Saturday, September 22, 2007,
Public Lecture and Panel Discussion:
The Future of Universal Freemasonry in Society
Paradigm & Paradox
Freemasons have long been advocates of toleration, liberty, equality and compassion. Their cosmopolitan advancement of reason, human rights, and dignity was considered subversive in an age ruled by institutions of dogma and repression.
Today freemasonry's institutions are often seen as backward, fragmented, pre-occupied with ostentation and control, and possibly aloof from freemasonry's original values.
What are those values? How do they inform freemasonry today and tomorrow? How will freemasonry be relevant to civil society in the future?
2040 Introduction of Panel
2050 Questions & Dialogue (1)
2130 ** BREAK **
2140 Questions & Dialogue (2)
2220 The End
George Ignatieff Theatre
Map & Directions
15 Devonshire Place (South of Varsity Stadium)
University of Toronto campus
Subway: St. George Station
Parking: There is a metered lot North of the Theatre. $6/night.
Metered street parking ($2.50/hr, free after 21:00)
The panel brings together diverse informed and authentic perspectives on Freemasonry.
Perspectives and Question -- Please
Your Questions for the Panel
- This event is organized by the
The TSMR is resolutely independent of any "Masonic" organization whatsoever. The purpose is to provide and exchange actual information, and to explore freely various perspectives, through open dialogue. It is certainly not to promote, embellish, or defend any organization's "official" policies or practices, but rather the free pursuit of knowledge and understanding, toward greater awareness and truth, in the service of the public good.
- "For centuries, our ancient Craft here and around the world has been dedicated to the principles of Political Freedom, Religious Tolerance and Personal Integrity. ... We respect diversity of opinion and religious, ethnic, cultural, social and educational differences." -- The Grand Lodge of Minnesota web site
- "Freemasonry is the oldest and largest world wide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being. Although of a religious nature, Freemasonry is not a religion. It urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs." -- First words of the GLCPO web site
- "Its main principles are the absolute liberty of conscience and freedom. Furthermore, the basic rules that guide us are tolerance and the respect of all beliefs as well as for all human beings. It does not refer to any exclusive dogma. Its purpose is to promote individual and global social progress and mutual understanding among people having different origins and cultures and to act as a bridge overcoming all prejudices. It does not refer to any particular political or religious doctrine and leaves this consideration to the individual conscience of their members who are totally free in their religious, philosophical and political choices, as long as the concepts adopted do not teach hostile, discriminating or racial principles." -- The George Washington Union web site (GWU)
"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 Grand Orient de France (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 Grand Lodges.
"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
- "But though in ancient Times Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty" -- Charges of a Free Mason, 1723 (The religious terms God, worship, believe, Architect of heaven, faith, bible do not appear in the 1723 text of the Charges or the Regulations. All these words do appear in the 2006 GLCPO Constitution.)
- "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
- "Socially, the Scottish Rite is Freemasonry Militant ... by showing through illustrations from history and human evolution how the Mason may make his influence felt for the principles of free thought, free government, free education and free religion. The Scottish Rite Mason is the foe of intolerance, bigotry, ignorance and all their forms." -- from a Scottish Rite web page
- "It is an institution which seeks human happiness through tolerance and love, to improve our nature, to strive towards justice, truth and equality, and to fight tyranny, ignorance and prejudice." -- from a Scottish Rite ritual
- "If, indeed, the purpose of Freemasonry is the formation of human beings able to elevate themselves above prejudices of any kind, then it would be befitting to get rid of whatever ailments divide Freemasonry. Let us gather whatever is scattered and let us gain knowledge through our differences, as it is not necessary for anyone to win or lose! The spiritual leaders of many religions get together, on a regular basis, to discuss ecumenically. Are we to admit failure by recognizing that we are more dogmatic than they are?" -- The George Washington Union web site (GWU)
- "Is it true that there are lodges for men, lodges for women, and mixed gender lodges, and that a Freemason is free to join or visit any lodge where s/he is welcome, without outside interference?"
- "Is it true that there are lodges that are mostly black, lodges that are mostly white, and racially mixed lodges, and that a Freemason is free to join or visit any lodge where s/he is welcome, without outside interference?"
- "What is the reason for the specific belief requirements for admission? Have these requirements been constant through time and space?"
- "I have read that Freemasonry champions human rights and freedoms, and that it opposes tyranny, superstition, and ignorance. I have also read that Freemasons are extremely loyal and conformist to their state and government. Are both of these true, and how are possible contradictions reconciled?"
