Sunday, March 27, 2016

The position of the Grand Lodge of Franklin with respect to recent developments in Georgia and Tennessee

Sunday, March 27, 6016 AL

Worthy Brethren,

Since its founding in 5784 AL (1784 by AD reckoning), the great State of Franklin has been seen world-wide as a symbol of the universal love and harmony espoused by our namesake, M.W. Benjamin Franklin. But in recent days, that harmony has been sorely tried within the distinguished halls of Freemasonry. A rift has appeared in our ranks over the interpretation of scripture and its relevance to our Craft. Specifically, the VSL which is a Great Light of Masonry here in Franklin admonishes a man not to "lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman," so there can be no doubt that such an act is in contradiction of the moral principles of our Craft... or can it?

We cannot fail to acknowledge that not all Christian orders within our sovereign jurisdictional borders concur with this assessment of the Holy Bible and more relevant, the Grand Lodge of Franklin has many a worthy Brother who are not Christian. Even within other Abrahamic religions, conservative Judaism, for example, has ordained homosexual rabbis and obviously this Grand Lodge is in no position to question their practice of their own faith.

Rather, this Grand Lodge takes the position that these are matters of sectarian religion and of profane politics. The purpose of a Grand Lodge is to oversee the regularity of the work of its Lodges and to represent their interests in the larger community of Freemasonry. That role does not require us to peer into men's bedrooms or to adjudicate their creed. Indeed to do so would rightly be deemed un-Masonic as it tears down one of the most fundamental of Landmarks: the universality of Freemasonry; that we do not accept or reject the political or religious views of the Brother we sit next to in open Lodge, but rather love him for the Brother he is, regardless of whether we agree or disagree in the profane world.

But our good neighbors in Tennessee and their neighbors in Georgia have taken such a position. As such a call has been made from some quarters for us to suspend recognition of these two Grand Lodges. We will not take such an action. To do so every time we believe a Grand Lodge has strayed from the Landmarks would result in a state of uncertainty on the part of all Franklin Masons. Rather, we will selectively fail to recognize the suspension or expulsion of any Georgia or Tennessee Mason for the sole reason of their sexual orientation or marital status. Any such Brother, being deemed worthy in the eyes of the Grand Lodge of Franklin by a committee to be appointed, shall be given honorary status as a Brother in this Grand Jurisdiction, should the Brother so desire.

This leaves the choice of recognition entirely in the hands of those two Grand bodies. Should they desire, they can suspend recognition of Franklin over what I am certain they will see as a violation of our jurisdictional rights. This is their choice, and we will not question their right to take such action, should they deem it necessary.

However, let us always remember that Freemasonry is about more than our inter-Grand Lodge politics. Freemasonry aims to make good men better, and as such we will now return to our Craft with the hope that we can proceed with that more sublime task and leave this issue in the background where it belongs.


Washington C. R. Frater,
Grand Master
Most Allegorical Grand Lodge of Franklin

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Beyond conspiracy

I think that there comes a time in the career of every Freemason who earnestly pursues the Craft where he will focus on conspiracy theory and anti-Masonry in general. It's an itch... an irritant to any man who feels strongly about the good we do, and we want to explain to others why these ideas don't work. I still do that to some extent, but I've crossed a Rubicon of sorts.

A month or so ago, I engaged a conspiracy theorist directly online and he became... unreasonable. It ended in death threats from him, and I disengaged completely, of course. But it forced me to ask why I cared what he thought in the first place and what my goal was in engaging him in debate.

I think that it has become time for me to return to Freemasonry for its own sake, rather than trying to counter the antis. Yes, I'll continue to respond here and there if I really feel that there's value, but that will be much rarer and this blog will probably return to a more directed investigation of those six ideas that I brought up in the very first posting, here: Brotherly love, the spiritual bond of Freemasonry, the eternal edifice of the Fraternity, a sacred duty to mankind, stewardship of the past and present and  the allegories and ritual of Freemasonry and their meanings.

To that end, I'm going to put off part 2 in my Use of Knowledge series of articles and tackle a different set of ideas first. Expect to see a new series begin in the next couple of weeks about taking on responsibilities within the Fraternity. I've really been deep-diving into taking on responsibility and I think I have something to say about that that's more than just a surface-idea.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Use of knowledge, Part 1: Pike on Lucifer

One of the most common quotes that conspiracy theorists bring up, and one of the most confusing to Masons is Albert Pike's comments about Lucifer in Morals & Dogma, which go:

Lucifer the Light bearer. Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness. Lucifer the Son of the Morning. Is it he who bears the Light and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble sensual or selfish souls? Doubt it not!

Now, Pike is a scholar of esoteric interpretation of the highest order, so I'm absolutely unqualified to fully unpeel that, and the context from the book and from the degrees is certainly necessary, but here's my personal views just based on the quote alone:

Lucifer the Light bearer.

This is simply a translation of the Latin word, derived from lux ferre which literally means "to bring light". There's no interpretation at all, here.

Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness.

This isn't all that deep, interpretation-wise. It is strange that the spirit of darkness has a name which relates to Light. In the Bible, Light almost always refers to the divine, starting in the very first passage of Genesis.

Is it he who bears the Light

Now Pike is getting into deeper symbolic waters. He's introducing the double meaning of "Light" both in the sense of the Bible and the history of the Western initiatic tradition where Light has generally referred to knowledge and understanding. So, this amounts to (if I can so boldly pare Pike down to modern lingo), "if Lucifer is the light bearer and we talk about Light all the time, WTF?!" and he continues...

and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble sensual or selfish souls? Doubt it not!

Okay, so here's the punchline. You have this idea that knowledge and understanding come with this spirit of darkness. Is that true? Of course it is! Look at any aspect of life from physics to personal relationships. The more you truly understand, the more you are entrusted with potentially harmful capabilities. Physics can give you the key to solving the world's energy problems or building a bomb of horrific potential. Understanding personal relationships can lead you to helping others or to Red Pill-style manipulation of them.

So my own interpretation, here, is:

The Mason is engaged in a quest for knowledge and understanding, but beware: what you bring to that process is your moral compass, and those who fail to apply that compass and seek "feeble, sensual or selfish" ends will undo all of the work that they have done to get there and end up with nothing (being "blind" to the Light).

Doubt it not, indeed.