The Masonic values of The New England Patriots

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Hello Readers,

Two days ago, the New England Patriots scored their 4th Super Bowl title, the most in the salary cap era. Tom Brady is now in the discussion for being the greatest QB of all time, and Bill Belichick is in the discussion for being the greatest coach of all time. Whether you like them or hate them or even think they are running vast conspiracies of cheating to beat other teams, there is little to argue that that they are currently best run franchise in professional sports.

This isn’t a fluke or something that is happening by chance either. For the entire Patriots organization, there have philosophies, ideologies and ways of doing things that have caused them to stay at the top for so long. And as a Mason, there are things that they do that we can all learn from and hopefully emulate.

1. Do Your Job.

It’s common in society today for people to talk the talk but not walk the walk. It’s also common for people to half-ass their work, to mail it in or to not follow directions. For the Patriots, this motto of Do Your Job means that you do exactly what is commanded of you in practice to the letter. You have a job to do, the team is relying on you. Go out and do it.

As Masons this message is something that we’re familiar with. It brings us back to our Operative Masonic roots, where Masons worked together in teams to create many of the iconic structures that we see around the world today. When working together to build a great structure, each Mason had a job to do. Whether it was perfecting stones, artistically designing edifices, spreading cement, measuring balance, each Mason had one job and the entire lodge relied on them to do it. Yet how the Patriots approach the team aspect is actually very individualistic. Do Your Job. That is a message to each person that their focus is singular and internal. It’s about what that individual has to do. This is entirely Masonic. When we come to Masonry, we come because we are working on subduing out passions, learning and improving ourselves in Masonry. It’s about our individual work. It’s about you and how you perfect your own stone.

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Yet Do Your Job is also understood within the team philosophy. If each player does their job, the whole team works as a cohesive unit and is able to do incredible things. Masonry is the same way. Even though the work is individual, we are all together in a unified lodge. While we have each individually come to search for light, it is understood that it is found through other brothers as well.

If each player does their job then the team will succeed wildly and be as great as the Patriots are. And if each individual Mason does their job, then the lodge as a whole succeeds wildly. On the other hand as we saw in the Super Bowl, Tharold Simon struggled and it allowed the Patriots to pick on him and move the ball against one of the better defenses of all time. All it takes is one bad player for the entire team to collapse. The lodge is the same way. All it takes is one bad member for the lodge to become weakened and to collapse. Simon didn’t do his job, either through bad coaching or lack of working himself. A Mason show doesn’t do their job to make themselves perfect runs the risk of making the lodge weak and having the whole fall apart.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the New En

2. A Championship Leader

The Patriots win because they have a great coach in Bill Belichick who knows how to run the show. To say that Belichick is tireless in his commitment to winning is an understatement. He puts all of his energy and effort into breaking down film, working with his players and being involved with almost every aspect of the organization. Every player and coach looks to him and follows his lead. He is admired because of his relentless external commitment to results and being able to achieving those results.

In Masonry we want the Worshipful Master to be the same. We want someone who is tireless in their commitment to making a great lodge. Every Mason is part of that lodge and a Worshipful Master knows how to rule over his Brothers with a relentless commitment to results and to being able to achieve those results. Now each lodge and each individual Mason has their own set of goals, so what your results are definitely depends on the place and brother. Yet finding what each lodge and brother needs requires research. And Bill Belichick spends hours and hours watching game film to find out how to best change and tailor his approach to each individual team and opponent. A great Worshipful Master will spends his time with his brothers to find out what each of them needs and what best works for the lodge.

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Bill Belichick is the undisputed leader of The Patriots team. He is the one who draws up the game plans and put them into action. He teachers the players the best way to execute it, and then guides them as they put the plan into action. Masonry again is the same way. Masons need a leader who lays out a plan and brings everyone together to make that plan work. This springs from our Operative History where a Chief Architect put together the blueprint for the structure and then directed his Masons on how to build it. Behind every great building was a legendary Grand Master who makes sure each Mason did their job and worked as a cohesive unit. They looked to God to draw up the blueprint, they set it into actions, they handled personalities and made sure each Mason was put in the best possible place to succeed.

In addition a great leader also listens to the people that work for him. You will often see Belichick roam the sidelines and talk to his other players and coaches asking them how things are going. What are they seeing? What is happening? How is the game plan working. Belichick has his blueprint but he also makes sure to listen to the players to figure out ways to improve on that blueprint. A great Worshipful Master makes sure to always consult with his fellow Masons to make sure things are being done right and to ask how things can be done better.

Also Bill Belichick is very flexible. He has his plans that he takes into the game but if the plan isn’t working his team he’ll quickly go to a new plan of attack. The Patriots are legendary for changing things up on the fly to find different ways to challenge an opponent. In Masonry we find the tools that are given to us are open for our own interpretation. And like any Mason, sometimes the first approach to something isn’t actually the right one and you find yourself seeing things differently later. For Worshipful Masters, that means the plans you put into place aren’t dogma. They need to be open to change. Your leadership styles, your plans for the year and even ways you help to improve brothers has to be flexible. You have to know that if something isn’t working you need to have a plan B, C and D.

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3. The Patriots embody our Masonic tools.

Think of the Square and Compass. Is there a team out there that better follows them both? No! The Patriots always square their actions. No player gets special treatment. In Training Camp the player that works out the hardest gets the best parking spots. Tom Brady was normally this guy until he slowed down a bit for a few years and didn’t train as hard. He lost his preferential parking spots. Another example, Jonas Gray ran for 200 yards again the Colts in the regular season. A few days later he was late for practice. He was sent to the bench and he barely played since. Bill Belichick treats his players the same no matter who they are or what they do. This weeds out the primadonna players while also creating the fairest system for talent to rise. It also brings players together knowing that they are all being treated as equals. If every stone is squared the same, they are much more likely to fit together.

As for The Compass, it calls for us to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind. The Patriots are perfect examples of this. Each player has something they want. It could be the big contract. Or more playing time. Or more masses. Or more media exposure. Whatever. But the Patriots players deep their desires in check. They sacrifice for the team. If they each went after what they wanted they would have turned into the Oakland Raiders a long time ago. They can still have desires and many of them do, but by keeping things in check it allows for everyone to fit in with each other and become a cohesive unit.

They are also excellent at keeping their passions within due bounds. Watch them at the podium when speaking to the media. They constantly talk about the respect they have for other teams and players. When asked about winning they say they want it but they will say that it’s a lot of hard work and mental focus. Do these players want to win? Of course. These are some of the most competitive players in the world. But they again keep their passions in control. Engaging in a chest puffing “who is better” war or words with another team will only lead to distractions and for the other team to get bulletin board material. By keeping their passion to a controlled burn, it allows them to stay focused and disciplined in practice all the way through the game. And the Patriots are extremely passionate during the game, throwing every ounce of energy out onto the field. But they also keep their passions within due bounds on the field by never letting the other team’s trash talk get to them. They also make sure to not get to emotional and let the emotion of the moment cloud their heads. They each have a job to do and too much emotion can cloud their judgement. When Russell Wilson was driving for the score, Malcolm Butler had just let up a miracle catch to Jermaine Kearse. He could have let his negative emotions get to him. He could have let the momentum swing of the Seahawks driving to bring him out of his focus. But he kept his passions within due bounds, stayed focused, did his job and intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass two plays later. And the rest is history.

The Patriots are currently the greatest run in professional sports. And as we learn from the Trowel, the only contention that should exist among us is who can best work and agree. The Patriots are the best. They are the masters and as we continue on our journey of self-improvement, consider their work and how their methods could assist you.

Livingstone

Talking Politics and Religion in America

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Hello Readers, Livingstone here.

 

I have one phrase for you.

 

America…you’re doing it wrong.

 

I’m sure you’re getting a bit defensive now. At least as much as you can be defensive while reading this sideways on your iPad in bed. But I’m here to tell you that there is something that we Masons do, that the rest of America is now doing and it’s bad. I mean dangerous to our republic bad. And that is the “no talk of politics and religion” that is creeping into all sectors of American life. And I’ll explain why it’s a false ideology and what Masonry has to do with it.

