Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Thoughts on Thelema and Abortion

In the last few months the discussion of Thelema and abortion has apparently been all over LiveJournal. I deliberately do not have a LiveJournal account and avoid participating in LiveJournal discussions (which is another story unto itself) so I'm a little late to the party, as it were, but seeing as the issue is so contentious and, after all, my blog could use more traffic, here I am.

The basic question is this: Seeing as Aleister Crowley was strongly opposed to abortion, which he clearly was, should Thelemites be opposed to it as well?

First off, here are my own biases on the issue. Politically, I'm strongly pro-choice. This is a largely utilitarian stance on my part because based on my study of the legal systems of various societies I have concluded that a society with options for legal abortion works better than one in which a legal prohibition scheme is in place. At the same time, I support comprehensive sex education and expanded access to contraception, both of which have been shown to bring down the abortion rate. I pretty much agree with the position advanced by the Clinton administration in the 1990's, that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

From the standpoint of personal ethics and values, the question of whether or not to have an abortion will always be moot for me - I'm male so I can't get pregnant. I'm not a big proponent of making judgments about other people's choices because I do tend to think that the practice of "Do what thou wilt" has a lot to do with minding my own business. I also think that using the legal system to advance my own beliefs regardless of the utilitarian consequences of the resulting laws is silly. Laws should make a society work better, and any law that doesn't should be done away with regardless of its moral foundations. So, in fact, even if I did believe abortion to be "the most shameful form of murder" (quoting Crowley) my political position would remain the same.

Nonetheless, there are serious ethical issues addressed by the abortion debate above and beyond the legal sphere and hardly anyone denies this be the case. The supposed "liberal who nonchalantly has abortions" is for the most part a strawman created by conservative commentators. I know of no one who has ever had an abortion without serious thought and consideration, liberal or conservative. Thelema as a spiritual system does provide a foundation for such thought and consideration, but as it is such a individualistic path contention between practitioners is hard to avoid. A conservative Thelemite I know once told me about an event he attended where it was automatically assumed that any Thelemite would be pro-choice when he in fact was not, and he found it ironic that this assumption would have excluded Crowley himself. Making blanket assumptions about other Thelemites is in my experience a good way to get into trouble.

Abortion is such a hot-button issue that the personal attacks pretty much fly from all directions when it comes up. For all that many of these attacks accuse the other side of "not understanding the material" there is one point that I have yet to see raised (at least outside of friends-locked LiveJournal discussions that I can't access without an account) and I think it is an important one. When Crowley talked about abortion, did he mean exactly what we mean today? According to British law, traditionally a fetus was seen as being alive following the "quickening," the moment at which independent movement of the child was first detected.

British legal scholar William Blackstone, writing in the eighteenth century, stated that:

Life ... begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother's womb. For if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion, or otherwise, killeth it in her womb; or if any one beat her, whereby the child dieth in her body, and she is delivered of a dead child; this, though not murder, was by the ancient law homicide or manslaughter. But at present it is not looked upon in quite so atrocious a light, though it remains a very heinous misdemeanor. (From Wikipedia)

I would be tempted to completely dismiss this concept as a legal artifact unrelated to Crowley's teachings, except that it appears he did not in fact believe that the soul entered the body at the moment of conception. Specifically, he wrote in Confessions that he believed himself to be the reincarnation of Eliphas Levi, who died on May 31st, 1875. Crowley was born on October 12th of the same year, four and a half months later, and he also wrote elsewhere that he believed that in some past life he must have taken a vow to reincarnate immediately after death. Quickening normally happens 20-some weeks into a pregnancy, so the timeline Crowley presents fits with the soul entering the body of an unborn infant at quickening rather than conception.

So does this matter to the debate at hand? Obviously I think it's relevant or I wouldn't be posting it, but I can also see the counterargument that abortion is still a violation of the formula of life and growth even if it happens before the child can be said to possess a soul, or in more scientific terms a complex nervous system that is capable of initiating movement and possibly has some degree of self-awareness. I do think it is a solid refutation of the statement that abortion of any sort denies the formula of the Minerval degree in OTO, which is specifically stated as "the soul, a wandering god, is attracted to the solar system." It would seem to me that only an abortion following the moment of quickening could really be viewed in those terms if indeed the soul isn't present for the first twenty or so weeks of pregnancy. These days, most abortions are done during the first trimester, well before quickening.

