Can Masonry Save God?

god-sky

Hello Readers,

(This blog entry is long but it’s going to be the reference article you’ve long been waiting for. Bookmark this because you’ll need it when the times comes)

In every era, being a Freemason meant something different. In the dawn of time, Masons would built shelters for the early humans to survive among the storms and seasons. In the dawn of civilization, Freemasons were the pioneers who built structures that stood the test of time. The Pyramids, King Solomon’s Temple, The Vatican, and many others where the physical representations of humanity’s arrival of it’s prime nature on this planet. In the time when Masonry revealed itself to the world in the 1700s, Masons were the domain of the forward thinking man. The enlightened scholar who saw a next generation of the thought and understanding about our purpose in the world. In the revolutionary age, Masons were on the forefront of Republicanism, seeking to smash tyranny and bring forth democracy to the world around them. And in the pre-modern times, they were the moral institution. Serving as a moral guide for those in power to know that they must not become the tyrants of past, but to become the men who created a better and more equal society for those around them.

So what does it mean to be a Mason today? What is our purpose? We’re a fading fraternity in some ways, and we’re a revival movement in others. Masonry in Europe and Africa is booming and as strong as ever, while the US is fast losing membership but also replacing it with a younger and more eclectic group of men.

Here is my theory. And we all love a good theory. It’s simple but entirely logical as well.

Masonry is going to be the barrier that blocks the secularization of the world. Masonry is going to be the vehicle to bring people back to God.

Think about this for a moment. It might seem strange to you at first but it also seems extremely logical as well. In every age, Masonry has a different interaction with the world around it as I just showed. It plants itself in the ground like a tall tower. And no matter how big the storm, Masonry comes out on the other side while the clouds of that time dissipate and then fade away. What is the next storm? The storm of secularism.

Decline of Religion in America

The Decline of Faith in Europe

In America 74% of it’s citizens believe in God. Yet this is down from 82% a few years earlier. Even worse, in Europe only 51% of it;s citizens said they believe in God! For much of the modern world, the belief in God is fading away.

I’ll get to how Masonry will bring people back to God in a second, but we first need to find out why people are leaving. So I did a little research and I found a blog entry about why someone left God.

Top Five Reasons Why I Don’t Believe in God Anymore

Read it through a bit and I’ll address each of them.

1. I struggle with the idea that there could have ever been a loving God. 

I was a Christian for more than 30 years and struggled with this idea almost daily. As a member of the clergy, when I preached from the pulpit I always put forth the idea that God was loving, kind, just, and able to see past our human failings based on the model of Jesus Christ. I sincerely thought of Jesus Christ as the kind of person that embodied a loving God. He was kind to sinners, willing to stand up for the downtrodden, accepting of those who had different outlooks on life, like the Samaritans. The problem is that this God, the kind that is just like Jesus Christ, is not exemplified by the Christian church. Nor does that God seem to exist outside of the Bible.

Ok, so this person says that God isn’t like the Christian church. Here’s my response…never underestimate the ability of people to fuck things up. For example, when Democratic states first rolled into the scene it seemed like a great idea. Everyone gets an equal vote. Everyone has a say. Unfortunately…people fuck things up. Soon after the rich capitalists started to take control and we ended up with the American Gilded Age and wealthy power structures dictating policy. Remember how the vote matters? Well not anymore with the power of the wealthy few dictating the direction of who gets elected and how the country should go. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Remember all those South American “Democracies”? They were really just really military juntas and fake rigged elections. Sure they would get 96% of the vote…but everything was rigged. Russia is a democracy. North Korea’s a socialist state. China is a Communist state and Communism in theory is the most fair government of them all! But they’re all dictatorships in disguise, no different then the thousands of monarchies and civilizations that have come before them. As I say…people fuck things up. Leaving religion because people screw it up is as ludicrous as leaving Democracy because people screw it up. There was a point in Germany where people were begging for a strong dictator in Hitler because their Democracy was such a mess. Good things are often ruined by people and blaming the good idea fails to take into account how Humans can twist things for their own power.

Secondly the writer talks about God not existing outside of the Bible. If you’re expecting seas to part all the time and people to constantly rise from the dead, well that was never promised to you. Firstly you need to understand the nature of what a miracle is. A miracle is something that you thought wouldn’t or couldn’t happen. By that definition, miracles happen all the time. Things happen in life, in medicine, relationships, our jobs and so forth that would be called a miracle. We can all remember something that has happened to us or someone we know that was beyond understanding. Good things that we can’t explain are miracles. Listen, The Bible often asks us to have faith. It gives us that choice. If some force was constantly in motion around us parting seas and bringing people back to life, we would soon quickly DEMAND that we ALWAYS get these miracles. And soon we would come into conflict with our fellow man and demand God to perform miracles for us over our enemies. If wild larger then life miracles happened daily…people would also find a way to fuck that up. Miracles can only work is they are things that don’t seem supernatural, that could be explained as the mundane. In a way they work as part of a state of mine. Because if we believe that miracles can happen, then we will see our futures as one where extraordinarily good things can happen to us. Things that help break us out of the bonds we have. That even when everything says things won’t get better that there is a chance it will. Believing in miracles allow us to rise beyond where we are. Believing in miracles gives us hope.

There seems to be a strong correlation between those who have found God and how they treat others in this world. The Canadian Residential Schools scandal where over 150,000 aboriginal children where taken from their parents in an attempt to Christianize them comes to mind. That scandal resulted in numerous abuses of these children. I could go on and make a list of scandals starting with sexual abuse by clergy, robbing aboriginal children of their language and taking a wrecking ball to aboriginal families to make them more Christian. I could talk specifically about murder and wars by Christian leaders but I think you already get the point. The most war like people on this planet are religious. The most religious people on this planet are the most war like. They are nothing like the “perfect” God we are supposed to believe in.

The most war like people on the planet are religious? Firstly, almost every place on the planet believed in a higher force for a major part of human history. Secondly, Ghenghis Khan is calling and is telling this blogger to pick up the white courtesy phone. Huge sections of China which have been atheist since the dawn of time and have been a part of some of the most terrible atrocities ever committed. I mean did this person forget about racist and nationalist Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan? Communist USSR? Communist China? State Atheism?! Terrible reasoning if I ever saw it.

If God is loving, why does he not intervene? Why does he not “check in” to straighten things out? If God was a parent, we would accuse him of child abandonment. If God exists, we certainly cannot say he is loving.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?” – Epicurus

Yet God created Heaven for us, so we may live in eternal harmony and love. There is no greater gift then that. And sure you may ask, why do we suffer here in this life then. And my answer is this. We won’t understand the light if we don’t know the darkness. We don’t understand good unless we experience evil. So when we’re someday in Heaven, we’ll understand the beauty, splendor and perfection of that world because we’ve experienced the evil of the life before. And sure the suffering may be beyond measure for many. But after 500 years in perfect Heaven, that pain will be nothing more then a blip in our minds. After 10,000 years it will be nothing more then a dream. And in a million years, it will be a past that you feel no more. We have pain now but we will someday have glorious perfection.

2. The Bible does a poor job of explaining our world and our universe.

When I suffered my final crisis of faith I decided to take a three month sabbatical from the priesthood. I started to explore science for a better explanation of the world. (In all fairness I should mention that I owned a subscription to Scientific American for virtually the whole time I was a member of the clergy, but I digress.)

