The Christianization of Freemasonry

In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the Christening of Freemasonry, a sentiment that Mackey feels “… does not belong to the ancient system” of Freemasonry.

You can read more installments of Mackey’s Encyclopedia under Symbols & Symbolism here on this site and video of these segments on YouTube.

The interpretation of the symbols of Freemasonry from a Christian point of view is a theory adopted by some of the most distinguished Masonic writers of England and this country, but one which I think does not belong to the ancient system. [William] Hutchinson, and after him [George] Oliver – profoundly philosophical as are the Masonic speculations of both – have, I am constrained to believe, fallen into a great error in calling the Master Mason’s Degree a Christian institution. It is true that it embraces within its scheme the great truths of Christianity upon the subject of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body; but this was to be presumed, because Freemasonry is truths and all truth must be identical. But the origin of each is different; their histories are dissimilar. The principles of Freemasonry preceded the advent of Christianity. Its symbols and its legends are derived from the Solomonic Temple and from the people even anterior to that. Its religion comes from the ancient priesthood; its faith was that primitive one of Noah and his immediate descendants. If Masonry were simply a Christian institution, the Jew, the Muslim, the Brahman and the Buddhist could not conscientiously partake of its illumination. But its universality is its boast. In its language citizens of every nation may converse; at its altar men of all religions may kneel; to its creed disciples of every faith may subscribe.

oliver and hutchinson
George Oliver & William Hutchinson

Yet it cannot be denied that since the advent of Christianity a Christian element has been almost imperceptibly infused into the Masonic system, at least among Christian Masons. This has been a necessity; for it is the tendency of every predominant religion to pervade with its influence all that surrounds it or is about it, whether religious, political, or social. This arises from a need of the human heart. To the man deeply imbued with the spirit of his religion, there is an almost unconscious desire to accommodate and adapt all the business and the amusements of life – the labors and the employments of his everyday existence-to the indwelling faith of his soul.

The Christian Mason, therefore, while acknowledging and appreciating the great doctrines taught in Masonry, and also while grateful that these doctrines were preserved in the bosom of his ancient Order at a time when they were unknown to the multitudes of the surrounding nations, is still anxious to give to them a Christian character; to invest them, in some measure, with the peculiarities of his own creed, and to bring the interpretation of their symbolism more nearly home to his own religious sentiments.

The feeling is an instinctive one belonging to the noblest aspirations of our human nature; and hence we find Christian Masonic writers indulging in it to an almost unwarrantable excess, and, by the extent of their sectarian interpretations, materially affecting the cosmopolitan character of the Institution.

This tendency to Christianize has, in some instances, been so universal, and has prevailed for so long a period, that certain symbols and myths have been, in this way, so deeply and thoroughly imbued with the Christian element as to leave those who have not penetrated into the cause of this peculiarity, in doubt whether they should attribute to the symbol an ancient or a modern and Christian origin.

square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

Freemasonry’s Religion

For some reason, I have noticed a lot of people talking about how religion influences Freemasonry lately. Some folks have proclaimed that the foundations of Masonry are found in Kabbalah or Hermeticism. Others argue that Masonry is essentially a Christian art.

Quite frankly, I disagree with both camps and find both sides a bit annoying. I am a firm believer that Freemasonry is impartial to religion. However, I am also familiar with the old saying “those that live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

So why do I reside in a glass house? Because at one point in my life I was guilty of these very transgressions. Early in my Masonic career, I found myself expending all of my energy to prove to myself and everyone else that Freemasonry was truly Christian. The reasons for this were numerous. First, I was raised in a church which declared that its communing members could not be Freemasons. Second, I was in hot pursuit of a young girl who belonged to the aforementioned church. But most importantly, I was not comfortable being a Freemason if it wasn’t a Christian organization.

