Doubtlessly those of our brethren resistant to the idea that working on the rough ashlar means changing that with which one is comfortable, will accuse me of being unjustly critical of the status quo. I thank them for the complement. I am simply noting the truth. If someone doesn't find the truth comfortable, change it.
With that advice in mind, I will from time to time present a rough ashlar. A rough ashlar is a pithy fact that points out where we, as masons, need to do as we say, rather than as we do. I think that is self explanatory. These may be observations of my own, or quotes of others. Either way, they represent a specific aspect of our experience which needs improvement. That is after all, what we are supposed to be about, is it not?
Masonic Landmarks and Regularity
"Of the ancient landmarks it has been observed with more or less foundation of truth: 'Nobody knows what they comprise or omit as 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 (1836-1915)
"However, it is sad to see men of enlightened reason, who should no longer be swayed by prejudice, indulge their passions and blindingly behave as sectarian clerics."
- Gerard Encausse (Papus) (1865-1916)
As I have noted elsewhere not so long ago, the only "Regular" mason is one who uses Exlax. The idea of regularity as used by masonic jurisdictions is so unmasonic as to be laughable. Or, it would be laughable if it hadn't been used since that non-event, the foundation of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717, to commit immeasurable harm to many sincere brothers and sisters. Every so often, an idea is just so bad it deserves to be ridiculed, and "regularity" is one of those ideas.
Regularity is supposedly based upon two factors. The first is that the masonic institution in question was founded in a correct way by a similarly correctly founded institution which preceded it or exists above it in hierarchy. The second factor which speaks to the maintenance of regularity after it is established is grounded upon faithfully maintaining the landmarks of Freemasonry.
There are two problems with this concept and the way it might play out. The first is that as noted by Gould in the quote above, landmarks are about as slippery as a pig in mud, not to mention about as clear. They are in short, a fraud. I know, I know, this amounts to sacrilege; except, I thought Freemasonry wasn't a religion. Everyone knows the truth and nobody wishes to speak it. It is the 3 ton elephant in the room. Landmarks are dragged out for three things - to write pieces of architecture for lodge, to impress potential candidates with what a tradition bound and hoary institution Freemasonry is, and the most common use, to charge some other mason or masonic body with being irregular. Since nobody really cares about the first two, it must be that the main purpose of landmarks, is as Gould said, to deprecate our competition.
The other big problem, as I see it, with regularity, is that the least regular of the masonic organizations make the loudest claims about being regular. Let's draw back the curtain fully for a minute and let the light of day stream in. I know, that's unmasonic, but let's do it for a minute. We can all deny it ever happened afterwards and strike it from the minutes.
If we seek more light, something which it seems, most masons prefer to talk about rather than do, we will have to admit that there is no substantive evidence, apart from the word of a man known to fabricate falsehoods professionally some 25 years after the purported event, that the convocation of the first Grand Lodge in 1717 ever took place. There are no minutes, no official documents, no charters... nothing. OK, that strips the Blue lodge of regularity. Now, if we look at the Scottish Rite, apart from the fact that it is generally acknowledged that the Morin Rite upon which the Modern Scottish Rite was founded was an invention by Morin himself, there is a small matter of the falsehood, broadly hinted at by Pike himself eventually, of the supposed charter issued by Frederick. It was a fake. And it would appear, Pike entered the Scottish Rite under a Cerneau initiation. Further examples of "irregularity."
Isn't it really high time, that along with bigotry, racism, sexism, and general pomposity, we ditch regularity and show that we are adult enough to not call each other names? Heck, even the Pope is able to break bread with the Archbishop of Canterbury.