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2007 Archive Masonic Research News & Views -- Audi Vide Dice -- TSMR

Pointers,   Highlights,   Essential Fractal Excerpts,   Summaries,   Contexts,   Comments ...

News & Views 2007 Archive


2007-12-31 All 42 Issues of Freemasonry Today Free Online [X] [X]

The UGLE has acquired Freemasonry Today magazine, and merged it with its previous house journal, MQ, to create its new house journal: Freemasonry Today. The new FMT will be freely available online, as MQ Magazine has always been. And the scope will contain elements of both, although FMT will no longer be an independent magazine. The only remaining independent English magazine about Freemasonry is The Square, [X] which has just doubled its page format to "letter" size.

2007-12-27 Roger Dachez: The GAOTU & God, a French Perspective [X]

[ Fractal Excerpt -- 500 / 2072 words ]

the Masonry of the Premier Grand Lodge, was ... a social and intellectual answer to the religious and political problems of the country. ...

During all the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, French Masonry really lived in a continual ambiguity. ... During the course of the 19th century, if you attached great value to the ideals of tolerance, liberty of conscience and universal fraternity, Freemasonry was the only place in France where you could put these tenets into practice, and by the end of the century, just doing that was being involved in politics. Had the old French monarchy taken the way opened some decades before by the English one, and French Freemasonry would have probably developed in a different way. ...

France is an old Catholic country ... only 51% of the French consider themselves as Catholic and only 15% go to Church at least one time a month. But, more amazing and typically French, 50% and not more of French Catholics believe in God and 80% of the latter see God as a force, not a personal being, ...

before the French Revolution it was forbidden to declare oneself a freethinker, and in 1766 - not in the Middle Ages! - a young aristocrat, the Chevalier de la Barre, was burnt alive because he had refused to raise his hat along the way of a religious procession. ...

in 1877, when the GODF (the Grand Orient of France) decided to remove from its Constitutions, not the mention of the GAOTU - no - but the compulsory "belief in God and the immortality of the soul", the Grand Master ..., Frederic Desmons, was a protestant minister ... even for a protestant minister, in France, the meaning of the word "God" was Catholic! It meant the power of the Church, the submission to the Church, the rejection of liberty of conscience in religious matters. Centuries of intellectual domination and, too often, of persecution in the name of ... "God"! ... But, ... in 1877 or at any other time, neither the GODF nor any other Grand Lodge in France ever suppressed the mention of the GAOTU. ... nowadays, in the majority of the lodges of the GODF, there is no reference to the Great Architect, but the great majority of all French Freemasons - including many members of the Grand Orient - perhaps 80% of them, when opening or closing their lodges, invoke the Great Architect.

So the final question is: why is it usually so difficult for French Freemasons to declare that the GAOTU is God ? ... A country, finally, where 50% of Catholics don't believe in God without any problem. ...

For French Freemasons, ... fundamentally, Freemasonry is an intellectual commitment. ... for most of them, ... there is a moral, intellectual and spiritual "keystone" in the masonic building, and they call it "GAOTU". ...

For many French Freemasons, an English lodge is the outbuilding of a parish church: something dark, strained and boring. ...


[ please read the entire paper ]

2007-12-19 Women's Lodges to be Chartered in Cuba [X] [X]

[Excerpts from IPS News]

HAVANA, Dec 18 (IPS) - A group of women are looking forward to founding the first women's Masonic Lodge in Cuba next year, and so put an end to their traditional exclusion from Freemasonry, an esoteric society which is based on the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.

They are being helped in this endeavour by the Women's Grand Lodge of Chile, which will send a delegation to Cuba in mid-2008 to initiate several dozen women in Havana and Pinar del Rio ...

Masonry is self-described as a progressive, philanthropic institution made up of free-thinking persons of good character who seek self-improvement. People of different religious creeds and atheists coexist within it, as do Masons of different political and philosophical persuasions.

But one of the ancient fundamental precepts of the United Grand Lodge of England, which sponsors Regular Lodges all over the world, is to exclude women from the brotherhood. ...

However, Jose Manuel Collera, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Cuba from 2000 to 2003, says that "like many other Masons," he thinks this rule is now outmoded and should be revoked. ...

In his view, excluding women has caused the order to lose its appeal in the modern world. "Women are the most important element in society; they constitute half of humanity, and they are mothers of the other half. There is no doctrinal, philosophical, esoteric or initiatory reason to prevent a woman from becoming a Mason," he argued.

2007-12-19 Cuba: International Academic Symposium on Masonry [X] [X]

[Excerpts from ACN -- Cuban News Agency]

Havana, Nov 29 (acn) The First International Symposium on Latin American and Caribbean Masonry will take place in Havana from December 5-8.

"[Lobaina] recalled that masonry had a great influence on the independence, culture and formation of states in Latin America and the Caribbean."

"Lobaina also recalled that Cuban independence heroes such as Jose Marti, Ignacio Agramonte and Antonio Maceo were linked to masonry and also recalled preparatory meetings led by Fidel Castro at the Masonic Logde of Artemisa prior to the attack on the Moncada garrison in 1953."

2007-12-18 Newgrange and Maeshowe Solstice Webcasts [X] [X]

Weather forecasts predict clear skies on Friday. [X] [X]
North American times: Newgrange 03:30 a.m. and Maeshowe 09:10 a.m. EST, roughly.
General information:     Newgrange (sunrise) [X] [X]    Maeshowe (sunset) [X]     Archaeocosmology and Megalithics [X]

Report at 2007.12.21 09:20: The weather was perfect!
The film will be archived on the Newgrange site for later viewing.
Don't forget Maeshowe at sunset in 5 hours.

2007-12-16 The Story of Stuff [X]

"From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world."

2007-12-15 Religious Perspectives -- Christians, Muslims, (& Free-Masons?) [X] [X] [#]

2007.09 "A Common Word" signed by 138 Muslim Scholars [X]

2007.11.26 "300 Christian Scholars Support Muslim Peace Message" [X]

2007.12.03 "A statement written by Yale Divinity School scholars calling for loving relations between the Christian and Muslim communities has received a warm response from a number of prominent Muslim leaders."



Excerpts follow:

As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. A Common Word Between Us and You identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism. ...

"Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world's population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world." ...

We applaud when you state that "justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part" of the love of neighbor. When justice is lacking, neither love of God nor love of the neighbor can be present. When freedom to worship God according to one's conscience is curtailed, God is dishonored, the neighbor oppressed, and neither God nor neighbor is loved.



In 1723, Modern Free-Masonry declared: [X]

"only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree" ...
"that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty" ...

"whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating
true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance."


One examination of Freemasonry can be found here: [X]
One resource on (Abrahamic) Religion may be found here: [X]
On Religion and State: [X] [X] [X]

2007-12-13 UGLE's Northampton on Regularity & Recognition, Royal Arch, Euro-Conference, and Retention [X] [X] [#]

From the 2007.12.12 speech:

"... representatives of forty four European Grand Lodges ... we all subscribe to the same basic principles and tenets and are determined to maintain and preserve regularity. ...

There is no doubt that the Royal Arch is NOT the completion of just the third degree. ... we should all seek to describe the Royal Arch as the next step in Freemasonry after the Craft degrees and the final step in pure ancient Masonry. It is, of course, both an integral part of Craft masonry as well as being its completion. ...

At the third Rulers' Forum meeting ... Retention depends on mentoring and education ... information and guidance for mentors from the interview stage through to third degree and beyond."


From the 2007.11.05 speech:

"Regularity is an absolute. [1] ...

Those Basic Principles, ... published in 1929 ... developed and refined over more than 150 years ... fundamental and unchangeable, [2] ... further confirmed ... in 1938 ... "Aims and Relationships of the Craft". ... if any of these Basic Principles were removed or varied, that ... would materially alter the nature of Freemasonry. [3] ...

Freemasonry has no role outside Freemasonry and ... the only influence it should be seeking is over itself and its members. We firmly believe that it is not Freemasonry but the individual who can have a positive influence on society. We see Freemasonry as an intensely personal journey of self-discovery, knowledge and personal development. [4] ...

Regular Freemasonry is not ... a lobby group [5] ...

There was a suggestion that there should be an addition to the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition -- that of territorial exclusivity, in other words that there should only be one Grand Lodge per territory or country. That suggestion carried the implication that a Grand Lodge was not sovereign unless it had sole control of the Craft in its territory or country. We do not see sovereignty in terms of territory; to us sovereignty is a Grand Lodge having sole authority over its constituent Lodges and members, wherever they might be situated, and not sharing that authority with any other power such as a Supreme Council. [6] ...

In the United States -- where exclusive territorial jurisdiction was a principle for regularity [7] -- they have had to vary their views, as in many States the State Grand Lodge now shares its territory with a Prince Hall Grand Lodge, as the Home Grand Lodges do in the Bahamas, Caribbean and West Indies. [8] ...

The common factor in all these examples of shared territory is that the sharing is by mutual consent, and that is surely the key. If two or more Grand Lodges wish to share territory, why should we impose an arbitrary impediment on them doing so? [9] ...

