The following papers are featured for discussion. We encourage our members and friends to read them, to think about the content, discuss them, and perhaps write responses for our online forum or future meetings.
Jeff Peace: The Grand Orient of the United States: Facts & Fictions (2 p)
"The primary differences between Traditional Cosmopolitan and Anglo-American Freemasonry can best be summed-up in their perspective of the institution of Freemasonry itself. The Anglo-American Masons view Freemasonry as a religiously oriented fraternity dedicated to brotherly love, relief and truth. The Anglo-American Mason Albert Pike once stated that it was 'the handmaid of religion.' The Traditional Cosmopolitan Masons perceive Freemasonry as a secular but spiritual fraternity dedicated to the Enlightenment principles of human liberty and equality resulting in the universal brotherhood of all mankind. This is expressed in their motto: 'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.'
The oaths and obligation of the two groups are quite different as well. The Anglo-American tradition is to swear allegiance to the Grand Lodge and agree to its various rules. The Traditional Cosmopolitans are obligated to preserve human liberty and equality while striving for the universal brotherhood of mankind."
"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
Fred Milliken: The Rise of Masonic Neo Isolationism (Blog, 3p)
"There is a virus infecting American Masonry. It is called Neo Isolationism. Its general focus is withdrawal, pulling within oneself. It takes many forms - withdrawal from other associations, from issues and from meeting head on any problems. It seeks never to solve anything, denying that any issue or problem exists, rather burying one's Masonic involvement solely in the study of Masonic symbolism, meaning and philosophy."
Tim Bryce: If the System is Broken, how do we Fix it? (1p)
"There are of course Grand jurisdictions doing some rather noble and progressive work, but they are being overshadowed by the many others where there is contention, some frivolous, some rather serious. The stories that particularly bother me are those where a Mason is being expelled or suspended without proper due process. Masons are turned on by other Masons who behave more like a gang of thugs demanding their pound of flesh as opposed to Brothers trying to help each other." Bryce outlines 6 responses to the broken system.
Another set of 4 responses: Go Along, Go Away, Go Crazy Trying, or Find a Better Way.
Robert G. Davis: Freemasonry and the Modern Culture (PDF, 9p)
"... they will abandon us and move to the new clandestine Grand Lodges now being established across America as we speak. Our new generation is not much interested in regularity of origin. They are interested in self improvement, brotherly love, truth, and the fellowship of thoughtful men. And spurious lodges are being created in a number of states to provide just that. My Brethren, we now have competition."
Cf: Sections [20,23,25,26,28,31,32,49,50] of this paper in Journal of Religion and Society
Fred Milliken: US Mainstream Masonry: A Study In Isolationism, Parochialism & States Rights (Blog, 3p)
This paper explains how States Rights and Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction have been instruments of maintaining the colour bar in US Freemasonry.
Kris Stevens: The Middle Path (PDF, 27p)
"There are many other issues beyond those listed in this paper that are significant to modern individuals and society. If we choose not to become relevant dismissing these issues, the Craft will not die. It is however likely that "established" Grand Lodges, their Lodges and members will simply be displaced and replaced as a system of Freemasonry more relevant evolves around them that will engage society and individuals seeking to follow and act upon the centre."
Older papers of interest:
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