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Freemasonry is often misunderstood and for good reason. It has plot; dark and affirming. It has pulse, a rhythm of free will as ancient as time forgotten. Conspiracy theorists pick up on a history complete loose of fact that the Order has been a serious threat to G-d, Crown and Nation. We can forgiven for many a faux pas with one exception. We are a classic.
The basis of classicism is the evolution of societies into civilizations. Marilyn Hutchinson captured the idea beautifully: Classicism, she said, therefore, can be understood as defining and long-lasting civilizational patterns shaped by belief systems. Belief systems including both philosophies and religions. If nothing else, freemasonry is a belief system and in that sense, endures because it is a classic.
Previously, music and theatrics had been bench marks of the Order. Antiquarians go to the depths to tell us our expectations are high; our realities cannot match. We tell ourselves the disappointment of this. Always, we are left with the suggestion that freemasonry is of a time "before" . Always it bests the effort of today. For too long we have measured our 'success' in volumes as if depth of bearing could be measured. When did we stop striving to carry forward the legacy of a classic performance? Our currency is the exchange of ideas; contemplation. I wonder that this remarkable belief system has been covered with layers of plaster. Today? Cracks have been appearing. Curious builders doing repairs are discovering mosaics that tell a story. The classics? Well they can't be silenced can they? They speak of enduring passions; a lingering note of life. We could listen.
Masonic Ed was gracious enough to join us in the studio to talk about things masonic. Who could resist speaking about privacy and secrecy; if our production of antiquarians is meeting the need? Ed is an attentive fellow so of course he notices the culture of Canada is more cosmopolitan that it was when he was a boy. At times, when he is feeling tired, he feels on one hand, he is being displaced and on the other hand proud that Canada is coming of age.
It was obvious for us to speak about strengthening our membership by drawing on first and second generation Canadians from the pool who are here quietly appreciative of the opportunities this huge, friendly country has to offer. He worries out loud that the Order will need to tackle the legitimacy of dissenting opinions that brings us to talk about accountability vs blame. I questioned Masonic Ed on whether he thinks the Craft in Ontario has become defensive or reactionary? His answers may surprise you. What he said about the cultural transition of ideas and ethics plaguing masonry may not be what you expect.
Prepare for a lively discussion as Masonic Home Companion welcomes the very private, very interesting gentleman- Masonic Ed.
See you all soon.
Our Guest this evening is Hersh Eidlisz, former Judaica Books and Manuscripts consultant to Sotheby's, currently a buyer and seller of these with many clients throughout the country. We will be discussing some of the techniques used to determine whether a book or manuscript is genuine and how much it might be worth. We will also discuss, in fascinating detail whether, some of the censhorship - historically - that involved the printing and dissemination of religious Jewish books.
When you exist as long as freemasonry, you accumulate a history that is remarkable. Though thousands of men have been initiated, our antiquarians have distilled the greatest ideas, most prosaic advice, the interpretations of an engaging philosophy of life, about life, the workings of serious minds.
We find our libraries straining with papers including history that has been modified to support certain points. Myth and fable folded into fact and faith with an almost sacred preserve.
The ideas of ancient times and our understanding of them are being constantly improved. When archeologists find new papyrus or parchments our scriptures are rewritten revealing more about our past. Our appreciation of history now includes an awareness that revisionists had a heavy hand, energizing our scholars to verify information. Curiously, the history of freemasonry is undergoing upgrades changing the way we think .
What does this reveal about the Order? It would appear our need to know is replacing dogma. In the 21st Century, the vibrancy of freemasonry has sharpened.
We are now able to face cynics and critics who would say we are a shadow of what we once were, with an voice that reminds us, freemasonry has constantly been evolving.
So I put to you, a simple question: why is the best masonry in the world found in those jurisdictions with the strongest Grand Lodge? Have England, Scotland, Sweden or Belgium found the lodestone or are they landmarks point the way to our future?
It is possible, we have the exact membership blend to make our future strong. Are we up to the challenge that only contemplation will resolve?
I'm thinking we are. Do you?
together we pursue truths. Together we plunge toward the precipice of ignorance; that point of no return, where we have no certainty, leaping into darkness hopeful we will find an opening to the surface, but convinced the goal is worth the risk, no matter the cost.