A Grand Lodge invading the territory of another Grand Lodge is a completely different matter. Such an action would be intolerable, contrary to all the principles of international Masonic relations, and lay the invading Grand Lodge open to charges of irregularity and the inevitability of having its recognition withdrawn. [10] ...

Recognition is a bi-lateral act between two sovereign powers. [11] ...

It is not, however, a "right of regularity", but a privilege. [12] ...

I understand that recognition by the United Grand Lodge of England carries with it a cachet that speeds recognition by other Grand Lodges. Because of these factors, we have to make certain that what we recognise is not only regular but it is firmly rooted within a stable country, free from political interference, will maintain its regularity and has a good prospect of surviving and expanding. In short, we cannot get it wrong! [13] ..."

[1-13] Annotations available separately.

2007-12-11 West Virginia Timeline and Background Context [X] [#]

With various mentions of events in West Virginia, there is some confusion as to who did what, to whom, when, why, and how. Hopefully this timeline and context will provide an overview and a guide to the available documents, narratives, and comments.

Grand Lodge of West Virginia Event Timeline

2005.04.11, 2005.06.01 French issues Edicts reprimanding Cottrell et al (news article)
2005.10.10-11 GLWV AC
2005.10.11 Haas installed as GM
2006. ??.?? Haas issues Ruling about minimum age (reflecting legal age change from 21 to 18)
2006. ??.?? Haas issues Directive about Masonic Youth
2006.08.22 Haas issues Edict setting aside and expunging French Edict (on Cottrell et al).
2006.09.18 Haas promulgates Agenda and Rulings, in advance of GL AC.
2006.10.09-10 GLWV AC
2006.10.10 Haas Agenda Adopted by GL AC.
2006.10.10 Coleman installed as GM
2006.10.11 Coleman Edict 1 (anti-OES)
2006.10.15 Coleman Edict 2 (voiding Haas Agenda (1-16) ("improper voting"))
2006.10.18 Coleman Edict 3 (voiding Haas Ruling, Edict, Directive)
2006.11.24 Coleman Rulings (Research Lodge, Race, Forms; c.f.: 2006.09.18)
2006.12.02 Haas allegedly proposed and advocated ...
2007.08.30 Haas allegedly promoted Masonic-Crusade ...
2007.09.16 Masonic-Crusade domain registered
2007.09.23 First message on Masonic-Crusade Blog
2007.10.01-06 Haas allegedly promoted Masonic-Crusade web site ...
2007.10.08-09 GLWV AC
2007.10.09 Montgomery installed as GM
2007.10.26 Haas allegedly proposed and advocated ...
2007.11.05 Haas allegedly insubordinate and disrespectful ...
2007.11.19 Montgomery Edict Expelling Haas and Bosely
2007.11.28-12.08 Haas and Bosely removed from GLWV web pages (PGM's, Lecturers)
2007.12.07 Expelled WV PGM Frank Haas invited to be Philalethes Speaker
2008.02.08 PGM Frank Haas addresses Philalethes and receives 5 minute standing ovation
2008.02.13 Philalethes sends Haas lecture to Montgomery, inviting response for co-publication

All 9 of the above source documents are here: [X]


Recent GLWV PGM's:

Paul V. Cottrell (1997)
Seba T. Anderson (1998)
Kyle L. Cochran (2000)
Gary L. Gilkeson (2001)
Harry F. Robinson (2002)
Robert M. Vincent (2003)
William R. French (2004)
Frank J. Haas (2005)
Charles F. Coleman, II (2006)

Charlie L. Montgomery, Grand Master (2007.10.09 - )


From the Grand Lodge of West Virginia Proceedings:

FRANK JOSEPH HAAS
GRAND MASTER 2005-2006

Most Worshipful Frank Joseph Haas was elected and installed as the 133rd Grand Master of Masons in West Virginia on Tuesday, October 11, 2005, at the 141st Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge held in Charleston, West Virginia.
...
Frank Joseph Haas was born on October 3, 1957, at Steubenville, Ohio, the son of Robert Pierce Haas and Mary K. (Kotch) Haas. His father, Robert Pierce Haas, is a member of Wellsburg Lodge No. 2.
...
Most Worshipful Brother Haas entered the College of Law at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia, in the fall of 1979, graduating as a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1982.
...
Administrative Law Judge, Workers Compensation Division 1991 - to present
...
Most Worshipful Brother Haas began his distinguished Masonic career in Wellsburg Lodge No. 2, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons in Wellsburg, West Virginia, where he was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on June 9, 1986
...
In recognition of his dedicated service to the Rite, Most Worshipful Brother Haas was coroneted a 33rd Degree Honorary in Washington, D.C. in October 2005.
...
Much revered and admired by his Brethren, Most Worshipful Frank J. Haas is a man of great intellectual character and integrity. He is a member of the prestigious American Mensa and Western Pennsylvania Mensa.
...
Most Worshipful Frank J. Haas is a revered and sincere leader who exemplifies integrity in his daily walk with his fellowman. Quick of wit and keen of mind, he enters the Grand East through the door marked service and is well qualified to serve the Craft as Grand Master.



Quoted in the Haas Agenda:

"Another constraining influence is coming forward with the development of Masonic study. Nothing is so dogmatic as ignorance. A better and more general acquaintance with the history, philosophy, and legal traditions of the craft is certain to make our law-makers more cautions, more intelligent, and more effective."
-- R. Pound, Masonic Jurisprudence 116-118 (1919)


Researchers will be interested to know that there have been recent reports of similar cases of allegedly extrajudicial expulsions or erasures in Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama, as well as threats and "silence" orders in Florida.

Instances of Grand Masters being "punished" for acting honourably are not unherad of. The following pattern is well known among Masonic Researchers, more and more of whom are now non-Masons:

Examples of spectacular failures of some of the noblest Grand Masters in North America, in trying to do what was just and right:

1898 WA Upton -- GL recognized legitimacy of Prince Hall Masons, but was bullied into retraction by other GL's
1948 MA Johnson -- GL recognized legitimacy of Prince Hall Masons, but was bullied into retraction by other GL's
1992 ON Byrne -- Grand Master took steps to recognize Prince Hall Masons, but later GM's stonewalled recognition
2003 MN Tilton -- GL recognized the Grand Lodge of France, but was bullied into retraction by other GL's
2006 WV Haas -- GL adopted GM's reforms, but later GM's repudiated the reforms and expelled PGM Frank Haas


Finally, there is the question of whether Freemasons should have a social consciousness and a concern for transparency about what happens to Freemasons and the integrity of Freemasonry elsewhere. After all, a Freemason who is unjustly expelled anywhere is automatically expelled everywhere. One moderator of a public discussion group reprimanded someone who had posted a Grand Master's edict:

"E___, what possible value did you think it would be to you to air West Virginia's dirty laundry in public? Why do you do this, knowing that as you do so you injure and embarrass all the WV Masons that subscribe to this newsgroup? You're not even a WV Mason; it's none of your business.

Be it known that, had the choice come to me, I would not have approved your posting of a Grand Master's Edict which is not of your jurisdiction, and therefore I say again it's none of your business.

That is why I choose to castigate your actions publicly, rather than privately; I do not consider your posting of the GM's edict to be the action of a True Brother, and therefore you are not worthy of the courtesy I extend to my Masonic Brethren."


That moderator is a Grand Lodge Officer.

Another moderator, added to the above public castigation by an authority figure:

"For some reason, D___, some Masons love to gossip. They gossip about other Lodges. They go on the internet and gossip about other jurisdictions. Some have holier-than-thou blogs about it.

Is their no rough ashlar of their own which needs attention?

I'd rather spend my time answering questions from our E.As about procedure and symbolism, getting out to other Lodges and seeing our ceremonies done well, calling a Bro. who just got out of hospital after an extremely painful series of operations, than being a Masonic busybody. There's a reason Prudence is a cardinal virtue.

I haven't followed whatever happened in W.V. In fact, I don't know what happened. I haven't read any of the posts about it. While I'm interested in customs of other jurisdictions and enjoy talking about them, their internal politics are their own business. I wouldn't appreciate some Mason in West Virginia gossiping about my lodges in public. The Golden Rule should apply."


That moderator is also a Grand Lodge Officer.

So, reaction ranges from a few who are unable to reconcile these events with Freemasonry as they imagine it, to many who are annoyed with those who won't shut up and mind their own business.

"We must remain firm in our conviction, that hymns to the gods and praises of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admitted into our state." -- Plato

2007-12-07 Philalethes Society invites WV PGM Frank Haas as Keynote Speaker for Annual Feast [X] [X]

The Philalethes Society announced today that M.W. Frank J. Haas, PGM Grand Lodge of West Virginia, MPS, will be the Featured Speaker at the 2008 Annual Assembly, Feast and Forum, in Washington D.C., on February 8, 2008. PGM Haas was expelled by his successor's successor in office 2007-11-19.

2007-12-04 Fred Milliken: What Really Makes a Successful Lodge [X]

[Excerpts follow]

FIVE categories or Lodge Models.