I think that trying to determine what religion Masonry is derived from is a perfectly natural thing to do. We become Freemasons to discover truth and for most of us, we are preconditioned to believe that there is one correct answer to every question. Therefore, when we become Freemasons we understand that the craft is tolerant of all religions, but we also believe that if it teaches the Great Truth that it must point to one individual religion. We want one path, one plan, and one True Religion. So we set out to compare various religious teachings to the lessons taught in the Masonic lodge to determine which religion gave birth to Freemasonry. This is where we begin to err, for the man that studies the Blue Lodge degrees would observe that Freemasonry is Jewish, the reader of Morals and Dogma may determine that Freemasonry is alchemical, and the Sir Knight would learn that the craft is indeed Christian.

The problem with this process is that the approach is entirely incorrect. Why must we automatically assume that Masonry’s truth was taken from religion? Why don’t we assume that religion learned its truth from Masonry? Or let me put it a different way: Would the introduction of religious teachings into Masonry make it perfect or would the introduction of Masonic teachings into the world’s religions make them perfect?

This is how I finally learned to approach Freemasonry. Over a number of Sundays, I would sit and listen to preachers give their sermons. The thought that kept penetrating my brain was “How much better would that lesson be if it incorporated some Masonic teachings?” No matter what the subject of the religious meditation was, I realized that Freemasonry taught more about it in less time through its symbolism than the minister could ever cover in one of his sermons. I realized that Freemasonry wasn’t teaching the truths of my religion. Instead, my religion was attempting to teach the truths of Freemasonry.

Of course, this realization didn’t happen overnight. All things change over time. I eventually left the church and the girl dumped me. I have studied several different religions trying to find the almighty truth. Yet, I keep discovering that Masonry’s lessons are more universal and all encompassing than those of any particular creed. More than ever before, I realize that Freemasonry is not partial to any religion because it teaches only truth and does not attempt to answer questions which cannot be answered. Instead, it leaves the individual Brother to discover these answers for himself.

Freemasonry’s religion is simply the teaching of truth. Its initiates may flock to any religion that they choose to find salvation, but in the Masonic lodge only truth is discussed. That is what makes Freemasonry so appealing to so many men. It is the only organization that divests itself of man-made dogma and canonical law and serves only to shine a light on the bridge that runs between man and his Creator. It is not the vessel to the realms of Deity, but instead a lamp to light the path.

That is the religion of Freemasonry.

conspiracy theory, antifreemasonry, hate

How rampant is anti-Masonry today?

anti-masonryA brother forwarded this to me. What you have below is a teaser video to a longer telecast that is appearing on various broadcasting outlets including Direct TV, where it appeared on the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) network, channel 378.

The video is by Dr. Ron Carlson, posted in June of 2008; essentially make the argument that a Christian cannot be a Mason using biblical citation for his particular point of view.

This isn’t unique, rather just one of a long list of religious leaders using the pulpit to rail against the lodge as a part of their own personal ministry. Other such luminaries include Jack Chick Ministries, Ephesians 5:11, Order of former Freemasons, and many many more.

In fact, there are so many more, if you know of one, drop their name in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.

One thing I can say is that Carlson has man of his facts mixed up, but he washes them with his particular logic.  Listen for the story about the church he convinced to jack hammer off the corner stone.  Its sad, really, like listening to echoes of forgotten history.

Without getting to deep into the philosophical, spiritual maybe, question (we’ve done that before in Can a Christian be a Freemason?) if a man can or cannot not be a Freemason AND a Christian, the better question to answer I’ve been leaning toward is who is it that can cast judgment or others – people or groups to evaluate such things.

The crux of Carlson’s argument is the incompatibility of Christian faith and being a Mason which, essentially, puts the syncretic religious view of masonry over the authority of Jesus. That the teachings of one subvert the teachings of the others?

What do you think? Are the two compatible? Are they compatible when you look at it from Carlson’s, and those like his, point of view?

More on Anti-Masonry.

karma, spirituality

A Victim of Biblical Karma

In the Entered Apprentice degree, the new Masonic initiate is taught about Jacob’s Ladder and how it applies to Masonic symbolism. Of course, in Masonic symbolism, three of the rungs on Jacob’s Ladder represent faith, hope, and charity. The story of Jacob’s Ladder and its symbolism is beautiful and a wonderful example of God’s relationship with mankind. However, for many years I have struggled with the fact that Jacob received this vision—and God’s favor—immediately after deceiving his father Isaac and taking his brother Esau’s blessing. How could God let such a sin be committed without any negative reaction? When examining the whole story of Jacob we discover that Jacob’s biography is a great example of religious universality. Just as Jacob’s ladder is a story which appeals to many outside of the Jewish faith, Jacob’s betrayal of his brother and father is atoned for by a principle from the East when he becomes a victim of Karma.

karma, spirituality

Does the Buddhist idea of Karma exist in Christianity?

