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For A' That

Then let us pray, that come it may,
And come it will for a' that, ...
That man to man the whole world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.
-- Robert Burns


He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that took him in!
-- Edwin Markham

Brotherhood of Man

There is a Brotherhood of Man,
A Benevolent Brotherhood of Man,
A noble tie that binds
All human hearts and minds
Into one Brotherhood of Man.
-- Frank Loesser / Oscar Peterson

Brotherhood of Man

Here's to the Brotherhood of Man,
Under the Fatherhood of God.
Here's to Fraternity,
Faith Hope and Charity,
Brotherly Love Relief and Truth.

The Hidden Mysteries of Nature,
Of Science and the Liberal Arts:
Grammar and Rhetoric,
Logic, Arithmetic,
Geometry, Music, the Stars.

Universality Understood.
Passion and Prejudice Subdued.
Good Will and Harmony,
All of Humanity,
A Free and Equal Brotherhood.

-- 2002

Why Not Now?

In foreign lands,
Two hundred thousand Masons,
Remain as then:
At our perpetual distance.
The reason then?
There was discrimination.
Our reason now?
"We don't discriminate".

Two hundred years,
Ten million Master Masons,
Have Heard, have Seen.
Yet few have said a Word.
"Audi, Vide, Tace --
Vivere in pace".
Hear and see no evil --
Ignorance is bliss?

Right here, right now,
Mere just and upright Masons,
Ask why we vow,
Our Points of Fellowship.
Through hollow words,
Do we not drain esteem,
For Heads, the Body,
For our peers, our selves?

Let's mean our vows!
Let's meet our obligations!
Greet hand-to-hand,
Our separated Brethren.
Practice the principles,
That proudly we profess.
Reject the False;
At last, embrace the True.

-- April 2003

A Better Lodge

I'm looking for a few good men,
to build a better lodge,
Where precept taught, tradition lived,
and reason, are enough.
Will one percent want to be true,
and one tenth of them, move?
A handful, who will give their time,
their thought, their work, their love.

Our walk betrays our talk now,
as we live in contradiction.
We stress performance and advancement,
rank and hierarchy.
And piety and charity
with praise and ostentation.
Not contemplation,
understanding and humility.

To love, to help, and to be true,
to seek to know ourselves,
With liberty of conscience,
equal with all human kind:
We must reject all ignorance,
unfairness and pretense,
Leave ego and ambition,
pride and prejudice behind.

:. November 2005

[link here] Si Vis Vivere In Pace.

First they talked about Prince Hall recognition.
It bothered their conscience to be complicit.
But I didn't want my conscience to be bothered.
And I was not black.
So I told them to be quiet.
Or say something nice.
They left. ...

Then they talked about inner meaning.
Not mere recitation of rote-memorized lines.
But I was comfortable; I knew my lines.
And I had no thirst for innner meaning.
So I told them to be quiet.
Or say something pleasant.
They left. ...

Then they talked about transparency and governance.
Practicing our proudly professed principles.
But that was politics.
None of my business.
So I told them to be quiet.
Or say words of praise.
They left. ...

Then we who remained said nice pleasant flattering words.
We gave each other titles and decorations.
And we congratulated ourselves.
And we gripped and grinned.
What a comfortable body.
Now that the bothersome conscience
Has left. ...

:. 2005-11-30

Principles and Problem Solving

To deny problems is to promote falsehood.
To face and comprehend problems is Truth.

To disparage problems is exacerbation.
To learn and solve problems is Relief.

To boast of having no problems of one's own is uncaring.
To see another's problem as one's own is Brotherly Love.

:. 2006-01-18

We know so little about applicants.
We know much more about them later.
Applicants know so little about us.
And they know much better later on.

Many leave.  Are they the bad ones?
Some stay.  Are they the good ones?

   We hear: "keep out the bad!"
   How about "keep in the good"
   Or maybe: "weed out the bad"
   Promote: "merit and ability"
:. May 22, 2006
Membership woe.