What is the old saying?

Never talk about politics and religion at work.”

or is it…

“Never talk about politics and religion at parties.”

I thought it was…

Never talk about politics and religion on social media.”

or maybe it’s…

Don’t talk about politics and religion at the dinner table!

Sorry, it’s hard to keep up. There always seems to be a new place where you can’t discuss religion and politics. But I’m sure that out there, somewhere in the mountains, far away from human civilization, there is a 2×2 ft spot where it’s ok to talk.

And this mentality is something that is now becoming engrained in our American culture. Spending time with my non-Mason friends, the talk of politics and religion is almost non-existant. And this has become the norm no matter where I go or what group of friends I hang out with. Or the jobs I work in, people just don’t actively talk about the things in these realms. And when they do, it’s based on the pre-dominant ideology of the region and even light disagreement is avoided. Or people are trying to avoid a lawsuit. Or they just want you to shut up and get back to work. Modern America in its journey for harmony and an environment to do the best work has taken a Masonic principle, bastardized it and applied it to everything. And it’s hurting us.

No talk of politics and religion. The origins of this way of thinking aren’t easily found. But this rule is an ancient part of Masonic history and one of the most important foundations for Masonic culture. Politics and religion have torn apart humanity for centuries, so Masonic lodges try to create the most harmonious atmospheres possible by banning both. And it’s a rule that doesn’t get much thought but is rigorously followed by all Masons. Which is odd because in Masonry, brothers love to argue just about anything in Masonry. But this part of mainstream Masonry is largely left alone. And they feel they have a good reason. Most Masons attribute this rule to the foundation of the modern Masonic psychological structure. That the banning of the talk of politics and religion in lodge is what makes Masonry what it is. This censored discussion environment will get us that much closer to real human harmony.

Harmony at the cost of discussing religion and politics. Think about that for a second. For me, the more I think about it, it repulses me. Constricting my ability to talk of two of the foundational elements of my identity? Bullshit. Banning people from talking politics and religion are two of the things that I’ll firmly stand against. And if push came to shove, I’d take a bullet for it. Because by banning people from talking about something, all it serves to do is to create a false harmony. A false harmony that destroys the souls of the men entrapped in it.

Now I can’t always figure out how much of an impact Masonry has on mainstream culture, but I can confidentially say that the background of banning of politics and religion comes from Masonic culture. It’s too specific in how we as Masons say it and how non-Masons use the same saying. Which is funny because I earlier said I would take a bullet over the banning of politics and religion. Yet here I am part of an institution that perpetuates the banning of arguments regarding politics and religion! I’m a hypocrite! Or, there is a deeper reasoning to why Masonry does what it does, and what it can teach us about the world around us. Well I can say that after doing some research…we’re doing it wrong.

I’ll go into the history a bit. The Masonic history over the politics and religion rule is shrouded in heresy and conjecture. What we do know is that through Anderson’s Constitutions, the banning of talking about the particular opinions of religion was legally enshrined in Masonic culture. Here is a link to the 1734 edition of Anderson’s Constitutions.

http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/history/anderson/

Some speculation for the origins of this debate is over whether it is a pragmatic Masonic creation, or part of a deeper level of thinking. The pragmatic camp will say that is was created as a response to the heavy handed approach of the English kings toward Masonry. The pragmatic camp will say that this was done to appease those in power. By banning talk of politics and religion they were sending a message to the Catholic Church and the Monarchy that they weren’t undermining them in secret. By banning politics and religion early on, it allowed them to survive. And the pragmatics would say that this rule continues now, to keep Masonry in it’s traditional origins. Origins that helped it avoid the storms and seasons of the time and exist beyond them all.

Yet the camp that considers it a deeper level of thinking will argue that because this law persists even now, there must be a deeper reasoning for it. That by Anderson enshrining it, it must have been important enough of a mentality to be designed to exist into perpetuity. The deeper thinkers will say that by banning both, Masonry forces you to focus not on your differences with your brothers but how you’re the same. That instead of taking time to talk about politics and religion, you will talk about the lessons of the tools and the ritual more. That as Masons we’re working on our minds, and to create the best possible environment for this is to censor certain thoughts or ideas for a time. What the deeper meaning crowd surmises, is that politics and religion must be banned in the constant journey to achieve to true harmony or the best work.

And if you believe that last sentence, you’re full of shit. Firstly, because politics and religion extend to all facets of human life. Here is a few examples.

This California drought is getting worse and worse

The above seems like the person talking about something that is an act of God. But it’s overtly political in itself, leading to people thinking about the government response to the drought. Or the social, humanitarian or civil implications.

These student loan bills of mine are getting worse and worse“.

A comment like the above invites a response that has no possible way of avoiding things of political nature. Religion is no different in this regard.

We ended up getting married at St. Mary’s Church

The line mentioned shows your religious opinions on a number of levels without you ever overtly discussing it. Politics and religion are extremely baked into our modern lives. To be truly adherent to a rule like this requires not talking about anything else at all except what was learned during the Masonic ritual. And we might be onto something here so put a pin in that thought. Another way to adhere to the no talk of politics and religion is to create a system that is arbitrary in nature and human controlled. Both which are fraught with issues. But yet, both are a pragmatic reality. There are times in life where there are unspoken boundaries and we have to enforce them the best we can. So maybe there is a lesson we can learn here. Let’s get into a few of those reasons.

Firstly, let’s think pragmatically again. When Masonry bans talk of politics and religion it has a low time impact because Masonic meetings only last a few hours each week. And for good reason because most Masons would lose their mind if they couldn’t talk about this stuff. Masons are some of the most politically and religiously engaged individuals in the world. When you have a fraternity that churns out George Washington, Winston ChurchillGiuseppe Garibaldi, Vivekananda and Robert Baylor…you’re society is hardwired into the talk of politics and religion of the time. So what happens is Masonry gives individuals an opportunity to escape talks of such. As a breather for people who spend all their time thinking about things like this. A timeout. Even God rested on the 7th day. Sometimes you just need a break.

Remember how I said you can’t escape talk of politics and religion? Another reason this is in place is that by banning talks of politics and religion, you turn politics and religion into a real human story. When a brother discusses a car accident his daughter got in with a drunk driver, a son who smokes too much pot, being unemployed, making a big deal…they are looking at their politics and religion at the base level. It’s not about labels anymore but about the core human moral problem. These issues stop becoming heady arguing talking points, and instead are real things about real people we know about. People we care about. And you can connect and learn in powerful ways like this.

 

The last major reason is that Masonry is an unlikely friendship generator. As it says in Anderson’s Constitutions, Masonry provides “the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain’d at a perpetual Distance“. So by banning discussion of politics and religion, it allows men to find their commonalities. Whether you’re a pragmatic or a deeper meaning person, you know that by banning politics and religion, it creates a certain type of environment. Now the skeptics reading might be thinking of how dangerous of a mentality this could be. That any environment that suffocates issues that might bring contention for the sake of harmony is ripe to be abused for nefarious reasons. Don’t worry. I feel the same way. But Masonry addresses this so elegantly with the trowel of the Master Mason.

The Trowel

“The Trowel, made use of by operative masons to spread the cement which unites a building into a common mass, but utilized by the Free and Accepted Mason for the more noble purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of friends, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who can best work and best agree.”

Masonry itself says contention not only will exist, but it even explains the rules contention should exist in! While harmony is the goal, the reality is that there will always be contention. And that contention is the foundation of being able to achieve true harmony. Not a false harmony but a real one where everyone feels that the harmony is deserved.