AMENITIES ORIENTATED

Model One says that what is lacking in Freemasonry is some comforts of life. It says that Freemasonry has become miserly, its Lodges bare bones and its practices devoid of celebration. All that is needed, this model exhorts, are some really great meals and some social functions such as Ladies Nights, Christmas Parties and summer barbeques, all subsidized by the Lodge. ...

EVENT ORIENTATED

Model Two says that Blue Lodge is boring and it says that it is boring because if all you are doing is business meetings you are not really practicing Masonry or doing anything different from what many other organizations do. And this is precisely the reason that many Brothers flee the Blue Lodge for the more inspiring confines of the York Rite or Scottish Rite. Put some programs together, says this model, that help express Freemasonry and/or that celebrate the Craft. ...

RITUAL ORIENTATED

Model Three says that what is lacking in Blue Lodge is well performed ritual. Reading from the book and/or stuttering through a lecture while having to be prompted many times is not inspiring at all. This model points to well performed degrees as not only motivational to the candidate(s) but also the basis from which all Masonic knowledge is transmitted. ...

CHARITY ORIENTATED

Model Four says that Freemasonry is dying because nobody knows who we are. The solution, says this Model, is to get out into the community with Masonic backed charities and Masonic community service and become known for being a force in the community. This will not only add zest, meaning and purpose to your Lodge but will also give you the recognition factor which will lead to more applications. Serve the community and the community will come knocking at your door. ...

KNOWLEDGE ORIENTATED

This model says that successful Masonry is a philosophical society that really makes good men better rather than just offering lip service to the performance of this important task. It says that it is this character building process that binds Brothers into the mystic tie and keeps them an active Mason. It says that the other Models are superficial, making superficial Masonry where style is honored over substance. This model claims that the instruction, study, education and research into the symbolic meanings of Masonry is what stirs the soul of men to commit themselves to active participation, that Masonry is a way of life and that the effect that it can have on a man's life is so profound that he is forevermore bound to the Craft. ...

2007-12-03 Fred Milliken: Of Revolutions & Reforms [X] [#]

This paper concludes that working within the system is necessarily counterproductive. And that to expect politically motivated leaders to adopt good ideas on their merit is naive. Instead it urges those who wish to work to restore genuine Freemasonry, to take another course. To think, write, talk, and act outside the box.

The following cases may illustrate why working within the system is considered futile. They are examples of spectacular failures of some of the noblest Grand Masters in North America, in trying to do what was just and right:

1898 WA Upton -- GL recognized legitimacy of Prince Hall Masons, but was bullied into retraction by other GL's
1948 MA Johnson -- GL recognized legitimacy of Prince Hall Masons, but was bullied into retraction by other GL's
1992 ON Byrne -- Grand Master took steps to recognize Prince Hall Masons, but later GM's stonewalled recognition
2003 MN Tilton -- GL recognized the Grand Lodge of France, but was bullied into retraction by other GL's
2006 WV Haas -- GL adopted GM's reforms, but later GM's repudiated the reforms and expelled PGM Frank Haas
[Excerpts follow]
...
How can we as individuals best influence the course that our Lodges and Grand Lodges pursue? The remedy has been proposed that we need to work harder, get involved, run for a Grand Lodge office, rise to some prominence and power and then work to change the system from within.
...
The only grandeur left in Freemasonry was in political maneuvering.
...
Today the local Masonic Lodge is scourged of all its individuality and its ability to be creative on its own. It is in the hip pocket of the Grand Master and the oligarchy that rules from on high. ... Faced with these realities you can, outside the inner circle, but within the system work very hard to reform Freemasonry and return it to its former grandeur but all that work will yield little result when most of those in the system with power to implement are only concerned in putting a feather in their own cap.
...
You don't make change by working inside a system where you have to toe the line and work hard to further programs that are the exact opposite of what you want to do, - in order to get ahead. You can't further the programs of a Grand Lodge which you know are destroying Freemasonry in order to stay in the system and eventually get enough power to change it. By the time you get the power, you have worked so hard to destroy it, that you have actually destroyed it. You can't work against what you believe in to get ahead. If the present system is corrupt and you are absolutely convinced that the direction it is going in is self-defeating then helping those in power to do more of the same is stupid.
...
Now you may stay in the system but that does not mean you are going to work to further it. And that does not mean you are going to enter the corporate Masonic ladder. What you are going to do at every opportunity you get is to point out the folly of the present course of action. You are not going to enter into personal attacks but rather intellectual debates challenging the power structure to change course.
...
But you can't change them you can only defeat them. ... Power respects power. Power does not respect ideas. Ideas cannot defeat power -- only ideas with power behind them.
...
And finally what is the way out of this Masonic political power trip? How do we get politics out of Masonry and get leaders who are concerned with the quality of the Craft not their own well being? The reason we got into this mess in the first place is that we stopped researching, studying and teaching the mysteries of Freemasonry and venerating our writers, researchers and speakers. ...


[ Here is a related item: Tim Bryce: Working Inside/Outside the System ]

2007-12-02 W.Bro Alex Davidson: The Masonic Concept of Liberty: Freemasonry and the Enlightenment [X] [#]

"In spite of their rhetoric of equality, the early lodges were elitist, drawing most of their members from the literate and modestly to greatly affluent classes. The leadership was overwhelmingly Whig, and powerful and influential Whigs at that. Originally, the Whigs had been the revolutionary force behind the drive for constitutionalism and liberty: now they had become part of the Establishment, and sought to discourage further revolutionary fervour by emphasising peaceability and law-abiding behaviour. This, more than Jacobite and Hanoverian sensitivities, is the source of the masonic prohibitions on subversion, and even the discussion of politics in lodge. Jacob remarks:

'The Freemason coveted affluence; he wanted prosperity, but without decadence. His is the conscience of those Whig gentlemen who wanted to live like the court and reap its benefits, while managing somehow to avoid the inevitable slide into licentiousness and corruption. So the masonic publicists emphasise the ritualistic and fraternal aspects of food, drink, and song, seeking to make them into symbolic expressions of masonic unity, harmony and moderation.' (p. 67)." ...

"In summary, we can say that Freemasonry was one of the channels, perhaps the main channel, by which the values of the Enlightenment were transmitted from Britain to America, France, the Netherlands and, eventually, to all civilised countries. The essentials of the message were liberty, tolerance and sociability, and indeed as Immanuel Kant, the late-Enlightenment philosopher maintained, the idea that through reason, all men could find a way of life that is satisfying and fulfilling. What can we finally say to our hypothetical puzzled mason on the great paradox of Freemasonry? Firstly, we can with tolerable safety endorse the premise of Giuliano di Bernardo that 'A mason is a peaceable subject to those Civil Powers that guarantee the expression of fundamental freedom.' Without liberty, Freemasonry cannot exist.

Secondly, we can show from history that Freemasonry was inevitably the bearer of revolutionary Enlightenment ideas where liberty did not exist. We know with reasonable certainty that the French lodges did not practice politics, yet their philosophy could not but cause many of their members to be active participants in the politics of revolutionary liberation movements. Freemasonry may have been officially neutral, but its members were not. And finally, we can remark that we are all, indirectly, the beneficiaries of Freemasonry and the Enlightenment: we now regard their general political values as so normal that we tend to take them for granted. Secularism, constitutionalism and parliamentarism are their heritage, obviating the need for revolutionary action to achieve liberty. That, perhaps, is the most important conclusion that can be drawn from this brief study."

2007-12-01 W.Bro Alex Davidson: Freemasonry, the Royal Society, and the Age of Discovery. [X] [#]

"This article written by Alex Davidson looks at the origins of the Royal Society from the time of the Civil War and King Charles II. The article looks at the links between the Society of Freemasons who were the custodians of the arts of mathematics, particularly geometry, originally learned from the Arabs, who were much in advance of Europe in these disciplines during the Middle Ages."

Section Headers:
  • A Country in Turmoil
  • The Secret Society
  • The Society for Promoting Philosophical Knowledge by Experiment
  • The Royal Charters
  • The Freemason Scientists
  • The Age of Reason
  • Sound Ships, Good Ordinance and the Longitude at Sea
  • The Royal Society and the Voyages of Discovery
  • The Parting of the Ways
From the conclusion:

"Thus it was, after two centuries of interwoven destinies, that Freemasonry and the Royal Society parted company. Of course, many famous scientists since then have been Freemasons, such as Sir Edward Appleton and Sir Alexander Fleming, both Nobel Prize winners. However, the originally close links between the two organisations began to wither a century and a half ago. Today they are nonexistent.

The Royal Society went on to become the premier organisation of professional scientists that it is today, and Freemasonry turned back to the secrecy of the Lodge and the perfection of its ritual. Perhaps its task had been done: as a child of the Enlightenment, its once-secret values had become universalised, so much so that we tend to take them for granted in the modern world. In the civil sphere, they included religious tolerance, democracy, secularism, constitutionalism and parliamentarism. In the scientific sphere, at a time when superstition and magic governed reason, and the Church claimed a monopoly on "true" knowledge, they called for the use of logic and experimentation to establish the facts of nature.