I started to look in earnest for a better explanation of this world that the one given in the Bible. Once I stumbled upon the “The Selfish Gene”, a book by Richard Dawkins I knew I had found and answer that straightened out any issues I had with evolution. What had been missing from my understanding of evolution was the molecular explanation made in Chapter 3 – Immortal Coils. Once I read this I knew there was no need for the hand of God in the making of humankind. I also read numerous books on cosmology, psychology, philosophy and science. They are so superior to any “god did it” explanations that they literally reduced God to something that might have existed before the big bang. Later, I went back to university. The best class I ever took at university was called Research Methods in the Behavioral Sciences. It taught me the best parts of skepticism and how to use them wisely. Once the fire was ignited there was no turning back to the bible for answers.

This is probably the easiest one to debunk. Firstly we have to step back. The Bible explains our origins in a fantastic way. Science is also fantastic, but proven based on the evidence we have. What many people fail to forget again…is that people fuck things up. The Bible is filled with allegory, symbolism, and parable. For the vast majority of human history The Bible was read literally and a quick and easy way to understand where we came from.

As a Mason our entire system is symbolic in nature. Going through this and then returning to your Volume of Sacred Law, you come to see your Bible in a way that is different then how the church has taught it. I repeat, because because the church has taught us to understand it in a certain way doesn’t mean that it is right. We have to remember that just because people used it literally doesn’t mean it was meant to always be understood literally. In my research and education on The Bible, I have found that seeing it symbolically has caused it to revolutionize my understanding of it. The story of the patriarchs, Genesis, the things Jesus did, etc. I still believe in many things literally but I have a much more open mind now. If you see the things being done symbolically then you’ll see the human experience within in a much different way. I have a teacher now that specializes in this and she is fantastic. Find the right person to sit down with you and to read through it with you. All of a sudden, everything in it makes sense. Trust me on this one.

3.Christian Treatment of Homosexuals. (and others)

If Christians really believe in the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would be treated” their treatment of homosexuals over the ages betrays a huge hypocrisy. During the second world war German Christians sent gay men off to be exterminated with the Jews. All other Christian countries had already made homosexuality illegal and in some cases punishable by incarceration. Homosexuals are described by the scriptures as being heinous and murderous characters. Nothing could be further from the truth. A fair and unbiased reading of Saint Paul’s writings shows how wrong and how ignorant he really was. Modern science gives a completely different behavioral analysis of homosexuals. Fair and unbiased, science offers explanations of what homosexuality is and why it occurs that do not demonize or judge. Why is science better at being “Christ like” than Christians are?

Add to this that nonbelievers and those from other religions were treated just as badly over the ages and you’ll get my point.

Frankly the part about homosexuality deserves it’s own blog entry. Firstly as I always say…people fuck things up. Again, blaming The Bible for the terrible things that people do to it is like blaming The Government for people breaking the laws. No, it’s a people problem. Now, you response might be that some laws are unjust. Again, the homosexuality one deserves it’s own blog entry but I’ll try and summarize this the best I can. For Christians, anything in the Old Testament has to be taken as history. Reason being is Jesus has come and cleansed us of the burden of being trapped within those laws. Here is a nice article about the subject. The reality is we are to follow many of these laws spiritually, some literally. In the New Testament, Jesus never even brings up homosexuality and it’s never brought up in Acts, Hebrews or Revelations. Also to give perspective, The Bible often slams heterosexual lust. And in in Romans 1:26-1:27, The Bible is also calling out the being taken over of lust of homosexuals.

For this reason [idolatry] God gave them up to passions of dishonor; for even their females exchanged the natural use for that which is contrary to nature, and likewise also the males, having left the natural use of the female, were inflamed by their lust for one another, males with males, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was fitting for their error.

Essentially if you step back The Bible is also telling homosexuals that they also need to stop being taken over by lust. Some have even pointed out that this is telling people who were straight and then went gay are the ones being denounced. That if your passion is to be straight then be straight.

For Corinthians 6:9-10 and Timothy 1:9-10, the word abuse and defile come up. Which any logical person could see as sexual assault because abuse and defile mean you’re damaging the person unlawfully.

Long story short, sex is something that has caused a lot of turmoil through human history. There’s a reason why Jesus was never involved with it. Thinking with sex has caused countless violence and lust has been a force that has torn people apart since the beginning of time. Don’t think with lust and you’ll have a much more harmonious life.

4.What about the other Gods?

As a Christian I dismissed all other gods without much of a thought. Did Thor really swing a big hammer that caused the thunder we hear?  Of course not. As a child I had learned about how the sun heats the earth and how weather patterns follow. The idea that Thor was needed to explain thunder seemed silly.

Did Apollo really bring healing, deadly plagues or ill health? Of course not. As a schoolboy I had already learned the germ theory of disease transmission. To implicate Apollo seemed equally silly.

I dismissed virtually all the prophets of other religions with similar ease. Did Muhammed really ride a white horse up to heaven? Of course horses cannot fly. That seems silly.

But, and this is a big but, when asked if Jesus walked on water, I would hesitate and say, “Well we don’t really know he didn’t. Anything is possible when God is involved.” Today I see it differently. I have studied other religions and see how it was that I was willing to be skeptical about them, but not about the far fetched stories in the Christian Bible. Now I believe in one less God than before; the Christian God.

Firstly, you have to stop getting wrapped up in other Gods. We Masons are well aware that there are people out there who believe in different Gods and such. We will often see the VSL of other religions on our alters. Now if you want to get real conservative, maybe all these other belief systems are wrong. Just because a bunch of people think they know how to build a building doesn’t mean they are right. Someone in the group is probably correct or the most correct in their understanding and over time we’ll come to find out that that person is the one who believes correctly.

If you want to get liberal, as one Mason put it, paraphrasing, that when that Masons in his lodge looks to his left and looks to his right and sees men of different religions he has to wonder. Are they wrong? Is he the one that is just right? Or…do they all actually believe in the same God and it’s just their understandings that are different. Think about that.

5. Hell

What kind of omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God needs to use eternal punishment, in the form of a burning hot eternal hell to bring his people closer to him?  This is the God who we are told created us. This is the God who is supposed to understand, better than we do, how psychosis, neurosis and other mental diseases occur. This is the God who would cause sinners and non believers to burn for eternity, rather than explain himself or cure their mental disease. Threatening to send someone to burn in Hell is a manipulative and mean way of accomplishing anything. How can anyone love a God that is so evil as to do that to his own creation, especially when that creation is sentient?

To be honest, the fact that hell exists in Christian belief is proof that God truly is evil, or that religion was created by men whose intention it was to scare people into submission.

Today there are many people who see religion as benevolent and kind and gloss right over the concept of hell as central to their belief in salvation. Islam is also guilty of this manipulation.  This is clear evidence that all abrahamic religions are manipulative at their very core.

Christians who proselytize do so based on their fear that you are going to hell. (What a strange form of love that is!) When they repent it is because they fear hell.  Fear of hell is a poor reason for you to be a good person. Why not just treat people kindly because thats how you want to be treated.

Three things. Firstly, again there’s a very good chance that Hell is symbolic. Listen, when I do something bad or sinful I feel terrible about it. It haunts me. I live in my own personal hell. If everyone goes to Heaven, those that did evil or sinful things will have those memories of the sinful things they did for the rest of their lives. They will live in perfection but they will experience their own personal hellfire of shame regarding what they’ve done. You will remember the bad things you’ve done for the rest of eternity. You’ll remember everything really. Heaven’s a perfect place but the memory that you did wrong is the eternal punishment that you’ll receive.

Secondly, in the Old Testament Hell doesn’t exist. You die, you die. So Jesus bringing up Hell seems to be a major addition from a man who almost entirely spent his existing fulfilling and clarifying Old Testament doctrine. Again in that context we have to think about Hell and what it means. But many Christian scholars believe that when you die an unbeliever, it just goes black. It’s over and that’s the end of it. But as you die and your life flashes before your eyes for what seems like an eternity…those moments where you did wrong and you know there is nothing you can change about it will feel like Hell.