Let me take it back to our current incorrect way of thinking about politics and religion. I argue we live in a false harmony right now. People push to be politically correct by avoiding certain topics. People don’t want to offend others. People don’t want to be incorrect with what they know. They don’t want the spotlight to be put on them. They don’t want to look ignorant. They don’t want to look stupid.They don’t want to get fired. Lose their friends. What began as a policy that people pushed onto each other is now additionally a self-censorship policy. And this leads to terrible unintended consequences. Here’s a few.

Firstly, where do we gain understanding from? Where are the sources of knowledge that help give us the light considering we won’t be getting it from the people around us? The answer…the people in power. The John Stewarts, Bill O’Reilly’s, Rachel Maddows, Rush Limbaughs, etc. We get what we’re supposed to think from them…and then it stays there. We listen to what they say and we don’t discuss what it means with others. By self-censoring, we’ve essentially eliminated the discussion of “the people” to figure out if what we’re being told is wrong. “The people” of their own choice and of not of their own choice, are being told what to think by talking media heads, news sites, Reddit, etc. And we’re banned to question it.

You might argue back with me and say that there is a lot of internet discussion about politic matters happening all the time on the internet. Except these have removed the most important part of the equation, the human element. People feel safe talking to someone miles away, behind a keyboard, with a fake name they don’t know much about…but we’re afraid to talk about these things to our closest friends? Or we don’t care?!? This is what keeps people boxed in. This is what keeps us from organizing to push back. People are isolated in their thinking, being told what to think by people who are thousands of miles away. Yet to make change in society, you need people in your immediate community to act. Because your immediate community has the ability to change the politician who runs the community or has the ability to organize physically against the issue at hand. Instead, we now have people feeling alone in how they view things, and when people are alone they keep their opinions to themselves. Or they think these things don’t matter and they disengage. And these are the people that are actively engaged digitally! We all know that most people don’t spend their time arguing public policy or the meaning of life online. But are instead watching the next Hollywood TV show, playing video games or getting high. (I had to have an old man Livingstone moment right there…and I’m in my 20s!). But when we’re not engaging in the uncomfortable, and instead we’re taking our moral or civil cue from drinking, pot smoking, video games and TV shows/movies alone, we create a society that is ignorant and docile. Perfect for those in power. Our civic engagement in this country is collapsing because people don’t want to engage in the things that cause contention! And without contention, the powerful few grow more powerful.

And yet we as Masons learn that the most noble thing, the pinnacle of our work, is to engage in contention to find out who is right and to ultimately find the truth. Society has taken our Masonic culture of no talk of politics and religion, hammered it onto each other to make people play nice and yet has ignored the part where it says we need to be in contention! Sure, we do our best work at our job’s when we’re not getting distracted by politics and religion. Sure you won’t talk about politics or religion to that cute girl or guy you’re talking to because you hope to get laid. Sure you want to keep your mouth shut on Facebook because you don’t want to be seen as unhireable. My response to all this = Go Fuck Yourself.

If you think dodging things that cut to our core regarding belief and how the world should work will create a more pleasing space, you’re part of the problem. If you feel strongly about something but you keep it to yourself because you don’t feel totally informed, engage anyways and seek to learn.

As William Bradshaw says in Politics and Religion Do Mix,

“No two subjects are more important for one’s total well-being than religion and politics. Politics is all about one’s well-being when living in this life, and religion is all about one’s well-being in the life to come. What could possibly be more important than these two subjects??”

The only way to be true to yourself, is to engage in the things that people need to think about. It’s not enough to think about yourself, but you must think about what God put us here for. You must think about humanity as a whole, and what your place is in it. And you can only find out, by discussing it.

Livingstone

 

The r/debatereligion Files. Part 1: “A Wild Freemason Appears”

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Hello readers, Livingstone here.

 

One of the parts of this blog that I have been working on is the testing part. As in, testing what it means to be a Mason in the “profane” world. There hasn’t been much material to discuss this in our generation, and I’m looking to start to create and idea of just what it means to be a Mason in this world. I’ve done some debating in r/christianity in the past,and now I’ve decided to do some field work in the Reddit subreddit, /r/debatereligion. What people believe, and how they believe, is absolutely something that matters to us. How theism is viewed is is directly tied to us because you must believe in God to be a part of our fraternity. Here we go.

 

Here is my kickoff thread introducing me to their subreddit. I post under the name “OfficialRedditLawyer” there, that’s how you can tell what I’m posting as.

A Wild Freemason Appears

Their experience with Freemasons is rare, I’m the first openly Freemason individual most of them have met. If you search that forum, the first time a Freemason is even mention is literally two days before I arrive. Which was news to me. It’s no secret that r/debatereligion is packed with atheists but it’s as good a place as any to get people talking from all points of view. It should be a place where people hear views, consider them and offer reasonable responses.

Or it’s secretly an anti-theist circle jerk. I report, you decide.

Here are the highlights from the thread.

Highlight #1

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My first post was a response to someone trying to figure out why belief in God is a requirement to join Masonry and continue to be one.

I responded.

OfficialRedditLawyer(Livingstone)

Higher Power is a term that is absolutely open to interpretation and I can see your point. There have been Pantheists that have argued their belief could mean “higher power”, and some Masons even agree. However the ritual in its approach to The Great Architect of the Universe considers God to be a force beyond us, with it being largely being treated as what you would define as “spiritual”. There are references to the life after and the term “Great Architect of the Universe” is used to reference the higher power. The GAOTU term IMO has a multipurpose use. It explains what the higher power should be regarded as during the Masonic ritual, to also being a neutral placeholder term that brothers of different beliefs can use in a shared context. When someone prays to The Great Architect of the Universe during a prayer, in my mind and heart I am praying to my specific God. And to be clear, this is my specific approach to Masonry. But it’s fairly common and considered its natural purpose by early Masonic scholars.

The belief in God serves many purposes. Some I can’t say due to my obligation I took, but some I can. But I’ll cut to the chase for the main one.

  1. Person A swears on themselves alone to keep their word to not divulge the secrets that they are about to observe.
  2. Person B, believes a higher power is watching them at all times and that they will face judgement in the afterlife, swears to keep their word to not divulge the secrets that they are about to observe.

Logically, who is more likely to keep their word regarding the secrets of Masonry?

Masonry is pragmatic in much of its design. The ancient builders of Masonry, to keep their trade secrets, know that people who believe in a higher power are more likely to keep their word on the trade secrets they are about to learn then those who do not.

There are other reasons for a required belief in Masonry as it very spiritual in nature (and secular too!) but that is IMO the primary reason.

 

Reasonable enough. I report how I interpret that this is done because who believed in a higher power were more likely to be trusted to keep Masonic trade secrets and the tradition continues.

Of course, the atheists sniffed out that strain of thinking right away.

 

NewTroski

“Logically, who is more likely to keep their word regarding the secrets of Masonry?”

This train of thought seems like you are trying to justify being prejudiced against atheists.

I think the more trustworthy person is more likely to keep their word. There are trustworthy theists and untrustworthy theists. There are trustworthy atheists and untrustworthy atheists.

I know that in the USA, atheists are considered untrustworthy and un-electable, but is there any evidence to support this position?

First sentence dedicated to claiming persecution? CHECK. 18 upvotes to my two upvotes? CHECK. Asking me to support evidence for their position when they don’t have evidence to prove me otherwise? CHECK.

I’m not saying atheists are less trustworthy. I’m just saying Masonry works in a way that makes sure the man is accountable to a force beyond him. Which most people consider God. Of course, any logical individual will understand what is going on here, and they did what anyone could have predicted.

Highlight #2

Screenshot 2014-07-16 23.47.24

So let me get this straight, they are going to use “history” as a barometer to show that belief “is teh badz0rs”? Excuse my language but get the fuck outta here! That’s like saying the history of last night at O’Reilly’s Pub shows that two guys got into a bar fight at a bar over a girl while they were drinking. So we should get rid of booze and not allow them near women anymore. History shows us that this is what happens when people drink booze and like women. He doesn’t even surmise the deeper factors that make people do the things they do, nor other environmental factors that cause people to do things. Come on!