What made the Royal Society into such an amazingly successful organisation? It borrowed a philosophy from early Freemasonry and turned it into a force which changed the very nature of the world. It did this by applying a concept which says that understanding comes from observation and experiment, not just from philosophy. The success of this approach is to be seen everywhere where science has led to technological advance. Without this basic change in attitude we would not have electronics, biochemistry, modern medicine or abundant energy. The Royal Society gave us the technical benefits of the modern world that we now take so much for granted."


[Not so very long ago a very major Grand Lodge claimed that its purpose was to promote religion.]



2007-11-30 Reform Freemasonry! -- A Vision for the Future of Freemasonry -- by Richard A. Graeter [X] [#]

From the Introduction to this 60 page paper:

Introduction

This work is divided into five sections that look towards the future of Freemasonry.

The first section, Voices in the Wilderness, reviews four selected publications from the current body of work that addresses the future of Freemasonry.

The second section, How to Preserve and Stimulate Freemasonry, applies the discipline of the Business Week best-selling book, Built To Last, by authors Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, to Freemasonry as an organization. Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow; how they attain superior performance; and, how good companies can become great companies. His books have been fixtures on the Business Week bestseller list and have been translated into 25 languages. His work has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company.

The third section, Something To Believe In, explores the three building blocks that are essential for building an organization that can move the hearts and minds of its members and some of the reasons behind the failure of our grand lodge organizations from being able to accomplish this goal.

The fourth section, The Grand Hairball, adapts the sage advice of corporate gurus Dr. Oren Harari and Gordon MacKenzie to the masonic context, and presents some conclusions on one possible root cause of the disease afflicting Freemasonry, as well as proposing some chemotherapy for grand lodges that could help lead to a cure.

The concluding section, Freemasonry 3.0, closes with a radical vision for the wholesale reorganization of the body of Freemasonry should grand lodges fail to take progressive action to respond to the needs, hopes, and aspirations of today's young Freemason. Freemasons were meant to be great innovators, and it's about time that we restore this legacy.


[A brief history of Halcyon Lodge appears on pp. 42-43.]

Look here for sources on "Masonic Renewal". [X]

2007-11-29 Burning Taper: Ancient Charges in Modern Times [X] [#]

This article takes a lucid, critical look at some of the dogmas and inconsistent attitudes about them. It shows how biased attitudes and selective reading have fabricated "Ancient Landmarks" to justify discrimination based on religion and sex.


[Related matters of interest:]

An Idaho Grand Master declared in 1916 that the "Antient Landmarks" mean that a candidate for Masonry "must be a white man".

An Ontario (past) Grand Master wanted to "establish" the policy of Territorial Monopoly as a new "landmark" in 1998, in order to justify blocking recognition of 200,000 Black Masons.

Are Landmarks the (arbitrary?) Dogmas used by (some) (mainstream) "Masonic" leaders to justify official policies of large-scale discrimination by race, creed, and sex? Has the progressive enlightened Free-Masonry of 300 years ago, turned into the last bastion against cosmopolitan social progress today?

"Nobody knows what they comprise or omit; they are of no earthly authority, because everything is a landmark when an opponent desires to silence you; but nothing is a landmark that stands in his own way." -- Robert Freke Gould, quoted by Dwight L. Smith in "Of Landmarks and Cuspidors", The Philalethes, February 1973

The legitimization of "landmarks" is contained in the amendment clause of the "General Regulations, 1723" (G.R. XXXIX), and this regulation itself was corrupted into its near opposite, almost before the ink was dry!

Andersons's Charges of a Free-Mason, 1723 [X]

Andersons's General Regulations, 1723 [X]

Andersons's Constitutions, 1723 -- An Analysis by Lionel Vibert [X]

2007-11-28 Philip Carter: "Freemasonry's Nonsensical 'No Women' Landmark", 2006 [X] [#]

This is a remarkably lucid examination of the logic and rhetoric that underpins Masonic Dogma.

[Excerpts follow]

We have read Albert Mackey's confession that it was he who first distinctly enumerated the "Ancient Landmarks" of Freemasonry, and how, in doing so, violated them. His enumeration has since been widely accepted throughout modern, mainstream, Freemasonic jurisdictions. I have examined what Mackey has to say on the subject of "women and Freemasonry" and found absolutely no merit therein. Rather, the chief, tangible criteria he nominated to justify the exclusion of women, namely, the wording of the Old Constitutions and the practices of Operative Stonemasons, rather mandate their admission. We are led to conclude that there is no "Ancient Landmark" that excludes women from Freemasonry. Therefore, Freemasonry can change its rules to admit women.

The constrained legal and social position of most western women has greatly improved from the circumstances prevalent in the eighteenth century when James Anderson first wrote the rule excluding them from Freemasonry. At the time, women could not be held to be responsible for many of their own actions. Thus, at the time, one might reasonably doubt that an application by a woman to be made a Freemason had been made of her "own free will and accord"; women could not be said to have the "perfect freedom of inclination and action" Freemasonry required of its candidates; nor could they legally withhold secrets from their male guardians. Where those obstacles have been overcome, there remains no Masonically sound justification for a general rule excluding women. I find instead that Freemasonry now acts as a symbol opposing further emancipation. Now, more than ever, the exclusion of women diminishes the character and honour of Freemasonry. Inappropriate discrimination against any group is contrary to modern sensibilities and conventions. It is especially contrary to Freemasonry's tolerant and egalitarian principles. Therefore, Freemasonry should change its rules to admit women. ...

Also on the basis of its claim to uniqueness, [Speculative Free-Masonry] has throughout its existence, confused being 'a-political' with 'loyalty to the status-quo'. ...

In practice, [Speculative Free-Masonry] has not been politically and religiously neutral. In all 'British' cases, [Speculative Free-Masonry] has aligned itself, not just with the status quo, but with a Protestant status quo.

2007-11-27 Gran Oriente Latinoamericano (GOLA) -- Progressive Free-Masonry in Latin America [X]

"The new masonry will be fraternal and will have to respect the absolute freedom of conscience of its members, We will have to cultivate the fraternal links between rites, beliefs, obediences, cultures, nationalities. The new masonry must be open to fraternal communications and not close itself for reasons of territory or borders.

The new masonry will have to be coherent from theory to reality and leave the nice speeches to politicians. The new masonry will have to work by its principles: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and also Truth, Justice, Solidarity, Peace between all human beings of the planet."

2007-11-26 Grand Orient of the USA -- Progressive Free-Masonry [X] [#]

[From the web site]

"LIBERTY - EQUALITY - FRATERNITY"

"... That absolute freedom of conscience is an essential element in the pursuit of happiness among all peoples"

"... restore Modern Free-Masonry to the American continent and return to the traditional Enlightenment and cosmopolitan ideals expressed in the original Craft. This event allowed the original streams of Masonic thought still existing in Europe to once again flow freely into lodges in America."

"The Grand Orient of the United States of America is a masculine Masonic obedience that works together with the mixed-gender obedience lodges operating under George Washington Union throughout the United States. Together, these two systems represent the most liberal and progressive form of Freemasonry in America, which is open to all people regardless of race, creed, or sex."


[The GO USA , the GWU , and the GLFF have male, mixed, and female lodges, respectively.]

2007-11-25 Another independent lodge: Vulcan in Alabama [X]

"While we agree that charity is a good thing, we found that our members have little interest in hosting fundraisers, instead we desire to focus on more enlightening and esoteric Masonic matters. Free-Thinking men who believe in Fraternity, Liberty, Free-Speech, and Equality are more concerned with knowledge and how to apply what they learn to their daily lives and their inter-actions with others."

2007-11-23 Unity in Italy -- Forged in England [X]

(from the above web page, dated 2007-11-23, Google-assisted translation.)

"Special Meeting" in London of Grand Lodges of Europe

Recently, for the first time since 1993, a Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy has crossed the threshold of the Temple of the United Grand Lodge of England, at the "special meeting" on the principles of Masonic regularity and fraternal recognition between the Grand Lodges held in London.

Grand Master Gustavo Raffi, invited as official representative with the Grand Masters of Austria, France, Estonia, Sweden, Czech Republic, to illustrate the originality of the guidelines followed in recent years by the Grand Orient to update the principles of Masonic Freedom and civil society and new generations, in accordance with Masonic tradition and regularity.

"In recent years," said the Grand Master in his speech, we are proposing Freemasonry as an example of civil commitment, ethics and rigor of comparison, the scenario today is globalized and so the dialogue with the minorities, with other cultures, is also Freemasonry as an instrument of balance, assimilation and education to the values of tolerance, respect and the building of a more just society. "

[N.B.: There is no mention of the integration of the GLRI into the GOdI.]

The UGLE Pro-GM is expected to report to the UGLE Board on Dec. 12th.

Be sure to read Northampton's important speech on Regularity and Recognition: [X]

2007-11-19 West Virginia Grand Master "Expels" Pre-Predecessor [X]

"Today, Grand Master Charlie L. Montgomery expelled Frank Haas, Past Grand Master from Masonry by edict that he had prepared and read at a stated communication of Wellsburg Lodge #2. Richard Bosely was also expelled. There is also a report that Wellsburg Lodge was placed on probation for requesting a Masonic Trial for MW Haas. We will obtain further information and post it here. Brethren it should be brutally clear now that NO DISSENSION WILL BE ALLOWED. You are living in historic times for West Virginia Masonry."