Karma is the Buddhist ideal that for every action there is an equal and just reaction. It is the age old principle of cause and effect. Give charity to your brother and in turn you will be given charity when you need it. Wrong your brother and you too will be wronged. It is the Golden Rule: do unto others as you wish they should do unto you. People often visualize Karma as being cosmic, but not necessarily the direct justice of the Almighty. However, when God hands out punishment in the Old Testament, this is in fact a version of Karma. But the story of Jacob is different from most in the Old Testament because no where in the scripture does the author clearly state that God was displeased with his dishonesty. This is where Jacob becomes a perfect example of the cosmic force of Karma.

In the 27th chapter of Genesis, Rebekah helps Jacob deceive his blind father Isaac in order to obtain a blessing meant for Esau. While Esau is out hunting for game in order to cook a meal for his father, Rebekah and Jacob prepare a meal and Jacob takes it to his father, lying when his father asks him if he is Esau by saying “I am.” Of course, Jacob wrongly receives the blessing and when Isaac realizes that he has been deceived he does nothing to correct the error. Later, Jacob has the famous vision of the ladder extending from the earth to heaven where God promises him that his descendants will be as the dust on the earth.

karma, jacobs ladder, god, jacobs vision, stairway to heavenHow could God remain silent about this injustice? In Genesis 29, Jacob once again seems to find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Jacob goes to work for a man named Laban and falls in love with Rachel, his youngest daughter. Jacob is so enamored with Rachel that when Laban asks him what he deserves in return for his work Jacob agrees to work for seven years in order to marry Rachel. Laban agrees to this and after seven years Jacob asks him for his daughters hand. However, when the long awaited night comes for Jacob to lay with Rachel, Laban deceives him and sends his oldest daughter Leah to Jacob’s bed. When Jacob awakes the next morning he is incensed at the fact that he has been betrayed. Laban simply states that the oldest daughter should be married first and that Jacob will have to work for seven more years in order to marry Rachel.

This is the perfect cosmic justice for Jacob. Not only is he forced to work seven more years to earn what he wants—essentially a seven year sentence for the betrayal of his brother—he is the victim of a similar birthright situation. Its irony is nearly comedic. We indeed discover that Karma is always at work.

This story shows the true universality of many religious concepts. While Karma may be Buddhist in its origins, we see that it plays a great role in the Old Testament. It also is alluded to throughout the world’s many great religions and one may astutely note that it also has a role in Masonry when one considers the purpose of acting upon the square. Jacob’s story is an excellent example which reminds us that Karma can affect everyone and that no matter what creed we may follow, we share the same values.

The Path Of Destruction

This year my Grand Lodge will be involved in a major struggle for power at its Grand Session. So once again I am dismayed at the way Freemasonry is headed.

What is lacking is a Freemasonry focusing strongly on its message. The key words here are research, education, instruction, reading, scholarship and discussion. Oh we have some of that but very little. You can find a Research Lodge here and there and maybe an esoteric society if you look hard. But the majority of the Craft is doing something else other than learning about the organization to which they belong.

In the absence of scholarship and study what do Freemasons do? Released from the duty of learning and applying a philosophy, a way of life, they take up their time in vying for office, honors and titles. Years are spent in politicking, networking and implementing the pet projects of those ahead of them, so that they can climb the ladder to the next level. But the next level is not attained by any increase in one’s knowledge or understanding of the Craft.

Consequently much of Freemasonry is governed by leaders who couldn’t pass a simple test about their fraternity.

