small? Should we be rich or poor? Should we be political or uninvolved? Should we promulgate Thelema actively or passively? Are we more religious or more philosophical? The list of issues goes on and on, and none of them have an easy answer.
I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that I have a strong commitment to our Rites and Celebrations, admire the efforts going into improving our bureaucratic structures, and realize that I tackle social issues because I love my brothers and sisters and want to see an Order that is healthy, thriving, and enriching for others as it has been for myself.