[From the web site:]

As an Internet Society the Masonic Crusade believes in the following:

1. Truth, Justice, and Tolerance are indispensable qualities of Leadership and Membership

2. Transparent, and open Government of Our Fraternity with Freedom of opinion and Equal participation by all

3. Education and Participation are essential for Harmonious and Equitable Brotherhood

4. Reformation of the Laws, and General Regulations to bring West Virginia Masonry into accord with modern Masonic Jurisprudence.

5. Insuring Preservation of the Ancient Landmarks, Customs and Usages of the Fraternity

6. Support of lawful legislative efforts to bring about positive change and growth in Our Fraternity.

2007-11-18 More Lodges of Free Masons -- in Georgia and Alabama. [X]

"I extend the hand of brotherly love and friendship to the brethren of Halcyon and Euclid from Sirius No.7 (Alpharetta, GA), Sons of Light No. 6 (Atlanta, GA), and Regulus No. 9 (Montgomery, AL). We look forward to working with all of you to promote the values of Freemasonry across the U.S.A.. I would also like to take this moment to extend universal recognition to all our brothers and sisters around the globe from the brethren of Sirius Lodge No. 7. Wor. Bro. Evangelos Armiros Sirius Lodge No. 7"

2007-11-16 Another Lodge of Free Masons: Euclid #3 in Michigan [X] [X]

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2007 -- "The founders of Euclid were once members of the Antient system of Free-Masonry, which has degenerated into a social club that denies its own roots. We have separated ourselves from that decayed root and planted our minds in fertile ground. May the Light of Free-Masonry (which is reason) extend to every corner of the globe and every aspect of civil society."

From the Burning Taper story:

Freedom of conscience and the admission of atheists into Freemasonry: "The brethren of Euclid Lodge feel that a good man who is an atheist is a better candidate than a hate-filled man who is a 'believer,'" Euclid's newly elected Worshipful Master W. Bro. Brandt Smith told The Burning Taper in a recent interview. Anderson's Constitution never said an atheist could not become a Mason; it said that a man who became a Mason would not be a "stupid atheist." Does that mean that Freemasonry would teach such a man not to be an atheist, or that Freemasonry would teach him things that would lead him to no longer be stupid?

Women as Masons: Society has changed, and so has the place of women in our society. While Euclid's members do not initiate, pass or raise women as Masons, they do acknowledge women as Masons if they "have been regularly received into a just and perfect lodge."

2007-11-14 Halcyon Lodge severs relationship with Grand Lodge of Ohio [X] [#]

"On Monday, November 12th, at 8:10 PM, Halcyon Lodge No. 498 voted unanimously to surrender its charter to the Grand Lodge of Ohio and cease to recognize the authority of that Grand Lodge. Several of the brothers reassembled later that same evening for the purpose of forming amongst themselves a new Masonic lodge unaffiliated with the Grand Lodge of Ohio."

2007-10-23 UGLE European GM Conference Nov. 5-6 "Guardians of Regularity" [X] [X] [X] [#]

As announced in the UGLE Pro-GM's speech 2007-06-13:

(Emphasis added) "The Grand Masters and Grand Secretaries of regular Grand Lodges in Europe have been invited to a special meeting in London on 5th - 6th November 2007.

Since the political changes in Europe in the early 1990s there has been an unparalleled growth in the number of Grand Lodges in Europe. Whilst greatly welcomed, that growth has brought with it a number of problems and tensions, particularly in the areas of regularity, sovereignty, recognition and territorial jurisdiction, which will be the main topics of discussion at this special meeting."

"... this will be a major opportunity for the leaders of regular European Freemasonry to meet and to share information, experiences and views to strengthen the fraternal bonds which unite them."

"... invitations have been extended to the Grand Masters of a small number of Grand Lodges which are regular in origin and practice but are not at present formally recognised by England."

"... it is time to restate our fundamental beliefs when it comes to regular freemasonry"

On 2007-09-12 the new Grand Chancellor said:

"... decide whether or not a new Grand Lodge met our standards of regularity and could be recognised as part of the world wide family of Freemasonry."

"... growth of irregular Freemasonry with bodies springing up claiming to be Masonic but not accepting our Basic Principles"

"As the oldest Grand Lodge, we in England have had thrust on us the role of being the guardians of regularity and in many ways are expected to police what is regular and what is not ... Those are not roles that we have sought and we cannot be an international policeman solving problems within and between Grand Lodges. What we can do is to listen and to offer advice from our long experience of external relations, but it is a very fine line between offering advice and interfering in the internal workings of a sovereign body."

2007-09-29 West Virginia GM Unilaterally Voids Previous GL Decisions [X]

There are a number of documents at the above Weblog. They provide a perspective into Grand Lodge governance, which may or may not be typical. The reader is invited to research the documents provided and to draw unassisted conclusions.

The following excerpt is given here because it sheds a rare light on the subject of Prince Hall recognition. Currently, 40 out of 51 US "mainstream" Grand Lodges and 8 out of 10 Canadian "mainstream" Grand Lodges recognize at least one Prince Hall Grand Lodge. The remaining holdouts are:

USA: AL AR FL GA KY LA MS NC SC TN WV

Canada: NL ON

The following is a quote from The GLWV GM's Report

"In silence, the Grand Lodge of West Virginia is clinging to a policy that is without foundation and without merit. ... Mindful of ... the acknowledgement extended by the overwhelming majority of our sister grand lodges, I initiated contact with the Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia. In December, I sent him a letter suggesting a meeting. In April, I sent him a letter suggesting a meeting. I followed this with a handwritten note seeking to get to know each other man-to-man. Our Senior Grand Deacon and I traveled to the hotel at which the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of West Virginia was meeting, and I had a note delivered to him. This bore fruit in the form of a cordial handshake with him and his successor. The Prince Hall Grand Master has my card. There has been no other contact."

Please read the rest of that report. This illustrates that even in some of those places where there is still much opposition to recognition, there are leaders who are trying to set things right. North Carolina is another jurisdictions where leaders have encouraged factual information and open dialogue for more than a dozen years.

More background information: [X]

2007-04-02 Western Esotericism Course at U. of Winnipeg [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]

WINNIPEG -- University of Winnipeg Research Fellow and alumnus Frank Albo, and the scholar behind the recent 15-part Winnipeg Free Press series The Hermetic Code: Unlocking One of the Province's Greatest Secrets Western Esotericism: Heretical Movements and Secret Societies will unlock the mysteries and magic behind the Manitoba Legislative Building in an upcoming UWinnipeg course.

The three-credit hour course Western Esotericism: Heretical Movements and Secret Societies surveys the history of Western Esotericism from the resurgence of Hermetic philosophy during the Renaissance, and the rise of secret societies such as Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and the Illuminati, to the occult revival of the 19th and early 20th centuries through exponents Eliphas Lévi, H. P. Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley.

The course includes selected readings from Marsilio Ficino, Cornelius Agrippa, and John Dee. Students will also examine the aesthetic and literary influence of esotericism, including the contemporary success of novels such as The Da Vinci Code and the esoteric designs of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

The next series: Monday & Wednesday 1730-2030, April 30 - June 12.

2007-04-01 Reading, Writing and Apathy: The Rise and Fall of Masonic Education [X]

Delivered at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 F&AM
Indianapolis, Indiana - July 26th, 2005
By W. Bro. Stephen Dafoe

16 pages + 26 pages of back-matter. Absolutely essential reading.

2007-03-31 Internet Lodge Short Papers Competition [X]

From the Internet Lodge Web Site:

Why Short Papers? Freemasonry is a subject of seemingly endless fascination and complexity and all of us as Masons are in need of our "daily advancement in Masonic knowledge". One way of providing this is to build up a source of materials that can be easily used at lodge meetings. A piece around 5 minutes in length can be fitted into most meetings.

We want to inspire our fellow Freemasons to write; perhaps to start writing or, for those who already have a stock of talks, to adapt one for the competition. We also believe that new Masons can also illuminate the craft with their writings and there is a category for such endeavour as well. There will be several categories of award.

There is no limitation on the topics to be chosen except to say that the subject will be in some way Masonic and of educational value. Matters historical, national, esoteric, or dealing with ritual, or the origins of freemasonry are some of the possible topics.

2007-03-09 Out of the Shadows -- The Emergence of Prince Hall Freemasonry in America [X] [#]

Book Review Published in February 2007 issue of the Philalethes Magazine.

Online at Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. [X]

Excerpts:

The book is a thoroughly-researched reference work on the emergence of Prince Hall Masonry in relation to the rest of U.S. Freemasonry, as well as the society in which both forms of Freemasonry evolved. It is a valuable information resource for interested Masons, Masonic Researchers, and recognition policy makers. ...

Prince Hall Masons seek recognition as a matter of principle, not because they want to visit predominantly White lodges. ...

One common thread throughout the book is that for over 200 years Prince Hall Masons have sought to be recognized as genuine, regular Masons. Denial of recognition to regular Masons can only harm the dignity, integrity, and esteem of the entire Masonic Order. ...