Crowley was actually kind of an odd duck as far as modern American politics goes. On the one hand, he was opposed to abortion and remained so throughout his life, and I do think anyone who contends otherwise should probably study the material in greater depth. On the other hand, it is equally clear that Crowley was strongly in favor of sexual freedom and expression. In today's politics those two beliefs rarely go together - supporters of the pro-life movement are usually opposed to homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and depictions of sexuality in just about any form. Crowley hated such beliefs, and I don't know that even his strong opposition to abortion would have allowed him much common ground with anti-sex advocates who also are pro-lifers.

Crowley's own resolution of the issue was to set up comprehensive social structures that would support women faced with unplanned pregnancies, and at one point he proposed that the OTO set up and operate an organization to do just that. Furthermore, he hoped to work at the societal level to eliminate the stigma attached to unplanned pregnancy, primarily through the promulgation of the Law of Thelema. Like many idealistic proposals, such a social system might work if the whole thing could be implemented at once, and if it could be shown to effectively reduce the demand for abortions I would be all for it. The problem is that politics doesn't usually work that way, and the OTO has never had anywhere near the funds controlled by fraternal groups like the Masons during Crowley's lifetime. Such a source of funds would be necessary for supporting such a large institution privately.

The bigger question in all of this is which of Crowley's personal beliefs are important to the practice of Thelema. I doubt anyone would contend that to be a good Thelemite you have to play chess or climb mountains. Crowley supported the British Empire - does that mean a Thelemite should be an imperialist? Crowley harshly criticized democracy as a political system - does that mean a Thelemite should be a monarchist? I certainly have met Thelemites of both descriptions, but in the end as Thelemites we are left to draw our own conclusions, "each for himself," and that really is in my opinion how it should be.

If someone is doing their practices diligently and following Crowley's spiritual system I think that is what makes them a "good Thelemite," not any particular political point of view. More to the point, I'm not even sure that we should be in the business of trying to define who is a good Thelemite and who isn't in any sort of general sense. I choose to surround myself with people who enrich my life and it just so happens that most of them are Thelemites - some with rather divergent political views on a whole variety of issues, not just this one.

I suppose now I get to find out if anyone is reading this blog. Comment away!

UPDATE: In the comments, Aish Mlchmh cited a section from Confessions in which Crowley comments on Rose trying to obtain an abortion because she believed herself to be pregnant even though she was not. He's clearly opposed to what would have been a very early term abortion, so I think any question regarding Crowley's use of the term is settled. He is using it in the contemporary sense.

I also have made a couple of changes to the original text. I removed "disreputable" from "conservative commentators" because even though when I wrote it I was trying to distinguish between reputable and disreputable conservative commentators (that is, to point out that I don't believe all conservative commentators make use of strawman arguments in the abortion debate) it reads as a cheap shot implying that all conservative commentators are disreputable. Also, I changed "the pro-life movement" to "supporters of the pro-life movement" because I was talking about particular individuals, not necessarily the organizations themselves. Finally, I changed "who is a Thelemite" in the second to last paragraph to "who is a good Thelemite" which is what I meant, but not what I first wrote.

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17 comments:

bishop said...

I will repeat what I posted in at least one of those LJ discussions:

It's merely my opinion, but Crowley would have never been "Pro-Choice" or "Pro-Life" as these are political divisions and neither practical nor logical positions to take in the matter for Thelemites. Crowley's entire premise starts way before sex (or abortion) even occurs and deals with responsibility (and education). And I don't see a single one of these individuals arguing "Pro-Choice" that have recognized that aspect of Crowley's position. In fact, I don't see a single one of these individuals arguing "Pro-Choice" that have a clue about how to apply the Law of Thelema in a practical sphere such as politics or 'rights' or anything else.

Once you crack through the politico-emotional blathering of most "Pro-Choice" proponents, the real issues hit the table and they have absolutely nothing to say.

By the way, HI! I read your blog!

AISh MLChMH said...

The basic question is this: Seeing as Aleister Crowley was strongly opposed to abortion, which he clearly was, should Thelemites be opposed to it as well?

As far as the "basic question" goes, I think this is a bit of a red herring. Even if we were to agree to acknowledge Crowley as an authority, it doesn't necessarily follow that that authority alone defines what Thelema should or should not be. I'd argue that Crowley should be appealed to in respect to an understanding of Thelema vide "The Comment", but this doesn't amount to a "thou shalt" dictum that any individual will emerge from that "appeal" in lock-step agreement with Crowley.

