Thursday, November 22, 2007

Discussion and Masonic Philosophy


Of our own free will and accord, we are free men and Free Masons, have done several things. We will continue to act in manner that is dictated by our conscience and reason. There is nothing more that we can do. We will not be subjected to the attacks and illicit behavior of those in brief positions of authority that are “howling for our blood.” In other words, we will not deal with looters, thieves, or thugs. I have been approached by three dear Brothers who have asked us the question that no other Mason has. “Why?” They asked and they truly wanted answers and to understand. These Brothers met me on the level, as a Mason I should expect this from all Masons. There have been far too many that have taken this as an opportunity to fulfill some personal vendettas against me. So be it, Truth will always shine through, and it is starting to now.

Freedom of Association

It is our belief that any private organization is free to limit who may become a member of their organization. That control stops there. No organization, private or public, has a moral right to control the private life of its members. This is not the time to pull out a book of regulations and quote some rule that is immoral to prove that a moral right exists. This is the time to discuss openly the moral justification of those types of rules.

Most Grand Lodges have a rule that forbids their members from attending a co-Masonic lodge. That seems to be pretty cut and dried. Please put your pitchforks and torches down, I am not a member of co-Masonic body though I have thought about. No man should be punished for his thoughts. We find that rule to be immoral. We find it immoral because it in no way affects the various Grand Lodges in this country yet the rule exists not to enhance the Craft but to limit the freedom of association of Masons outside of the lodge.

It is said that a woman cannot be a Mason. It goes to reason then that any organization, no matter what they call it, is not Masonic. So why is that rule in place? There is an intellectual dissonance in this case. If they are not Masons then forbidding a Mason from attending or joining a co-Masonic body is the equivalent of forbidding him to join the Rotary Club.

If indeed a co-Mason is a Mason then we have to return to the original premise and open further discussion. Masons do not need to be kept safe from ideas; ideas obviously need to be kept safe from Masons from time to time. If a woman cannot be made a Mason, as we are told, then where did the female Masons come from? We cannot have it both ways.

The argument that this rule is in place to preserve the Craft is empty. No damage can possibly come to the fraternity if a Mason were to visit a co-Masonic lodge. Regardless, we must ask what exactly we are protecting the Craft from. Girls don’t have coodies, get over it. Many of the arguments that I have heard about this subject sound similar in origin to the tired arguments used against Prince Hall Free Masonry.

Territorial Exclusivity

This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in Free Masonry. A Grand Lodge’s authority begins and ends with its constituted lodges. It goes not further than that. It does not include a specific geographic boundary as Free Masonry itself is not constrained to lines on a map. The Grand Lodge of Michigan, in a stroke of genius and morality, did decide (I believe that it was in 1996 – fact checkers please check that for me) that its authority was only over its constituted lodges. The Grand Lodge of Michigan has also extended recognition and built the bridge of Brotherhood with the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan. Bravo. Most Grand Lodges in the United States have also extended recognition to Prince Hall Grand Lodges. It is right and proper to do so. By these actions should we not question further the misapplication of territorial exclusivity?

Since it has been decided that the Prince Hall Grand Lodges are entirely regular should we not extend recognition to all Prince Hall Grand Lodges? Including those that are in certain Southern states? There will be some that will say that I am acting outside of my authority. How drôle. I am not acting on any authority. I am not acting at all. I am asking a question that we should ask, and that we should answer.

The only stain on the Grand Lodge of Michigan regarding the issue of recognition of Prince Hall Grand Lodges is that it took so long for it to come about. Of course, the sins of the father are not the sins of the son. The good Brothers of the Grand Lodge of Michigan did correct the historic error and may they always be remembered for that. Mistakes happen; we are only human after all. It is important that it was corrected.

Lodge Sovereignty

This is not a chicken and egg situation. Grand Lodges were formed by Lodges. Lodges formed these Grand Lodges to administer to the needs of the Lodges, not the other way around. Some times this is forgotten. Lodges were formed by Masons to administer to the needs of Masons. The sovereignty of an individual Mason cannot be superseded by that of the Lodge. That is the key to the free will and accord that we discuss so often. Allow the natural progression of logic (one of the seven liberal arts) to guide you on the natural conclusions of this.

As there are different men with different needs in Free Masonry we cannot expect one model of a lodge to suit all of their needs. Regarding this issue it is important that a lodge be able to develop its own character. Ritual is an important aspect of a lodge’s character. Allowing a lodge to select and work a regular ritual would do much to enhance the character and egregore of the lodge. This is practiced in several jurisdictions around the world. It has been quite successful. It will also allow us, as Masons; access that vast tapestry that is Free Masonry. It is our heritage.

These are not attacks of arguments. These are simply points of discussions. Answers to these questions are important.



LVX said...

Co-Masonry: This is going to sound really backwards, but I am not sure if I am a fan of it.

I am a fan of women becoming Masons, but I feel that both sexes do well separated when attending to matters of the soul.

If anyone has ever witnessed the dynamic of a couple in an organization, there is sometimes limiting baggage that comes in with the relationship. Sometimes a partner will downplay their mates authority or relegate their contributions as secondary and keep them in the shadows.

