To my delight the latest “Short Talk Bulletin” was in my mailbox yesterday. I look forward to reading the latest epistle from the Masonic Service Association of North America. The Short Talk bulletin is just that, short and to the point and a yearly subscription will cost you the paltry sum of $6.00. MSANA has hundreds of past issues available for purchase on a wide variety of subjects.
The latest issue written by the PGM of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, Norman Buecker, is titled Freemasonry – Its Place In The World.
Buecker starts off by giving us what he calls the most quoted definition of Freemasonry.
“It is an association of men believing in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man, using building tools as symbols to teach basic moral truths, thereby impressing on the minds of its members the cardinal virtues of Brotherly love, Relief and Truth which they should apply in their everyday activities.”
He tells us that man has been slowly through the ages, with each generation adding improvements and transmitting this information from generation to generation, and thus has been able to improve his lot in life, his material well being. Yet he tells us that man’s moral improvement has not shown equal gains.
This is where Freemasonry comes in. Buecker asks the reader, “What does Freemasonry Offer the World?” He answers his own question with six points.
- Since Freemasonry does not work through society or any of its institutions, it is then centered around the individual. This ties Freemasonry to civil regimes that value the worth of the individual and explains why it flourishes best in a democratic setting. “Freemasonry offers to the world a basic ideal that is being forgotten – every individual is important and his personal welfare counts,” Buecker emphasizes.
- Freemasonry believes in the Fatherhood of God. Every Mason has to have a belief in a Supreme Being but the details of that belief are not required or discussed. Thus Freemasonry actively encourages tolerance of different religious beliefs and facilitates men of different religious backgrounds to exist together in peace and harmony.
- Freemasonry extols the Brotherhood of man. Buecker tells us that everywhere all around us we hear from those who are demanding “rights” yet what Freemasonry teaches us is that we have a duty or obligation to our family, friends and even strangers in our midst. He reports, “Dr. Joseph Fort Newton tells us ‘a duty dodged is like a debt unpaid; it is only deferred and sooner or later we must settle the account.’”
- Since the Middle Age guilds, Freemasonry has always held work in reverence. Our ancient Brethren worked with their hands and actually built buildings. Today we as speculative Masons are building that spiritual building, that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Work is noble and honorable. “We are offered and guaranteed the right to use our God-given skills and by employing them to secure happiness,” Buecker says.
- Freemasonry offers an opportunity for close male bonding and in its social venues brings men together in activities that bring men much joy and happiness. Buecker tells us, “I think that this is one of the intangible, subtle and necessary elements of Freemasonry – making the individual happy. We have already said if the individual is happy, the community is happy; if the communities are happy, the nation is happy; and if the nations are happy the world will be at peace.”
- Freemasonry offers the world a philosophy of life. It teaches a set of moral virtues, something that crosses all beliefs and is held in common by all cultures. But it has a unique way of imparting its value system to its members. That uniqueness impresses upon the mind of every Freemason how important its moral truths are and what they mean to him as a member of the Craft. Each new Brother is literally reborn into a new way of life.
This easy to handle pamphlet provides a very good presentation of Freemasonry. It can be ordered by the hundreds and would make a good addition to a Freemasonry information table for the non Mason. Over and above that it also illustrates that the Craft has a role to play on the world stage. It can be an important factor in influencing the nations of the world to live in peace and harmony.
So what does Freemasonry have to offer the world? Buecker sums it up:
“Freemasonry offers to mankind an emphasis on the importance of the individual, the belief in the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, the concept of the dignity of work and its necessity for the pursuit of happiness, the opportunity to realize one’s social aspirations in a moral, constructive atmosphere and a philosophy of life which can lead to individual and therefore community happiness.”