Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Landmarks and Exlax Freemasonry

I usually try to avoid severe controversy, but this is too much even for me. It is a sad commentary that we are into the teens of a new century and the Masonic Landmarks, those vague and fluctuating set of general characteristics attributed to Freemasonry continue to be used more for abuse than for whatever valid purpose they may once have held.

Of course, I am speaking of the current Witch hunt being carried out in Florida by the Grand Master of the mainstream Grand Lodge there. No, I'm not speaking metaphorically. GM Jorge Aladro, is acutally trying to purge witches and pagans from the Grand Lodge. Evidently, it is not enough to believe in deity for him, you have to conceive of it just as he does.

Come on now. In kindergarten the teacher taught us to play nice and not run with scissors. It's not that difficult. The idea, all too common in Christianity alas, that there is only one right and true way to reach God, truly is a dead end, socially. We live in a multi-cultural and multi-religious world. We have the right to demand a certain measure of civility, but in order to receive it we have to give as good as we wish to receive.

Teaching social science courses to undergraduates, I on occasion have had to explain to students enculturated into a religion that is overly addicted to proselytization that we cannot tell others that their beliefs are wrong if we wish to have a reasoned conversation with them. I also point out, as if it should need stating, that being the member of any religion means you are trying to approach the sacred and make room for it, as you understand it, in your life. No exceptions. That speaks to one's worthiness of being a mason, regardless of which religion you espouse.

Evidently, the Grand Master of Florida needs a refresher course in Comparative Religion. Better yet, he may need to actually read something about Freemasonry. I say this because he is making the same old sad mistake of trying to use "Landmarks," whatever they are, to defend his personal brand of narrow minded intolerance. Yes, I did say "Landmarks, whatever they are." Why? Because, As a Freemason with a brain, I find "Landmarks" at least as they are most commonly abused, to be an intolerable affront. They are almost never used in a positive way. Instead, in arguments that harken back to an inquisitional mindset, they are almost always used in a calculating way to say "I am a mason, and you are not." In the most respectfully masonic way possible, I say, "nonsense." Actually, I was thinking of a two syllable word incorporating the waste products of certain barnyard animals, but this is a civil forum. Adamantly,  I insist that there's no way to be polite in the face of hypocracy and bigotry.

So, let's look at that issue of Landmarks for a moment. Apart from the fact that as an academic I am well aware that Anderson's great works were largely created out of broadcloth, yes, I mean Anderson wrote fiction, and not an especially creative or credible fiction at that. Anyone who knows how to apply critical judgement to historical claims can see the holes in his story from at least 10 miles away. But let's not act surprised and pious here. It's not as if I'm the first to have pointed any of this out.

Robert Freke Gould (1836-1915) wrote that

"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."

Nigel Gallimore, writing in the Workman, Voll III, No. 10 in March, 2012, notes that not only has the UGLE not defined any landmarks beyond a belief in a supreme deity, but that they were unable or unwilling to define even what that one landmark meant. He notes that even as far back as 1717, that other fiction of Anderson's, no real consensus on landmarks could be found, leaving even this one unqualified.

This leaves us with a man who represents the "regular" Freemasons of Florida (I assume that means those freemasons who are not in the habit of buying Ducolax or Exlax) tripping over his own feet.

How does this rationally relate to the old claim of "making good men better." Well, in civil society, we tend to be tolerant of other people's religions, even if we find them problematic. In short, this flies in the face of all that Freemasonry CLAIMS it is about. Is there a  hidden reason why the Grand Master wants to defame Freemasonry? Why is he trying to hammer a few more nails into the already well fastened coffin in which Grand Lodges such as Georgia, and Arkansas have worked so hard to entomb Albert Pike? 

Well, as I noted at The Bee Hive already, I am certain that there are a number of Liberal and Adogmatic Obediences in the US who would be pleased to welcome any and all Neopagans, Wiccans, and uncertains to join. Feel free to contact me here. I'll be glad to help you find a new home. We even welcome women! Yes, that means we live in the 21st Century, not the early 19th Century, and in the United States, not Stalinist Russia. Come on boys, you're embarrassing us all! Can't you at least pretend to be adults?


I have appended a few more thoughts that I feel are important. Having read Brother Corey Bryson's explanation of events, and not wishing to extend this subject to more than one blog entry, if possible, I felt there was something more that I should say. I need to respond to Brother Bryson's remarks on several points. The first thing I wish to note, is that Jorge Aladro's decision not withstanding, I consider Corey Bryson a masonic brother in good standing and am prepared to act to assure it. Should he not choose to accept the invitation of our brothers in PHA which I noted was extended elsewhere, I am prepared to assist him within the realm of Liberal, Adogmatic freemasonry within the USA. Some of us not only welcome Pagans and Wiccans, but understand the historical connections between Freemasonry and the modern Wicca and Neopagan movements.

