A Partir Pedra published my paper “The Castration of Masonry” on their site in Portuguese. The following is a comment from one of the Brothers in Portugal and my response which they also published in the comments section.
Assunto: [A PARTIR PEDRA] Novo comentário sobre THE CASTRATION OF FREEMASONRY.
Simple deixou um novo comentário na sua mensagem “THE CASTRATION OF
“When you enter a Lodge room you leave all your differences outside the
door.”I suppose that this sentence sums it all. If that sentence is
true, then Freemasonry has become useless, as ignoring differences and
leaving questions unanswered does not lead to harmony. Differences
should be addressed, not ignored; it’s the way of addressing these
differences that makes Freemasonry unique. Tolerance implies
acceptation of the other and the realization that being One with the
Others – if they’re also willing to coexist peacefully – is more
important that the differences that separate Them from Us.
There is still no definite answer, as far as I know, to the
philosophical question “how far should we be tolerant towards
intolerance”. Some people take as their religious duty the obligation
to spread their faith – i.e.: to proselytize. Doesn’t that go straight
against the masonic ideal? How can one be a mason, belong to such a
church, and be coherent with himself? Isn’t it because of that that
many churches prohibit its members from being Freemasons? Freemasonry
seems to have been avoiding these questions, as having a frontal and
clear stance on the subject might widen the wound; in turn, the lack of
a strong position might have led to the “ideologically watered down”
Freemasonry that you describe it to be today.
Should Freemasonry be clearer about the values that it defends, and
risk becoming less popular in the eyes of some? Or should it remain a
bastion of Tolerance, accepting everything – but accomplishing little
because of its effort of not stepping on any toes?
This is a very interesting comment and brings to light some misunderstandings about how Freemasonry should act.
Freemasonry does not have all the answers. If that were so all members of the Craft would be polishing their Perfect Ashlars. Be we are not. We are all chipping away at the rough and superfluous jagged edges of our Rough Ashlars.
No human has all the truth. No human is right all the time. No human is perfect.
The second point follows the first and should be strongly emphasized to all who have a fervent belief………..in anything. One can chose a path that one thinks correct without having to, in the process, castigate and bury all contending beliefs or exterminate those who believe differently.
I then as a Christian believe I have found a way to eternal happiness and a relationship with the Almighty – a way, not the way. I can live peacefully with a Hindu who has found another way. We are both going to the same place to meet the same God, we are just on different paths. All the spokes on my bicycle wheel lead to the same center hub.
As a Freemason I don’t insist that my fellow man do it my way. I allow for the fact that his way is every bit as valuable to him as my way is to me. Of course we must agree on certain basic premises , foundations, and building blocks from which we choose the path to take our journey. That’s a given. A person who does not accept the Almighty, who believes murder is OK, who puts institutions and systems ‘ worth before the worth of the individual are just plain incompatible.
But the vast majority of people that you associate with in your daily life – the profane do not have different goals in life nor different aspirations nor different values- they have different means on how to accomplish the same ends. Their culture is different – their language, their political process, their formalized religion, their dress, their customs, their heritage may all be different. That’s OK.
Freemasonry is non judgmental. It is non judgmental on different paths chosen from the same sound, wise and time tested understanding of life. That is what makes Freemasonry tolerant.
Unfortunately many who think they have found the one and only true answer or even just the best way insist that all others do it their way or they will refuse to associate with them or allow them into their societies, institutions and groups. How sad. I, like most Freemasons, do not feel threatened by a different approach. I , like most Freemason, can live peacefully with others that see things slightly differently because I don’t want to convince them that they should change theirs.
Many in Freemasonry have interpreted all this to mean that Freemasonry can, therefore, take no open stands on anything public lest it offend somebody else and that Freemasonry is not meant to push its nose into the affairs of civil society. This of course is the opposite extreme from those that demand we must make serious stances on many specific issues and what we have been arguing against above.
These two extremes of everything or nothing , if and when they are enacted, are what is causing the main lack of membership today.
Here is where I believe we should be – right in the middle, in moderation of extreme positions. Many Freemasons have characterized the ethics and morality of Freemasonry as “the religion upon which all men agree”, that is on the points that are common to all religions So what we promulgate are certain basic secular and religious truths that are accepted by the vast majority of the inhabitants of this earth either openly or privately in their hearts. Or as stated in the American Declaration of Independence that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.”. And we should be, as I make the case for it in my paper, be standing up for these basic rights, these virtues, these moral and ethical standards both publically and privately.
But lastly these are general points upon which all men agree. The specific application of each of these general points is left up to the interpretation of each Brother. For an example Freemasonry stands squarely against murder. Now that is a general moral or ethical position upon which most religions and most human beings agree upon. So where is the disagreement then? The disagreemnt comes into the sub categories, that is the specific application of these general principles. In the case of murder to give you an example of a specific application – is abortion murder? Well some say abortion is murder and some say it is not. Does Freemasonry have to take a stand upon abortion to the point that once it has decided which side to support anybody on the other side cannot be a Mason? If that is what the Brother commenting is advocating then I ask him to think again.
We, as Freemasons, do not take stands on specfic applications of general positions and standards. We leave the specifics, like abortion, to be a private matter beteen that Brother and his Maker. And we do not judge, but leave that judgment up to God. But what I have been emphasizing is that does not demand that we, as a Craft, also keep our lips sealed when in the public about the general virtues upon which we stand. We can and should proclaim outloud to the entire world that liberty, justice, democracy, freedom education and others must be adhered to and that we are in the world’s presence to remind them of their responsibility to act accordingly. How to apply them and what they mean specifically is up to the citizens of each country and state to decide working through institutions other than Freemasonry such as their church and their political party. But be not deceived into thinking that Freemasonry has to publically stand for nothing or publically take stands on every specific issue. That will and has been its downfall.
Frederic L. Milliken