Thirdly, and most depressingly, the idea of Hell kinda has to exist to get people to do the right thing. Ultimately Hell is punishment for doing something wrong. Remember…people fuck things up. If people believed that they could do whatever they wanted in this life and then they could escape with death, shit would get real bad real fast. Another example is if you confessed to Jesus and knew that you were going to get eternal life no matter what you did…things would get ugly real fast. The idea of Hell has to exist to keep people honest and to keep people from abusing the automatic afterlife of believing in Jesus Christ. And people respond to the stick just as much as they would the carrot and you know from your own personal experiences that there are times that the stick has been a motivating factor for you. It is what it is. We’re human and we sometimes need to threat of punishment to do the right thing and to prevent abuse.

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So as you can see, when you step back the reasons for leaving religion are actually flimsy at best. Now that I gave you reasons not to leave, let’s discuss the nature of religion itself. Why should you be religious?

Religion in itself at its core is nothing more then a belief system. A code that you follow the world with. And ideally a code that is shared by many others to create a society that has the same standards and practices when it comes to making moral judgements. A society that all has the same moral beliefs is the most fair society. Everyone’s on the same page. Now, religion does leave room open for interpretation.

As a Mason, we’re presented with tools that serve as moral guides or ways of perspective in relation to our moral understanding of our specific religion. How each Mason interprets the moral axis of these Masonic symbols is up to them. Ideally since you draw light from the VSL, then you will see that these tools are there to give you quick starter perspectives of your religious beliefs. When we come to analyze our specific religious beliefs, we come to find that our VSL also leaves room for interpretation. Lust for example might have a different meaning depending on the person. Praying to be seen by others? if you really think abut it, that could be different for each individual person. Read Matthew and if you really get down to it, Jesus often uses things in a symbolic/allegorical manner. Like tossing your pearls to a pig. Or the narrow gate. Or knock and the door will be opened.

This goes for other VSLs as well. So much of what is being said is symbolic in nature because it allows for the beliefs to adjust for the times. From the person living in dirt in Africa to the person living with valet in America, lust, prayer to be seen and taking the narrow path are things that are different for each person but give a through line to connect them all.

Another reason why it’s symbolic/allegorical/interpretive is that is leaves room for flexibility. Look at the US laws. There are laws that say you can’t drive above 55 miles an hour. And let’s say the law is strictly enforced. And let’s say there’s an avalanche coming and you need to race away. Now if you follow the law, the avalanche will overtake you and kill you. If you break the law to race away, the cop at the end will then punish you with a ticket or felony speeding if you’re going fast enough. Speed limit laws are great because they regulate travel and keep everything running smoothly. But life isn’t always a simple even state. An interpretive law would say something like “thou shall not speed unnecessarily”. And that is essentially how speed limit laws work in this country. Many people break the speed limit laws, but they aren’t speeding unnecessarily and are actually going with the flow of traffic. They are following the standards of their society. But anyone who goes above that standard will get pulled over and ticketed. Someone driving 80 is speeding unnecessarily. But if someone is racing away from an avalanche and they race to 80 miles an hour, no sane cop in the world would ticket them. It was necessary. An interpretive law like I mentioned gives people the ability to all follow the same system of rules while also giving them the flexibility to adjust for extraordinary situations. So when you read “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.”, understand that being drunk is different for every different person but you should look to yourself and ask when you are getting drunk. And wine can absolutely stand in for other mild altering substances. So much of your VSL works like this. Interpretive law brings reason and stability into an often shifting world.

So why again are people leaving God? Let’s look at some other reasons what weren’t mentioned in that article.

For many atheists, they are leaving God because there is no proof of God. My reaction is that that argument is simplistic. I wrote a blog entry a while back showing that belief in God was just as intellectually rigorous as lack of belief in God. In my opinion the whole “I can’t run an experiment on God therefore I can’t believe in God” argument is debunked. You can have intellectually rigorous reasons for believing in God.

Personally, I would argue that leaving God stems from our desires to remove a “higher power” above us. Again, this is not supported by any evidence at all but is speculated because it’s very human to want to remove higher authorities from yourself. We as a species have fought off many tyrants that have reigned over us. We’ve even cut down those that are benevolent because their authority over us threatens our primal instinct to become the alpha. To define our own domain. But we don’t need to do this.

Is it a burden to follow your God and the corresponding religion? It can be! But let’s step back for a second. If we really cut this to its core, a belief in God should have no draw back to you. Lets say you don’t believe in a single religious doctrine at all but believe a higher power is trying to make the world better, then belief in God would be easy and comfortable. Or even just The Silent Creator. It should be painless and easy to believe in a higher power but for many people they make sure to not believe at all!

Another reason why people are moving away from God is due to the problems within the church. The tilt toward extreme literalism and the silencing of dissent for the religious right has caused many smart and moral people to leave religion and God entirely. We see many people speak of God as a force closer to the Old Testament instead of a New Testament God that loves all of his children and forgives those for their sins. In addition for many on the right, it is their singular understanding of God or the highway. And I can confidentially say that many of these people are wrong. Instead of pushing away those that think differently, they should consider the expressing of alternative ideas and interpretations. Now of course many of my readers aren’t Christian but the same problems that ail Christianity are also problems that Jews, Muslims and other religious groups deal with in their own communities.

Here is my response to this. You can find somebody or a group of people that are better to aid you in your journey with God. In every religion, there are bad apples but there are also great people as well. Sometimes it takes some digging to find these people but the great ones are out there. Just because you’re surrounded by many people who are seriously out to lunch doesn’t mean you should quit. There are countless times in history where people have found themselves opposed to whatever the ideology of the time was. Those people sought out others who also secretly thought differently and joined up with them. And over time those people meeting in secret grew in number and before long their belief system would bleed out into the general population. And then before you know it people would start to drift to their way of thinking and society would change.

Another reason why people leave religion is that in American society, the poorer you are and the more you’re suffering the more religious you are. And the more successful and wealthy you are the less religious your are. Again, this goes back to my note above for how people try to remove authorities above them. The more powerful you are the more you’ll want to consolidate that power. Having God hanging over you is a real annoyance when you are trying to exercise your authority over your domain. Conversely the poorer you are the more likely you will have many people lording over you. And believing in God is a way to remove those many authorities in a sense. God is your lord, not all these other people so by believing in God you psychologically remove the authority of many of these people.

This all leads to a situation where people who are religious are seen as the idiots and people who are less religious are seen as the intelligent. This is both undeserved and unfortunately deserved. Because in this era many uneducated people are extremely religious and they will often spout views that aren’t educated themselves and can be easily debunked. So you get some of column A and and some of column B when it comes to religious discrimination. This causes many people who would otherwise stick around in their belief of God to stop openly believing or to just leave entirely.

Now here is where the Masonic Identity becomes intimately useful. There is A: A long history of successful Masons. B. A long history of Masons that have suffered discrimination. Focusing on A, if you’re a Mason it is much easier to be outward with your beliefs because you have the history of really great and smart men behind you. You’re just like them and you come from their society. As for B: Well you also have a history of Masons that were killed for their beliefs. I feel dirty for saying this but in 2015 America people will give you a different set of rules if you or people like you have been oppressed in some way. I’m not saying to walk around thinking you are a victim and telling people you are a victim. Not at all! But sometimes it helps to give people perspective when they start to get discriminatory with people who believe in God or religion. Let them know that people who believe also suffer as well.

In many ways, the existence of Masons are a major threat to secularism. Our success essentially throws a wrench into the belief that society doesn’t need God. If this group of people are so successful and a requirement to join is a belief in God, it’s a major threat to the secular world view. The idea that people who believe in God could be MORE successful then usual deconstructs their thinking that religion and belief need to go away and instead could call for more belief and religion! As of 2015 this is not a thing but give it time and it will certainly become one.