But that is not how it is supposed to be. Freemasonry derives much of its thought from the Ancient Mysteries. In fact some Masonic scholars contend that there has been from long before Christ a certain body of knowledge that builds a better understanding of life that has been passed down from generation to generation through various and sundry organizations. Most of the Ancient Mysteries ran “Mystery Schools.” And the focus of their efforts was directed towards learning and study. Pythagoras is a good example of one who taught a philosophy, a way of life, in the true Gnostic tradition, that is a body of knowledge that the masses were not privy to. Leaders were those, then, that had attained a certain level of scholastic achievement. The goal was to progress to a higher soul level – from knowledge to wisdom to soul development.

The modern day Masonic strategy to grow the Craft, is to turn Freemasonry into a charity, and in many cases a slave to Institutionalized charity. When not jockeying for position, Masons are consuming enormous time and effort in what they characterize as the betterment of humankind, but only if it offers some payback in return. The idea here is to gain notoriety and publicity through work in the community and also to prove that critics, who say that Freemasonry is some secret society only concerned with itself not giving a dam about society, are wrong. But when it becomes a way to buy and bribe friends, impress and convince the uninitiated that we really are a good organization to join, the morality becomes suspect.

The sad part of all this is that it doesn’t work. You don’t get a large number of candidates from marketing Freemasonry. The real way to grow Freemasonry is through its message. If Freemasons would regard themselves primarily as a philosophy and a tool for personal development instead of a charity and a tool for personal prestige then it would be successful in attracting new members. It never ceases to amaze me that Masons think they can sell Masonry by turning themselves into slaves for all those in need. What does that do for an individual looking into the Craft? The strength of Freemasonry is its ability to inspire and motivate members and to give them an understanding of how to live a rewarding and satisfying life that will leave a memorable legacy behind. This is something that Freemasonry can do for them rather than offering them, a life of service to others. All of this is found in the philosophy and teachings of this wonderful fraternity. But in order to sell that and teach that, passing it on to others, one has to study and understand what Freemasonry is all about and what it has to offer. If we will do that we will draw people like a magnet.

Picture a Christian church that runs a food pantry, mans a soup kitchen and does all sorts of community work (charity) and offers a weekly worship service (ritual-degrees) but never talks about or studies the Gospel, the good news, or mentions Jesus Christ – no Bible study, no Sunday school, no discussion groups. That’s where Freemasonry is at today.

The result of this path of destruction is constant power plays and Masonic purges. The Frank Haas, Derek Gordon, Mike McCabe stories are just the tip of the iceberg. All across this nation Freemasons are being expelled and the charter of Lodges pulled in record numbers because those involved are perceived as some sort of political threat to those in power. What has been created in the United States, are 51 fiefdoms, 51 monopolies, accountable to no one else who have all agreed to support each other no matter what the other has done, no matter how heinous the crime. And all 51 have a pact that if you are thrown out of one Grand Lodge you are thrown out of them all. There is no place for the unjustly treated to go. What you have is a system that is incapable of rendering justice, one of the Four Cardinal Virtues. If you lead a reform movement in your Grand Lodge you will be expelled. If you publish a paper where you express disagreement with your Grand Master’s policies you will be expelled. One Grand Lodge will even go so far as to prohibit its members from Masonically conversing via E-Mail. Another will not admit you if you work in the liquor business, another if you are missing an arm or a leg. And we haven’t even touched the race issue.

The mess is that we have too many versions of Freemasonry floating around and too many Grand Lodges violating their member’s rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. What is Freemasonry? Well it depends on what state you are in. You can own a McDonald’s franchise but you can’t change the product. But American Freemasonry can. The result of this mess is that there are no standards to be kept. Freemasonry is whatever any of the 51 Grand Lodges says it is. Imagine driving your car in your state and then hitting the state line where the next state required you to drive on the opposite side of the road. There is no need for such deliberate confusion. Nor are such radical differences in Freemasonry from one state to another so as to make them like night and day a great way to operate Freemasonry in the 21st century. We are not a land of 51 countries. And today’s Mason is so much more mobile than his 18th and 19th century ancestors.