That being said, "Why" Crowley had the views he had strikes me as the more important question.

because I do tend to think that the practice of "Do what thou wilt" has a lot to do with minding my own business.

The underlying assumption you appear to be making here is that "Do what thou wilt" trumps the "vertebrate rights" (as A.C. put it) emphasized in Liber 101 and the Baptizm ritual, etc. If the issue were simply between individual A and individual B, I think you'd have more of a point here.

The supposed "liberal who nonchalantly has abortions" is for a the most part a strawman created by disreputable conservative commentators.

Citation please.

I know of no one who has ever had an abortion without serious thought and consideration, liberal or conservative. Thelema as a spiritual system does provide a foundation for such contemplation

Where?

When Crowley talked about abortion, did he mean exactly what we mean today?

Does it appear to you that this linked passage from the Confessions makes the distinction you are making?:

http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/confess/chapter50.html

the pro-life movement is generally opposed to homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and depictions of sexuality in just about any form.

Really? The National Right to Life :
"does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense."

http://www.nrlc.org/Missionstatement.htm

Crowley hated such beliefs, and I don't know that even his strong opposition to abortion would have allowed him much common ground with anti-sex advocates who also are pro-lifers.

Were the Tories in Crowley's day pro-sex advocates? I'm asking this, as Crowley was a life-long Tory.

The bigger question in all of this is which of Crowley's personal beliefs are important to the practice of Thelema.

Crowley's stance on abortion amounted to a little more than a "personal belief". His application of this to his Fraternal Order in a number of ways - a few of which you look at - suggests that there was more to this than his preference to "play chess or climb mountains."

but in the end as Thelemites we are left to draw our own conclusions, "each for himself,"

The full quote: "All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself."

Appeal:

1. an earnest request for aid, support, sympathy, mercy, etc.; entreaty; petition; plea.

2. a request or reference to some person or authority for a decision, corroboration, judgment, etc.

More to the point, I'm not even sure that we should be in the business of trying to define who is a Thelemite and who isn't in any sort of general sense.

What a Thelemite is (which is defined in the D Comment) and what informs Thelema appear to me to be two very different things.

Ananael Qaa said...

Bishop: Welcome. It's nice to know that there are at least a few folks out there reading my stuff.

I think that there are some solid arguments that can be made on both sides of this debate, but I will say that I have encountered some pretty bad arguments from the "pro-choice" folks. Statements like "but Crowley didn't really mean it" are just silly, and I have come across that one.

I think the majority of people tend to hyperbolize on this issue regardless of their position precisely because it is so difficult to address from a neutral perspective. That's why it's so contentious.

Ananael Qaa said...

Aish Mlchmh: I made an update to the original post in response to several of the points you raised, including the citation from Confessions which does make it pretty clear that Crowley was using the term in the current sense.

I'd argue that Crowley should be appealed to in respect to an understanding of Thelema vide "The Comment", but this doesn't amount to a "thou shalt" dictum that any individual will emerge from that "appeal" in lock-step agreement with Crowley.

I agree with this point completely. I don't see the "basic question" as a red herring, but rather a question that prompts for a "why" or "why not" answer.

If the issue were simply between individual A and individual B, I think you'd have more of a point here.

But that is exactly my point. The issue of minding my own business is between myself, Individual A, and any other hypothetical Individual B who does not involve him or herself in my life.

Thelema as a spiritual system does provide a foundation for such contemplation

Where?


As you state in your first paragraph, "Crowley should be appealed to in respect to an understanding of Thelema vide 'The Comment'." Or are you asking rhetorically?

Were the Tories in Crowley's day pro-sex advocates? I'm asking this, as Crowley was a life-long Tory.

I actually read up on the Tories a bit in response to this. The Tory party itself actually ceased to exist as a separate party in Britain in 1832 and was folded in the the Conservative Party, but colloquially the term "Tory" was still sometimes used to mean "Conservative."

The dominant ideology of the Conservative Party during Crowley's life was "One Nation Conservatism" which actually resembles what today is called "classical liberalism." It favored strong interventionist foreign policy but also a strong welfare state that balanced the interests of the various economic groups in Britain at that time.

"Social conservatism" as it exists today was not a significant part of the "One Nation Conservatism" ideology. No, they were not "pro-sex advocates" but they were also not "anti-sex advocates." On most "moral" issues they seem to have minded their own business. In my experience modern social conservatives generally do not.