Another major think that Masonry does it that it’s hard for secular people to shoot at. Here are some reasons.

A: There isn’t a Masonic God. So secularist can’t nail you on how Masons believe in God because every Mason as a different belief in God.

B: Masonry is secretive. This essentially blunts you from having to break down the belief system for them and for them to fight you over the minutia. It also serves as a blunt to the creation of strawmen because again it’s hard to create arguments against things you don’t even know about. And even if they do some research and tell you the things they think Masons know, you are sworn to secrecy and you can’t engage them anyways. Essentially you’re playing with your cards hidden and theirs shown and even when you play a card your cards remain hidden. I’m not trying to be underhanded and unfair when I say this but instead trying to show how this instead can focus an argument into the ideas instead of getting distracted and dissecting the origins of those ideas. Speaking of which…

C: Masonry’s secretive beginnings allow it to avoid getting dissected over its origins. A common them in the attack on any idea is to who came up with the idea. Often people attack belief and religion by going after where it came from. We all can remember times where people have gone after a specific religion by attacking the prophets. They would either go after them by attacking them personally or as men who tried to manufacture a belief system on their own without the help of God. Because Masonry has a secretive past in that we don’t know who created it, it prevents those attacks from happening and forces them to stay focused on your arguments in the present. So when you talk about your belief in God as a Mason they can’t spend their time deconstructing the origins of Masonry and instead have to address the beliefs you have right now.

D: Masonry doesn’t have dogma and is instead a symbolic and interpretive society. Listen, whatever God says in your religion/belief system is king. Don’t let Masonry turn into a false idol where you look to Masonry for moral answers. God and your religion are the final and first authorities. Masonry provides perspective. Going back to the dogma part, because each Mason interprets the tools to their own belief system you will often find that Masons have a diverse set of beliefs. So anytime some says X Mason believes this so all Masons believe it, you can point out that is not only not true but Masonry doesn’t have a set belief system anyways. This forces them to look at your individual beliefs right in front of them instead of shifting it over to X person said this so you have to defend that person’s point of view. You don’t. They have to address you and you alone.

On a side note even religion itself is the same way. There is room for interpretation and remember this when you get into these arguments. Just because one Christian believes one thing doesn’t mean all Christians believe that. The same goes for your other religions.

E: Masonry is designed to make good men better. If people ever ask why, this is why you’re a Mason. To better yourself. Essentially religion is the same way. The laws and creeds it exposes are designed to make you better. This should be the most obvious thing in the world but for many people it isn’t. They outwardly follow their religion because it gives them answers and salvation. But really religion is also supposed to make you better in this life too. I’ll speak personally about Christianity here. If you read it correctly you’ll see how Jesus teaches things to help you learn moderation, being truthful, being focused, being more loving, being more compassionate and being more understanding in the ways of the world. I could spend a whole blog on this. But if you were to follow Jesus in the way he taught you would find yourself a more perfect person. At the end of the day we all want to be more perfect people. We want to be better. And a belief in God and the religious system we use to follow God is what makes us better.

F. Belief in God makes you an eclectic thinker. Masons have a long history of an involvement in the esoteric. Masonry also has a narrative of story within its initiation and ritual. These things give a deeper tune to the work that a Mason does on this earth. Religion and a belief in God also gives you a deeper tune and narrative to the world around you. It makes you see the things in the world in a more symbolic way. It makes you see the events of the world as part of a narrative. It makes you part of a psychological pulse to the human experience. Now there are many secular people who are absolutely eclectic and deep thinkers. But I’ll personally admit that I don’t know where it comes from. To see the world as the result of a chain reaction of chemicals is a place that I just can’t draw from. But I draw from God and my relationship with God as I’ve become more attuned to what my Volume of Sacred Law says.

G: Masonry is hard to define. There have countless books and articles written about people trying to figure out what Masonry is. Is it a religion? A club? A social organization? A college? A theistic psychology? An identity? A meme? A fraternity? An allegorical and symbolic brotherhood? A secretive society? Because it’s hard to define Masonry it’s hard to go after Masonry. It’s like a cloud. When you swing at it you never get a clear shot. This prevents people from attacking Masonry in general and how your theistic beliefs stem from them and instead they’re forced to engage you on the issues you’re discussing now.

So I’m going to stop here. One, because pragmatically this blog entry is really long. But also because this is just the beginning. I sincerely believe that in this era it’s God that Masonry is going to stand for. Now as a reminder, God doesn’t need the help of Masonry. God is the creator and we are the creature that looks up to God and holds God in great reverence. But Masonry sits at a unique place in that it shows that a belief in God isn’t just possible, but it’s part of who we are. It’s important.

Listen, I sincerely believe the earth is six billion years old and that we are the result of three billion years of survival of the fittest DNA that has resulted in us becoming the Humans we are today. But what that means is that under this veneer of society that exists around us is a beast beneath the surface. That when you really come down to it, we’re in a constant state of competition with our fellow creature. That is our natural state. That the peace we’re experiencing right now is just a season and the wars and violence of the past are not moments of human error but the natural order of our species. Some will say that people are naturally good people. But history shows wildly otherwise. I do believe there is natural good in us, but you also have to realize that there is natural evil in us as well. And it’s God that saves us from this. Because if we are to believe that God created us then we will come to see the past as just the result of a species journeying from dark to light. That the war, destruction and chaos of the past coming into the peace of the world now is the animal finally realizing it’s place with God. If this is not the case and God doesn’t exist then history isn’t our past and is instead our fate. God HAS TO BE REAL. For without God then all this around is is just a construct of people telling ourselves we’re this happy group of humans when instead we’re really the beast lurks beneath. Without God, we will never be Human.

Livingstone

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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

Horseshoe Theory – Our New Religion

Hello readers,

Livingstone reporting in! It’s been a long and exciting 2014 and it’s time to close out the year, with the hint to the next year. I bring you…THE HORSESHOE THEORY!

What is “Horseshoe Theory” you ask? I have the answer! Check the link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_theory

If you’re too lazy to click a link (kill yourself now), I’ll give you a summery.

I’ll start with the traditional ideological spectrum to provide context. This spectrum is the one that people point to for describing the extremes on the right and the left.

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The above spectrum has a number of flaws but this is considered the “traditional” way of thinking regarding political ideology. However many would argue that the spectrum looks like something closer to this.

political-spectrum-horsesho

Horseshoe Theory is the theory that the extreme right and left sides of the political and ideological spectrum are actually much closer to each other then the other parts of the political spectrum. As such, they are NOT in a straight line but curve downwards toward each other like a horseshoe. The curved side of the horseshoe represents moderation, constructive behavior and the ideal society. However anything below the middle line, and each of the ends are below the line, represents, extremist, totalitarian and destructive behavior. I hope you now understand the above picture and the summery of Horseshoe Theory.

Here is why I like Horseshoe Theory better. I’m sure some of you are familiar with another concept that regards ideology as a circle and that if you go in one direction for a while you get to something else. If you ask me, that’s the caveman drawing of the political spectrums and we’re due for something better. Also here is why Horseshoe Theory is better then The Straight Line. The Straight Line has been used to say that each end of the political spectrum turns into an extreme, but that opens the door for accusations of false equivalency and doesn’t visually show people that the extremes at the end of each ideological spectrum are one and the same.

Familiarize yourself with this theory. Not only will it be a major building block of this blog, I would argue that in some ways it is the cornerstone to how I see the world around me. Don’t be surprised when this theory goes mainstream. Also don’t be surprised if I realize I’m full of shit and write this whole thing off.