And get this…THE POST HAS 10 UPVOTES!?! It gets worse, in the second part…

How many of those men behind the atrocities would you say believed in a higher power watching them at all times, believing they would face judgment in the afterlife? The real “problem” here seems to be that the higher power simply doesn’t matter, no?

How dense can you be? Wouldn’t lack of education, lack of personal exposure with the people opposed, poverty, sickness, terrible health, pain, etc. all be factors to make people lose their marbles? How do we know it wouldn’t have been worse without religion? Of course, it’s another atheist having am unsubstantiated belief in something because of something they think and they have no evidence to support it. I guess you can take the man out of religion, but you can’t take the religion out of man.

So I respond with a thought out and logical post explaining that if people don’t follow the belief system, the problem is with them and not the belief system. If they followed the belief system as intended and this happened, then sure. I even pointed out that the tenants of their religion are the foundational elements of a modern society. I even mention how people without belief have done terrible things. And that I’m open to debating that topic. How many upvotes did I get? None, instead I’m DOWNVOTED TO ZERO. Oh man.

Highlight #3

Screenshot 2014-07-16 23.58.30

So this guy’s first assumption is person B, the theist, can’t be trusted unless he thinks someone is watching him? So the person who is NOT being watched by a higher power is just trusting the voices in their head to be a good person and keep their word? Logic and belief ultimately with people listening to the voices in their head and making the call from there. So logically, at the end of the day both of them are listening to the voices in their head. Except one of them is God, which is watching over them and evaluating them. And the other is logic, something which has never been twisted before in human history with secular thinking. No no one has ever had illogical thoughts before in human history in secular thinking.

How many upvotes? SIX UPVOTES. My response was that these were both neutral people, and that the only difference was theism vs non-theism. I GET DOWNVOTED TO ZERO. AGAIN.

But it gets worse. troglozyte responds by saying if “they’re both equal, then they’re both equally likely to keep the secret.” 7 upvotes.

But don’t skip over that post. That post will change your life. Read it again. That post might be one of the great posts in Reddit Atheist history. Before I dive in, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and say that there could be multiple intended meanings behind it.

Meaning A: I was hoping that he misunderstood the thought experiment so I ignored what he really meant and figured he just got confused. I said they were the same, so maybe he just so happened to forget that they were different and thought that Person A and Person B were completely the same and both couldn’t get in. Which literally makes no sense. At all. Why would someone ask a question about two people who are completely the same getting in, and saying only one gets in while the other doesn’t? No one. And no one responded to the thread asking to clarify. So we go to Path B, which I’m extremely excited to speculate on.

Meaning B: Yes, for the first time in atheist Reddit history, they blew up their anti-theism argument. A non-believer and a believer both have equal actions? Wait WHAT?!? So all those countless threads, posts, blogs, and rants about how atheism is the more logical path from illogical theism were just a theory and they really do think theists and non-theists are “equally likely to keep their word”. No. No. And no. You don’t get to play the “we think different” card and then say they would do the exact same thing as a theist. No one questioned this. Seven people upvoted it. That looks like a consensus to me. So what we get from this is “Atheists are more logical then theists but would do the exact same thing as theists.” The silence against this was deafening. The consensus was that people agreed.

So I responded by being incredulous at the idea that two people who think different would have the same actions. To think that is illogical as it gets. I get downvoted three times to -2. WHAT! WHAT WHAT!?!

Fair enough, I’m building a case here.

Highlight #4

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Hmmmmmm. Read the whole thing. However it’s the first sentence by usurious, that says it all.

“Neither person A or B in your example are trustworthy.”

Now, this is all armchair psychology. And I’m against things like that. But atheists use it against theists and religion often, so I’m going to prove a point and use it against them.

“Neither person A or B in your example are trustworthy.”

Read into that. Think deeply about what this person means by this. It offers a real glimpse into how they think, how they view people. He’s saying that people aren’t trustworthy. And his SEVEN upvotes are proof he’s not alone. The person arguing against the reinforcement ability of belief, views people as untrustworthy. He’s saying that a person, at their base core, is untrustworthy.

Is this a symptom of secularism? That secularists, when they believe that human beings are evolved animals, that we’re arrived at our point in history today through survival of the fittest…that their foundational understanding of humans is that they are in competition with each other. That people are in a struggle with each other to be the most fit to survive. That’s why you can’t trust people, because we’re animals and deep down that is what he and the people who upvoted him believe. I don’t know…but it makes you wonder.

He could have easily said, “In this case person A and person B are equally trustworthy”. Which would have been wrong, but that’s besides the point. He said untrustworthy. And he reinforced that comment in the second sentence.

“If they are “completely the same” save B’s fear of punishment, does it not follow that the only reason either of them keep their word is grounded in fear?”

Actually, the second sentence is even worse. Fear of punishment? Where the heck did I ever say grounded in fear? So again, we are becoming illuminated to how they view people.

Highlight #5

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Unsubstantiated claim? CHECK. Lack of evidence. CHECK. Atheists positive post without proof. CHECK. 6 upvotes. CHECK.

I responded with: “Do you have any proof or evidence to back this up? ”

-1 vote.

Fuck me.

His response.

Evidence that professed atheists suffer social, professional, and legal consequences? Right here, friend (.pdf warning). And hereAnd here.

Evidence that theists sometimes fake belief for personal advancement? Gosh, sorry, I guess I don’t, so that never happens.”

He literally ignores the foundational question I asked! He goes right into persecution mode. Standard SJW practice. He truly believes if the tables weren’t turned, that theists wouldn’t lie about being religious to avoid punishment. I literally rolled out all the evidence of atrocities committed by State Atheism, which any sane and logical person would figure that theists would be forced to lie about their beliefs to not get killed. Nope. Downvotes again.

And before long, the atheists turned to darker, more desperate explanations.

Highlight #6

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If someone were to divulge the secrets of Freemasonry, they would end up with a big red dot on their forehead. Let’s quickly ignore the disgusting anti-masonic drivel being unloaded by this guy. That’s low hanging fruit but it does apply here. However, let’s focus on the hilarity of the “logical atheist” making a claim that doesn’t have a shred of evidence in history. And the best part is that NO ONE CALLED HIM OUT. I repeat, look at the thread. No one was skeptical of what xereeto said.

I respond asking for evidence, taking the high road. I could have cried anti-masonry, conspiracy, bigotry, but I at least wanted to see if he had anything that might lead him to think that way. The response was predictable.

“I don’t have any evidence to base it on, that’s just what I think would most likely happen. That’s why I said they would likely end up dead. I’m not anywhere near certain but I believe that would be what would play out.”

I’ll try and look at this positively and hope that he was trying to contrast my thought experiment in a really poorly and crass way. But he never did. He vanished. Never edited his post saying as such. Just dropped off the map. The posts you see after trying to ignorantly justify that there is somehow a parallel to a Mason getting killed for revealing a secret and my PersonAPersonB thought experiment was done by Zomb-el, a different person.

Wait hold on, there is a another paragraph.

“It’s hard to explain why I think this would be the case, I might call it common sense but that seems like an arrogant thing to say.”

Ah, there we go. For a second there, I thought he was just some teenager with bad argument skills. Nope. He really believes this shit. Mr. agnostic atheist believes a bunch of shit with no factual basis and thinks that there are people literally killing each other over Masonic secrets. You can take the man out of religion, but you can’t take the religion out of man.

The thread is a treasure trove, I could go on forever. But let’s end on a highlight from another thread. Your good friend Livingstone likes to test ideas and I had one idea that I was hoping to get more information on before I checked out for the week. (yes, I have a job)

Atheists of DebateReligion, do you want theism to go away or do you not care?

And without further ado, Highlight #7

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“I want Anti-Skepticism to go away – Theism is a symptom, not the core problem. If just theism disappeared overnight it would be replaced with an equivalent very quickly.”

hayshed (36 upvotes)

Tell me about it. Oh tell me about it.