Also - look out when a relationship is in the crash and burn stage - it tends to bring unnecessary stress into the organization as people feel that they need to select sides in order to be supportive. I have seen supposedly enlightened people irreparably tear an organization apart due to a relationship failure.

I believe that it is very beneficial for both men and women to find solace in segregated gatherings. In that respect they can find solutions as individuals and bring them home to share. This way a couple has the full support of their respective peers when needed.

We may learn to subdue our passions, however, we are all still fallible. Please note that I did not even bring up the subject of attraction, spurned suitors or crushes.

If I was redesigning masonry, I would allow men and women to join the same lodge as equals. I would then create 2 segregated organizations under the main lodge title to cater to the spiritual needs of the individuals. Each sub-group would perform the degree work and hold their meetings on different nights. All other events, such as educational seminars, tracing boards and social events could be coed.

This is one way of allowing women to become true equals in the Masonic fraternity. I am sure that there are better ones out there.

I believe that Prince Hall Masons are my Brothers and we should be able to join and/or sit in the respective lodges.

In my preferred model, the Grand Lodge would be a coordinating and communication body - period. All lodges set standards by vote: 1 vote for each lodge based on the vote of the lodge membership. Their would be no Grand Officers, only 1 representative from each lodge working together as a committee.

John Galt said...

Perhaps I should have used a different example than a co-Masonic body to explain my position. Regardless, I did so let's move forward with that.
If there is a reason for an all male lodge than logic would demand that there is a reason for an all female lodge. Since nothing is quite as much a binary problem as it appears there is also a equivalent reason for a Co-Masonic Lodge.

I am glad that you brought up the potential problems between the genders in a lodge-like setting. It is an important issue to discuss. I would first recommend that any Co-Masonic lodge would have to watch its gate much closer.
Secondly, all of the points that you offered (which were quite valid) were also used to keep women out of jobs that belonged to men. As women left the receptionist desk and typing pools and entered the board room it turned out that it was not a problem.
It would be good though, no matter how Free Masonry evolves in this country, to find a way in which men and women can meet on the level.
No matter, this is not about Co-Masonry. This is about freedom of association.

btw, the Co-Masonic bodies in France are doing quite well as are the Co-Masonic bodies in the United States.

We are already working in segregated Craft lodges. This is not a theory.


Candide said...

Brother Brandt,
I understand that you have thought long and deep about this co-masonry thing. Although I am not a Catholic I know the Pope should be a man. The same goes for woman masons its wrong.
As a young man I couldn't wait for the latest French idea to expand to every beach, topless bathing but then came the German Grand mother with her full careful what you wish for.

John Galt said...

Brother Candide,
Our personal personal feelings, whatever they may be, are simply that - our personal feelings. We cannot with a clear conscience enforce our feelings on others without being a looter or destroyer of the minds of men. With that in mind we are left with reason to negotiate and work with each other.
As I may have mentioned in the past, no one has to join the Orange Order but that does not destroy their right to exist as an organization. That is the trick about Freedom. If your freedom means anything, then everyone's freedom means something.
What a person does with their free time is none your or my concern as long as it does not interfere with the inalieanble rights of other citizens.


Tony said...

Brother Candidate,
You are entitled to your opinion, but your post doesn't explain WHY a woman shouldn't be a Mason. What is it about being a man that makes me more qualified to practice our gentle Craft than a woman?
Saying that it is "just wrong" just doesn't cut it.

John Galt said...

I am a lot more interested in why some would get caught up in the analogy (Co-Masonry) instead of focusing on the key issue. The key issue in that particular section is "freedom of association."


Anagram Anonymous said...

Being slightly facetious here, but does that include freedom from association? That really is a significant part of the issue at hand.

Anagram Anonymous said...

Despite not being able to visit your lodge as I am a regular, I break no oaths to say that I admire this lodge and wish it the best of luck. If the future brings you again to the lonely field of operating without a GL or GO, you have proven to me at least that the spirit of brotherhood exists here. Of course, my blessing is not necessary, but I wish you well in your future journeys.

John Galt said...

I actually don't think that is facetious at all. It is a really important question.
Freedom of Association requires that there be Freedom from Association. Liberty includes not having to associate with anyone that you don't wish to. It is a beautiful thing indeed.


Y. said...

D.: Bro.:

I would love to go a little further: Some LL.: focus on esoteric aspects. Others are formed by older man, some LL.: prefer to work under the A.A.S.R, others work with Royal Arch... Some have the book of law as bible and so on and so forth.
Because each man is different from one another, but with a lot in common; so are LL.: as an analogy.

Why is it so hard to picture Male LL.:, female only LL.: and mixed LL.:? All united as the O.: states?

(Please forgive my english, I come from a brazilian Or.: )

If Landmarks are not supposed to be writen, why do we have to many lists of them? Pike, Mackey, lomas etc...?

Some forbid women join, others never even mention such...

Perhaps it's indeed a Solar problem or maybe, just maybe, it trully has a religious aspect...

S & F,