Logically, some to many of your are still skeptics to this thought process. Understandable. Anytime we learn a new thing that doesn’t fit into our understanding of the world, we are resistant to it.

Quick Tangent: When someone is resistant to a new idea, don’t beat them over the head. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, being resistant to new ideas makes a ton of sense. We cling to the things that we are taught as children, and once we become of age, we still cling to those ideas because we’ve survived this far with them. Logically, why would you want to absorb new ideas? You made it this far with the current ideas! Why change? New ideas such as “eat this porcupine”, “swim far out into the ocean so we can catch bigger fish”, and “ignore the fact that piss is yellow, maybe we should drink it!” probably got a lot of people killed. So for the early human, new ideas were bad news. So when someone shows any resistance to an idea, it’s just our natural biological machinery kicking into gear. The best way to get someone to change the way they think…is the crowd effect. The more people believe something, the more people are likely to believe it as well. Morality and ideology can heavily be tied to “well everyone is doing it”. Yes that may be sad, but it also makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If enough people are doing something, then it probably isn’t a negative thing and you should do it too to survive and propagate yourself.

Tangent over! So yes, this idea may be skeptical for you animals so let me discuss the current ideology and then get to some examples.

On the right wing side of American politics, there exists the small government, big military, religious right, and libertarian block. On the left side…big government, secular, and minority social justice movement. Also FYI, this is a really weak explanation of the current political system which IMO doesn’t have any true rock solid ideals. The politics and ideology of the sides morph and change depending on which party is in power. Which is why Horseshoe Theory is probably the most apt theory for us to understand our current American system.

Example time!

Exhibit A:

Label Ostracizing – The use of labels to politically, economically, militarily and socially ostracize someone who disagrees with their ideology.

Examples of Label Ostracizing.

The extremist right will call some

1. A heretic

2. A terrorist

3. A fag

4. An antiamerican

5. An Antiwhite

6. A pussy

And the extremist left will call someone

1. A bigot

2. A racist

3. An antisemite

4. A homophobe

5. An islamaphobe

6. A sexist

Anyone who does that is –

Label Ostracizing

The above labels are used by the individual or group because they can quickly describe and situation or act. However, being humans/animals, anytime we discover something that can bend the will of others, we broaden it’s definition for a more expanded us. And then we slap the label on anything or anyone we don’t like, even if the label’s connection is flimsy at best.

Here are some examples of labels in action.

Someone likes yoga? Call them a heretic.

Someone criticizes Israel’s military strategy in the Middle East? Say that they’re antisemitic.

Someone wants to politically protest the actions of the government or corporation? Accuse them of being a terrorist.

Someone makes an inappropriate racial joke? Call them a racist.

Each of the above words can apply, but none of these words were created for how they are used in the examples. These labels have the power to break people not just individually, but in their careers, political opportunities, socially and mentally. Do each of the above words have a use? Ab-so-fucking-lutely. We must stand strong against terrorism, attacks on religion, people who are antisemitic, and a race-based power structure in America. But throwing those labels around to either silence dissent or to not answer back intellectually is extremist in itself. People may say things that we vehemently disagree with, but we must always take the high road and consider what they are saying and do our best to intellectually engage them. Not only will they learn something that may have a far more profound impact on them in how they see the world, they will be impressed with your cool moderation and hell they might even change! Or you might learn something new! Success!

Anyone on the rounded end of the spectrum here seeks to avoid labels as much as humanly possible. Even when someone is firing labels at you without any sincere attempt at intellectual discourse, you avoid labels and engage intellectually. You search for the truth even if someone tells you that what you are saying makes you XYZ label. And you don’t label people and try to get to the truth of what they are saying and you try to understand why they feel that way.

Exhibit B

Freedom Stripping – Stripping The People of their rights and pushing for a totalitarian measures.

Examples of Freedom Stripping.

The extremist left will

1. Violate someone’s freedom of assembly by telling them who they can or can’t do business with.

2. Violate the constitution by banning someone’s ability to own guns.

3. Violate freedom of choice by banning the ability to use products that threaten the environment.

4. Violate free speech by banning things that are offensive.

5. Violate freedom of choice by banning unhealthy food products

The extremist right will

1. Violate the equal protection clause by banning gay marriage.

2. Violate the establishment clause by blocking other religions.

3. Violate the establishment clause by banning non-believers from serving in government.

4. Violate free speech by banning things that are offensive.

5. Violate the right to privacy by illegally spying on it’s citizens.

Ultimately, all the above comes down to taking away someone’s freedom of choice. And it will be illustrated with this picture.

Freedom Stripping

If we consider, The People, as everyone who lives in America, then all of the above examples are ways that the right and left try to strip away power from the people at large. Many times, members of the extremes will seek to leverage their political power to break “their opponents” on the other side of the political spectrum by stripping them of rights so they can further their own power.

Here are some examples.

The extremist left will routinely argue for the limiting of gun ownership with some politicians even calling for an outright ban. They are essentially arguing that only the politic and military should own military grade guns or even guns at all. Considering the police and military make up around 3-5 million Americans out of a population of 340 million…they want the 1%ers to own all the guns. At it’s core, authoritarian in nature. Conversely, the extremist right supports the ability of the US government to spy on American citizens and yet their don’t support the ability of The People to do the same. Considering the Department of Homeland Security makes up 1% of this country…they support the 1%ers running the show here.

Anyone who seeks to take away the power of the people at large supports a Freedom Stripping ideology where The People shouldn’t be able to make XYZ decision.

Anyone on the round end of the Horseshoe will support the ideology of The Maximum Power to the Maximum amount of people. That is how you know someone is a moderate. They fight to give the most amount of people power and freedom.

Exhibit C:

Authoritarianism – The support for authority rule and the delegitimizing of of the ideological influence of The People.

Examples of Authoritarianism.

The extremist right will

1. Subject people to the authority of the religious leader

2. Subject people to the authority of the military leader

3. Subject people to the authority of the corporate leader

4. Subject people to the authority of the white male

5. Subject people to the authority of the wealthiest individual

The extremist left will

1. Subject people to the authority of the scientific leader

2. Subject people to the authority of the academic leader/person with a degree

3. Subject people to the authority of the oppressed minority

4. Subject people to the authority of the artistic leader

5. Subject people to the authority of the secularist leader

All of the above are the result of the desire for the extremes to want the few to dictate how people act, work, live and think.

AuthoritarianismAuthoritarianism works in the sense that The People subject themselves to a leader of some sort and let that person do the dictation of thinking of and how they should act. Pat Robertson, Richard Dawkins, Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, Donald Trump, Sean Penn, etc. Yes I know I put Hitler in with Donald Trump but I just wanted to set off the Goodwin’s Law checkmark now. Also bear with me here. Each of these people will espouse viewpoints that expect people to fall in line with their ideological thinking. They don’t espouse discussion, they instead expect people to follow their way of thinking. Sure they may offer “discussion” but considering their power/influence and already known thought process, it would be damaging socially/career-wise/politically to disagree with them or expect some sort of retribution. Also they may even tell you to resist authority…with the hopes that you follow their authority!

Also to note, this even applies to groups of people. That XYZ group is the authority on a certain subject matter or way or thinking and you should just obey them.

Here are some ideological examples.

This is what God said and God is never wrong so DO WHAT I SAY!

I’m a scientist and science is never wrong so DO WHAT I SAY!

I was in the military and you have no authority to speak on military matters.

I have a degree in Women’s Studies and you have no authority to speak on women’s matters.

I’m a wealthy person and rich people are successful for a reason so do what I say.

I’m a great artist so agree with my political/ideological positions if you want to make it in this town.