Crowley's stance on abortion amounted to a little more than a "personal belief".

Well, yes, and I wasn't trying to suggest an equivalence between this belief and playing chess/climbing mountains. Those were ad ridiculum examples used for contrast.

What a Thelemite is (which is defined in the D Comment) and what informs Thelema appear to me to be two very different things.

Yes. That's fixed in the original article.

AISh MLChMH said...

Thank you for your response.

But that is exactly my point. The issue of minding my own business is between myself, Individual A, and any other hypothetical Individual B who does not involve him or herself in my life.

What I was attempting to (unsuccessfully) point out here, was that carrying a zygote/fetus/child involves an additional component that would -in the case of abortion or murder(which is what Crowley considered abortion)not apply with an application of "mind thy own business" or "Do what thou wilt."

For example, if a mother told me that she was going to drown her children in the bath tub upstairs, I would cease to mind my own business. Even if this did not involve me personally, on a larger scale, I would want a government to prevent a mother from committing infanticide when at all possible.

As you state in your first paragraph, "Crowley should be appealed to in respect to an understanding of Thelema vide 'The Comment'.

Okay, but where does "Thelema as a spiritual system""provide a foundation for such contemplation" (i.e. knowledge "of no one who has ever had an abortion without serious thought and consideration, liberal or conservative")?

I haven't come across that.

In my experience modern social conservatives generally do not.

While a number of social conservatives are opposed to homosexuality (the act as distinct from the person in most cases) and pre-marital sex ("depictions of sexuality in just about any form" is perhaps pushing it), it appears to me that a number of social ills (for example, AIDS and an increasing number of out of wedlock births into poverty - both, the result of specific sexual behaviors) have unfortunately precipitated this response. It should probably go without saying that the AIDS epidemic, etc. didn't exist during Crowley's lifetime.

Ananael Qaa said...

Thanks for the clarification.

What I was attempting to (unsuccessfully) point out here, was that carrying a zygote/fetus/child involves an additional component

I see what you were saying there now.

Okay, but where does "Thelema as a spiritual system""provide a foundation for such contemplation" (i.e. knowledge "of no one who has ever had an abortion without serious thought and consideration, liberal or conservative")?

That's not what I meant. "Such contemplation" in that sentence refers to "serious thought and consideration," not the entire previous statement. That is, "Thelema provides a foundation for serious thought and consideration." I'll see if I can find a way to clean that statement up in the article so that it's clearer.

Knight of Pan said...

One of the best articles I've seen on this topic. I too believe abortion to be morally wrong, killing a god attempting to incarnate, but nature is red in tooth and claw and I believe in the freewill of women, even if it involves making a choice I consider wrong.

Ananael Qaa said...

Thanks. I'm glad that you liked it, and it's nice to know that there are at least a few folks paying attention to the blog.

Worlock93 said...

93,

First, my response to the basic question here is simple really. Are we talking about Aleister Crowley the man or To Mega Therion, Prophet of the new Aeon? While we may be talking about one individual these two identies diverge at various times. Case in point, Crowley had tradition victorian misogynistic views on women, yet the prophet did not deliver this same message in his writing.

Second, while the sentence I consider criminal abortion in any circumstances soever as one of the foulest kinds of murder. is present for this argument, the sentence that follows is not:

Apart from anything else, it nearly always ruins the health of the woman, when it fails to kill her.

Funny, sounds just like the same pro-life bs you hear today: "Abortion hurts women" of which the obvious response is "I'm pretty sure giving birth hurts more". heh Either way, Crowley's motivation for being anti-abortion is based on non-existant facts. Abortion neither kills nor ruins the health of women when done properly. Early term abortions (which are the VAST majority of abortions performed) are safer for women than childbirth, and childbirth has killed far more women that abortion. So to take this stance against abortion is delusional nonsense at best.

Irregardless of any of this there is absolutely nothing concrete in Liber AL that one way or another says abortion is allowed or forbidden. To find something there will require broad interpretation based on whatever your personal bias is.

I find this topic funny. Libertarians fight about this crap all the time too.

lastly, Scott said: the pro-life movement is generally opposed to homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and depictions of sexuality in just about any form.

to which aish_mlchmh responded: Really? The National Right to Life :
"does not have a position on issues such as contraception, sex education, capital punishment, and national defense."