- "Are Freemasonry's members, governance, policies, and practices perceived as being of exemplary integrity by their friends and families? By the public? By religious, governmental, and non-governmental organizations? The US News & World Report 2007 Collector's Edition on "Secret Societies" reports on Masons, along with The Mafia."
- "I understand that ritual plays are used in Freemasonry and that they differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from rite to rite. Is the dogma of Freemasonry universal? Do all of these rituals teach the same thing and what do they teach?"
- "If Masonry is a "moral philosophy" and is at the same time open to individuals of all creeds and cultures who defines what is moral? The individual, the Lodge, District Grand Lodge, Grand Lodge, history, society?"
- "If Freemasonry is a journey or education program designed to temper ones character, what processes and challenges are candidates and Masons required to undertake?"
- "I have heard the term "Freemasonarian" used to describe those who believe Freemasonry is a service club and who are uninterested and/or oppose Masonic education. Is this common in Freemasonry?"
- "I have heard that much of Freemasonry in North America lost its substance long ago. What options are available for someone in Toronto seeking Freemasonry with substance?"
- "What is the principled reason that women are excluded from "regular" Freemasonry today?
- "What is the reason that "mainstream" Grand Lodges in the US and some parts of Canada have (had) policies that, in effect, discriminated, and continue to discriminate against the 10% (predominantly Black) Masons in Prince Hall Grand Lodges?"
- "Is Freemasonry the guardian of western civilization, or is it just a hobby for people who like to dress up, give themselves fancy titles, and do theatrics?"
- "Is it true that there are tens of thousands of women Masons in Europe, but only a few dozen in North America?"
- "Is it true English speaking Freemasonry is religious, and dogmatic, and controlling, and complacent, and has been in declince since 1920? That most new members lose interest within three years? And that adogmatic, liberal Freemasonry is growing?"
- "Is it true that Freemasons have to agree to give up universal human rights, such as freedom of conscience, of association, of communication? Is it true that young Masons increasingly criticise the lack of transparency and participation in governance, and are leaving the established institutions?"
- "Is it true that there has been increased academic interest in Masonic Research, especially in Europe?"
- "Inasmuch as Freemasonry is about social interaction and about religion (where this is the case), is there ongoing open dialogue between the institutions of Freemasonry and the social and religious institutions that Freemasons profess to support and strengthen?"
- "What exactly is Universal Freemasonry? How is it universal?"
- "What are the barriers to the free unfolding of universal Freemasonry in cosmopolitan society? Do they lie with the general society, within external institutions, or within the institutions of Freemasonry itself?
- "Having been behind the trailing edge of society with respect to women's rights, civil rights, transparency, and governance for over 100 years, at least in North America, what can Freemasonry possibly have to offer cosmopolitan civil society today, and in the future?"
- "Is it true that Freemasonry progressed rapidly at its beginning? What essential changes are required if Freemasonry is to become progressive and relevant once again? Do Grand Lodges enable or frustrate Freemasonry?"
- "Does Freemasonry need a bureaucracy at all? Does Freemasonry need rivalry, territorialism, monopoly, exclusion, and politics? Geometry and philosophy need no membership, no dues, and no hierarchy.
Please return again as questions and perspectives are added ...
Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
Kent Henderson will give a lecture at
Wexford Lodge No. 683, in Scarborough:
"How to Explain Freemasonry to a Wife or Non-Mason"
(This will be for Masons and their guests.)
Sunday afternoon (14:00 ... close to U of T)
Informal Symposium & Dialogue on the Future of Freemasonry in Civil Society
(This will be a very small intensive working gathering for researchers and others with a strong interest in understanding the future of universal Freemasonry in cosmopolitan civil society. Limited spaces. If interested, please send email and introduce yourself, stating nature of interest. -- See "Contact" for email. And/or talk to us at the conclusion of the Saturday event.)
Suggested Reading on the Future of Universal Freemasonry:
[George Washington Union (GWU)]
[Walker, GLI: Freemasonry in Society Today and Tomorrow]
[Liberal and Adogmatic Grand Lodges]
[Masonic Research Trends]
[Lodge Renewal Reading List]
[Halcyon Lodge as a Model for the Future]
[THE BURNING TAPER]
[Moving Freemasonry Forward]
Joe Walkes and Brent Morris Interview in Masonic Globe Magazine]
Joe Walkes: Black Square and Compass]
[Ernest F. Lissabet: Freemasonry -- A personal interpretation]
[The Landmarks of Freemasonry]
[The Masonic Landmarks]
(Some of these are worth reading. -- This list needs to be refined)
The Future of Universal Freemasonry in Society
is 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.