Friday, December 28, 2007

We Must Become What We Claim To Be

Now is our chance, enough pretending, we must restore Freemasonry. If we are to survive as an institution we must live up to what we are supposed to be.

In the months that I have been writing this blog and reading everyone else's (thank you King Solomons Lodge), I have read more masonic thought and insight online than all of my time spent in an actual lodge building. The Masonic Blogging community is what our lodge experience should be, intelligent and responsive discussion on the mysteries of life and our fraternity. I say responsive because most of the bloggers of the craft take the time to respond and comment on each others well though out posts with well though out responses. We all get nothing from this but learning and that is why I love this forum.

When I receive a comment on one of my posts from brethren from across the globe it reassures me that I have not joined some simple charitable organization that likes to play dress up. Yet I think that on the whole that is what most men discover when they finally are raised Master Masons. The ritual has survived but it is mostly done for rituals sake and not for what it is intended to do.

If you go to church every Sunday but live your life in a immoral way or even cut a few corners in a moral sense you are no better than someone who never sets foot in a church. I do not want to confuse the uninitiated. Freemasonry is not a religion but we do teach lessons through symbols and ritual just like a church and I want to illustrate the hypocrisy of going through ritual and not actually gaining anything from it. You could recite to a word every part of the Masonic ritual perfectly, and from memory, but if you do not live and act in a way reflecting those words you are in no way any better than someone who has never taken the obligation. Freemasonry is a progressive science. We are here to learn, and in learning and living what we learn we become better men.

Most of the Masonic education I have been a part of involves being lectured on ritual. "Say it this way","walk around the lodge like this","we do this because"... this is not education and this is the reason most of the brethren roll their eyes at the mention of a Lodge of Instruction, it is BORING! The rules that govern an opened lodge create the perfect forum for pure philosophic and intellectual discussion. We go through the opening ritual to bring the collective consciousness of the brethren up to the level where such discussions can take place, not because some dudes back in the 1700's wrote these lines to torture future brethren with arcane language. When we are on the level, we should take the time to discuss the things that will improve ourselves and the society in which we live, not just pay the bills, recite the minutes, and vote on new candidates. Speaking of candidates we need to stop rushing to fill the membership rolls with guys who become Masons in name only. You know, the guys who get their dues cards and show up every now and then if there is a good meal or mostly not at all.

If we created an environment that justified the ritual we go through, then perhaps some of the men who become Masons and stop coming after a couple of business meetings will stay. If we live up to the mysterious, elite brotherhood that many believe we are, maybe we will become it and that is not a bad thing. That is what brought such incredible men in the past to our doors not a cheap meal, camaraderie and some charity. For some reason elite has become a bad word when in fact by definition it is what we all should strive to be: ELITE, A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status. What is wrong with that? It is what I want to be. I don't want to be like the rest of the schlubs out there.

There is a movement to lift the veil of secrecy that enshrouds our brotherhood. Some think that secrecy is what has kept our numbers dwindling and are going out of their way to show everyone what it is we do. There was a recent Discovery Channel expose that apparently showed in detail one of our degrees, I found this out because a guy I work with saw it and began to ask me specific questions about the "First Degree"(that is what he thought it was). He even recited some lines from the "ruffians". This took me aback because I thought exposing this part of the degree ruins some of the mystery of our brotherhood. My co-worker had expressed some interest in joining our fraternity in the past and was happy to have seen the "First Degree" so he would not be surprised by the initiation. If he does decide to join he will have been robbed of a part of the initiation I will never forget because I had no idea what was coming.

I don't want to come off holier than thou because it was a History Channel expose that brought the fraternity into my focus way back when, but it did not expose the initiation or ruin the mystery. I have seen an expose that showed the public an installation of officers, not in detail, but enough to wet the appetite of an interested party to research more. I had no problem with that because it is a public ceremony anyway, but can what ever lodge it is that is doing degrees for the Discovery Channel stop and think about what it is we are.

Masons go through a three part initiation meant to bring the candidates to a greater understanding of themselves and the world we live in. Our initiation means a lot, to a serious searcher for truth and even though it can be easily found in many different places it still needs to be searched for I am sorry that you can now watch it on TV.

I know I am going all over the place here but keep in mind I have not gotten allot of sleep in the past week with my newborn daughter and I have not gotten to really blog in a while. I just hope that the experience I am finding with every post I make to my blog becomes more of a reality in the collective experience of Freemasonry. As I enter into the South this year I am going to do my best in my performance of my duties to bring this light to my lodge and I hope that more brothers will do the same in returning our craft to what we should be. With all of the attention we will be getting from all of the crazy movies and books about us, why don't we give them what they think we are, secret rulers of the planet(haha), and not just a bunch of guys in tuxes with funny necklaces and aprons.


J.L.M. from The North East Corner said...

Dear M.M.M.,
First I would like to say hello. For me, the entire mystery of freemasonry was the mystery, the fact that the greatest philosophical (metaphysical, political, or any other)thinkers of history were members of our fraternity. But after joining recently, I have found that the only philosophical discussion held within behind the tyled door is lecture and discussion of what everyone wants for dinner.
I agree with you though, we need to begin to bring the ancient thought of the craft back to the craft. Isn't it the purpose of the Master to set his lodge to work, giving them good and wholesome instruction?
I just began to blog recently, hoping to discuss the esoteric nature of the craft, I hope as I begin to post, you will take a look and post when ever you feel inclined.
Fraternally yours,

FD2L said...

I agree 100% with what you wrote here, the other problem that has plagued our great fraternity is title chasers, IMHO.

These are men that strive to sit in the east as soon as possible, to collect the title of PM; this is also true of the apendent bodies as well.

I mean we have invitational bodies set up where men are suppose to do what you are talking about, but the only way to become a member is hold a bunch of Past titles (for most). Since these bodies have been plagued by people chasing those "titles" and not really caring about the philosophical side of the work, chances are they are in no better condition to do what you are talking about.

Just my .02

Traveling Man said...


I think I might have taken up this theme a time or two at my own blog (grin).

I agree that there should be more to a Stated Communication than opening, paying bills and going home.

Let it start with you. Pick an aspect of the Fraternity that interests you and present it to the Lodge. It doesn't have to be a "formal paper". Just something to get them talking. It doesn't have to be long either - the mind cannot absorb what the posterior cannot endure.

I think you'll find others will follow suit and the aspects you search for in the Fraternity will begin to blossom.

Be Well,

Traveling Man