To cement their authority and ensure that they have a free hand in all that they do, American Masonry invented the Rite of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction. As a friend and Brother from South Carolina told me, anything that is not part of the Mainstream Grand Lodge of South Carolina is clandestine Masonry even if it has a recognizable charter and even if it also practices regular Freemasonry. That takes care of any competition that might be an outlet to overbearing tyranny. Monopolies everywhere, however, are known as abusers of power. There are many clandestine Grand Lodges that do a better job of Masonry than the monopolies of Mainstream Freemasonry. Most, however, would not exist if abuses were not allowed.

I firmly believe that returning Freemasonry to a philosophy embracing scholarship and study and to a charitable organization rather than a charity will solve many of these problems. But the Conference of Grand Masters is still going to have to come up with a way to discipline the Craft.

I wonder what the world would look like today if in 1940 we had told the Japanese that we would not interfere in their conquest of all of Asia and if we had just ignored Hitler and let him do whatever he wanted. The United States has no designs of conquest in the world. Still it finds it necessary to interfere in another country’s business when to do otherwise would be to allow horrific injustice and depravity to prevail.

We all say we want the civil courts to stay out of Freemasonry. But when all else fails, when that is all that is left available, when the Conference of Grand Masters refuses to act, then to right wrongs the path chosen will be the one(s) that has not been closed. If Freemasonry refuses to police itself, then civil government will do it for them.

In the end it is possible to move from the path of destruction to the path of instruction and with the right Masonic leadership policing the Craft, to enter a new Golden Age of Freemasonry.

muse, faith, hope, charity

Something To Die For

What Can Freemasonry Do For You?

A friend stopped by to visit with me the other day. He is a non Mason and a man of deep faith. Eventually the topic got around to Freemasonry and he asked me why I needed another church as he knew I was quite active in mine.  Now I have been aware for quite some time that there is always this tendency to classify Freemasonry as a religion and then critique or judge it on those grounds. Of course I protested vehemently that Freemasonry was not a religion and didn’t pretend to be one.

muse, faith, hope, charity“Just the same,” he said, “even if I grant your point that Freemasonry is not a religion, what can it do for you that your church cannot do or is not already doing?” Now I muddled through with various platitudes spiced with an equal amount of protestations but I felt that I was continually on the defensive.

In the days since I have had time for reflection on the subject and I am now ready to take the offense. What is Freemasonry doing for me?

I started by looking at the tenets of Freemasonry – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

Practicing Freemasonry is a pursuit of knowledge in a moral context, always seeking that which was lost, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Organized religion is likewise in a similar pursuit of truth – revealed truth that will put the seeker in a right relationship with the Grand Architect of the Universe. Freemasonry incorporates religious activity in its practice and most Masons would tell you that religion incorporates Freemasonry in its practice. While Freemasonry concentrates on the here and know, organized religion concentrates more on what’s to come.  Yet they both offer a pathway to the good life. So it wasn’t here that I could find my answer.

Freemasonry preaches charity to all mankind without expecting anything in return.  So does organized religion. The missions of my church in relieving pain and suffering and abject poverty are well documented. My answer was not to be found here either.

Freemasonry celebrates the tight bonding that comes from practiced camaraderie and my church offers a similar fellowship in the faith. It seems as if I had struck out.  But upon further reflection the camaraderie/fellowship thing just didn’t seem to be interchangeable.

In my entire life outside of Freemasonry and excluding my family, I have met one person, one friend who I am so close to that I would die for and he would willingly give up his life for me. Actually to classify that kind of a relationship as friendship is not doing justice to the bond that has been formed. Soul-mates might be a better word but it is most often used in a committed male-female relationship. But in this relationship that you would die for, you are close to being one person.  You know what each other is thinking, you know what the other wants often before it is asked and you never hesitate to rise to the other’s needs. It’s a oneness that brings with it much joy and much sharing of life’s ups and downs.

Within Freemasonry I have six additional friends I would die for and a couple of dozen more, if the association could be more often, would develop into such. But nowhere else has any other organization, society, group, institution or association spawned a kind of closeness that seems to be a vital part of what that organization offers, as Freemasonry has.