Only people who are black can talk about racial oppression.

Only people who are white know how to run a government.

Someone who is in the rounded end of the Horseshoe offers their perspective from their position of success or experience, but is aware that knowledge and authority may come from many different stations on this earth.

As with most of these examples I have mentioned in this blog, they’re rough and rudimentary. Also again I’m a professional moron. But we’re breaking new ground here so don’t be surprised if things get dirty.

Exhibit D:

Identityism – Changing your moral/ethical beliefs based on the identity of the individual or the propagation of one identity over another.

Yes, this is also the name for a school of Sufism metaphysics but this word is the best word we have to explain my Livingstone created label for a group of people we see every day. And those people are people that change their moral and ethical beliefs based off the identity of the person they are interacting with.

Buckle up, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Identityist

I’ll cut to some examples first.

1. We should give scholarships to people who are black but not to people who are white.

2. We should only allow whites to go to school here.

3. Women should be trusted in rape cases but not the men.

4. Women are better at raising children then men are.

5. Jews are better at comedy.

6. Christians are more moral.

7. Freemasons are better at government.

8. This bar is for gay people only but straight people can’t have bars for only themselves.

9. This business is for straight people only and gay people can’t work here.

We’ve all seen this before. Someone believes XYZ thing, but then change the identity of the person their belief is attached to and all off a sudden that belief changes. As a Mason, this is probably the nearest and dearest to me. I believe in treating people on the level and I’ve always interpreted that as all of society. We treat everyone as close to equally as possible. The idea we can treat one people one way and another group of people a different way is the foundation of discrimination.

Now this theory is young and needs some ironing out. Because we are all different and have very different histories and upbringings that make us different. But the reality is that the ultimate society in my personal opinion is one where everyone is treated the same and is devoid of identity at all! This society is the one that leads to the least amount of conflict and the best chance to create a pure harmony.

Listen to me here, I’m about to say another thing that’s controversial. The root of conflict in history is NOT ideology, but identity. There are all different types of Jews, Christians, Communists, Fascists, Republicans, Democrats, Blacks, Whites, Europeans, Women, Men, Asians, Homosexuals, Heterosexuals, Americans, Russians, French, and so on and so forth. Of the above identities, they have a great amount of diversity in morality, ideology, politics, culture and so forth within them. And many of the above mentioned overlap in their moral structure. Sometimes they seriously overlap.

But what separates them is their identity. The identity they have either given to themselves or society has given to them. And labels seperate people who would otherwise see themselves as the same.It means they’re “different” from each other. And when people have divisions between each other or see each other as different, soon conflict will emerge. Look above. Every single identity group mentioned above has been in conflict with each other at some point or another. We have always been taught that ideological differences are the thing that causes war. And not just a war of guns but a war of ideas, culture, media, politics, etc. No my friends, I say it’s identity. Now of course I’m in Hypothesis mode with a lot of this and my lack of evidence provided shows I still have some work to do. And yes, I’m sounding a bit authoritarian here but consider this. There may be some truth to it.

Now to be on the rounded end of the spectrum here, you would treat people the same regardless of identity. Instead, you would treat them differently based on their actions and character. If someone is Blind, you don’t trust them differently because they are blind, you treat them differently because you see that they can’t see. It sounds like I’m saying the same thing but it’s much different. You react. Their actions guide how you’ll action and you act accordingly. What is accordingly? That is trying to treat them like everyone else as reasonably as possible.

Alright, so this is my first salvo at the creation of the structure behind what Horseshoe Theory means in todays America.

Now the million dollar question. Why is this here in a Freemason blog? Well because the answer is that anytime a house leans to far to one side, it collapses. Masonry strives for moderation, temperance and prudence in all things. Masonry and much of society has been the victim of the extremes since time immemorial, and the worst atrocities have happened due to the extremes. I am searching for that system that avoids the pitfalls of leaning to far from one side to another.

Now again, I’m a professional moron. I’m in a sandbox, trying something new out. I’d love to hear what you think and where this whole system needs some work and improvement.

Thank you for reading.

Livingstone

The Pursuit of Perfection

Hello Readers,

 

What does it mean to be perfect? What does it mean to be without flaw or blemish?

 

The definition of perfection states that perfection is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.”

 

This is a term that every Brother can nod to as part of their Masonic understanding. We being members of a society of builders, we know that the zeal to achieve perfection in our work is the core of Masonic practice. For the great structures that our brothers of past have built have stood the test of time because they were the most perfect. Perfect creates an everlasting existence.

 

When a Man joins Masonry and becomes a Brother, he is now a part of a system that codifies what that perfection could mean through the allegory of the rough ashlar and the perfect ashlar. We understand that the rough and the perfect are both symbols themselves, yet those symbols mean different things to different people. The most common belief is that the ashlar represents the individual Mason. The idea being that we are rough when we join Masonry. But through good work on ourselves, we will be able to achieve perfection. And thus we will be able to perfectly fit in our world here on earth and also in the heaven above.

 

It’s Masonry’s most specific explanation of a long term goal of our entire superstructure. This is our purpose. To use the tools given to us in Freemasonry to become perfect. That is why we are here. All those things about brotherly love, secrecy, truth, charity, diving our time, getting rid of vices…they are all actions we must do in our duty to achieve perfection. Perfection is our final form.

 

I’ll repeat my question from above, but what does it mean to be perfect? Here are a few articles that touch on this very question

 

 

 

 

Each article talks about and deals with perfection from a few different points of View. They were chosen because they fell on the religious, personal the societal thoughts about perfection.

 

However they didn’t touch on the philosophical and symbolic meaning of perfection, which is what we will do here now.

 

Perfection means different things to different people. I think Shawshank Redemption is the perfect movie but someone down the street thinks Twighlight Breaking Dawn is perfect. The perfect husband you think you have might in fact be a flawed candidate to someone else. Being perfect in your religion might make you a saint to some and heretic to others. Listen to what I’m saying. By just understanding the basic variances in human perception, we can come to understand that true perfection is IMPOSSIBLE!

 

So what is going on here? What is Masonry trying to do? Well we have already established that perfection is impossible, but maybe we’re working on the wrong series of metrics here. Maybe we’re playing football but using baseball’s scoring rules. What I’m trying to say is we’re completely missing how we measure perfection.

 

A. True Perfection. True Perfection should only be measured through God’s design. If God outlines how our lives will work and we attain that design, then mission accomplished. To figure out what God wants, we read our Volume of Sacred Law (VSL). We read through, find the rules, understand what they mean and we follow them. And if you follow every law and rule, then you are without flaw. Just as the definition of perfection says.

 

Sure, you can get straight As in school, ace your car exam or whatnot. But that is only station perfection, when there are many different stations in life. What I’m talking about total perfection as a spiritual person, which is what religion sets out to do. Now I did say earlier that religious people may call you a heretic for not following their religious system. But that’s the rub, you’re not supposed to follow their system. You’re supposed to follow God’s system. If you judge your standards against the standards of others, you will be trapped in a perpetually flawed state. But if you sincerely follow the system by what God expects, perfection can be attained. For our journey on earth is to follow the Great Architect’s design. And those that followed that sacred design and have found their time on earth complete, they will be guaranteed a joyous life after, eternal in the Heavens. Our Volume of Sacred Law, unlike any other system has a clear way of attaining an everlasting life and true perfection.