This reviewer finds this the single most significant book on the subject of Prince Hall Masonry and its relation to "mainstream" Masonry, available today. Without a doubt, if all those who make recognition decisions were to read this book, Freemasonry in North America would benefit greatly and quickly. The documented facts are as inescapably compelling as the commentary is tactfully restrained.

Out of the Shadows: The Emergence of Prince Hall Freemasonry in America. By Alton G. Roundtree and Paul M. Bessel. Foreword by S. Brent Morris. xxi + 453 pp. KLR Publishing, Maryland 2006, ISBN 0-9772385-0-4, hardcover 23x15cm, b&w illus. US$29.95 http://klrpublishing.com

recognition map [X] [X] [X]

2007-03-08 Letter to all Spanish Regular Freemasons [X] [X] [X] [X] [X]

From Josep Corominas i Busqueta, Past MWGM of the GLE

... After 25 years of the existence of the Grand Lodge of Spain (GLE) , during which we have worked to defend and protect it against all sorts of external attacks in order to maintain the regularity of development of Spanish Freemasonry within the Institution, we have to acknowledge that the present administrative bodies of the GLE are unequivocally leading us to a deviation from the Institution's basic pillars of regularity towards the path of irregularity, and at the same time undermining the very Spanish nature and identity of the Grand Lodge of Spain. ...
1 Is it to be regarded as a regular Masonic practice to believe that
"the ends justify the means" ?

2 Can it be regarded as regular and in accordance with our own values
not to apply the same criteria when judging similar situations affecting
different Brethren ?

3 Is it regular and fraternal to consider that among Brethren there are
friends and enemies, and that because of this we must apply the ancient
custom of "make a favour to your friend, apply the regulations to your
enemy and to those who are indifferent simply apply the current laws" ?

4 Is it regular not to obey and adhere to the Constitution and the
General Regulations that we have given to ourselves with the only aim to
perpetuate those who are in power and control the Institution ?

5 Is it regular not to fulfil our promise to pay a due obedience to the
laws of any State which may for a time become the place of our
residence, with the excuse that Freemasonry is something different,
proper to itself and very ancient ?

6 Is it regular to transfer the internal administration of the GLE, with
individual data on all of the Brethren, to institutions outwith
Freemasonry, even without each Brother's individual consent ?

7 Is it regular to make clear attempts to interfere with the internal
affairs of other regular and sovereign Masonic Obediences ?

8 Is it regular and in accordance with our principles not to be
exemplary in respecting truth but rather to act, according to
circumstances, depending on our own convenience to forget what the
rituals express when they clearly state "Let Prudence direct you,
Temperance chasten you, Fortitude support you, and Justice be your guide
in all your actions" ?

9 Is it regular and does it really respond to our tradition to pretend
to control all other Masonic institutions in our country, indicating
that it is only the Grand Lodge of Spain (GLE) that can maintain
relationships with other respected and obviously not subversive social
organizations ?

10 Is it regular to threaten Brethren and to prohibit them from using
their freedom of speech just because they are in disagreement with the
top ruling bodies?

With regard to all these serious questions my answer is that we are on
the wrong path which will inevitably lead us to a "de facto"
irregularity, The pace of change towards this serious and highly
worrying evolution has been gradually accelerating throughout the past
year. ...

In consequence, I presented my resignation as an active member of the GLE on 9th. February 2007 after more than 25 years of uninterrupted service to our Institution. However I do not intend to give up or compromise my Principles as a Freemason, and I would expect and wish other Brethren to always regard me as such.

2007-02-24 What The Bleep ... [X]

... do we know?

Here is some commentary on the film, and more:

[X] Making Demands of the Foundation of All Being

2007-02-17 The G-15 -- "Philosopher Gadflies" [X] [X] [#]

In his 2005-07-22 GM's Address, MWB Donald H. Mumby said:

"As Masons you have shown considerable interest in our attempts to revitalize and make more meaningful Masonic Education. Concepts such as "Masonic Nights of the Round Table" have not only been heartily endorsed but have been the springboards from which lodges and districts have conducted many varied and interesting educational pursuits. The G-15 that started quite by accident and has resulted in 15 young, erudite and concerned Masons coming together to discuss the lacunae in the intellectual component of their Masonic lives, has resulted in our reconsidering and reconstructing the whole concept and approach we have taken towards Masonic Education. Education and learning are not only vital components in keeping our new members interested and active but they have been proven to be the number one antidote to apathy and disinterest."

In his 2005-07-22 Education Committee Report, RWB Ray Daniels said:

"In the Spring of 2004, a representative group of fifteen enthusiastic and energetic younger Masons, randomly selected from lodges across the Grand Jurisdiction, was brought together to share insights and ideas, to analyse and evaluate present practice, and to formulate strategies and suggest ways to improve the cogency of Masonic Education and enhance the utility of Freemasonry in general. The object of this exercise: to study present Reality and conceive a Vision for the future -- to learn from an analysis of NOW to realign a strategy for THEN, to determine how Masonic Education might enhance and secure the future of Freemasonry -- WHAT WE MIGHT BECOME. This enterprise has been under the benign superintendence of RWB Wayne Elgie an WB Iain Mackenzie. Several dynamic meetings and a lively exchange of e-mail correspondence have generated stimulating and forthright discussion of probing questions, fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of an heightened respect for our established usages and customs. Such re-examination of the potential impact and relevance of Freemasonry to life and learning in the twenty-first century by this group of keen intellectuals has been most edifying.

One conclusion on which all agree, "It's already in us ... we just need to bring it out!" resulted in a pilot project test marketed in Cambridge, Hamilton, Ottawa and Waterloo during March and April this year. Working in co-operation with the Worshipful Master of a selected lodge, members of the G-15 developed a topical presentation and initiated discussion of the questions that flowed from the points of view expressed by the brethren. The success of these initial outings gives ample proof that co-operation among lodges, sharing skill and ability and supporting each other in a common purpose, will greatly benefit all. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Members of the G-15 will be available during this Communication to share their idea with any brethren interested in organizing a Lodge of Discussion."

In his 2006-07-19 Education Committee Report, RWB Ray Daniels said:

"The latest issue (Volume 20, No.4) [of The Newsletter] features articles written by and about the G-15."

"The G-15, the group of enthusiastic and dynamic Masons mentored by RWB Wayne Elgie and WB Iain Mackenzie, continues to meet at regular intervals to consider and discuss seriously the real meaning of Masonry in the lives of men and its practical application to society in the 21st century. WB Steven MacDonald, P.M., Twin City Lodge No. 509, Kitchener, has acted as a liaison with the committee. Following the energetic presence of this group of "philosopher-gadflies", at last year's Annual Communication, the personal contacts made have resulted in widespread interest among younger members of the Craft. Representatives have organized and presented many sessions demonstrating a Lodge of Discussion. At the invitation of the Grand Master,representatives of the group made a presentation to the Masonic Leaders of Ontario meeting in May. During this Communication of Grand Lodge, the G-15 will present one of the Tuesday afternoon Workshops sponsored by the Workshops and Seminars Committee: "It's OK to ask WHY? in the Lodge." -- It's simple to hold a Lodge of Discussion in your lodge. The impact generated by the acute perception and penetrating insight of these keen, concerned, committed Masons is just beginning to be realized. We all stand to benefit greatly."


The G-15 mandate in summary:
  • To conduct intellectual study, analysis, and discussion of present practice;
  • To consider insights & ideas about the real meaning & relevance of FMy;
  • To conceive future vision and to formulate strategies;
  • To suggest improvements and to close the gap between principle and practice.

2007-02-10 Cheer Leaders? [X] [#]

Annual Proceedings 1988. From the GLCPO GM's address, p.28-29:

"We are succeeding in reversing our statistical trend. The constant membership decline we have been experiencing for over twenty-five years is finally levelling out."

A few pages later, the Grand Secretary's report showed that during that year membership had dropped from 95,266 to 93,403. Initiations dropped 9% from 1980 to 1985, and 33% from 1985 to 1990. Not only did initiations continue to drop, but they dropped 3 times as fast!

At the end of 2006 there were under 50,000 members.

The Grand Lodge Web Page says 60,000.

2007-02-09 43 Reasons

What is freemasonry? Why do masons go to lodge? What do masons do?

The following was posted frequently to a masonic research society forum, by a (past) master of a masonic research lodge in the U.S. [Posted here with the author's permission]

There are over 40 reasons/purposes and some men are only interested
in one or two. With others the interest varies  over time.

Most  people can not and do not comprehend  the variety and think only
their interests are important.