Interesting that you chose to comment on that part of the original article, but managed to really spin it for your argument. That may be what they post on their website, but it didn't stop them from endorsing Bush who opposes homosexuality, pre-marital sex, etc. Nor from endorsing Donald Manzullo who opposes homosexuality, pre-marital sex, well actually just about anything "non-christian." The NRLC has a history of endorsing candidates who are opposed to all these things and regularly passes over pro-life candidates that are more moderate on those other issues. Nor does this comment point out the fact that their major financial backers are religious groups who oppose such things, and since NRLC is an political interest group they are going to support the views of their contributors, officially or unofficially.

The most amusing part about all of this is that on a basic level I could really give a flying rats ass about abortion one way or the other, it's not something I need to contend with nor will I ever. I think any man who spends a substantial amount of time worrying about abortion one way or the other needs to get a freakin' hobby ;)

93 93/93,

Fraternal regards,

-David-

AISh MLChMH said...

Are we talking about Aleister Crowley the man or To Mega Therion, Prophet of the new Aeon?

In a host of instances, Crowley notes A.C./T.M.T. as identical. Check out the D comment or even the description of Liber 666 in Book IV for just a few examples of where this identity is made. Also note that Crowley was openly a Magus (i.e. TMT) with the writing of "The Confessions".

Case in point, Crowley had tradition victorian misogynistic views on women

Not in this instance. As Br. A.Q. mentions, in respect to abortion, Crowley was apparently more conservative than his contemporaries.

Irregardless of any of this there is absolutely nothing concrete in Liber AL that one way or another says abortion is allowed or forbidden.

You're certainly free to interpret Liber AL in any way you choose to do. Crowley's discussion about the "holy ghost" within Liber Aleph (which is a commentary of Liber AL) suggests the opposite of your assertion.

Libertarians fight about this crap all the time too.

Discussing what Crowley wrote about abortion doesn't amount to a conflict.

Interesting that you chose to comment on that part of the original article, but managed to really spin it for your argument.

Umm, I'm quoting from their Mission Statement and not from an "article."

I can only hope that you are attempting to be comical in your apparent argument that the NRLC should support "Pro-Choice" candidates. Please.

Worlock93 said...

93, AISh MLChMH

"In a host of instances, Crowley notes A.C./T.M.T. as identical. Check out the D comment..."

Comment D, there's something worth building an argument on. Something Crowley was so proud of he never published it.

"...or even the description of Liber 666 in Book IV for just a few examples of where this identity is made."

While I could argue that the book is called "The Beast" and not "Aleister Crowley" or the specifically chosen words "Magical Personality" rather than "mundane personality" or "physical personality." I will instead ignore that and go directly to the obvious: I refuse to base any discussion on what amounts to an editorial blurb when the work itself is non-existent, therefor non-available for review.

"Also note that Crowley was openly a Magus (i.e. TMT) with the writing of "The Confessions"."

I fail to see how this matters, well, at all actually. Is Confessions a classified document? Does everything inside confessions represent the words of a Magus? When Crowley speaks of his feelings before he was even a neophyte, does this retro-actively constitute the words of a Magus? In his later life, was Confessions ever sent to students for their perusal as an explanation and / or illustration of what is / is not Thelema?

Not in this instance. As Br. A.Q. mentions, in respect to abortion, Crowley was apparently more conservative than his contemporaries.

Any history book concerning abortion, regardless of it's angle, will show you wrong. AQ quoted Blackwell a jurist and commentator of jurisprudence. You cannot base the attitudes of public opinion on this alone. In our contemporary society, study of jurisprudence would lead anyone basing an opinion to believe that we are solely a society of pro-choice, yet here we are, discussing the issue. Crowley's views are the same as others in civilized victorian society, abortion doctors are butchers and murderers who kill and harm women.

"You're certainly free to interpret Liber AL in any way you choose to do. Crowley's discussion about the "holy ghost" within Liber Aleph (which is a commentary of Liber AL) suggests the opposite of your assertion."

If that's what you see in those words, then alright, I'm afraid I don't. I also choose not to base my beliefs on one of the many Class B commentaries that Crowley himself had little (if any) satisfaction with. I instead choose to appeal to writings of the Prophet as secondary to the Holy Books and then make decisions for myself as per the Class A Comment.

Discussing what Crowley wrote about abortion doesn't amount to a conflict.

Oh I beg to differ here. While, as I've said, this isn't an issue I consider important to me on a basic level, I can (at least try to) keep the discussion at least moderately friendly. It's still a conflict as we are discussing restriction under the banner of Thelema.