 

B. Station perfection. As I mentioned in my above statement, there are different stations of life that we try to achieve perfection in. Being the perfect husband, or perfect student, or perfect employee, and so on and so forth. The first struggle that we have in this area are that the metrics of measurement aren’t always clear and the rules aren’t always obvious. This being the case, our first step in all statins of life is to set a clear system of measurements and rules for what we perceive to be perfection and to make sure sure those around us are alerted to it. And the rules don’t have to be hyper specific. By being clear with our significant others, our co-workers, bosses, friends, family, whatever about what we aspire to be in this space, we allow others to not only better align with us in our pursuit of perfection, but also to support us as well. Everyone deep down just wants to fit in and seeing you work to fit in allows for other to want to join you in this endeavor.

 

C. Support Perfection. Support perfection is supporting others in their journey to become perfect. Now, people don’t always share the same ideals as us and may still be figuring out who they are. But us being a society of people who believe in the Great Architect, we know that they are born out of a spirit made in the image of our perfect creator. We are all capable of the same journey of perfection. And as Masons were are all too aware of our charge to bring relief to others. A Mason who stands for others and relentlessly supports them in their drive for perfection is a Mason who will soon find him surrounded by a great society. And he will soon find that this great society now stands and supports him, the way he has done for others. For it is hardwired into the human spirit, to stand with those who can protect for you, provide for you, and build you up so you can better weather the storms of human existence.

 

In our journey for perfection as Masons, we will often find ourselves meditating for answers on what it means to make our minds perfect. I hope this essay will illuminate some of what this means and help guide you on that very journey.

The Prison of Knowledge

Hello Readers,

So it’s been a while since we last spoke as I’ve been busy with work but here I return.

I’ve avoided this blog now because I’ve had nothing important to say. In a society with a billion voices, knowing when to speak and when not to a major part of what keeps society free of superfluous knowledge and ideas. We only have so much to process. To just spam out any half-baked idea because you feel like it is not only not constructive, it contributes to the larger problem of information overload we are experiencing in the Information Age.

This actually serves as a good segway into today’s topic, and that is the Prison of Knowledge. This may seem like a strange thought, as we have always been taught that knowledge sets you free. Here are a few familiar quotes.

“Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery”

– Miles Davis

“Knowledge is Power”

– Francis Bacon

I’m sure we’ve seen quotes likes this a number of times in our lives, especially in the Western World. And for many of us that have experienced this way of thinking, we have set ourselves on a journey to accumulate knowledge to free ourselves and give us the power we need.

But I’m going to play the other side of the coin here. I agree that we must be constant seekers of knowledge and information, but I feel that knowledge is destructive as well. Knowledge can make us feel like a prisoner. I’ll give an example.

Let’s discuss height. I choose height because it’s a generally neutral piece of information and not politically loaded. I’ve also chosen height because it cannot be changed. You’ll understand why this is important shortly.

So let me inform you of a few things.

Height Discrimination

“Surveys have uncovered that less than 3% of CEOs were below 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m) in height. Ninety percent of CEOs are of above average height.”

“Tall people get paid more money: A 2004 study by Timothy Judge at the University of Florida found that for every inch of height, a tall worker can expect to earn an extra $789 per year. That means two equally skilled coworkers would have a pay differential of nearly $5,000 per year, simply because of a 6-inch height differential, according to the study.”

And now onto relationships/sex

Researchers quizzed 700 men and women about their ideal partner height, as well as what would be the minimum and maximum acceptable. A second part of the study asked 50,000 men and women how satisfied they were with their own height. The most satisfying height for a man is 6ft 3in; for a woman, it’s 5ft 9in.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/genders-cant-see-eye-to-eye-over-height-8498247.html

Another

“A recent study showed that women prefer to marry men who are 8 inches (!) taller than they are.”

And the final whopper,

“The likelihood that a man under 5-foot-9 is contacted by a Manhattan or Bronx woman online is a scant 1.2 percent, with Brooklyn coming in with a paltry 2.4 percent response rate, according to a study conducted by the dating site AYI.com, which analyzed 50,000 interactions over two months.”

http://nypost.com/2013/12/08/short-men-dont-stack-up-with-nyc-women/

 

And the average height of men in America? 5’10. That’s right. There are numerous other people out there just as talented as you but make an extra 1k a year for each inch of height on you. That can make or break your life. Also for almost half of the ENTIRE male population, they aren’t desirable to women and aren’t considered appropriate relationship/sexual material. And 90% of men aren’t the “ideal” height of women. And you have to understand the average numbers count the US as a whole, and don’t take into account how the younger generation is on average much taller then the national average. 6’0 for white Europeans used to be distinctly tall and now is just a shade under average.

I brought this up because height is a factor that we cannot change, and thus it’s a locked fact, the same way that the world is round and the New York Jets will lose every year.

I’m 5’11 naturally, 6’0 with shoes on. When I read this height information about a year ago, it was crippling for me to read. 8 INCH HEIGHT DIFFERENCE!? I couldn’t rant to social media because I would have gotten the “Napoleon Complex” schtick thrown at me. Even thought I’m above average height at 6’0. (See, I’m rounding up now) There aren’t any groups for this so you don’t really have anyone to talk to. Society doesn’t address this issue. And this isn’t some social construct thing that would show that it’s some cultural fad. Instead many of the studies I’ve pointed to say that there is a basis in human evolutionary psychology that cause women to want to be comforted by taller men. I remember binge reading these articles, and the next day I was walking through Los Angeles and for the first time in my life, I felt an intimidation towards taller men, which leads to feelings of insecurity, which lead to feeling of anger. I’ve never felt this way before! My would view and way I view things was now thrown out of whack because of this new piece of knowledge. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Knowledge hadn’t set me free or given me power, it now imprisoned me. And I’m average height for an American male and I’m at the 6’0 mark that makes me desirable to most women!!! How do the half of men in this country who are shorter then me feel about this? How must they feel when exposed to this bit of information?

And this height discussion is a symbolic station of knowledge of a society that is filled with stations of knowledge that can cripple us.

We don’t live in a Democratic-Republic. By definition, we live in a Civil Oligarchy or Plutocracy. United States is a Civil Oligarchy

Princton Study shows America to be an Oligarchy

Understanding and Overcoming America’s Plutocracy

Or look at the construct of White Privilege and it’s effects on minorities in the US.

Or how African-Americans are only 13% of the US population but are responsible for the majority of the murder in the US.

Or how 1-5 women are raped in their lifetime.

Or how 10%-25% of Americans are on anti-depressents.

Or how over 30% of this country is Obese.

10% of this country is addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Or how the average household credit card debt is $15,191 and average student loan debt is $33,607.

Fucking terrifying, right? I could go on and on here. Woooooo knowledge yaaaaaayyyyy!

And these things I’m telling you here are often modified or not provided in context. The media in America, owned by our corporate Oligarchs, cover news stories involving the above not to help people better understand the world but to maximize profit potential. And the people who work at these media organizations have been molded in their political views over time by their drive to get more clicks and make the business grow. So that they become an echo chamber and their hiring practices are inadvertently designed to hire people who think like them. Thus creating a self-sustaining feedback loop. Add in extremist positions being taken to stand out to get more ad friendly clicks and soon the company as a whole gradually shifts more and more to extremism. The knowledge here is slanted, divisive, toxic and designed for conflict.

You would think that people would ignore the media and discuss this issue amongst themselves. But as I spoke about earlier in another blog entry, people are afraid to talk politics/religion with each other. And many times people in this country have become so radicalized, that just introducing either the white privilege argument or black crime argument will get you socially nuked. Social media, at first freeing, is now a prison with the extremist inmates running the asylum. Anyone who disagrees will get singled out and dogged until people are afraid to be associated with the person who disagreed. This is bad for your social life, mental health, and job prospects. So people end up being forced to stay silent. Which means people will take this information and bury it inside themselves where it will fester and eat them alive. I think you’re starting to see the reasoning for this blog post today.

