Message To The Un-Lodged Mason – Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing, Baby

Online Internet Freemasonry tends to be educational, philosophical , reform minded and at times argumentative. Those of us involved in Internet Freemasonry tend to spend more time exploring the fine points of the philosophical side of the Craft, a side we never get from our Lodge, than actually attending our Communications.

This has led to the rise of the un-Lodged Mason. He is a cousin to the un-churched Christian, the un-templed Jew and the un-mosqued Muslim, who belong to that cadre of believers who wish to worship outside of sectarian organized religion, not as a member of a worshipping community but alone.  Thus I hear from some of my Christian friends, “Well you don’t have to go to church to be a good Christian.” Translated into Masonicese you have, “Well you don’t have to go to Lodge to be a good Mason,” which may all be well and true but if one operated in that manner one would be missing something.

Those of who are Masonic writers have to acutely aware of this dichotomy, for if we are not careful we will treat our beloved Fraternity as a concept, a study, a discipline only, and only is the key word here.  Lest anyone think I am a snob here, I am absolutely convinced that Masonic research and study is a necessity for the complete Mason.  I am greatly in favor of esoteric Masonic study groups.  It is difficult to be a Christian without ever having read the Bible nor having any knowledge of what Jesus said and did.  It is equally difficult to be a Mason without appropriate study of the Craft. But it can’t end there.

There has to also be the human touch.  The whole benefit of community is to be able to interact with living, breathing human beings.  When I attend church I experience what community can do in the magnification of the power of the Holy Spirit in group action.  I am also never able to inspire myself as much as a good preacher or a good Masonic ritualist can.  This concept of community is something Scott Peck put into words:

“If we are going to use the word meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to “rejoice together, mourn together,” and to “delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own.” Like electricity, it is profoundly lawful. Yet there remains something about it that is inherently mysterious, miraculous, unfathomable. Thus there is no adequate one-sentence definition of genuine community. Community is something more than the sum of its parts, its individual members. What is this “something more?” Even to begin to answer that, we enter a realm that is not so much abstract as almost mystical. It is a realm where words are never fully suitable and language itself falls short. The analogy of a gem comes to mind. The seeds of community reside in humanity – a social species – just as a gem originally resides in the earth. But it is not yet a gem, only a potential one. So it is that geologists refer to a gem in the rough simply as a stone. A group becomes a community in somewhat the same way that a stone becomes a gem – through a process of cutting and polishing. Once cut and polished, it is something beautiful. But to describe its beauty, the best we can do is to describe its facets. Community, like a gem, is multifaceted, each facet a mere aspect of a whole that defies description.”

If Scott Peck were a Mason perhaps he would have used the lesson of the rough ashlar and the perfect ashlar.

So what we can say about Freemasonry is that it is not only a study, a philosophy but an interaction of community gathered together to practice, teach the virtues of the Craft in a mode of human interaction whereby those in the community seek to inspire and bolster each other. And the larger the community and the more interaction that takes place the greater the pride and enthusiasm that is generated.  Note that we certainly are not speaking here about a business meeting.  But the two main aspects of Freemasonry can feed on each other.  Study and research encourages community Masonic participation and community Masonic participation encourages study and research.

I was reminded of the importance of the human touch when I traveled to meet fellow Masonic Information writer Terence Satchell (who may or may not agree with these views).   Actually we both drove about half way to each other and met in the middle.  Although Terence and I have  sent numerous E-Mails back and forth to each other and chatted online, we never had met face to face.  That meeting in person was so much more valuable and more heartwarming and personal than electronic communication that it led me to write this message. We explored each other as a person with the ability to feel the emotion and the nuance of each others communication.  A bond was forged that was impossible to create in any other manner.

And that is the message for today.

Virtual Freemasonry is very nice but it is no match for the real thing.  Virtual camaraderie is not the real thing either.  It lacks the substance and the ability to reach to the very core of being, the human soul.  There is no substitute for the real thing.

Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
Ain’t nothing like the real thing
Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
Ain’t nothing like the real thing

I got your picture hangin’ on the wall
It can’t see or come to me when I call your name
I realize it’s just a picture in a frame

I read your letters when you’re not near
But they don’t move me
And they don’t groove me like when I hear
Your sweet voice whispering in my ear

Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
Ain’t nothing like the real thing

I play the game, a fantasy
I pretend I’m not in reality
I need the shelter of your arms to comfort me

No other sound is quite the same as your name
No touch can do half as much to make me feel better
So let’s stay together

I got some memories to look back on
And though they help me when you phone
I’m well aware nothing can take the place of being there

So let me get the real thing
So let me get the real thing
Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
Ain’t nothing like the real thing
Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby
Ain’t nothing like the real thing

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About Fred Milliken

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and former Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

Comments

  1. Double tough Brother. Thanks…could not have said it better myself!

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  1. [...] in November, my good friend and Brother Frederic Milliken wrote an article entitled Message to the Unlodged Mason. In the article, Fred discussed the importance of attending lodge and the advantages of having [...]

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