Few join today.
Soon they quit.
Most stay away.
Yet dues remit.
:. 2007-03-25
Quotations. [#]
  • "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, in Protagoras, (Jowett's translation, 607)

  • "All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real Worth and personal Merit only; that so the Lords may be well served, the Brethren not put to Shame, nor the Royal Craft despis'd: Therefore no Master or Warden is chosen by Seniority, but for his Merit."
    -- "The Charges of a Free Mason", Anderson's Constitutions, 1723

  • "Personally, I would rather be associated with a bastard who is himself a moral, upright good man than with one of legitimate birth who is a crook and a scoundrel. ... It is regrettable but true that there are those of official station in all large organizations whose actions in important as well as trivial matters is governed by selfishness rather than the pure altruism which Freemasonry teaches. From this we are not exempt!"
    -- Melvin Maynard Johnson, PGM GLMA, writing about Grand Lodge recognition, The Philalethes, July 1948

  • "Cut down the evangelical, the religious, the inspirational, and give us more fact stories, history, and intelligent interpretation of symbols."
    -- Carl H. Claudy, about The Philalethes, 1955

  • "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

  • "It was because of censorship by well-meaning Masonic leaders that the Society was born. ... every side of evert subject should be explored. Only in this manner can the truth be determined, and it is TRUTH that Freemasons should be seeking."
    -- Allen E. Roberts, in Seekers of Truth, April 1, 1988

  • "Some Masonic leaders ... had endeavoured to warp the minds of the greatest intellectuals in Freemasonry. By banding together [the founders of the Philalethes Society] believed the tyrants would consider "the prospect of being held up to the scorn of the whole Masonic world." ... The new Society was formed [1928-10-01] "to create a bond of union for isolated Masonic writers and also to protect editors of Masonic publications from undeserved aggression" from the tyrants of the day."
    -- Allen E. Roberts, in Seekers of Truth, 1988

  • "The Society shall concern itself with nothing other than its purposes as stated in Section 1 of this Article, and particularly shall make not so much as a suggestion concerning the legislative and ritualistic affairs of any Masonic body."
    -- Philalethes Society Constitution and Bylaws, 1961 (removed by 1988)

  • In June [1973], the Editor [Vrooman] reminded the members of the goals of the Society. "Primarily, The Philalethes Society was established to sponsor and foster Masonic Research, Masonic Study and the Dissemination of Masonic Precepts that will make for a better and more enlightened Craft. . . . We must never forget that the prime purpose of our magazine is to encourage and stimulate thought and active participation of the members in a study of some of the less-known and little-understood phases of Freemasonry; the writing, study and research by our members into unknown and unfathomed depths of Masonic thought, and above all, the stimulation of interest in and study of the greater facets of the Craft, and a better understanding, by such study, of the real meaning and message of Freemasonry."
    -- Seekers of Truth, p.131

  • "The Society was founded in 1928, by six men, explicitly in order to keep free thinkers in Masonry from being muzzled by those 'dressed in a little brief authority'"
    -- Wallace McLeod, in Update to Seekers of Truth, 1999

  • The Philalethes Society was founded on October 1, 1928, by a group of Masonic students. It was designed for Freemasons desirous of seeking and spreading Masonic light. In 1946, The Philalethes magazine was established to publish articles by and for its members. For many years it has been voted the best Masonic publication in the world.
    The sole purpose of this Research Society is to act as a clearinghouse for Masonic knowledge. It exchanges ideas, researches problems confronting Freemasonry, and passes them along to the Masonic world.
    -- The Philalethes Society web site, retrieved 2008-02-01

  • "the Philalethes Society should not become the slightest bit involved in advocating or endorsing any policy that is being considered by any Grand Lodge." ... "researches problems confronting Freemasonry" (change to:) "publishes research about Freemasonry without the Society advocating any policy or action" ... "The Philalethes Society ... should never adopt any position on any issue that is not clearly related to Masonic research, nor shall the Society involve itself in the legislative or ritualistic deliberations of any Masonic body."
    -- Bylaws Committee proposal, January 2006

  • "What is the most important thing we as Freemasons do? Is it reciting the ritual and conferring degrees? Many lodges must think so, because that's all they ever do; they make the Craft into some sort of primitive life-form, whose sole function is to propagate itself."
    -- Wallace McLeod, in Seekers of Truth, April 1988

  • " . . . the problem is that all too many senior Grand Lodge officers today seem to have managed to escape from learning by the experiences of the Mastership of the Lodge. They believe that a few terms in ceremonial teams and some pleasantly comfortable years at the center of power is what it is all about. These are the people who presume to rule over the remainder of the Craft. To impose their views and opinions in a most unmasonic way."

    "Many senior Grand Lodge officers seem to have no other motive than the collection of Gold braid and Royal Blue cloth. To see them strutting about and reveling in their own self importance can be an utterly sickening sight. But even worse is to realize that many of these men who are supposedly shining examples of virtue and knowledge are nothing more than two legged egos looking for their next fix at the altar of their exclusive little mutual admiration society. Their knowledge and understanding of Freemasonry is woefully, even criminally poor. To think that these are the guardians of such a sacred trust as the mysteries of the Craft is, to say the least, disconcerting."
    -- N.Y. quoted in "Confessions of a BAFF", by Nelson King, 2000
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