Fellowship in church is a shared activity centering on a relationship with God. Personal connections within that faith observance can be strong bonds – but of appreciation of mutual commitment rather than two humans merging or melting into one. There is a difference in being close to someone in the flesh and being close to someone in faith. They are two different experiences. Only the relationship with God transcends either.

But the stronger human to human relationship is that which is found in Freemasonry. As my mother used to say, “The proof is in the pudding.”  You will find in the great Masonic book, House Undivided, by Allen Roberts that during the Civil War, the most difficult time in the history of our nation, this ugly conflict sometimes split families into two warring camps; that it split churches into two warring camps but it didn’t divide Freemasonry. A Confederate Freemason and a Union Freemason still held that strong bond of camaraderie and love for each other even on the battlefield.

Therefore I conclude that Freemasonry offers to me the most deep rooted relationships, outside that bonding with God and family, which I can obtain nowhere else. And that is something not only to die for but to live life at its fullest for.

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Interesting views on Catholicism and Freemasonry

I stumbled across this post from John Whitehead, a Catholic Historian in Oxford, in his blog Once I Was A Clever Boy who had some interesting thoughts on Catholicism and Freemasonry. In it he said:

Whether Freemasonry is a direct threat in this country [England] or in the English speaking world to Christianity may be doubted by some, but…its essential ideas are not supportive of the Church’s vision and message. Freemasons may not actively plot over their dinners how to do the Church down, but their ideals reinforce post-Enlightenment attitudes and ideas that are not conducive to revealed Catholic Christianity.

His post was based on another by Fr, Ray Blake from St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brighton England. From Fr Ray Blake’s blog – Masonry is a mortal sin…

The basic doctrine of Masonry is that whether we are a Jew, Christian or Muslim, we are all brothers, that these differences are unimportant. Ultimately of course that means that the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the Way to Salvation is undermined and unimportant, that being Catholic or CofE or Baptist or Methodist is immaterial, all are as good as one another. Masonry is ultimately about enshrining Enlightenment values which we see in the American and French Constitutions which are so antipathetic to the Catholic Faith: I mean values like “All men are created equal”, which are now so much part of modern thinking.

This piece also asks an important question:

Who in practice is against such concepts as liberty, equality, fraternity?

To answer:

The truth is that we Catholics are, or at least we would want to qualify such sound bites, as in fact society does in practice. All men are not created equal, some have special needs others have unique abilities, some will cost society dearly, some will contribute greatly.

I wonder then, could you extrapolate and say the Church does not see all men on the level towards God, are some closer to deity than others , no matter their statement of faith? Is there a caste system of faith behind the Roman Church of who is in more Grace than the other?

All this talk stemmed from an older piece Good Catholics Should Not be Masons, written in 2009, in the Catholic Online from an article written by Fr Ashley Beck who is assistant priest of Beckenham in south London, which reiterated something most Masons already knew:

The Catholic Church teaches that Freemasonry and Christianity are incompatible. The Holy See in 1983 reiterated the traditional position that Catholics who are Freemasons are in a state of grave sin and may not receive the sacraments – the Declaration on Masonic Associations was signed by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and makes it clear that local bishops cannot dispense from its provisions.

In this piece, the author gets to the heart of the matter and states:

The overriding problem is that in spite of what Freemasons claim, their way of life is a religion, with all of religion’s hallmarks. You can no more be a Freemason and a Christian than you can be a Muslim and a Christian. Catholics are committed to inter-faith dialogue and mutual respect, but this requires Freemasons to be honest about what they are. For Catholics, thinking about the reasons for the gulf between us can deepen our understanding of the Christian faith.

This rhetoric comes up every few years, and American Masonry quickly disassociates itself with the claim that its “different” than European Masonry and that the Church is OK with membership in both organizations.

Clearly, its not.

I wonder what, if anything, would come from the Vatican on the matter. We do have the 1983 Declaration, but is that valuable now 28 years on? and, I wonder to what degree American Masons pay heed to it, choosing their own free will and Liberty over doctrine? I feel for those brothers, to know that the agent of their faith sees them as in a state of grave sin. To be in a Grave Sin means that the individual still “sin[s] willfully after having the knowledge of the truth, [such that] there is now left no sacrifice for sins.” Essentially, it becomes a premeditated act of offense.

