Saturday, December 22, 2012

Masonic Blogosphere - Last Refuge of Masonic Morality!

Given the almost constant string of scandals issuing from (primarily southern) jurisdictions one could be forgiven for concluding that Freemasonry is synonymous with immorality and a lack of ethics. Now, I have heard and from sources that usually are credible, that such is not the case. I'm beginning to question the traditional characterization, however.

It also seems increasingly clear that the only place where morality and ethics has any expression within mainstream Freemasonry in the US is through the blogosphere. It appears to be totally absent on the Grand Lodge level, and those who are committed to the current establishment too easily forget their vows. It also appears that the average mainstream mason has interpreted, wrongly I might add, that loyalty to the fraternity is measured by loyalty to the dictates of a corrupt establishment managed by leaders devoid of any ethical compass.

The fact that the rest of the Grand Lodges largely avoid the unpleasantness of commenting on the sins of their sister lodges rather than allowing them to avoid "contagion" results in their mutual moral culpability. At a certain point, one can no longer remain moral if you remain silent. Delay only makes matters worse.

Fortunately, a few Masonic bloggers have spoken out on this sad series of affairs.  Brothers Mark Koltko-Rivera and Frederic L. Milliken have taken the brave and moral decision to speak out in active ways to correct these most recent injustices. Brother Koltko-Rivera has begun a petition to void the Grandmaster's ruling in Florida to ban masons who are pagans as a violation of masonic rules, and Brother Milliken has called on other jurisdictions to pull recognition from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas for their most recent mishandling of the Shriner situation, but also in light of all the other banishings they have engaged in in recent times.

Visit their links and read them for yourself:

More importantly, support and join their efforts.

Doubtlessly, both these good brethren will be challenged and insulted by the mindless followers of mainstream Grand Lodges and I will, yet again, be told, as a "bogus mason" to piss off. It's a small price to pay for occupying the only moral position in this debate. Well done Mark and Fred! I am proud to count you as brothers and friends whether you are allowed to share in masonic discourse with me or not.


Kyle Myers said...

Thanks for this beautiful blog, Brother! I agree in principle with almost everything you state here - especially regarding the corruption of Grand Lodges. However, this problem has been with us from the very first day of the original Grand Lodge formed in 1717 by 4 London Lodges. Almost immediately, Lodges outside London criticized the Grand Lodge & questioned its necessity. Soon, the Grand Master's cousin decided that he & his friends could exemplify the true Masonry better than the others, so they formed a rival Grand Lodge, which later became one of the parties in the unification of 1813. Not only could that unification not solve the problem, but matters became worse when a Grand Master "of Royal blood" was found. Unfortunately, he was not yet a Mason, so he was given the proverbial fast track. Among his first acts after becoming GM was to change a ritual that he, being a newly-made Mason, could not possibly have understood. Why? Because he didn't understand it. The problems inherent in Grand Lodge have now been handed right down to us - virtually unchanged. In light of its "human" problems, Freemasonry is in some ways no different than the many other organizations and associations existing throughout civil society today. Our truest Brothers are those working in our local Lodges, serving one another with freedom, tenacity, and zeal, while Grand Lodge service becomes very complicated & political. As long as Grand Masters are expected to be wealthy enough to devote themselves fully to their tenure, we will continue to have few or no choices in elections.
I wonder about your comment regarding "the south": the problem is everywhere in the world - not the least in England - and "the south" is not any kind of homogeneous quantity. There are plenty of troubles to go around, and, like you, many of us are zealous, knowledgeable Masons who love Freemasonry - though we may find that Grand Lodge hinders our practice at times. We are not all the same down here, and we can plainly see who among us are & are not part of the problem. I'm sure that, in the long term, we all pray for our Lodges & Grand Lodges to improve in knowledge & discourse, as each is able to muster.

E C Ballard ஃ said...

Thank you for sharing your views, Bro. Kyle. Of course, some of us view the mainstream Grand Lodges as something to work outside of, not within. There is an alternative, and that is better, in my opinion, than banging one's head against a wall.

E C Ballard ஃ said...

We hear frequently that Freemasonry can be different things for different people. It is not however true that it can be everything that any mason may be seeking in the same lodge. At a certain point, the person seeking a secure place where he may ignore the reality in the outside world, and reflect back on his idealized vision of what he wished the good old days were (which I assure you they were not) will not be able to be a member of the same Freemasonry, much less the same lodge, as a person seeking real light and to grow. Such expectations are fundamentally at odds.

We have reached a point, or rather, I should say, Mainstream Freemasonry has reached a point where it needs to grapple with these conflicting expectations and decide whether it will go quietly into that good night or fight against the dying of the light, and drag itself kicking and screaming perhaps, into the 21st century. It will not long survive by cleaving to the old way.

With all due respect to those for whom such ways were the norm and are dear to them, people today are not interested in folksy sermons and appeals to sentimental reminiscences of times that were best left behind for a world in which a greater diversity of the population is shown respect. That sort of approach will not guarantee the survival of institutional freemasonry.

The wise elder will understand that flexibility and change needs to be embraced, not shunned. They will see that anything which becomes fossilized will die. If they apprehend the worth within Freemasonry, they will struggle to become comfortable with new approaches to the old lodge. If Freemasonry is to be here in the next century, it will have to appeal to people far younger than myself. I may have some real issues with the way young people today do certain things, but I also understand that we must be ready to accommodate them, as they are the future.

Fortunately, there are other forms of Freemasonry which are less fossilized and rigid, and they will be the dominant forms in years to come if mainstream
masonry does not adapt itself to the reality of the world we live in. In the months that come, I will be exploring what this "brave new world" might well look like. Whatever happens, the future will
not resemble the past.

Kyle Myers said...

Each of us interprets our "system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbol" according to our own ability to understand. Of course, there are many in our Lodges who simply enjoy the fellowship of friends and Brothers. Some also enjoy working our Rituals and transmitting the same to younger Brethren, while some enjoy serving their Lodges in more practical and mundane ways, such as appointment to committees or election as officers. Some Brethren also think very deeply about the meaning of Freemasonry, its philosophy, lessons, customs, and traditions. It may well be that certain jurisdictions have a greater proportion of zealous, deep-thinking Brethren, but such Brethren are equally valuable - regardless of where they may place their obedience. All Brethren in all Jurisdictions are important to the future of Freemasonry. I see many younger men coming into the MS Lodges and it is obvious that they believe in a Freemasonry that follows its true principles. They will not long tolerate any prejudices and abuses, but will work together to correct our direction. Those of us who have waited so long for them are refreshed and empowered by their ethical and moral steadiness. Never forget that it was 15 Craftsmen against one zealous Artist, who thus lost his life while no other Brother could aid him. Each Mason ultimately stands alone, wheresoever he finds himself, to uphold our principles as he understands them. Accordingly, no individual Mason is the sole possessor of the ultimate truth - and the Light of our Fraternity is brighter because of it. There's no doubt we have much to learn and many adjustments to make, but we will learn these things better and make truly lasting changes for having worked within our Obediences. Personally, I look forward to the day when all Masonic Obediences world-wide will simply recognize one another - instead of bickering over whose is the truest Freemasonry. We should all share true Fellowship without reservation and get on with the business of real Freemasonry. Until then, I heartily support any Grand Lodge/Orient that criticizes and withdraws from peers that behave as the Grand Lodges of Michigan, West Virginia, Florida, and Arkansas have done. Some of us in Texas are encouraging such action. To me, this form of discipline is one of the keys to returning Freemasonry to our true path of ethics and morality.