Be kind, be just, and be true, and convince the world by your actions that upon becoming a master mason, you have become a better man. Retain, we entreat you, that goodness of heart, that purity of intention and that love of virtue, of which we now think you possessed, and of which, this spotless vestment, wherewith you are now girded, is at once the emblem, the badge, and the reward.More often than, not, that is exactly what the candidate then does, and is the goal that most of us strive for in our daily lives. Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, and "anonymity" being what it is, some brothers have lost sight of that goal.
Recently, a new obedience has formed, the Grand Orient of the United States of America, based in part on the United Grand Lodge of America. Anger has flared and regrettable words have been spoken. There is no point in... pointing fingers... there is enough blame to go around for all of us to hang our heads a bit... even me... or some would say, especially me.
Lets look at what lead to this mess and see what we as masons can learn from it:
Halcyon #498 suffered a near mortal wound from men who were supposed to protect, cherish, and grow their lodge. They "surrendered" their charter and turned in their dues cards rather than obey the edict of the grand master. That is their right, to demit and leave if they cannot obey. The other... actions are what got the ball rolling.
Their is no point in rehashing the whys and wherefores. If you know, well and good, if you don't, you can find out easily enough. It would be unmasonic of me to further belabor the issues... they are what they are, move along. Fortunately, the lodge has survived, and the Grand Master of Ohio, Grand Architect guide and protect him, is moving to set things that were wrong back to right.
So we have the whole Halcyon issue stirring the brothers up, and we start taking sides, the regular masons, appalled and the... other masons, cheering the action. This display in itself was unseemly. I played a part in this, revealing the facts as they became available and opining on its ramifications as I saw them. In retrospect, this only inflamed the curious, the angry, and the uninvolved.
It is not the purpose of this blog to add to or to try to ameliorate this situation. This mason is willing to wait a time with patience while the Grand Master of Ohio, his lawyers and the court system fix this issue. I will have nothing further to say on this issue until the Grand Master of Ohio settles this, I imagine, in court. I can only pray that there is no further damage to the former members of Halcyon. I do not wound the pound of flesh closest to their hearts, I just want everything put to right.
Then, weeks after the Halcyon #498 issue came to light with the publication of Mr. Ken Miller's (former master of Halcyon Lodge) letter to the brethren of Halcyon who were not present to vote, which he made public, an announcement was made regarding the formation of the Grand Orient of the United States.
There are already hot and angry feelings across the face of masonry over the United Grand Lodge of America. There is no reason to go into them here, if you are curious, you can find opinions on both sides of the issue. So when the announcement came that the United Grand Lodge of America was being subsumed into a new organization, formed with the Grand Orient of France, the Grand Orient of the United States, tempers flared.
As if that were not enough, Masonic Forums and Blogs were getting heated over the whole issue and claims made by the new Grand Orient of the United States, A fellowcraft, there is no point in naming him, due to issues of his own, took virtual ownership of the whole Grand Orient issue and used it as a cudgel against the Regular Grand Lodge system and all regular masons... and darn near anyone else. Anyone else... including some of our female brothers from co-ed and female only obediences.
If anyone did not drink the Kool Ade he was serving hot and steaming, they got dished some very personal... observations. He posted his observations and uninformed opinions on several masonic forums, sent emails, made phone calls, and claimed to be a member of this new Grand Orient.
The three issues together served to create a, well, not perfect, but a storm across the internet, with brothers in Australian, New Zealand, the UK, France, and yes, in the United States as well participating. It got so bad that one brother blogger, famed for his... heretical approach to freemasonry and his freewheeling and, frankly, dangerously refreshing views on free speech, to shut the comments section of his blog down for 24 hours.
My brother blogger essentially sent everyone to their rooms to reflect and chill. Good for him! It must have been a tough call, and he has my full support, for whatever its worth... he and I have had our own moments, but we have moved through and past them because and due to the influence of the pure principles of freemasonry... that and we are both real swell guys. LOL
Its been a bad two weeks all around, and there is no glory in this for any of us. As masons, we should not allow the prattling of one person to set us on fire, nor should we allow the formation of another masonic obedience to get us excited, after all
Brotherly love teaches us to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, who, as created by one almighty parent and inhabitants of the same planet are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle masonry unites men of every country, creed and opinion, and causes true friendship to exist among men who would otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. ~California Masonic Ritual, First Degree Lecture
Above I mentioned three major elements that brought us to this pass.There is yet one more element... we lost sight of the compasses, which we have all been told:
that you may never lose sight of that valuable instrument by which we are taught to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind... particularly our brothers in freemasonry.oops.
Many of us were already angry at the UGLoA, for a variety of reasons, some good, some ok, some not so good. It is not the purpose of this blog to dissect the UGLoA, nor, frankly, the Grand Orient of the United States... and why should it be?
As has been noted elsewhere here, here, here, and here, there are other forms of masonry. They may not be regular masons, but they are masons of a sort, and if the UGLoA makes them happy where regular masonry does not, we should not stand in their way, but send them ON their way.
For a happy regular mason, the Grand Orient of the United States may not be your cup of tea... its certainly not mine, but for some, who are discontented, for whatever reason, valid, invalid, who cares, it may be what they want/need. They may learn from it what they could not learn in a regular lodge because of attitude, or aptitude or... whatever. Who cares? If it makes them happy, it is my considered opinion that they should draw up stakes and go... with what they came to the fraternity with, and not a stick, book, building or dollar more.
Freemasonry: Its not about me changing them, its about me changing me.
If a man in my lodge is unhappy and cannot get his way, he is a disturbance to MY lodge. If the lodge or grand lodge cannot make him happy for whatever reason, then we should wish him well and send him on his way. Maybe he can find happiness somewhere else, who knows, but that is part of HIS journey, not ours.
There are those that are happy in the Ordo Templii Orientis, and others in the Builder's of Adytum, and others in the Moose, Elk or Eagles lodges. Let us smile at our brothers, wish them well and send them on their way, on a smooth and level path to wherever life leads us. We cannot get wrapped around the axle of their life and choices. All we can do is be there for them until they leave, then shed a tear as they go.
It is the considered opinion of this blog that we take the season and the spirit that comes with it, evaluate the joys we find in freemasonry, whether part of the regular grand lodges system, the Grand Orient, or whatever obedience makes you happy. One caveat however: just because you are happy in your obedience, be mindful of the masonic principle of tolerance. Lets not try to convert each other... just like religion, this should be a subject that is set aside among brothers and fellows, because, as we have seen the past three weeks, all it does is cause contention.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons, my brotherly love prevail, and moral and social virtue, cement us!