Livingstone

The Brave New World of Masonry: The Internet Part 2

internet-100016261-large Hello readers,

Livingstone here. As covered in my last blog entry, I described how Masonry is starting to shift into the internet age and I introduced what that could mean.

Now, it’s time to dive into the moral, philosophical, NSA, Social Network, and transparency aspect of this. Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Internet Masonry is going to force dramatic changes on the Fraternity. The Masonry of the 1950s-1990s was a form of Masonry that valued the secrecy of the Fraternity almost too much. There are countless stories of Masons who badly wanted to have friends or family members join. But they were restricted from inviting someone based on our rejections of membership solicitation. Except they took this rejection two steps to far and many times didn’t even mention they were even part of the Order to those people. It’s one thing to not want to violate someone’s free will by not asking them. It’s entirely another for someone to not even know that it’s even possible for them to become a Mason. There has been so much misplaced orthodoxy to this that it has seriously hurt the Fraternity. Also considering how much the secrets of Masonry are up for debate, the vast majority of those brothers went to the extreme in trying not to violate their obligation. In a Fraternity that espouses the importance of education and knowledge, many Masons weren’t even telling people anything about Masonry. They acted like it didn’t even exist. Madness!

Yet the internet essentially blows that up. Take a look at the Freemasonry Wikipedia entry. There it is folks. Everything you need to know to get a primer on what Masonry is about, and that still is only scratching the surface. Which is pretty incredible in our digital age. Both that we now can get information on what “is” Masonry…and also how there is so much missing in that Wikipedia entry. But the debate on what is secret or not is now starting to be decided by the internet.

Alright boys and girls, I’m putting in my disclaimer that it’s Livingstone Speculation Time and I only speak for myself (and maybe potentially a new generation of  Masons). Many of our old ways are soon going to go. Firstly, our vow to not violate the secrets of Masonry can now be seriously geared back because of the internet. If something isn’t a secret anymore…then you can talk about it! With that said you do have to be specific about what you say. Wikipedia articles and lodge websites are a great guideline for what is secret. Obviously Masons should consult with their lodge and jurisdictional rules, but if it’s there…talk away! Also since we can see the past papers of Masonic writers with the click of a button then we can assume what they’ve talked about isn’t secret. So cut the crap. If what you’re talking about is reasonably easy to find and doesn’t violate your vow, have at it. Our order is all about bringing light to people and fighting ignorance. Embrace Masonry for what it stands for and enlighten people. The internet has now made it clear for how we will approach this.

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This all means that Masonry is ripe for another expansion and also another major internal question. We live in a society that doesn’t just value information…it can’t stop consuming it! Yet the overconsumption of information is a real problem. Also the context for what that information means, and who is interpreting it, can mean all the difference. I mentioned in the last entry that the free flow of information will be great for the fraternity. But how you process information is hugely important. There are a number of people who are in full backlash mode for websites like Upworthy, TheChive,  The Huffington Post (sorry, it’s true) and Drudge Report (sorry, also true) for their hyperbolic presentation of information. While forums like /r/Freemasonry have become a boon for the Masonic community, the real meat of Masonry is the secretive discussion. We Masons are made very aware of how words can be interpreted, but the human element attached to those words is FAR more important then just the words. An idea written online by someone can be interpreted much differently if that person tells you the very same thing in person. Body language, passion, and how they are taking the argument can speak volumes. And while we have such great access to all this information, we still must discuss in person. It’s one thing to quickly pass around things online, but I argue that it can create a regressive form of communication. While we can be far more exact, there’s a barrier between people that is very real. Look at the comments sections of most article. It’s a hellfire of ravenous opinions. And the majority of them don’t even bother to work with facts or discuss things in a scholarly way. It’s us vs. them. And that does disturb me. The internet and our exchange of information is seductive in it’s ease and exactness, but it loses the human element. And without the human element information will never be complete. We Masons know from our rituals how important our physical presence is to the ritual and it’s imparting of knowledge and Masonic light. The same applies to life.

I haven’t personally felt this type of coldness from brothers online that I do from non-brothers. This has been an interesting phenomenon and it says a great deal about the character of men who have joined the fraternity…and how Masonry has influenced these men. And also how our less than great members haven’t figured out the internet. But our worldwide Masonic bonds, the moral importance and our shared appreciation of light have made our exchanges better then what usually goes on around the web. And this isn’t confirmation bias. I’ve been around and it’s true. Masons don’t let the “keyboard barrier” between them turn them into assholes. Which inadvertently shows the importance of people feeling bonded together as a community for civil discourse in the digital age. I know better transparency is also helping this, but instead it’s using social pressure to suppress the problem instead of people actually fixing the problem inside themselves.

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Now our vow to keep our secrets of Masonry is sacred to us. I have found a few times where I have feel that I have been on the wrong side of the obligation. I haven’t violated any secret per se, I do feel like a bad person. While I have said how we’re moving in a progressive direction for Masonic understanding, I also think we’re breaking the spirit of our Masonic promise to secrecy. Again, when it comes to the transparency, the free exchange of knowledge and ideas of the internet…it can be seductive to want to join in as a Mason. I would also say the zeitgeist of the gay rights movement has secretly been a driving force for Masonry’s more liberal turn to showing itself. To watch the Gay Rights Movement is to watch a group of people who have been living in secret, oppressed and victimized all over the world, and yet cheered on by huge sections of society for their success and for revealing themselves. It’s rubbing off on us. Many of us Masons are sick of conspiracy. Sick of living in the dark. Sick of having to conceal our identity. We want what gay women and woman are starting to have…a chance to be ourselves and proud of who we are within society.

Social networking has really driven this as well. We used to live in a world where we wouldn’t know is someone was gay, Jewish, atheist, or whatever. This even applies to more well know groups of people like Christians and such. But if you were from a small group of people most people wouldn’t know who you are unless you specifically told them. But now, you can slap the details of your identity onto your Facebook profile and BOOM, the world knows who you are. And since we can see the status updates of each other even when we aren’t around we can usually figure out who someone really is pretty quickly. But more importantly it’s people now being able to freely decide who their identity is…and then letting the world know. When it comes to identity almost all of human history was about people being given their identity with little choice on their part about it. And if there was an identity that wasn’t accepted by mainstream society you lived in the shadows. Now due to the civil rights movement, gay rights and others, people have come to understand that if someone has an identity that isn’t normal…it’s not a bad thing. For Masons the time is ripe to start to be ourselves, so to speak.

But as things go in Masonry, things don’t always go with the tide. And I would say that most of the time they go against it.

The Masonic transparency camp is one side of the coin…the other side is the Traditional Observance lodge movement. I’m not going to go into specifics but the TO Masons are the fastest growing group of Masons and they are secretive as hell. They have an internet presence for a lodge website, but that is it. They are huge into knowledge and education…but only inside the lodge walls. They are very strict about not violating their Masonic secrets and they are very hard about not revealing their Masonic identity. Now the majority of Masons are secretive about their identity so this isn’t anything special and seems more par for the course. But their rapid expansion is sending a psychological message to the rest of Masonry in this regard. And that is “It’s ok to not feel like you have to tell the world about who you are.”

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I can’t always speak about why countless Masons have been secretive about who they are, but I can say that the Masons I have met and the Masons I have read about rarely struggled openly about their Masonic identity. For them, they were Masons and that was between their brothers, God, and themselves. No need to go around telling other people. No need to feel justified in being a Mason by having society accept you. It is ok to be who you are if you know what you are doing is right. Nothing more.

This line of thinking is starting to become controversial today. But it’s a rarely used one and one that I will guarantee will become part of our national psychology at some point.