Umm, I'm quoting from their Mission Statement and not from an "article."

The article was the original blog entry, oh well it doesn't matter....

I can only hope that you are attempting to be comical in your apparent argument that the NRLC should support "Pro-Choice" candidates. Please."

Ummm, I didn't suggest they should endorse pro-choice candidates, I quote what I said, with emphasis:

The NRLC has a history of endorsing candidates who are opposed to all these things [homesexuality, et al] and regularly passes over pro-life candidates that are more moderate on those other issues.

93 93/93,

-David-

Ananael Qaa said...

I'm not sure, either, that the Blackstone quote implies that Crowley was more conservative than his contemporaries, though I would still probably guess that he was based on the vehemence of his writings. Specifically, the passage from Confessions that we've been discussing certainly implies that Crowley could have prosecuted the nurse who tried to perform Rose's early-term abortion under British law but at the time chose not to. If that's true, then British law in 1905 must have been stricter than what Blackstone outlined.

AISh MLChMH said...

Comment D, there's something worth building an argument on. Something Crowley was so proud of he never published it.

Crowley never published Liber Aleph or Magick Without Tears during his lifetime either.

However, there's a more obvious reason for why this wasn't published: the reception of the Tunis Comment two years later.

I refuse to base any discussion on what amounts to an editorial blurb when the work itself is non-existent, therefor non-available for review.

As I noted, this isn't the only instance. Here's my favorite:

"The Beast 666 9*=2- A.'.A.'., the Word of the Aeon Thelema, is the sole and supreme authority in the Order. [...] The Beast 666 is stated in the Book of the Law to be manifested solely in the man generally known by the name of Aleister Crowley, whose authority (as defined in CCXX) in the Order is thus as certain as any other proposition set forth in the Book during his present incarnation."

-From a circular letter to all members of the A.'.A.'. in good standing from 1921 e.v.

I fail to see how this matters, well, at all actually.

Well, if it doesn't for you, that's fine. I think its relevant for a number of reasons. For example, there are implications that can be drawn from Crowley writing "The Gnostic Mass" as a Magus that simply can't be made had he written this as a Neophyte. As with this ritual, the same could be said for the biography of this Saint.

One could even go one step further and argue that any work following his attainment of that Grade (for example, "The Book of Thoth" by the Master Therion) would also be the work of the man Aleister Crowley!

Does everything inside confessions represent the words of a Magus?

I think that could be argued based on what Crowley wrote.

When Crowley speaks of his feelings before he was even a neophyte, does this retro-actively constitute the words of a Magus?

A Magus can't reminisce?

In his later life, was Confessions ever sent to students for their perusal as an explanation and / or illustration of what is / is not Thelema?

Probably not. Mailing two rather large hard bound (and more than likely, rare) books to students wasn't probably all that practical later in Crowley's life.

If that's what you see in those words, then alright, I'm afraid I don't.

Okay then, what exactly do "you see" in those words?

I also choose not to base my beliefs on one of the many Class B commentaries that Crowley himself had little (if any) satisfaction with.

I think you're conflating the "Old" , "New" and "D" commentaries (which were never classed to the best of my knowledge; note the lack of an imprimatur with the authorized version of the "Law is for All" for example) with his views on Liber Aleph - which Crowley considered a very important work (hence his frequent quotations from this text - "The book is itself an Education" - MWT).

I instead choose to appeal to writings of the Prophet as secondary to the Holy Books and then make decisions for myself as per the Class A Comment.

Would the Class A Comment include an appeal to the writings of the Holy Books then? It appears to me that you're making a distinction (or is it an inclusion?) here that "The Comment" doesn't.

It's still a conflict as we are discussing restriction under the banner of Thelema.

However one chooses to define a restriction, it still doesn't follow that discussing one amounts to a conflict.

Any history book concerning abortion, regardless of it's angle, will show you wrong. AQ quoted Blackwell a jurist and commentator of jurisprudence. You cannot base the attitudes of public opinion on this alone.

Good point.

The NRLC has a history of endorsing candidates who are opposed to all these things [homesexuality, et al] and regularly passes over pro-life candidates that are more moderate on those other issues.

Could you provide a reference to support this assertion? Thanks!

Worlock93 said...

