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, October 19, 2007

Is Masonry Elitist?

First, let us look at the definition of elitist. Merriam-Webster defines it as:

Main Entry: elite

Function: noun

Etymology: French élite, from Old French eslite, from feminine of eslit, past participle of eslire to choose, from Latin eligere

1 a singular or plural in construction : the choice part : Cream (the elite of the entertainment world) b singular or plural in construction : the best of a class (superachievers who dominate the computer elite -- Marilyn Chase) c singular or plural in construction : the socially superior part of society (how the elite live -- A P World) (how the F.-speaking eliteEconomist) d : a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence (members of the ruling elite) (the intellectual elites of the country) e : a member of such an elite -- usually used in plural (the elites ..., pursuing their studies in Europe -- Robert Wernick) ... was changing --

The definition of Elite and by extension, elitist seems to indicate that we are a group of elitists in that we only select, or, rather, allow, only the best, most honorable men into the fraternity. Now the question is, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Masonry, as all Masons know, is a group of good men, dedicated to god, seeking to be better men through fellowship with other good men, cleaving to a higher level of morality than society in general. If we claim a higher ground, that is, we claim to be a fraternity of good men, how exactly do we determine that, and how do we define it?

We know the requirements to be made a mason:

1) A belief in god, however the candidate knows Him

2) That the candidate be a free man, and freeborn

3) That the candidate be under the tongue of good report and come well recommended... ie, that he is a moral man.

Ok, the first two are pretty straightforward. One requires a profession of faith and no further inquiry, and the second is fairly self evident, and the manner of dress in the ritual puts a fine point on observation. Since there is no longer any slavery, the last two are pretty much givens.

The third, now, that is the one that requires examination and is the one that most likely will define the answer to my question. We know what it is to be under the tongue of good report… a moral, upright, level headed, honorable man with integrity, right?

The issue, then, is morality... does a man come to us under the tongue of good report, and does he come well recommended?

Masonry is not a church, but it IS a group of good and honorable men. The question we have to ask ourselves is what we are looking for as members for the fraternity. It is certainly not every Joe on the street, but it is, I think, every GOOD and HONORABLE man that seeks to make himself a better man.

In Guarding the West Gate I wrote that we need to ward Freemasonry against the less than upright in society. It is essential we do so, because of the peculiar system of Freemasonry, which I described here.

It is my opinion, as I stated in Peculiar System of Morality, that we are to use the freedom we take from away from outside authority, the freedom to chose, the freedom to think, the freedom to act… essential freedom. Yet, that essential freedom must be circumscribed by morality and ethics, for freedom without tempering, is evil incarnate.

Masonic principles are taught to us for a fundamental reason: It is essential that men who would grasp the ring of true choice, to ascend above the mere mortal, must have themselves under control. We must circumscribe ourselves, and to do that, we must have a moral compass in hand.

The churches were our fathers; they kept us safe from having to grow up. The churches taught us what to think, how to act, and how to worship. They taught us to be content in the circumstances in which we found ourselves, which is limiting.

When a man takes freedom in his own hands, he takes the first step away from away from “dad” and begins to grow his spirit. It is essential as we grow spiritually, TO grow spiritually, that we begin to take responsibility for our actions. However to take responsibility for our actions, we must first be moral people, and have a firm grounding in morality.

This is why Freemasonry teaches us and inculcates in us a strong sense of morality and ethical action. Of course, this is just reinforcing what we came to the fraternity with, honing, and polishing our morality… our perfect ashlars.

The freedom that Freemasonry teaches has succeeded so well that it is now taken for granted by western societies. Unfortunately, society has lost the underpinning of morality that made the personal freedom safe, and Freemasonry, which promulgated that freedom, may well become the anchor of morality for society, as we were for the freedom that is now running rampant without the moderation of morality Freemasonry provides for Freemasons.

So, back to the question I proffered at the start: Is Masonry and elitist group, and is that a bad thing?

Yes, we are an elitist group… we only accept the best, most honorable men, with demonstrated integrity and a faith in g-d. So much for the first half of the question.

The second half is even easier. Is this a bad thing? The answer, in my mind, is NO, it is not a bad thing. In fact, because of the nature of the secrets of freemasonry, it is an essential thing.

May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us.

1 comment:

Peter Taylor said...

Yes, it is elitist. Of course it is. Maybe not enough in some cases!

 
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