The secretive nature of TO lodges and most Masons has also taken an interesting twist with the NSA and our growing understanding of their mass surveillance. As the split in Masonry starts to form between the Transparency Masons and the Secretive Masons, how we approach our relationship to the Masonic secrets needs to be addressed. Our phones and our computers are not secure. The exchange of Masonic secrets is being compromised every time we use one of these devices. Yet there are Masons out there who just shrug their shoulders and say the NSA probably already has the secrets so why bother. I’m going to come across as a bit of a hypocrite here and I’m going to say that just because something wrong is happening, doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. Now I’m being specific when I say that the things that are being put on websites that I don’t consider secrets aren’t secrets anymore because I trust the judgement of the Masons that put them there. I’m still on the reserved side but I trust the institutions that work in Masonry to know what they’re doing. The things we say to other Masons that are not widely known are still considered secrets and we should absolutely refrain from trusting ANY form of communication that isn’t person to person. Our ritual insinuates the importance of this if you’ve paid attention. Get off the phones brothers. Don’t touch your computer. Your Internet Lodge is a trap and if you really respect your obligation, don’t break it.

However again, the internet is going to force Masons to decide what the secrets of Masonry really mean. Are they a bond that brings us together in a special shared experience, to serve as an allegory for how knowledge is to be shared and understood? Or is what is happening now the logical and natural progression of Masonry from a rebellious secretive order to becoming the light that fights injustice around the world and seeks to improve all people. For that question, I’ll let you decide.

Livingstone

 

5 reasons being a Freemason enlightened me to support Gay Marriage

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Hello Brothers,

Livingstone here. So the issue of Gay Marriage in America is a contentious one. And for members of the Gay Community this challenge has been near and dear to them. Over the last 10 years we have seen a tidal wave of change in America. A mere 10 years ago, 58% of Americans opposed gay marriage and only 28% supported it. For those who are pessimistic, those numbers had to be damning to look at. To change the minds of an entire nation to get support for gay marriage would not only take a Herculean effort, but would require the politicians who are afraid of getting voted out to fall in line.

Now inn 2014, 49% of Americans support Gay Marriage and now only 44% are against. This is one of the most incredible shifts in public opinion in American history. To have Americans change their opinions so dramatically in 10 years is unheard of. Things like civil rights, health care, abortion, have all been generational battles and those battles are still raging on. Yet the Gay Marriage movement’s victory at the national level seems almost like a forgone conclusion.

One community that has been noticeably quiet about this, actually we’ve been quiet about every political issue, are the Freemasons. The secretive order does not engage in politics nor religion. And discussion of issues such as this are banned in lodges. However, Masons have engaged in philosophical debates self-exploration of their identities for centuries. And because of our free thinking and secretive nature, we’ve been able to take on controversial ideas in unrestricted and eclectic ways. And this experience for me has been no different. As I have gone through through the Masonic system, I’ve come to see the gay marriage issue in a unique and complex way.

Quick Disclaimer: As always, no one speaks for Masonry because there is no hierarchy or institutional life long power structure. And each Mason has their own individual opinion about these things anyways.

Without further ado, my reasons for supporting gay marriage.

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1. Masonry never addresses the issue of marriage

Masonry doesn’t address the issue of marriage EVER in the ritual. There isn’t anything there about it. But in a smart way it also doesn’t ignore it. Considering it is never brought up, some observers would be quick to point out that Masonry ignores the matter of marriage in general. Far from it. What people fail to realize, is that it’s not Masonry’s job to address marriage at all. What Masonry does is address the moral beliefs of the man who joins and presents a set of moral beliefs that are compatible with his own, but from the perspective of symbols and allegory. The Masonic ritual is concerned with morality on a deeper level. The problem that we run into is that that in modern American society we feel we have to address gay marriage.

This is a common issue in all societies to different degrees. And that is the human need to regulate society and the actions of the people within it. Some people want to have gay marriages as a consenting adults. Others want to own guns. Others want to practice their religion. Others don’t want to practice any religion. And for a variety of reasons people want to choose what is right and wrong and then use the government to create laws based on that right and wrong.

It’s one thing to engage in a discussion of the right and wrong of something and to use logic to change the actions of someone else. It’s entirely something else to enact laws to force what that person can or can’t do.

What Masonry does is that it gives you moral codes but it doesn’t tell you what to do with them. And like Masonry, gay marriage is never addressed in any religious text. Regulating marriage is just another example of people coming to their own interpretation of their value system. And then dictating their values onto others and thus oppressing others. If you feel gay marriage is wrong then you are certainly fair game to express it and converse about it. But banning it is philosophically unsound because no religious text calls for you to do so.

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2. Gay marriage isn’t against our moral code

What you say? Blasphemy? You have verses in The Bible, Torah, Quran or other holy book that says otherwise? Well you are certainly right that these individual books each have parts of them that point to the illegitimacy of homosexual behavior. However for this next part, I want you to read what I say carefully. Each word matters.

If your VSL says homosexuality is wrong, what specifically does it mean? Do you mean the lifestyle? Do you mean the love? Is it the actual act of homosexual sex?

Before you get into the specifics, here is something to consider.

As a Mason, I have brothers with beliefs that are far beyond anything I would ever support. I would say some of their other religious beliefs repulse me and are against my Christian values. But Masonry prevents this discussion by banning talk of politics and religion. And it forces the individual Mason to focus on a moral system that interpretively works with his own individual moral system. And then you realize you’re in a lodge room with men who are doing the same as you, except with themselves. And then you soon come to realize that these men, who have very different beliefs then you, are also aligned to these same moral allegories and symbols just like your are. The feeling of mistrust and anger are soon washed away by the understanding that there is a through line through all people. Sure, an individual Mason doesn’t represent their outside community and may not be representative of how others in his community feel. But they are proof that that community has the ability to have a moral alignment with yours.

There are gay Masons. Actually Masonry probably has had many gay men pass through its doors in its long history. By being Masons and being a part of the craft, they are revealing they have a moral code that has an alignment with my moral code. And by peacefully existing together in lodge it shows that quite possibly our different beliefs and lifestyles can  co-exist in the outside world.

America was founded by Masons who saw Catholics and Protestants tearing each other apart over religion. But they also saw those Catholics and Protestants coming together in morality in lodge. They soon came to realize that while things seemed dark in Europe, things could be filled with light here. They then came to found America on the experiences they had as Masons. They had proof it could work. If people can come together in lodge because of a moral alignment, why can’t they come together as a nation? The Masons who helped found America reasoned that people were to be trusted. As the Great American Experiment goes forward, if there was one thing we’ve done right and that is to not falter in that ethos. We all have a moral alignment to our fellow human. And that includes the gay women and men who wish to marry.

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3. Marriage makes you happy, why deny it?

As I mentioned, there are currently loads of benefits to being married. Tax benefits, policy benefits, legal benefits. The US Government decided a long time ago to allow the laws to support those people that were getting married. Also, some scientists got together and found out that being married is worth $100,000 a year. Also marriage makes you happier, as in it adds another 10 years of happiness to your life then not being married. Not only that, being married is a better increaser of happiness then religion or a six figure salary. So marriage is 20 times more more important to happiness then making lots of money!?

Before I wrote this blog, I was one of those people who was suspicious of marriage and heard the warnings of places like NoMarriage.com. And I wasn’t alone in my reluctance to ever get married. Since 2005, there is a 90% increase in the number of people not married or pushing off marriage. But even though our culture is starting to become less marriage centric…marriage is still good for us. And the studies prove that marriage will give you a sense of happiness like nothing else would.

To deny that element of life to a group of people is asking for trouble. And frankly that element cuts right to a core American ethos. And that is Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our core mottos as Americans are right in line with what the mission of Gay Marriage proponents want. They want to live, freely, and find the best way to be happy doing it. Marriage is a sure fire way to achieve that happiness.

Joy is something we learn about in our ancient Masonic ritual. For without Joy we will never be nourished and our bodies will wither and our souls will die. Our pursuit of the things that bring us happiness and contentment is a universal human characteristic. In Masonry, each brother works together or individually on their discovery to what Joy means to them. How they express their Joy may not be like how the rest of the world does, but who are we to deny them in their journey to love and happiness. Ultimately as long as their Joy does not infringe on the journeys of others to experience Joy, then why should we step in the way? Marriage is an experience that should be denied to no one. These women and men are seeking out a path to happiness and we should respect their journey.