Now for me, writing a blog where my name isn’t attached is a really helpful way to unload this pain inside of me. No personal blowback. Even if i was posting with my real name, I’m aware that my small blog is barely noticeable larger national discussion. This knowledge should also be crippling to me. However, I have solutions for all of this and I’ll explain how Masonry works within it.

Masonry is a knowledge based society, and yet Masonry is also a God centric society. And they must exist together for the Masonic journey to even work.

Belief in God is a requirement to be a Mason, and while this might seem like a relic of the past, I would argue that it is the foundation of how we approach knowledge.

Going back, we know is that the world is fucked up. And what we also know is that The Great Architect exists, watches over us and we should look to him for aid in all of our endeavors. This is all brought together by the Volume of Sacred Law (VSL) being one of the three lights of Masonry. My VSL is the Christian Bible.

Masonry acknowledges the foundational importance of a codified theistic moral system because of how important morality is in our journey processing knowledge. For many, knowing just how unequal the world is would be something that would make even the most sane of minds lose all grasp of reality. However, anchoring onto God helps us in a few aspects and I’ll play the other side of the coin first to clarify what this means.

Other Side of the Coin: An non-theist might say we should hate God for making the world unequal. 

Actually, look at it this way. God is watching over us and loves us. Every VSL has this same consistent theme to it. God loves us. We can then surmise that a God who loves us does not want to see us fail, but to succeed.

Other Side of the Coin: Again we might ask ourselves, why is the system shitty in the first place? Why would God do this to us?

Well because it’s our fault. In the Christian religion Adam and Eve break their relationship with God by eating from the Tree of Knowledge and are cast out of Eden. However we realize something here, we have free will. God said not to do this. But we exercised our free will anyways and did it. We have a choice, the ability to choose the life we want to live. We have the power.

Other Side of the Coin: You might be pissed at God for throwing us out of paradise.

But if your boss tells you not to sleep on the job and you sleep on the jog, you’ll get fucking fired. If your wife tells you not to cheat on her and you cheat on her, she’ll divorce you. God and the humans had a deal, and the humans broke it. That’s life.

Other Side of the Coin: Now since it’s our fault, we might wear this knowledge like a weight on our backs.

Nope, my VSL says otherwise. Because Jesus died, we are forgiven. BOOM! We’re free! Alright, now that we’re free, what do we do? Well Biblically it says that we must now go out and right the wrongs of this world. Help those in need. Spread the good word. Spread the good word? I’m going to put on my Mason hat here and say we’re not talking in just the purely evangelizing sense. Actually I’m talking about going out to people and telling them that there is a better way all types of ways. Proselytizing isn’t just the domain of religion, it’s the domain of all ideas. It’s our mission to go out and spread knowledge to each other to make the world a better place. It’s our mission to hit the streets, Facebook, parties and whatever to inform each other of better ways of doing things. The world is fucked…but we’re gonna spread ideas to make the world whole again.

God also gives us another life. For many people, they are born crippled, weak, and helpless. Many are forced to live in a would with an inequality that they cannot fix. This understanding should be maddening, but knowing that there is a coming eternal life that puts things in context. The idea that I can’t fix the wrongs of my life might make me feel helpless, but knowing that death leads to  an eternal perfection in Heaven is freeing. I’m not a prisoner of the system anymore. I’m just here temporarily. We’re gonna be ok.

Now the concept of the afterlife ties into this third part. And that is how people will be able to eventually escape death and also how they deal with the moral teachings of their respective religions. The two major criticisms of religion are A: Religion is the opiate of the people. And B: That religion radicalizes people. The anti-religious will frequently throw these statements at the religious, oblivious to the ironic contradictory nature of them. But I think we can all agree that religion does both. And there are legitimate criticisms to be made here. But there is also glorious opportunity.

Religion can be used to keep people from being a state of conflict with each other. Sacrifice, universal unconditional love, and driven charity are all things that make for a more structured, improved and harmonious society. And yet when it comes time to unify and push people to fight against what is wrong, religion is a wonderful force to push people to fight harder and be more unified to break injustice. The Declaration of Independence was founded on the belief that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. And that religious zeal was what drove the American Patriots through brick walls to defeat the most powerful empire in the world, the British Empire. We as Masons know the power of God to heal our wounds, do the impossible and to unite us together in all the different stations of life to create a more perfect world.

Masonry doesn’t just have you believe in God, join and call it a day. Masonry also teaches moral lesses that the ancient builders of history used to create structures that stood the test of time. To do that, Masonry needed to create a psychological system designed to bring those builders together to become the best builders they could be.

As I discussed before, Masonry is a knowledge based society. The search for Truth is a core part of our system. But Masonry doesn’t work on Truth alone. There are two others.

Relief: Charity for others and mutual aid of fellow Masons

Brotherly Love: Love for each other and all of mankind.

Masonry recognizes that Truth alone not the only way to approach things, but it exists in the context of Relief and Brotherly Love. Now what does that specifically mean? Because Masonry works in an interpretive system, we are all called to understand Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth in our own ways. Again, this is why the VSL is a key part of the system because that is where a great deal of the interpretations are clarified for the individual Mason.

Truth is actually different then knowledge. You have a piece of knowledge, but what does it mean in the larger context? Knowledge itself is many times taken without context or misunderstood entirely! Truth is bringing all the knowledge together and understanding it in it’s fullest context. Looking at all that knowledge that I provided above about problems in America, you would think the US is about to take a trip to catastrophe. But the Truth is we’ve always been dealing with bullshit. We had The Civil War, WWII, Genocide, Slavery, Anti-Catholicism, major wealth inequality, race wars, women’s rights battles, etc. We’ve always had shit and many times it’s been far worse then what we’ve dealt with now. But I argue this conflict we have between each other will never truly end. The Truth is life is never going to be equal.

Height is more favorable, right? Well men on average will always be taller then women, and there will be a whole host of psychological, sociological, economic, sexual, political and moral ripple effects from this. There are some inequalities you can’t change. We will always have inequality, whether we like it or not.

Relief tells us it’s our duty to fix this. Now I said you can’t chance certain things, but we can damn well try! God can do the impossible and maybe we can do the impossible here too. I believe that God has given us a way to create a society of salvation, so let’s try and get it to become that way. Truth gets us the appropriate understanding of the knowledge we have, and relief is the action that we take after attaining Truth. We have a duty to take action. We have a duty to help those in distress. Whether part of our Masonic family, or the world at large. We help those who suffer in large ways and in their own small ways.

And lastly, Brotherly Love. It’s not just Love alone, it’s Brotherly Love. For if someone is to just Love, they may end up interpreting it into just loving themselves or loving materialism and the like. NO! It’s an external Love that revolves around humans. It’s not just Love for our fellow Brother Masons, but Love for our world family. You might think that only family blood or Masonry is what makes someone a Brother. NO! God tells us that we are part of a worldwide family and everyone is a Brother, man or woman. This Brotherly Love is a key third part because Truth and Relief alone aren’t enough. Adolf Hitler, seeing the Truth that Communism was toppling governments and wanting the Relieve the suffering of the German people, took action by exterminating the Communists. NO! If you love your world family, you would never even think for a second to do this. If you Love people, that Love will help guide you as you search for the Truth and put your Relief into action.

In conclusion, for many people in America they live in a prison of knowledge, all too aware of the soul crushing flaws within the system. So remember this, God loves you, will be there to protect you and will eventually join you in salvation in the next life. You will be ok. So while we’re here on earth, continue to learn, continue to take action to fix the problems of society and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Your actions may seem small, but each brick within a structure seems small as well. But after you stack enough bricks, soon you will create something great! Take this knowledge and go out and build a better self and a better society.

Livingstone

Talking Politics and Religion in America

politics-religion

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

 

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