You can find a (long) list of Grave Sins at the website What is a Mortal Sin, of which I counted 48 – from Lust to Despair in Hope. All of which stems from Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Clearly, these various points raise a number of questions and points, to which I would refer the reader to an article, The Catholic Church and Freemasonry, published last year in which Rev Mr. John J. McManus, JD, JCL – a Church Deacon and attorney, spoke at Gate City Lodge and delved into these topics there and in person.  In that presentation, and in the piece, he enumerates 11 positions on why the church and Freemasonry are incompatible which had a significant outcome which lead to the 1983 fundamental conclusion which said:

“Even though Masonic organizations may not in particular cases plot against the faith, it would be still wrong to join them because their basic principles are irreconcilable with those of the Catholic faith.”

Given the tone of the Church, many in the Protestant arena have agreed with the same conclusion.

All of this brings us to some interesting and unanswered questions:

  1. Is a declaration of being a Faith necessary for a dialog between Masons and the Church?
  2. Does it take some proclamation of Faith to necessitate inclusion in an interfaith discussion in a free state?
  3. What greater degree of honesty is the Vatican looking for, or will Masonry forever be incompatible the same way as it see’s Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or any other non Catholic faith?
  4. Does masonry have the stamina or will to drive the conversation, or is it secure in its own practice without need of any recognition?
  5. What is at the center of the Church’s disdain for Masonry such that as it will sit with other faiths and recognize their values but squirms and frets at the inclusion of Freemasonry because it believes in the idea of equality of man? Isn’t that the purpose of interfaith dialogues, recognizing the universality of faiths role to mankind?
  6. Should Masonry align itself with the Church doctrine and strip away its Universal tenets and bring itself more into measure with those of the Catholic Church so as to bring the two organizations together so as to have these dialogs?
  7. Does it even matter to Masonry that its tenets intersect the doctrine of the Church?

Freemasonry is a threat to Mormonism

The Backyard Professor takes on the assertion that the Mormon church is threatened by Freemasonry.

He points out some very good points in the discussion.  It does lend itself to an assumption that Mormonism is true branch of Christianity.  I wonder how the same argument would be approached from a traditional Christian point of view.  Does Mormonism then take on the vestments of Masonry if it is not seen as a revealed truth to Joseph Smith?

square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

Christianizing Secular Society and the Cult of the Supreme Being

Recently on a local radio NPR station I happened upon a conversation with the Mayor Rex Parris, of Lancaster California. The conversation was about how the city of Lancaster, a sleepy Air Force town in the outskirts of Los Angeles county, is growing a “Christian community.”

In the discussion,  Mayor Parris, in a state of the city address, called for Lancaster to grow as a “”Christian community” and asked for voters to support a city ballot measure that would authorize daily Christian prayers at city council meetings. The message was framed in the context of the citizenry (voters) to promote the love of the neighbor, and the basis of the Christian faith. His foundational basis is that with a community 85% Christian, it shouldn’t be to much of a stretch to direct the community towards its natural leaning. Further, he indicated that the city had “lots” of christian churches and only one synagogue.  The closest mosque being a town over

The reaction to this has included charges filed by the ACLU and an investigation of Mayor Parris as having committed a hate crime.

This raises some interesting questions about what’s going on in Los Angeles, but it has some interesting synergy with other goings on that have been manifesting across the country. What comes to mind most recently is the new blog that has started publishing under the aegis of the battle between the Antients and the Moderns, (circa 1800’s). In it, the writer has taken several specific positions, but mentioned the idea of a “Cult of the Supreme Being” especially as espoused by Albert Pike.

The rational here is that as America was founded on the principal of religious freedom, it was established on the basis of Christian principal, and its on that principal that the shift from an ambiguous God to a specific interpretation of god is necessary to continue to flourish, in the case of Lancaster, Ca, and to recover the ideology that was lost in Freemasonry, in the case of Versus the Moderns.