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4. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad

Masons are different. There many people out there who see us as immoral and irregular to humanity. There are people who are afraid of how our influence would “corrupt” the world around us. A group of guys performing secretive acts on each other to bring themselves happiness…wait are we talking about gay men or Masons? You get the point.

But seriously though, we look weird on the outside. People can’t understand why we do what we do. But we as Masons know that based on our own experiences that just because something seems strange or odd from the outside, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

There is this belief that homosexuality will corrupt our country. No. Not only will homosexuality NOT corrupt our country, it probably won’t even be a huge deal after a while. The specific act of homosexual sex is not an all encompassing element, but can be very compartmentalized within the individual. Actually a lot of time sex is a very compartmentalized behavior. Just because Bill Clinton couldn’t control himself when it came to sex doesn’t mean he couldn’t control himself when it came to running a country. In fact he was terrific at running the country. Gay men span the spectrum of thought. From gay men who fight in the military to gay men who are pacifists, from gay men who are Republicans to gay men who are Democrats, from gay people who are poor to gay people who are rich, being gay is not one specific identity.

Let’s put it this way. People who like to bang span all spectrums of thought.

A lot of the anti-gay marriage crowd is claiming that people who are trying to make gay marriage legal are using it as a hammer to show that homosexuals are normal in society…is the fucking truth. Yes people who are gay want to be normal. Who doesn’t want to be normal! We as Masons were banned from all sorts of things throughout our history. We weren’t allowed to be private. We were mistrusted because people didn’t know much about it. We were banned from attending church. Banned from being in government. Banned from places of business. And people latched onto those bans as a way to hate us. By the government saying we were bad enough to have legal restrictions put on us, it sent a message to the masses that there must be some truth to their actions. Things that are normal and reasonable aren’t restricted. In today’s society we are normal because society doesn’t restrict us. By having restrictions on gay behavior, we’re sending the message that what they are doing isn’t normal. It’s the classic chicken vs the egg argument. Let’s allow gay marriage and allow them to be normal. For they will never truly be able to prove they are normal unless we allow it.

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5. We must work and act, on the level and square our actions

One of the ancient concepts we’re taught about in Masonry is that we must work and act on the level. Now, what the levels means is open to interpretation. But we as Free and Accepted Masons have come to learn that our society is a sacred band of brothers that accepts men and seeks to see them be free in their presence. And we are often reminded that we are on the level with each other. No one is above or below and that. Also we’re taught to square our actions. What does that mean? Here is my interpretation. The square is unchanging and is used by builders to make sure all the points of a structure are the same 90 degrees. Our actions should be the same 90 degrees to each other. As in how we treat one person, we must treat others the very same.

Why should we treat women looking to marry other women and men looking to marry other men differently then we would a heterosexual relationship? If you are truly squaring your actions, then you would create laws that would TREAT ALL CITIZENS THE SAME! To create a double standard creates a society that has flaws in its structure. And these flaws eventually are the weaknesses that can bring down that structure. On in this case, this society. When the storm comes and it always does, the society that is structures uniformly in action will stand strong vs. those societies that have areas that are irregular in design. Also a house not built on the level has a foundation that is morally angled and corrupt. When the storm comes, that society will slide into the sea. For a base tilted to one side or the other will eventually tip forward into the extreme, no matter which angle it aims towards. To make our country and nation stronger, we must have gay men and women on the level with us and we must square our actions with them. They deserve the chance to stand next to us, as equals. And may all of society be treated as such.

Livingstone

What is Freemasonry? The Result of the Human System

4975206_f260The zeitgeist of January/February 2014 will be looked back years from now as the dawning of something big for the fraternity, or another wheel spinning exercise performed by Masons of all eras. Within the past week, three major blogs have dived into discussing “what Freemasonry is”. Obviously a conversation that is not new to the Fraternity. But considering all the people jumping in to talk about it, it’s clear that right now in this period of time the question is very meaningful to a lot of people. Firstly I’ll link to the blogs in question in order they were written.

 

 

1. What is Freemasonry (Tim Bryce)

2. What is Freemasonry – A Response to Tim Bryce (Greg Stewart)

3. What is Freemasonry – A Response to Tim Bryce and Greg Stewart (BeeHive)

In Masonry we learn things come in threes. Well we’re getting a forth here so tough shit.

I’m going to make this easy and I’ll state my thesis of what Freemasonry is, and then explain.

“Freemasonry is the result of the human system”

What? Not a Fraternity? Or Club? Or Community? I argue that Masonry is less of a designed creation, but the result of a designed system.

To describe Freemasonry as a result is not something any of the authors did in their writings. Sure they mentioned reasons for why Masonry may have come to be but I think they missed the larger and deeper reason for why it came together. I’m going to get very philosophical here so put your pants on and buckle up.

Humanity and how we operate is a system. A code. A computer program. If we are to believe in the Great Architect of the Universe, then we must admit that we were created at one point. And if we were created we were designed/coded to be a certain way. After that, our opinions differ. Yet to admit that there is a higher Architect at play means that there was a design just based off how we interpret an Architect to work.

Early on in history during the ancient Egyptian times, they saw the thousands of elements around them and tried to justify each as being the result of God. Ra, the God of Sun. Res, the God of the pregnant women. Anuket, God of the river Nile. Hathor, Goddess of Love. Nut, Goddess of Sky and Stars. You can catch them all right here. Also, are you catching my drift?

This system of creating multiple Gods, one for every element also manifested itself in Greek Mythology. Hades, God of Death. Helious, God of Sun. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. Again, you catch my drift.

And you will find this Elemental God structure manifested in many ancient religions. The major reason being is that early humans used them as ways to explain how things worked the way they did. They didn’t know anything about how the earth and orbits and such, so when the sun vanished they assumed the sun God was going to sleep. Yet women were still getting pregnant, people were still falling in love…AHA! There must be multiple Gods and they’re still awake. This way of creating Gods to explain various things, specifically the unknown was a major reason for the predominance of elemental God based religions.

However, the singular supreme being religion was manifesting itself concurrently in Egypt during this time. Archeological evidence of Judaism is sparse for it’s early history but it is estimated to have manifested into a people nation between the 10th and 4th century BC.

Judaism was interesting in that not only did it have only one God, but because of the lack of a central authority after the end of the Temple Era, it became an interpretive religion. As in the prophets stopped and there wasn’t any central authority or successor to define what the rules and laws meant. So in this absence individual Jews and sects were left to interpret for themselves what many of the elements in their prophetic history meant. Concurrently in Asia, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism had formed or were forming. And each had complex and individual interpretations of the supernatural and spiritual world.

However the singularity of the one God became the dominant idealogical element in world events and the singular “messenger” became one as well. Buddha founded Buddhism, Jesus founded the Christian belief system, Mohammed founded Islam, Joseph Smith founded Mormonism, Bab for Baha’i, L. Ron Hubbard for Scientology…you get it. The one person or being was the creator of specific systems of morality that became well known in many parts of the world today.

Now I know what you’re wondering. We just took a long trip talking about religion, where the hell am I going? Again, stay buckled in.

While the singular figure was a major element in the creation of various spiritual systems, the spiritual systems all very much were designed around an “equalism” ideology. As in they all preached, in some form or another, the equal nature of human beings in relation to each other. Let me get back to this in a moment.

Because singularity was also the dominant element of rulers in this time. Critics of religion will say that religion was a tool used by powerful leaders to brainwash people into “worshiping the powerful individual” while also sedating them into their suffering by embracing the “we’re equal” bullshit and also telling people that it will be all better when they die.” Not a bad argument. Except the very moment religion was founded it spelled an eventual doom for the king/dictator/emperor. Because if we were truly all equal, then those below the people in power would seek to enforce this and eventually “equalize” those in power by tearing them down.