The fact that in the US we have many dues paying members who rarely attend
should tell us a large percent are simply not interested in the Lodge
activity  but do find enough other reasons to keep them paying dues.

a place for a person who --
    enjoys leadership, to become a leader
    enjoys public speaking performance (ritual)
    likes public speaking, to give lectures
    wonders about man's history, to study same
    would like to write,  the opportunity
    would like to be an actor
    who desires to develop the inner self
    likes the pomp of ceremony
    likes conventions and meetings
    likes to be away from home, but not the bar scene
    likes to spend time on the internet
    likes to be known ( titles)
    to get and enjoy self esteem
    to enjoy something outside the rat race of life
    to use his musical talent, vocal or keyboard
    to become an authority on something
    to find the reason and purpose of life, ( to study )
       unencumbered by traditional schools of thought
    to have male companionship and conversation without competition
    a place to go without the wife
    a place to work with youth, Demolay,Rainbow & Jobs' Daughters
    a place to interact with other like-minded men in seeking goals beyond
      the lives of any individual, a "friendship in the good"
    a place to enjoy learning about other Masons and their contributions
      to humanity
    a place to meet other good men beyond the confines of one's
      church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship
    a place to facilitate involvement with practicing charities
provides membership in a exclusive club
provides membership in a 'secret' order
provides prestige of belonging to a world wide organization
provides circle of professional friends
provides activity and interest to retired men
provides security for future needs, ( the Masonic home )
an organization that regards all men as equal, regardless of their
     religion ot socio-economic position
an organization where 'just being a member' is appreciated
an organization with members who are generally like minded
an organization of which there is great internal pride
an organization where charity contributions are not diluted by expense
an organization that has more written about it than any other
an organization that can become a full time way of life
an organization that encourages self help and improvement
an organization that provides suppport and aid to members in need
an organization that provides manpower and money to many local youth groups
an organization that is concerned for the well being of all mankind
an organization that is concerned for the widows and orphans of its brothers
an organization that contributes over one million dollars a day
    to charity  ( combined results of American Masonry)
an excellent alternative to the bars and pool halls

2007-02-07 Woman Mason to Speak at Conference [X]

Speakers:

Julian Rees - Deputy Editor of Freemasonry Today and the author of "Making Light: A Handbook for Freemasons". Julian's talk will be entitled "The Way to the Centre".

Mary Jo Kokochak - Grand Master of the American Federation of Co Masonry Le Droit Humain (this has been approved by Lord Northampton and the Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire). Mary Jo's talk will be entitled "Fraternally United In the Love of Humanity".

W Kirk McNulty - a Freemason for over forty years and a member of Lodges in the USA and England. Kirk is also a prominent writer on the subject of Freemasonry and his books include "Freemasonry: A journey Through Ritual and Symbol" and the recently published "Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets and Significance".

2007-02-06 Aims, Scope, and Relations of a Research Society [X]

... through Nine Decades ...

1917 ... desire to advance the real interest of the craft, in its history, literature, philosophy and administration, ... groups of active workers, who would share with their brethren the results of their studies and conferences together.

1920 ... lodge of research, modelled after Quatuor Coronati; members required to subscribe to a masonic research journal, and belong to some regular lodge.

1928 ... to assist in and encourage the study of Freemasonry in its varied aspects and branches, by addresses and papers given at the meetings upon such subjects as Masonic History, Symbolism and Philosophy; to diffuse Masonic knowledge by supplying speakers when requested and to furnish information to the Brethren both at the meetings and by correspondence. Matters relative to the rendition of the ceremonies, the Constitution, jurisprudence or lodge administration cannot be considered as such do not come within the province of this Society.

1947 ... forum for the presentation of views and the discussion of opinions on matters of Masonic Educational Interest. Matters pertaining to the constitution, government of a lodge or rendition of the ceremonies are not discussed as these do not fall within the purview of this Society.

2007 ... an autonomous association of Individuals, committed to the Freedoms of Conscience, Association, Communication, and Enquiry, who wish to nurture Learning, Knowledge, and Understanding. of Freemasonry through research. ... value philosophy and intellect ... personal integrity, inclusiveness and diversity, ... commitment to serve Humanity.


Note that in 1917, the real interest of the craft included philosophy, examining administration, and sharing the results of the studies with others.

In 1928, philosophy and diffusion of knowledge were still included, but practices and governance had become excluded from examination; the requirement for members to read research journals was dropped.

In 1947, no more mention of philosophy, research, diffusion of knowledge to others; still no critical examination of practices and governance -- just expressing views and discussing opinions, in private.

2007-02-05 Membership Estimates at End of 2006 [#]

Membership Estimates End of 2006

1. Total, all jurisdictions: 2,700,000 Masons

2. Total, "regular": ....... 2,500,000 Masons
(Regular is (*here*) defined as:
recognized by a GL
that is recognized by a GL
that is recognized by the UGLE.)

3. Largest GL's (000's)

270 UGLE (world wide)
125 GLPA
120 GLOH
105 GLTX
 73 GLIN
 72 GLIL
 71 GLCA
 75 GOBR
 50 GLoS (world wide)
 49 GLCPO [GLCPO wrongly states 60,000 on its web site]

4. Largest countries "regular" (000's)

1650 US (including all 150 PHA) [+5 PHO]
 243 England (271 * 7555/8410) (excluding overseas)
 175 BRazil
  90 CAnada
  63 FRance (36 GLNF, 27 GLdF) [+ 40 GOdF]
  50 AUstralia
  32 CUba
  31 Scotland (50 * 706/1127) (excluding overseas)
  24 Mexico
  22 IReland (27 * 640/790) (excluding overseas)
  19 ITaly (16 GOIT, 3 RGLI)

(500 Europe [+ 200 irregular])

5. Historic High: 1959:
US: 4,103,161;  UGLE: 600,000; World: < 5,000,000

6. Largest (UGLE or CGMNA) Unrecognized (Country Totals)

75-150 US PHA (Southern PHA still not recognized by any MS US or by UGLE)
112    France 112,000 unrecognized; 37,000 recognized
50     England has 50,000 Women Masons
24     Italy 24,000 unrecognized; 3,000 recognized
20     Belgium 20,000 unrecognized; 1500 recognized
 1     Portugal 850 unrecognized; 940 recognized
-----
282-337 

7. Information sources:
http://www.msana.com/msastats.asp
Pantagraph
Eurosec
CLIPSAS

2007-02-04 Tim Bryce: Working Inside / Out of the System [X] [#]

As much as we would like to change and improve our Grand Lodges from within, people are now acutely aware it is difficult to do so. As a result, we either surrender and submit to the current system or begin to seek alternatives outside of it.

As Masons on the Internet, we have all heard of the overtures to reinvent the fraternity, primarily from younger Brothers who are disgruntled with the status quo. I can't begin to tell you how many younger Masons I have talked with who crave what Freemasonry theoretically has to offer: tradition, discipline, morality, history, sense of civic duty, brotherhood, etc.

They most definitely do not want the repetitious tedium of an old man's club or the political maneuvering as found in many lodges. Instead, they yearn for further light and are frustrated when they cannot find it and go elsewhere, which is a tragic loss for the fraternity.

As Masons, it is easy to say, "No, No, No, you must work from within the system." But if people believe they cannot find a fair and level playing field inside the system, they will go outside and develop a totally new system. As long as our Grand Lodges remain political kingdoms, discontent will rise up from within our ranks. I am most definitely not preaching revolution; I'm just letting you know the first volley has already been fired.

2007-02-03 Portugal: Referendum: Grand Master hopes for YES Victory. [X]

The Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Lusitania (GOL), António Reis, expressed the hope of "yes" winning in the referendum on the 11th of February on abortion up to 10 weeks.

The Referendum Question: "Do you agree that abortions, carried out in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, with the woman's consent, in a legal medical establishment, should no longer be illegal?"

"Respect for freedom and the separation of church and state demands an end to the repressive use of state power when imposing on all society the ethical convictions of one or more religious denominations," states António Reis in the text published on the web site of the GOL ( www.gremiolusitano.pt ).

Diário Digital / Lusa 02-02-2007 17:18:00


[ A "Regular" Grand Master would not be likely to make such a statement as quoted above in public today, although "Regular" North American Grand Masters have, in the past, advanced their views on religion, politics, ethics, and human rights. Whereas in the U.S. 99% of (White) Masons are "Regular", in Europe, 40% of Masons are "Irregular". "Regular" Masons are more likely to be male, white, and theistic, and to describe Freemasonry as religious. "Irregular" Masons are more likely to express progressive views on matters of ethics and human rights, and to describe Freemasonry as adogmatic. ]

2007-02-02 Masonic Peace Institute: "Declaration" [X]

To: All Inhabits on Earth

We, the members and supporters of the Masonic Peace Institute,

Are committed to the peaceful coexistence of all peoples, no matter where dispersed.
To this end we will toil, spreading the cement of Brotherly Love and affection throughout humanity.
We will work with any like-minded individuals and/or groups, no matter their nationality, culture, color, sex, language, rank, race, residence, or religion.


We furthermore, affirm and promote:

The equal dignity and rights of all people.
The pursuit of peace, liberty, justice, and compassion for all
The right to the values of enlightenment, through education and unbiased information.
Peaceful conflict resolution
Truth as expressed in all cultures and recognized by all human beings
Taking responsibility for the consequence of all action, processes and understanding
The truth as expressed in all religions, philosophy and cultures, but proselytize none
The men & women, of all times and from all nations, who have promoted or do now, promote peaceful civilization.
The principles of equality found in the theories of democracy, without proselytizing any political agenda, action or system

To these ends we will act to:

- Establish relations with other national and international peace organizations
- Participate in worldwide events representing the humanitarian vision of democracy and peace
- Conducting surveys or research and disseminate information
- Become involved in peace processes where possible, proposing, participating in, and supporting peace talks and conflict resolution
- Support like minded individuals and organizations

May Brotherly Love Prevail.

