It disappoints because intellectual energy is rarely, if ever, brought to the table on the issue. It is, rather, one of viscera, emotion and contention. This is silly on several levels, mostly because those of us discussing it have very little to do with changing it, and worse, most have very little or no understanding of it's whys and wherefores. We even have some women weighing in on the issue, claiming that because their group tells them they are regular masons, that therefore, they are... ignoring, of course, what regular means in a masonic context.
For the most part, the ones disparaging regularity are masons who are not regular masons. This is not particularly unusual or difficult to understand. These men, and, yes, women, desire to be considered as regular masons, to be brought into the embrace of "Universal" Freemasonry (a term whipped up by non regular masons as a way of easing a change and by redefining masonry) but one that has no real or substantive meaning as other than a PC attempt at redefining words, specifically in this case, regularity.
I also want to start off, in an attempt at full disclosure, at stating my position. Lets start with what I have already written:
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Are There Women Masons?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Regularity Vs. Recognition
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Of Masonic Regularity
Friday, November 2, 2007
A Broom Named Harmony
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Acknowledgment Vs. Recognition
I have come to believe a number of things:
- Clandestine does not equal evil or necessarily non mason or "has no value".
- Irregular means simply what it says: non regular PRACTICE, not irregular or non mason.
- Women can be just as good a mason as a man can.
- The concept and practice of Regularity exists for a good reason.
- The concept and practice of Regularity has been... misused for political reasons.
- A Regular mason can learn from a non regular mason, and VICE VERSA.
- Here is the single most important lesson I have learned about the whole Regularity issue: BETWEEN MASONS, UNLESS WE ARE PLANNING ON OPENING A TYLED LODGE SESSION, REGULARITY DOES NOT MATTER.
I am think that a type of recognition could be established, where the Regular, George Washington Grand Lodges (and hopefully Prince Hall Grand Lodges) could acknowledge that there is other types of freemasonry in existence, that they are not de facto fraudulent or "bad" prima facie, and that while we will not have "Masonic Communication" as it is styled in Freemasonry, that we can, at the very least, treat each other as brethren.
Perhaps an acknowledgment along the style of the United Grand Lodge of England, which recently noted that:
"There exist in England and Wales at least two Grand Lodges solely for women. Except that these bodies admit women, they are, so far as can be ascertained, otherwise regular in their practice. There is also one which admits both men and women to membership. They are not recognised by this Grand Lodge and intervisitation may not take place. There are, however, discussions from time to time with the women's Grand Lodges on matters of mutual concern. Brethren are therefore free to explain to non-Masons, if asked, that Freemasonry is not confined to men (even though this Grand Lodge does not itself admit women). Further information about these bodies may be obtained by writing to the Grand Secretary.Now that I have detailed my personal position on the issue, I want to delve into the accusations that have been leveled against Regular "Anglo" (to note a derisive term lately coined by a famous anti-regular freemason brother) or what I prefer to call, when speaking of non Prince Hall Regular Grand Lodges, George Washington Grand Lodges.
"The Board is also aware that there exist other bodies not directly imitative of pure antient Masonry, but which by implication introduce Freemasonry, such as the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership of such bodies, attendance at their meetings, or participation in their ceremonies is incompatible with membership of this Grand Lodge".
Grand Lodge News” of the UGLE following the 10 March 1999 Quarterly Communication of UGLE.
His claim has been that Regular Freemasonry does not "allow" its brethren to attend clandestine lodges. On the surface, this is true. After all, every George Washington Grand Lode has a book called Lodge's Masonic in its lodges that it uses to, in part, define what lodges can be visited and which should NOT be visited. It is also true that if a brother does visit one of these lodges that he stands in danger of facing masonic charges and expulsion from Regular Freemasonry.
Yet, that is a choice that every brother CHOOSES to follow. Any man can attend a clandestine lodge (though, frankly WHY he would do so is beyond me), but as with everything in life, there are consequences to actions. An oath is an oath, after all.
The corollary to the claim that Regular Masons cannot visit non regular lodges is that no Regular Mason can even TALK to a non regular mason. This is, certainly, incorrect. This very blog is read by Regular Masons around the world, by non regular masons, and by non masons. If I could not talk to or communicate with non regular and non masons, this very blog would be impossible.
Regular Masons are free, as are all men, to seek knowledge where they can find it, and claims to the contrary are... well, less than intellectually honest. As a Regular Mason, my only restriction is that I cannot (WILL NOT) sit in a tyled session in a non regular lodge of masons. Mostly because I swore not to, but in a larger sense because I swore not to, and see no reason at all to violate my obligation.
What is this "Universal" Freemasonry then?
Truthfully, its an attempt to redefine Freemasonry into something other than what it is. There are, really, four types of Freemasonry. Regular Freemasonry, that is essentially, lodges who can trace the provenance of their charters to grand lodges that were formed in a manner consistent with traditions all the way back to that tavern in June of 1717. Primarily, that is, for, of course, there are exceptions, but as is usually true, the exceptions prove the rule.
Another type of freemasonry are the "Grand Orients". Then there are the women's and co-ed obediences. I group them together since both involve women in lodges. Their origins cannot be regular as by masonic tradition, noted in Anderson's Constitution, only men can be masons. That was certainly a tradition, and is certainly one that the Regular Lodges should be and are free to maintain, there is absolutely no reason why women can't create their own lodges and "be masons".
Then there is plain out fraudulent freemasonry, frauds like the American Masonic Federation of the early 20th century that engendered the creation of Mail Fraud laws, and a long list of masonic frauds you can find here.
From the very beginning there have been pretenders to Freemasonry, which is why the whole issue of Regularity was created. Antients vs Moderns, fake lodges, money pits, cons and worse have tried to follow on the coat tails of the honorable reputation that Freemasonry has garnered, and Regularity has been a way of minimizing these crooks and worse.
The problem is, the issue is one that is complex and convoluted, even the Grand Lodges have a hard time with it. As a result of this lack of clarity, non regular masons have been able to cloud the issue further by making bald assertions, most often based on their own lack of understanding of the complexities, and in some, few cases, deliberately to forward their own agendas.
As Freemasons, we have manifold obligations. We must obey the Master of our Lodge, and the Grand Master and his representatives. We must, also, obey our consciences. So, what does that mean to the brethren? I can only answer that by what it means to me:
When a man, or a woman, approaches me and identifies themselves as a Freemason, I will acknowledge them as such.
Nice words... what does that REALLY mean? It means that I acknowledge anyone that claims to be a mason as a mason, I will render them the same aid and assistance that I would render to any man that I know is a Regular Mason. I will NOT share or discuss the items my Grand Lodge has declared are the secrets of Freemasonry, nor the rituals or what goes on in my lodge meetings.
And, of course, I will not attend ANY lodge that I do not know for sure is a Regular Lodge as defined by my grand lodge and the Lodge's Masonic list. This means I have attended Prince Hall Lodges and lodges all over the United States.
None of this keeps me from studying other lodge systems or learning from non regular masons, nor from teaching non regular masons, within the constraints defined by my Grand Lodge.
I am a Regular Mason, but love all my brethren, withersoever dispersed around the globe.
May the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue, cement us (ALL).