93,

AQ: British legal practice more relevant to Crowley's time and beyond: In 1861 an Act was passed which made abortion punishable by imprisonment, something like three years to life even if it was performed for medical reasons. The law was amended in 1929 to allow abortions for medical reasons and set the date of 28 weeks as being the time period necessary for a fetus to be considered viable. At the end of the 30's was the Dr. Alec Bourne trial (very interesting case actually) which set the stage for the the 1967 (if I remember correctly) Abortion Act which legalized abortion, though the primary reason for passing the law was a crackdown on illegal abortion practices more than a woman's rights issue. Before the 1860's abortion was illegal, punishable by death but there was a lot of debate over the quickening idea. That concept had been cast aside by the time Crowley comes on the scene. The UK, like the US, goes through liberal and conservative time periods. Most of Crowley's lifetime (most definitely his developmental years) was a particularly conservative time period.

Also, to take this on another avenue of discussion that hasn't been mentioned. Attitudes of the rest of Great Britain aside, nobodies brought up the fact that Crowley spent his formative years raised in the Plymouth Brethren, it's difficult to deny the effect this had on him emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

AISh MLChMH: Per the NRLC, I don't have a direct source for my statements on the NRLC in front of me. Several months ago there was an New York or LA times article about their endorsement of Fred Thompson which covered most of the ground I've referred to. I may still have the article at home as I tend to keep stuff like this, at the very least I'm sure I can find what issue it was in if it's important to you.

In regards to the rest of your post, I apologize if this sounds dismissive, but I'm a little bored with the whole Man v. Prophet debate. Having little to do earlier I looked up the livejournal debates and found you had this same debate with people there making the same points that I have or would have eventually made. I would think you would find it boring to have the same debate over again as well.

93 93/93,

-David-

AISh MLChMH said...

nobodies brought up the fact that Crowley spent his formative years raised in the Plymouth Brethren

It probably wasn't brought up as its fairly common knowledge to anyone who's read anything about Crowley's life.

Moreover, its been my experience that this typically gets bandied about when folks take umbrage with a position that Crowley had that they don't like.

Typically this follows along the lines of:

Crowley was a trailblazer and visionary with his more libertine perspectives (i.e. things I like) but Crowley was a victim of his childhood upbringing when it comes to his perspective on things like war or his anti-abortion stance(i.e. things I don't like.)

Tangentially, the fact that Crowley was a zealous convert to Buddhism for a number of years prior to his conversion "to his own religion" has this curious tendency of being overlooked.

I may still have the article at home as I tend to keep stuff like this, at the very least I'm sure I can find what issue it was in if it's important to you.

Its not particularly important, but when someone makes a number of claims about a group - like you did - you'd think that they'd at least have something specific to substantiate their claims with.

I've provided numerous quotations to back up my assertions and you've provided, well, none.

but I'm a little bored with the whole Man v. Prophet debate.

Sadly, this hasn't really been a debate as you've provided next to nothing to support your claims.

I looked up the livejournal debates and found you had this same debate with people there making the same points that I have or would have eventually made.

Really? Most of the "points" that have been made on my LJ regarding this subject have consisted of about as much as what you've contributed to it.

I would think you would find it boring to have the same debate over again as well.

Actually, I'd relish a serious debate. Unfortunately, most of what I've encountered are Thelemic poseurs who know about as little about what they claim to be into as most church-going Christians.

Worlock93 said...

93,

....and with that I roll my eyes and move on.

93 93/93

graspee said...

Hi. This still comes up top on a google search for abortion and thelema.

I know this is an old post but I might as well add my tiny bit to it.

I actually see Thelema not really changing the fundamental arguments for or against abortion, because pro-life people will say you can't abort because the unborn child has a true will and you can't interfere with it, the same way you can't shoot people if you feel like it, and the pro-"choice" (yes, revealed which side I'm on there) people will say it's my body, it's my true will and so on.

So, being a Thelemite as far as I can see it, doesn't force you to take up a certain point of view.

In fact, considering how personally AC was against abortion, it's surprising that he didn't somehow work a prohibition against it into Thelema somehow.

I think there could be two reasons why he didn't.

1) He really felt it wasn't his place to force people to take sides on this issue in order to be a Thelemite, or that Liber AL said nothing about it so it wasn't an issue that was deemed relevant by Aiwass.

2) He perhaps knew some people who were pro-abortion and wanted to not offend them too much. I have noticed that Crowley in quite a few cases seems to have modified, or tactfully not stated his views on a subject in order to not offend someone or to seem closer to them in thought.

Oh well, just some ramblings.

graspee