That subject dispensed with, I think it needs to be noted that this man and his views do not represent what Freemasonry is. Certain obediences have been overtaken by people who have not one iota of understanding of what Freemasonry is supposed to be. Our unfortunately benighted Bro. Aladro is an example of this sort of "buddy club" mason. While I am more than happy to expound on the benefits and advantages of Liberal and Adogmatic Freemasonry, I would be remiss if I did not state publicly that there are good, sincere, and worthy members of the so-called "regular" branches of Freemasonry as well.

It is my most profound wish Brother Corey, that you do not allow this sad and despicable behavior on the part of one man who's judgement and masonic character is open to question cause you to feel bitter toward Freemasonry, or to reject it. There are obediences which are not infected by this sort of narrow-minded bias. The door is open to a few of them should you choose to knock. That offer will remain open.


Frederic L. Milliken said...

Nice Post. I see you go about disagreeing with an itellectual argument.

Man I think that it is just rank prejudice - White only-Christian only Confederate Freemasonry.

Frederic L. Milliken
Executive Director Phoenixmasonry

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Brother Fred,

Thank you! I could not agree with you more. I simply cannot help my lifelong habit. When I sit down to write, I find intellectual points to support my positions. I also tried to restrain myself, as I was pissed as all get out about this. You're wrong on one point. There isn't a real Christian among those who would tolerate this. Christ did not preach intolerance.

frat. Eoghan

Eoghan Ballard .'.

Greg said...

A thoughtful, well-supported post, Brother. The behavior of this GM is appalling and repugnant...but to me, not a surprise. This same level of institutionalized intolerance drove a brilliant Mason away from the Craft in the early 1990's. A Brother I brought to Masonry via the military lodges in Europe returned to the US and found work in FL. During his first visit to a US lodge, he was approached by members and asked if his military lodge was "one of those Lodges that allowed n*****s in"....he left and never returned. I, too, found the racial intolerance to be repulsive - American Freemasonry infected with small-minded bigots - and did not attend Lodge for years. I returned to the Craft in Colorado and am proud to say my Lodge's altar is crowded with Volumes of Sacred Law. I count among Lodge members Catholics, Protestants of numerous denominations, Jews, Muslims, Pagans (Wicca, Odinist, Druids), Taoists, Hindi, Buddhists, Gnostic Christians, and Druze.

To all Brethren: Remember the words of St. John: The Light shineth in the Darkness, but the Darkness comprehendeth it not."

Let's support our Brothers who are being persecuted and pray common sense and the True Light of the Craft prevails.

Unknown said...

So mote it be, When I first heard of these atrocious charges i knew right of the bat that this is not freemasonry, when I was being investigated the first question they asked me was"Do you believe in a supreme being". from my understanding and especially that i've applied these words before wich is well documented in the tools that i use everyday The Supreme Mathematics and 120 lessons, I've know to be right and exact. That if you would look at those two words supreme-is simply utmost high and being-means to exist. I know for a fact that this is exactly why its asked in that manner. Freemasonry is an universal thought that is processed in all of our endevours. using tools to create equality overall. P.E.A.C.E

Anonymous said...

From “The Mother Lodge” by Rudyard Kipling:

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We ‘adn’t good regalia,
An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An’ we kep’ ‘em to a hair;
An’ lookin’ on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquets,
Lest a Brother’s caete were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’
Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
Of the God ‘e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots
An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird.
We’d say ’twas ‘ighly curious,
An’ we’d all ride ‘ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva
Changin’ pickets in our ‘ead.

Kyle Myers said...

Has no Grand Lodge withdrawn recognition? Ugh!

I naturally fall back on my favorite quote from Bro. Voltaire: “Go into the London Stock Exchange and you will see representatives of all nations gathered there for the service of mankind. There the Jew, the Mohammedan, and the Christian deal with each other as if they were of the same religion, and give the name of infidel only to those who go bankrupt.”

The same should obtain for Freemasonry, except that "bankrupt" should refer to philosophy & learning. De-recognize the infidels!

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Of course, I see the effective response is to simply introduce real competition. The biggest weakness is the untenable notion of territorial exclusivity. Let's see the healthy growth of Liberal Masonry.