To give this context, lets look at the founding of America. It is well known that when the founders of America created the line “all men are created equal” man of them were well aware that slavery existed in America and that women were treated very unequally. They knew that eventually the time bomb would go off, so to speak. People would eventually tear down the systems of inequality to make the country more equal as our constitution intended.

Those kings on the ancient world embraced religion because either they believed they were appointed to their power by God, that religion was useful to control people, or the few truly did believe in their faith system. But the creation of “equalism” set into motion the eventual destruction of the king and dictator. As over time people understood the totality of their belief systems, they realized society would never be truly equal until the government and power structure reflected it as such.

Here is an example. Religion was a major driving force in the American Revolution, the first shot at the elimination of the ruler who ruled inequality, not chosen by the rest of the equal population. Reference 1 Reference 2 Reference 3.

However the American Revolution wasn’t just a simple event, but filled with deeper changes going on within it. And that is that many of the architects of the American revolution were Freemasons. Freemasons made us only a few percentage points of the population, yet they become the charging force in the overthrow of the British Empire in America. How did such a small group of people become so influential in the revolution? And furthermore, from South America, to Africa, to The Middle East, to Europe, to parts of Asia, Freemasons were leaders and the engineers of the destruction of the Kings and Emperors who ruled over their people. No group of people have been responsible for the toppling of more governments then Freemason men have. These men saw the structure of society in an enlightened way, and sought to smash the inequality and injustices of the world.

So who are these people? These Freemasons? Let’s take a turn back to my conversation on religion.

At a certain point many educated people all over the world started to realize the world was FILLED with different religions. Sure they knew it from experience, but some men started to come to terms with the fact that their individual religion was a minority in the world, as was every other spiritual system. To first realize, in a deeper sense must have been a traumatic one. To be faced with the reality that your God and messenger/savior might not be correct, could shake a person to their core. This why is why so many religions went toe to toe against each other in violence. In the minds of many ancient leaders their religion was the right one, they would obviously win in combat and eventually their religion would reign supreme.

Well that didn’t happen. Islam busted into Europe through Spain but was eventually beaten back. Christians muscled back into the Middle East during the Crusades but were kicked out and never got back in. Jews were pushed out wherever they went, in a constant state of disruption. Hinduism remained isolated on the Indian subcontinent and Buddhism became massive in size but was eventually encircled by European imperialism. No one “won”.

We don’t know when these “enlightened” figured first met each other, but what we do know is the legend of Masonry extends back into pre-Christian times. And even then, there were multiple religions and belief systems. And for whatever reason, the mast majority of these belief systems combined the messages of “love for other humans”, “equality”, and “understanding the supreme being”. Which so happen to be the three major Masonic beliefs of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. But these enlightened figures didn’t look to fight each other. Instead, they realized if they actually followed their beliefs, then they SHOULDN’T be fighting. They also realized that the interpretation of their religion were being heavily influenced by the state and which ever dictator ran the state. What they realized was that their belief system was more open to interpretation and different thoughts then they originally realized. And what they soon realized that with the right interpretation, there was an alignment in each of their beliefs, enough so where they could be join together in that alignment. These men become Freemasons. So several elements of this order of men were created to help it run. They ran their system as close to equality as possible by creating a Republic-Democracy, one man one vote. They made secrecy a central tenant for philosophical and pragmatic reasons (people unafraid of the unknown would become attracted to Masonry, also secrecy allowed them to stay alive). They allowed men of all races as God did not see people in race, and so on and so forth.

Now what those Masons actually were in early design is open to interpretation, but they manifested the identity of builders. It made sense. Stone Masons were men who built powerful structures that stood the test of time. But these Freemasons weren’t talking secular structures, but structures that were the foundation of our faith systems and our relationship with God. Freemasons saw that they were building ideas. This choice of identifying with builders became a powerful one. It sent the message to men who were Masons that while they were perfecting their mind, through their shared faith beliefs, they were builders. And around them they saw the world tearing itself apart over economics, power, religion, nationality, race, etc. All things, that violated their shared religious belief. And something happened to these men. Here’s my opinion. They so deeply felt the spirit of God that they believed they had a special mission. Their mission was the build a society that could mirror what their Masonic society had become. If it could work in their lodge, why couldn’t it work on the national level?

Fast forward 50 years (or 6000 years depending on your Masonic belief) and  American Freemason men were tearing down the dictatorial British empire controlled by King George. The system was bullshit. His religious interpretations were designed to perpetuate his power. The system was unequal.  The Freemasons had become stacked with powerful freethinking men who decided now was the time and they flattened the British. And then over the next 200 years Freemasons all of the world popped up out of nowhere and tore down their respective national regimes to create governments more reflective of their Masonic ethos.

Yet something interesting happened. When the Freemason men tore down their governments and create democracies, they ended up in positions of power and influence all through their new nations. But there wasn’t a conspiracy or a planned system. It became something that started to “naturally” happen. If we have men who are free thinking, they naturally will be on the cutting edge of exploration, science, military, arts, etc. And with a support network like they have, they will be able to be put into positions to put their ideas into action. However, the people still in power weren’t happy with this. They were threatened. Freemasons, after revealing themselves, suffered horrendous persecution all over the world. For the kings and rulers still in power, murder, torture, banishment, imprisonment, and eviction were the name of the game. And from the perspective of the people, they saw this small group of people constantly ending up in power. And the masses whole heartedly took part in the elimination of Masonry. The anti-Masonic party in the USA wasn’t just a few men, but a huge swath of Americans who saw Masons as the new monarchy and sought to destroy them. The people who had lived in national enslavement had now turned to crush those that freed them.

Reminder, I’m not giving a history here. When some asks “What is Freemasonry”, my response is “Everything that comes with being a Mason”.

Yet there were large population sectors that idolized and looked up to the Masons. They wanted Masons in power because they trusted them more then anyone else, and they wished to work to a more open society with those Masons. The same way we look fondly to Harvard students or people who work in a charitable non-profit, people looked at Masons the same way. These people also became angered at the violence and persecution of Masonry and sought to protect them like any other citizen. Masonry essentially created three groups. Those that hated Masonry, those that didn’t even know what it was, and those that favored Masons.

What was the most frustrating thing about Freemasonry for it’s enemies, was that is was a very nebulous target. It was an organization of people in power, but so were many other organizations. They weren’t racist because they brought in men of all races.  Yet the Masons had men who were racist too, which had it’s supporters and detractors. They weren’t against any religion, because they had men of many different religions. Yet they had many members who were very much proponents of their own respective religion. They weren’t of one nation, as they had brothers connected across the globe. Yet they weren’t looking for one form of government, as they had a rule where they were to remain loyal to their respective country. It was a combined yet uniquely individual experience. Masons where accused of perpetuating their own power, yet they constantly pushed for policies that would LESSEN the power of individual rulers and increase the power of the people at large.

Masons were a target people would swing at and never hit. Which is why they never ended up on the wrong side of history, because Masonry was in all spectrums of thought. And yet they were able to somehow get so many men on the right side of history. This became especially enraging for detractors of Masonry, for some people wish to see the world burn, and they never had a good excuse to burn Masonry. Jews experienced this as well in many regards. In free societies Jews became a small group of people, with a full spectrum of belief and identity, that achieved incredible positions of power while also suffering from inexcusable and worldwide hatred. It’s not a unique phenomenon. Masonry inadvertently became a way to expose evil, because there was never a good reason to hate Masonry. Thus, those that hated Masonry had their hate not come from logic, but from a darker place within them.

Alright, so that went for a while. So what is Masonry you ask? Masonry is the result of the human system. And I say this because there wasn’t any singular Masonic creator like there was for almost every modern faith system like we’ve seen. Masonry was built by many forces, by things from around the world that manifested together to create Freemasonry. It’s the result of a human system that has been smashing into itself since the beginning of time. No one human created Masonry, but humanity did. To call it just a Fraternity, or a Club, or a Community ignores the world around Masonry. Masonry is a system, part of a larger human system, and we’re all a part of it.\

Livingstone