True Secrets of Freemasonry

Those who become Freemasons only for the sake of finding out the secret of the order, run a very great risk of growing old under the trowel without ever realizing their purpose. Yet there is a secret, but it is so inviolable that it has never been confided or whispered to anyone. Those who stop at the outward crust of things imagine that the secret consists in words, in signs, or that the main point of it is to be found only in reaching the highest degree. This is a mistaken view: the man who guesses the secret of Freemasonry, and to know it you must guess it, reaches that point only through long attendance in the lodges, through deep thinking, comparison, and deduction.

He would not trust that secret to his best friend in Freemasonry, because he is aware that if his friend has not found it out, he could not make any use of it after it had been whispered in his ear. No, he keeps his peace, and the secret remains a secret.

Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Memoirs, Volume 2a, Paris, p. 33

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stephen's Law of Unmasonic analogies


And now, for something different though related.

When a brother acts in a manner inconsistent with Masonic teachings, philosophy, traditions or our obligations, we call this unmasonic behavior. It is incumbent upon us as Masons to act in a MASONIC manner at all times, in our several stations before man and g-d.

Now, we all know Godwin's Law:
Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi
Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
Godwin's law is often cited in online discussions as a caution against the use of inflammatory rhetoric or exaggerated
comparisons.

The rule does not make any statement as to whether any particular reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that one arising is increasingly probable. It is precisely because such a comparison
or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads and wiki talk pages.
I mention this because, recently, on The Burning Taper, a brother coined a new law, Stephen's Law, which is pretty much the same as Godwin's Law, except that in the place of Nazi, we find "unmasonic", and of course, it only applies to Masonic posting. In the case of Godwin's Law, it was a truism. In the case of Stephen's Law, it is an attempt to denigrate any brother who makes an observation as to conduct.

It is my understanding that if a brother errs, it is our duty, our obligation, to whisper good counsel in his ear, in a most friendly manner, to thereby seek to bring about a reformation. Therefore, if we feel a brother is acting in an unmasonic manner, it seems incumbent upon us to TELL them, in a most friendly manner. This is not about browbeating, or putting a brother down, though I guess a brother might feel he is being put upon, being told he is acting unmasonincally.

However, I think that we sometimes act with an excess of brotherly love, and do not call a brother on unmasonic actions, which seems to be in my mind, much worse. As an example, there was a brother in my lodge, a two time past master, and as Senior Warden, on his way to a third year in the east. He was very active in the lodge, and had brought MANY men into the lodge.

Problem was, he was a crook. He used his position as candidate's coach to prevail on candidates to lend him money, or, in some cases, to simply give him money as a mason in distress. Worse, he did the same to other brothers, telling them he was running an internet business and offering them shares in his business as security... problem was, the internet business he was running was a porn site.

Due to an excess of brotherly love, no one called him on it. When they found out that business was a porn business, they often burned the shares or refused to take them. Anyway, it took a former district deputy grand master finding out about the business to bring this all to a head. Unfortunately, he tried to handle it on his own, by leveraging the man to agree not to serve as master and resign as Senior Warden or he would prefer charges with the Junior Warden, which is the process in my grand lodge for preferring charges.

Bad news is the Junior Warden was a man of integrity. He pointed out to the former DDGM that what he was doing was blackmail, and if he continued in that vein, the Junior Warden on his own would prefer charges against him. Ooops. The former DDGM then went to a Past Grand Master, who got into this up to HIS eyeballs by renewing the blackmail threat, and escalating it by telling the man to resign from Masonry entirely or face charges. The Junior Warden was then approached by the brother at the center of all this to prefer chages against the Junior Past Grand Master and the Former DDGM for blackmail and unmasonic conduct.

The Junior Past Grand Master called the Grand Lodge Jurisprudence committee at that point, and the GRAND LODGE preferred charges against the brother in the center of all this. In three months, he was found guilty after ten broters stood up to testify against him. He was found guilty by a jury of brother masons, and the Trial Master sentenced him to expulsion from freemasonry.

How do I know all this? I was the Junior Warden.

So, what is my point? Well, if the brethren had stood up to him and whispered good counsel to him early on, noted his unmasonic behavior, we might have been able to make a difference to him, which was our duty to a brother. But we didn't. The brethern who knew, kept it to themselves, out of anger or humiliation or whatever else. None of the brethren in the lodge who should have said something, and it turns out there were a number who knew what he was up to but said nothing, did say anything.

As a result, we had a masonic trial, and a man was expelled from Masonry, a lodge was split, and many men quit the lodge over the whole situation which had been handled badly from the start by the Former DDGM.

It is our DUTY to tell a brother when his conduct is less than the Masonic standard, our obligation tells us so: aid and assist... to give due and timely notice of approaching danger...to whisper good counsel. So when a brother says: your conduct is unmasonic, it is one of the strongest statements of brotherly love that a Mason can make... not an attack or a slander.

To act as a Mason is the expectation of all who have knelt and taken the obligation. To tell a brother when he is erring is also the expectation. To not do so is to fail your brother.

In my opinion.

8 comments:

giovanni lombardo said...

I fully agree on it.
If a Brother acts unmasonically, we must advise him. Gently but firmly at the same time.

Anonymous said...

