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What we see today makes us unhappy and is the subtext of masonry. We believe what we want to believe; see what we want to see. The unvarnished truth is assumed to be painfully unnecessary. Generations before us write about hubris, dwindling interest, myopic vision of the future, poor maintenance, glory that has lost; realizing we no longer release our architects, engineers and craftsmen to build us a Cathedral. I suggest the Order has been consistent from the beginning. The epoch ever only existed in the mind, a pastiche of aspiration. In this episode we approach our work with two aspects in mind; Alpha & Omega. Introspective or gregarious influences how we go about engagement and performance. I suggest masonry has dark matter, mass larger than what we perceive. The intellect of Craft Masonry has been preserved passed through streams of ideas and observations that contain the freemasonry. Whether we grasp this process or not rests on differences of ability that naturally exists between men. What we see is insignificant compared to what we represent. Can we or should we leave a symbol for future generations? Nostalgia drives many of us to preserve lodges that have served there purpose. Periodically unstoppable, corrective adjustments happen. Our largest organizations and networks continually release retrograde pressure.
We cannot change the perfect mathematics of exisitence, but that does not stop us from trying. It is natural that membership rises and falls, interest gains and fades. And the stream of ethics, philosophy and insight keeps flowing through time. There is a beginning so there must be an end. Strings or loops?
Humans have an interesting ability. We can fill in gaps on our own to make sense of what we experience. When Aristotle was pondering the universe he described a relationship based on what he knew. We called it geo-centric. It lasted until the 16th century mathematic Copernicus determined the sun was at the centre. The earth was centered. The sun, moon and planets circled around it. Brilliant. But today if we dissect brilliance we can put ourselves to the task of finding flaws and OMG we come up with something. To the rennasiance mathematician those orbits were perfect circles but the German theologian cum astronomer Johannes Kepler began redoing the mathematics and noticed the effect of universal bodies was pulling and pushing as if the planets were suspended by gravities in perfect balance. We can forgive Copernicus for thinking we did orbit the sun while all the other planets continued to orbit us. He fed us what we needed-a sense of perfect symmetry- perfect circle orbits. Surely it is possible the way humans behave is like that too. And Kepler, the first physicist, stretched and pulled our perfect circles into shapes of perfect balance with facts. Did we become enslaved or liberated by science?
Is it possible to look at the Craft as forces and influences? What forces do you see in masonry? What is at the centre? Is it imperative to find perfect circles or perfect balance of forces?
In the 21st Century, the word trust has become synonmous with foolishness. Modern communication and improved out ability to talk with one another. Power can no longer control the exchange of information. Lies and deceits are made known. After 50 years of manipulation by governments, public opinion now has a new source of validation- bearing witness themselves to a cell phone video of actual events. The Common Man is gaining a sense of his control. The French Republic has spread seed across the globe. And we are in a state of change.
Masonry suggests you trust your own judgement; practice the Golden Rule or perish. And understand the workings of the world for what it is. Lies are always discovered. Deceit is always revealed. One reaps what he sows.
Arrogance and greed are despised. Peoples of all nations are fighting the final battles and when they kill enough the potential for order amongst nations will be stronger and as vulnerable as ever. Freemasons work for the betterment of mankind, for the greater good. No one said it was going to be easy. But masonry is tenacious. Good deeds are infectious. A life with tranquility is possible if one lives modestly, controls desire and finds contentment with what they have.
Declaring that masonry offers a non-secular option to faith has wrapped the Craft in a lingering, misguided myth. Think about it. If Freemasonry is the epitome of Renaisance thinking, would it not have a bearing on the masonic mind? Saying that masonry is complicated doesn't take much effort. Yes, it's a mess. Yes our writings are disorganized. Yes, we don't know how to locate the best Masonic mentors scholars. Yes we lack bone fide readings. Yes the disorder is growing. When we decide it is important to ensure that the basic core learning is available to a Brother we will get around to it. Or will we? We should probably do more than wait. We should probably build accessible study rooms, organize collections and a place to gather, to read, to learn, to contemplate meaning.
Andrew Hammer published a thoughtful little book- Observing the Craft, in which he extols us to be forthright about our obligations and stay active in Lodge. He said we were straying off in all directions. Some truth in that as far as he took it. Rather than describing a problem, I thought he gave us a list of symptoms. Everything is secondary to our primary goal, enlightenment. Searchers are looking for options going through the versions of masonry. Maybe masonry is essentially about exposing bright minds to great ideas. What Br Hammer didn't consider was the next path opening in front of us. If bricks and mortar masonry can't deliver, the internet will. Colloquial no more, masonry has evoled on its own, into a network built to convey ideas using a network built to communicate ideas. Can I resist that gravity?
The more we produce scholarship, the more we are dedicate ourselves as masons to the pursuit of ethics and priniciples the more we reach out to like minded men. Comparing us to a country club does a deservice to the country club and the Craft. They meet entirely different needs. We have our place when a man needs it? Intellectually, we dip into this reservoir as much as we need at a given moment. The individual determines the interval. A summons is only a call out. Filling seats is a different task. In fairness, we have extended the season. Each season, year by year our lands became crowded. He cannot expect time to stretch and neither do we. Better to avoid any pretence of imposition and to present ourselves as indifferent to a mans life.
Showing him dedication is an obligation the better students offer to the new boys. Thoughtful discussion, encouraging his questions, meeting his needs; these are aspects we at times overlook. Perhaps this accounts for those who drop out before the 3rd Degree, but not likely. We initiate a great number in hopes of finding the worthy. It's a pretty big seive and many fall through the grid- no worries- it was meant to be that way. Perhaps he will return- best respect his decision and not chastise or chase.
