Most of us have a Mentor/Confessor, somebody special and trustworthy we go to when things don’t make sense or problems ensue. I have been in touch with mine quite often lately regarding the developments in Mainstream Masonry and the difficulties in reporting same.
Grand Lodges are in a lot of trouble these days and Freemason Information has reported some of the worst case scenarios. We do so in the hopes that reforms will be made by informed Brethren who were in the dark about such goings on.
Yet 50% of the time we are greeted with derision instead of applause. Many have called us harmful to the Craft and a bunch of Grand Lodge bashers.
So I have taken to running these articles by my Mentor/Confessor for him to peruse and he has followed the developments of Grand Lodge abuse as it has unfolded for the last two years. At first he was incredulous thinking that perhaps there was much exaggeration or even misinformation from bad sources going on. As the stories multiplied and he checked them all out he finally saw what we saw.
When Nebraska hit the news I asked him if he had any special insights besides affirmation that he would like to share with me, something that might shed more light on the situation and perhaps heal some ill feeling.
This is what he sent me:
A grand lodge begins to sign its own death warrant when its internal governance and judicial procedures depart significantly from the accepted values and standards of the wider society of which it is a part.
Just as the seventeenth century English poet, John Donne, famously observed that, “No man is an island, entire of itself,” so too is this true of a grand lodge, any grand lodge. The conceit that a grand lodge can isolate itself, as if it truly was a sovereign entity in fact as well as in grandiloquent title, as if its members had no other emotional or intellectual loyalty to anyone or anything else, and as if a wider public was neither of concern to the grand lodge or itself had any interest in the doings of the grand lodge, is not only false in itself but a lethal basis for suicidal action by a grand lodge.
The general rank and file of the fraternity will forgive a great deal in the way of human frailty; they will accept errors arising out of honest error; they will generally cast a forgiving eye upon mistakes grounded in ordinary organizational inertia. But, when error arises out of conscious greed, the deliberate and knowing exercise of Masonic tyranny, or indefensible and arbitrary violations of the ordinary standards of fairness, square-dealing and honesty in order to conceal crime, promote racism or protect unworthy individuals from the ordinary consequences of their own deliberate and knowing transgressions, then the collective wrath of an outraged membership must, inevitably, descend upon those responsible.
As per the Letters of Junius, “The subject who is truly loyal to the chief magistrate will neither advise nor consent to arbitrary measures.”
Most recently, the manifestation of such withdrawal of consent has taken the form of judicial appeal to the secular courts. It has also become a prominent feature of Internet Masonry, a kind of modern version of the Committees of Correspondence that flourished in the colonies just prior to the more formal actions of the American Revolution. At some future point, it may take the form of mass resignations or demits from existing grand lodges, a kind of “vote with our feet” reaction. Lately, a return to pre-grand lodge Masonry in the form of the appearance of a few independent, sovereign individual lodges has appeared as an alternative organizational possibility.
In terms of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln once observed that, “If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time or die by suicide.” Such is the situation of Freemasonry in America: our Craft is so strong in itself, so grounded in the finest principles and ideals of the Enlightenment, that, if it is to be fatally weakened or even destroyed, then it must be ourselves who do the deed.