"Bad news is the Junior Warden was a man of integrity. He pointed out to the former DDGM that what he was doing was blackmail, and if he continued in that vein, the Junior Warden on his own would prefer charges against him. Ooops. The former DDGM then went to a Past Grand Master, who got into this up to HIS eyeballs by renewing the blackmail threat, and escalating it by telling the man to resign from Masonry entirely or face charges. The Junior Warden was then approached by the brother at the center of all this to prefer chages against the Junior Past Grand Master and the Former DDGM for blackmail and unmasonic conduct."


So, whatever transpired with the GL's unmasonic blackmail attempt?
Where those officers held accountable for trying to blackmail a brother? according to the JW's statement and perception?
or did that go ultimately unnoticed and just the one brother receive repromand?

Galen Dean said...

Wor. Dunn, well said my Brother. In our attempt to be enlightened, we take acceptance and understanding to an illogical end and turn a blind eye to the actions of others.

Theron Dunn said...

Good question about the PGm and the Former DDGM.

The Jurisprudence committee chastized both men for exhibiting poor judgment, but in the end, decided that what they had done was not blackmail, but an attempt to make the brother realize the seriousness of the issue.

In the end, the brother agreed to resign rather than face a Masonic trial, taking it out of the JW's hands... and the brother also decided not to proceed against the two men.

However, the Jurisprudence committee did not feel that the brothers decision to resign, from the position, from the lodge, or from masonry was sufficient to address the issue, and proceeded on its own to prefer charges.

The Junior Warden had the whole issue taken out of his hands, and the GL proceeded on its own, through the lodge, to pick the Trial Master, and then move the trial out of the lodge entirely. It was held at a nearby lodge, with six brothers who were not involved at all as Jurors.

The Junior Warden, foolishly, noted to the PGM and the Former DDGM that there was no way the man could get a fair trial in his own lodge, as more than half the active brethren, who were likely to answer a summons to appear to be picked as jurors, were men the man being tried had brought into the lodge (and were also members with him in the Widow's Sons Masonic Motorcycle Club).

Therefore it was moved. The only action the man's lodge ended up being involved in was delivering the notice of trial to him via the lodge's secretary.

The charges were written by the Jurisprudence committee, and sent down for signature. And the Junior Warden was told that no other charges, based on blackmail accusations, would be countenanced by the Grand Lodge, as, while the actions of the two officers had been... ill considered, they did not rise to the level of unmasonic.

Bro.Geo said...

I have to vigorously disagree with the "blackmail" charge (and/or countercharge). If Freemasonry is the kind of place where the Grand Master has incredible authority to do drastic things, it must also be a place where brothers and brother officers can strongly insist to a brother to cease unseemly conduct.

Asking "please", or philosophizing, is nice. But asking for "reform" or "prosecution" is exactly what should be happening when a brother is a crook!

Bro.Geo

Theron Dunn said...

Br. George;

You make a good point. However, how else can one categorize a tit for tat, quid pro quo threat?

"If you do not resign, I will prefer Masonic charges against you for behavior incompatible with Freemasonic tenets" is an explicit threat. The way the Junior Warden saw it then, and still does to this day, is that if the conduct of the man in question was of such a heinous nature that he should resign as the Senior Warden and/or absent himself from the lodge, he should face Masonic charges.

The Masonic code of the state in question clearly says that no matter WHEN the actions took place, present or past, if they rise to that level, Masonic charges should be preferred.

So, offering a threat, if you do not do as I say, I will prefer charges is blackmail... because there should have been no threat involved... the course of action should have been clear... to prefer charges or sit back and say nothing.

As they chose, rightly, to step forward and take action, even the right action taken wrongly, then they should have preferred charges.

Before you ask, the Junior Warden had been given, on the square, information just before being installed regarding the situation. He could not, then, on his own, undertake an investigation to uncover the why's and wherefores of the situation... which is why the Junior Warden did not, on his own hook, prefer the charges outside of the, ANTICS of the Former DDGM.

For myself, I prefer straightforward action. Subtleties and subterfuge like they undertook is, in my opinion, unmasonic in and of itself. It showed they lacked a certain courage of their convictions, a certain brutality, and a definite lack of brotherly love.

After all, it seems the brotherly thing would have been to ask him if it were true, to give him time to fix it, to give him time to make it right with the brothers, and perhaps, to consider for the benefit of the lodge stepping aside.

Their action was a brutal power play, and while it was, in a sense for the benefit of the lodge, the way they approached it appeared then and in reflection, more an exercise in ego and anger.

Don't get me wrong, the action they undertook was, ultimately, the correct thing to do, just the methodology they chose was wrong. They did not trust the masonic system, they did not trust the Junior Warden.

They did not trust.

Sad

Anonymous said...

Quote:
It is incumbent upon us as Masons to act in a MASONIC manner at all times, in our several stations before man and g-d.
-------

Brother Dunn, I assume you meant to say "Great Archectic of the Universe" instead of God, right? We wouldn't want anyone to think Judeo-Christian beliefs are too entrenched in main-stream Freemasonry would we?

pfunk said...

how is unmasonic conduct determined, who is the source of what is considered masonic and based on what premise. when we speak of Brothers does this pertain to irregular Masons, or clandestine Masons or purely bogus masons? Un-masonic conduct is subjective in its literal sense. if a Grand lodge pops up over night are they Brothers who should be subject to the unmasonic conduct.

 
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