Without taking any particular stance on this, so as not to promote a particular direction, is this a fair way in which to steer civic life, or is it time to rein in the laissez faire trade of religion (or its previous freedoms), and focus on the principals of one particular religion, to focus on making ours specifically a Christian society? Or, more close to home, should Freemasonry be governed solely on a Christian principal?  If that were to take place, would it alienate its non-christian membership?

Some concerns that I can see in the headlights include the alienation of those of other faiths, especially in communities that they may have very little representation, and then as an extension of that alienation, would pockets of other specific religions begin to spring up and within their own community, establish their religion as the basis of the community? It happens now at the secular level where you have pockets of people of similar mind, but what if you allow them to apply their faith into their civic leadership?

Another instance is something I came across in a Masonic reading circle (really more of an email chain that a brother sends out to a list). In it, he outlined clearly his disapproval at other faiths (in this case Wicca) going so far as to say that it was his belief (as applied from his Christian faith) that a pantheist should not be in the U.S. military. Again, I can understand the personal application of faith, but is it ok to assert ones own faith over another’s simply because the two are dogmatically opposed?

In the secular arena, when did theology step over into guiding democracy? I it fair to say that this simillar to the way politics in Iran is governed, a subservient republic under a theocratic leadership?

Is it a safe idea to move towards a less secular more faith based fundamental, or does the notion of a Cult of the Supreme Being invite others to participate with their religion in tow? Should faith guide us to the exclusion of others?

What do you think?

The Unlodged Mason

empty churchBack 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 personal interaction with other Freemasons. I generally agree with Fred’s conclusion on this subject and believe that that attending lodge functions is essential to the Masonic experience, but I also can identify with the plight of what Fred calls the unlodged Mason.

Fred correctly compares the unlodged Mason to the Christian that does not attend church. This is a fair comparison because it is my opinion that the purpose and structure of Masonry is much more similar to that of a religious organization than that of a community organization. So why do some Christians not attend church? Many Christians do not attend church because the goals of the church may not match the goals of the worshiper. Some churches have an all or nothing approach to dogma and require that you agree with the church’s opinion on every matter. Other churches continually ask for more and more out of their volunteers which eventually sucks all of the enthusiasm out of the those in the congregation that offer their time and resources. Then, there are also those worshipers that attend service or Bible study searching for answers to their complex questions about spirituality and that constantly receive replies that are either not straightforward or that sidestep the question all together. This constant cycle of a church not aligning with the individual worshiper’s values, requiring him to over-commit to the organization, and not providing him with the spiritual knowledge he seeks results in the Christian walking away from the congregation.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what occurs in our Masonic lodges as well. Numerous individual Masons have been turned away from the lodge because he brought new ideas to the assembly and was told that “this isn’t how we’ve done it before.” Lodges often volunteer their young, enthusiastic members for every task which inevitably interferes with that member’s family and vocational responsibilities. Finally, many men come to the Masonic lodge looking for a method of self improvement and enlightenment and find an organization that neglects education almost entirely.

Freemasonry often plays a big role in the lives of unlodged Masons. I have personally met many Masons who don’t attend lodge that have noticed my ring. They are always excited to interact with another Mason and often mention how important the fraternity is to them. Other unlodged Masons are avid Masonic researchers. Still others would gladly come back to the lodge if they felt that they would not be compelled to volunteer for every single lodge function and constantly put the lodge first in their lives.

It is also important to note that the lodge is not always at fault for each individual Mason that does not attend lodge. Some Masons have unrealistic expectations of the fraternity, others probably should have never joined, and there are those that just don’t feel like going. For some reason, these men continue to pay their dues, but they are just not interested in interacting with their assemblies. However, our lodges can and should work to make functions more attractive to those that do not attend lodge for the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. Our lodges should not do this for the sake of the organization, but for the sake of those individual Brothers because they do need real, personal Masonic interaction.

If our lodges accept and tolerate individual opinions and values, if we expect a reasonable amount of involvement from our members, and if we offer the spiritual and moral enlightenment that our Brothers seek, our unlodged Masons are much more likely to start attending lodge. With a wider variety of Brothers, the beautiful Masonic tapestry will be enhanced and become even more colorful. Like Brother Fred wrote in his article: there ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.