As we improve our skills, we can begin through our work to express gentle expression and emotion. Leave it to the new boys to punch too hard, too often and have hope they will eventually find just the right touch- the OMG moments- after all- it isn't called the Gentle Craft for nothing.
18th century London was a place replete with social stratification. Feudalism had long ago given way to democracy in name but perhaps not by much. Monarch and aristrocracy continued to experience privileged indifference to poverty described for us by Ezra Pound and Charles Dickens. Of course we would expect masonic notions of equality and universality would be suppresed to avoid repercussions.
Upper Canada was another story. Our history is a tale of subtle high minded influence of nation builders. Early Canadians had a chance to correct the social injustice of British life with conviction to fight for rights defended by the republicans of France and the United States but with a tinture of loyalty they did not have. The new Dominion was not about to squander a chance to correct social imbalance. Jessica Harland-Jacobs makes a strong argument that freemasonry aided the spread of the British Empire. I am also willing to suggest chartered masonic lodges effected the bigger picture in Canada. Masonry embraces ethics and principles that are the basic elements of social progress. Canadian women gained the right to vote in 1918 becoming legal entities in Canada through the parliament of Britain. Public schools flourished in Upper Canada and later, prairie farmers lead the charge for universal health care. These are aspects of common good- an ethical pillar of freemasonry-greater than the sum of parts. As we look into the mirror of Canadian history we see self interest, we see power and we see the triumph of humble men building a peaceful nation of tolerance. Does freemasonry have an obligation internal and external to continue the legacy?
ASSISTANT PASTOR KANDICE DURDEN FREE MASONRY LIVE
Does any organization bear its soul for the world? It does if it's Freemasonry. We are a pious bunch. "Piety" doesn't wear well anymore. We watch politicians jump ship, knowing the idealists have already jumped ahead of them. We barely tolerate manipulation of power, hubris and greed. We give men the resources to be free thinkers and present them with opportunity to rise above the clamour to find the bigger man
Forever we've recreated the external world in masonic values. We never stopped doing that; always hopeful using insight and reason to release potential. We've waited, generation after generation; stiff jawed protectors of 'the way" combating the bunk, junk and lizards.
Before the villagers rally and hunt us down here at Masonic Home Companion we really must talk. Are you noticing the glimmer of light too?
Each discovery, discussion and insight prepares the canvas on which we portray our lives. Today, when we build the cathedral, with pencil, protractor and ruler nearby, we work not in two dimension but three and even computer assisted. The WWW isn't not a new tool but it is renewed every time we use it. It brings the greatest libraries of the world to us. When we didn't have access, we went about our business perhaps less informed. But today we live a stones throw from the Tate Modern the Louve and the Hermitage and visit all in an afternoon. It is a testiment to the Craft to flow so much material to our students and reseachers. The geni is out of the bottle. Limits of imagination do not exist. The zeitgeist is about the fluid exchange of ideas. This exposes little of the practice of freemasonry which remains as shared experiences by small groups of men, a process of the intellect- achievement of awareness.
Sooner or later it was bound to happen. The gewgaws and gimcracks no more. Block a stream of water, the energy and power continue to build. The effect comes to us as consequences; intended or not; up or down stream. And the time it takes to reckon this is time invested to replace ill-conceived ideas and the attend to the self serving mindset of the masses. It is a very lonely experience when you stand against the mainstream.
Scholarship is that blocked stream, not of water but of consciousness; dormant for so long it had fallen out of memory only to be rediscovered. Will the alchemists step forward to teach us the steps in a preparation. Alchemical masons are the most misunderstood of all. And well should they go quietly about their work to avoid ridicule. This collective rediscovery of masonic archives makes for compelling reading. It would take great licence with the facts to claim it was entirely accurate, but it does contain more than partial truths.
On Thursday, September 26, 2013 the Hermetic Hour with host Poke Runyon will present a discussion on The Legacy of Mithraism on Magick and Masonry. We will trace the origins of the Mithra sect from the ancient Persian Magi -- an offshoot of Zoroastrianism -- through the Greco-RomanMiddle East, into the mileau of classical Alexandria, where its western branch acquired a cosmology that was largely Hermetic. In fact one might say that the Greco-Roman Mithra sect was ritualized Hermeticism. For several centuries it rivaled Christianity but was eventually overcome when emperor Constantine, himself a Mithraite, made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire for practical political reasons. The Mithra sect was an elite, initiatory, all male religious fraternity that extolled honor, bravery and loyalty. Great for the Roman army but not for the downtrodden masses. Its influence on the later Masonicfraternity is obvious. Mithraism had seven initiatory degrees so similar to Crata Repoa that John Yarker called his Crata Repoa degree in Rite of Memphis "The Sage of Mithras." We will unravel the complex astrological symbolism of the "Tauroctony", the ritual slaying of the bull, the mystery of the strange lion-headed god, and the theory that the secret communion meal was the old Persian-version of Soma. Our main text reference will be D. Jason Cooper's "Mithras" (1996) with references to Franz Cumont's (1912) "Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans" and "Mushrooms, Myth & Mithras" by Carl A. P. Ruck,et allia (2011). So, if you want to follow us down into the underground temple of the Mithraeum for a look into the origin of many of our rites and degrees, then tune in and we'll lift the veil.
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