2007-02-01 Andrew Prescott Resigns from CRF Sheffield [X]

My dear friends,

Some sad news. I am resigning as Director of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry to take up a new post as Manager of Library Services at the University of Wales Lampeter. I will be taking up new post on 1 March 2007.

The University of Sheffield has expressed its continuing commitment to, and enthusiasm for, the work of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry, and will shortly be advertising for my successor.

My reasons for moving are entirely personal. I am very fond of West Wales, a very beautiful part of the world, and have long thought that I might move there at some time. ...

There is a terrible danger of thinking that only I can do this job and that I am somehow specially qualified to do this research into Freemasonry. If we go on thinking in this way, we will find that when, in the fullness of time, my retirement beckons, it will indeed be difficult to carry on the work of the Centre, and it will fizzle out. I am not particularly special as a researcher - just a jobbing librarian and curator (a kind of Rumpole of the Library) - and if I can find interesting things about freemasonry, anyone can. If I pass on the torch to somebody else now, you will see that is the case, and I think the academic interest in freemasonry will thereby be strengthened. ...

With my very best and most fraternal wishes to you all

Andrew Prescott

--
Professor Andrew Prescott
Centre for Research into Freemasonry
Humanities Research Institute
University of Sheffield

2007-01-31 Have We Evicted A Tenet? [#]

The principal tenets of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love, Relief & Truth. It is important to practice them all in balance, but the final objective of the work is Truth. Over many years Masons in various parts of the world have placed emphasis on one of these Tenets.

The UGLE is the source of Freemasonry at the centre of the English-speaking Craft. In general, English-speaking Masonry has focused on Brotherly Love, in the form of good fellowship and social activity. That is no bad thing, but it is less than the Order's potential, and today in Europe & the US there are movements to restore to the Craft a philosophical orientation.

The GOdF has given much emphasis to the area of Relief, in the form of social relief. Many very valuable social benefits have resulted from their actions, though its involvement with politics and its interpretation of equality to admit atheists has caused the GO to be called "irregular" by some GL's.

In other parts of Europe, including Germany & the Netherlands, the focus has very properly remained on Truth in the form of serious philosophical study.

-- Kirk MacNulty, Symbols, Secrets, Significance p.136

2007-01-30 GWMNMA Announces Two Major Masonic Digital History Projects [X] [X]

The two digital Masonic history projects will be directed to the larger world through the Internet. Through them, the Memorial believes it will meet the needs of present and future Brothers, and also answer the growing number of research questions from scholars, genealogists and especially, men interested in joining the fraternity. The first project is an online database of every duly constituted U.S. Grand Lodge and local Lodge ever chartered. The second is the digitization of every Grand Lodge annual proceeding.

2007-01-29 Generating Ex-Masons In Ontario [#]

 **************************************************************
 * Generating Ex-Masons In Ontario                            *
 *                                                            *
 * At the end of 1990 there were 82,000 members.              *
 * In the next 15 years,         31,000 members DIED.         * 
 * In those 15 years,            19,000 NEW masons were made. *
 * At the end of 2005 there were 50,000 members. (Not 70,000) *
 *                                                            *
 * Thus, during those 15 years,  20,000 masons had QUIT!      *
 **************************************************************

2007-01-28 Jeff Peace resigns from Fremasonry [#]

It is with much regret that I must inform you of my decision to no longer be a part of any form of Freemasonry. My decision is in no way related to the UGLA or any of its members. All of you are excellent examples of what Freemasonry should be. I feel that all of you have a right to know the reason for my decision due to how long and hard many of us have worked together. As you know I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past seven years studying, writing and discussing Freemasonry. It has occupied such a large amount of time that I have come to feel that I am enslaved by it, and truly want to get back to doing all the things I used to do. Focus your efforts on building a true brotherhood of honorable men. Even though I am no longer a Mason I hope all of you will still consider me your friend, as I will you.


[The above message was reportedly received by the UGLA today. Jeff Peace has been described as one of the brightest living masonic scholars.]

[X] Here is an example of Jeff's thoughts on Euclid's 47th Proposition.

2007-01-27 Why (independent) Masonic Research Societies?

The oldest (extant) masonic research society in North America started in 1920. It wanted to be a research lodge, like Quatuor Coronati. It very much wanted to serve the local membership and to have good relations with the GL leadership. It wanted masons to think critically, to question, to contemplate, to discuss, to understand. The lodges were not doing this. So it wanted to help the lodges, by sharing the results of its work with them.

[X] [X] [X] In 1928, the Philalethes Society was started by 6 prominent US masons. Why, exactly?


2007-01-26 England and Ontario [#]

England has 4 times the population of Ontario. 5 times the number of Masons. England has:

  1. A real masonic library, UGLE owned, managed by a librarian, (a woman).[2001]
  2. The MQ Magazine (UGLE, quarterly, public, online(free)) [2002]
  3. The Freemasonry Today Magazine (independent, monthly, online(paid)) [1997]
  4. The Square Magazine (independent, quarterly) [1996]
  5. Research lodges that do research, e.g.: Quatuor Coronati No. 2076 [1884]
  6. The QCCC --- 7,000 members [1886]
  7. The Cornerstone Society [2004]
  8. The Canonbury Masonic Research Centre [1998]
  9. The Sheffield University CRF and MA program in Freemasonry [2001]
  10. University of Bradford: Web of Hiram
  11. Grand lodge leaders who talk about research to academic standards, esoteric freemasonry, and factual information for the public, including women freemasons.
  12. A Grand Lodge web site that contains such items as the Constitution, in searchable form.
  13. Over a dozen Grand Lodges, including two women's Grand Lodges and severel mixed ones, with over 50,000 women masons.

2007-01-25 MQ Magazine on Masonic Research This news is 2 years old, but it is worth contemplating: [#]

[X] [X] 2005-01

     Andrew Prescott distinguished between academic and Masonic research. He added: "Research is aimed at producing new discoveries. Anything which has another function - for example improving Freemasons' own understanding of their rituals - is not research, but education. Good research should assist education, but it is not its primary aim."
     However, he went on: "Any piece of research whose conclusions are primarily directed towards Freemasons' own appreciation and practice of the Craft is not academic research - it is Masonic research."
     It was essential to distinguish between academic and Masonic research, and he urged Lodges and Associations "to aspire to more academic research."
     He warned that Masonic research would remain antiquarian unless it was related to the themes identified in current scholarly literature.

I find the above account a little confusing. (How is this, for comment?):

  1. Education is about learning what is known, usually through teaching. It adds to the knowledge of the learner, from the collective body of knowledge.

  2. Research is about discovering what is unknown, usually through one's own creative initiative. It adds to the collective body of knowledge itself.

  3. "Research into freemasonry" may be a more precise term than "masonic research", but the term "masonic research" is well established and is part of the name of most masonic research societies and associations as well as research lodges. We just need to understand that "masonic" simply defines the subject matter. It is the opposite of non-masonic, not of un-masonic. After all, "Canadian Studies" does not imply studies biased towards "Canadianism". Thus, ...

  4. Masonic Research, by freemasons, may have been antiquarian, self-serving and uncritical in the past. But, ...

  5. Masonic Research, by freemasons, should aspire to adhere to academic standards in the future.

  6. What is left unmentioned in all this is esoteric knowledge and the mystery tradition. But that is a different matter.

Other items from the above article:

     Both Jim Daniel and John Hamill underlined the importance of Masonic research not just as an academic or quasi-academic activity, but to educate members of the Craft, and provide factual information about Freemasonry to the wider public.
     ... John Hamill said: "Grand Lodge sees Masonic research as an important aspect of the ongoing policy on better informing the outside world about Freemasonry.
     ... Working with academics is a key part of the policy of restoring the public reputation of Freemasonry."
     ... He went on: "Masonic research has a great champion in the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton. He has founded and funded the Canonbury Research Centre, with its concentration on the more esoteric aspects of Freemasonry and its relationship to other initiatic rites. ..."
     The Library & Museum collection was now more accessible via the Internet, and there was a digital version of the membership records and Grand Lodge proceedings 1813-2001.

[TSMR members may be interested to know that in 1920 the term "research" was neither defined nor qualified. In 1928, the aim and purpose mentioned "the study of Freemasonry", as well as certain specified exclusions from such study, but still with a strong outward focus. In 1936, the term "study" was dropped again. In 1947, it became "forum for views and opinions of masonic educational interest".]

Do read this article:

[X] Margaret Jacob: The Past and Future in Masonic Scholarship


2007-01-20 A Video Not exactly news, but ...

[X] here is an interesting video of a talk by John Algeo, a Theosophist: The Ancient Mysteries and Modern Freemasonry.

(Be sure not to watch some of the other videos, by accident, such as ...

[X] this one.)

Copyright 2007 TSMR