Can we honestly think it there was no risk in Scotland, or Ireland or Germany or England? Church and state were not yet constitutionally separated, Habeas Corpus
At no time was freemasonry less complicated or less challenging than it is in the 21st Century. Was the timing for a Grand Lodge just coincidence or was it a product of Habeas Corpus- 1640?
We should punctuate our world with belief in angels and the little people; but belief in coincidence? Only if we are well into our cups!
Habeas Corpus? Here it is in a sentence...
No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.
Are we at risk of slipping into mediocrity? Is that what we fear the most?
You pour. We'll talk.
Such confusion with the order.?.. and don't bother trying to deflect the issue by making it a personal attack on me because that just doesn't work.
If listening to Professor Sommers we learn Thomas Dunkeley was a man prone to self promotion; a bit of a charletan who for decades has received posthumous recognition underserved.
Whilmshurst? We can just ignore him because there is no compelling reason or expectation a Master Mason needs to undestand his writtens.
In Upper Canada, undestanding the development and evolution of the Craft is certainly no less or more than the work in Scotland, Ireland or England, Germany, Lithuania, Hungary, or post war Japan and Sweden. Our is a different history. Not that we can escape noticing how few antiquarians seem to float into our view. Ottawa Valley and Toronto have more than their share of students who put pen to paper and help define our foundations in this country.
Our charitable works are largely local and characterized with personality- hardly what one might want to use as an illustration of Craft masonry, but achieveable, compatible with expectations and manageable with a sprint across 12 months.
Christopher Wren would be fired long ago if he came around the Craft today. Though singlehandedly he convinces leaders he had a vision of the Cathedral.
I would never claim small acts of charity are insignificant because I believe they are. But I have a mind that thinks about the bigger picture. Are people getting better when so many children are put to bed hungry. Enforced idolence of a prolonged adolescents is of course blamed on our young men play computer games well into their 30's. Freemasonry feeds the mind, the heart and the soul. Where is your appetite? Step beyond the ritual and commeradery into the beliefs of Craft Masonry..the things that matter to a contemplative mason.
Once we were young inexperienced and naive without trying. Chasing youth is rather pathetic. Would you trade maturity that brings the enjoyment of ones own company, the pleasure of developing tastes- that pleases only you? an appreciation of music that reflects mood, old world standards, a little jazz or country or opera or baroque. We discover the satisfaction of gratitude. We measure wealth in terms of honesty, effort and friendship.
So to listeners who tuned in for the Montaigne series, here we stand; trying to live a good life. So my question to you today is why? Why is time abandoning the likes of me, leaving a feeling it is accelerating away as if we exist in a plasma cloud on the edge of the bloody universe? If you live long enough, you begin to speak bravely if not always wise enough to be diplomatic. That's what happens when you discover the mantenence manual for your life; even in middle age it will look new because it relays on common sense to open it. The pages are full of daily routines and tasks. So many things to learn, so many things to do, we awaken with a winsome start wondering if there is enough time to do all? So if we can't finish everything we set out to do, it would make sense to do the important things first. As we get older, priorities change. Archeologists and anthropologists reaffirmed that over thousands of generations, people share common experiences. Some even say the thought of freemasonry is beyond history.? It has the potential to be the path less trodden; the antedeluvian, the noachite; peeling away deposits of ignorance to find pearls of truth. Truth no matter how healthy is often a bitter swallow best done gently.
Glad to see have some company
Brethren, Guests and Visitors,
Let me introduce you to a fellow who developed some interesting ideas that might be helpful to freemasons. His work often sits on the shelf next to the writings of Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Rene Descarte and Thomas Hobbes.- worthwhile readings that nuture an understanding of the human condition.
David Hume, Esq was born in Edinburgh 26 April 1711. I will leave it to you to decide if you agree, he is the most important philosopher ever to write in English but he did make an interesting point, that humans only have knowledge of things they experience directly.
Think about it. A student striving to truly understand, will find it is vital to examine facts that define contex. If we don't take that step, aren't we left with partial truths?
Thank you to all the antiquarians who have been unrelenting in their research. Today, in the 21st Century, we all benefit from findings that were not available to your antient brethren.
Whether we are aware or not of the process, history has always been refined and rewritten. Don't blame history. Blame the curious nature of mankind. Do you want to take that verbatim or do the math? That's your choice.
Let's pick this up the next time we get together. Join me and bring your friends.
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