Response to Ryan’s Thoughts: RE: Charlie Hebdo Entry

Hello Readers,

So I’m breaking my blog response cherry today. This blog is finally getting big enough (or insane enough. Depends on your view) where other Masons are weighing into my blog entries.

Just yesterday, Ryan Mercer at Ryan’s Thoughts, responded to my blog entry. He had a lot of disagreements. I’m going to read his blog in real time and write my thoughts in real time. So here goes.

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I appreciate your thoughts but I disagree on some points.

“because they were exercising their free speech”

There is the right to having free speech and being able to say what you want. I’m all for that. However there is also being repeatedly disrespectful to another’s views/beliefs/religion. This is no longer free speech, this is being uncivil and absolutely disrespectful to others. While I don’t think they should have died/deserved to die, I do think they were guilty of not exercising civility. Just because you can say something, doesn’t mean you should.

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At first glance, there is a lot to agree with here. Civility is the hallmark of a well run and upstanding society. But approaching this Masonically, there are some other things to consider.

We as Masons are taught to square our actions. For me interpreting squaring my actions means I strive to treat everyone the same. Idealistic, I know, but I at least try to at least treat everything within a certain station of life the same.

This station right here is in regards to criticism of religion. Considering this is a western world centric blog I’ll try to focus on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Christians and sects of Christianity are often satired in the Western world. Take a look at South Park alone. Look at the various politics cartoon of Christian characters doing and saying dumb things. Here’s a few to provide context.

tumblr_lzfaasv8WT1rnsvk1o1_1280114404_600

Christian-vs-Islamic-Terror

I understand where many of these political cartoons come from. For the record many Christians do and say some really off the mark things. Insane things even.

The biggest issue I have is how Ryan would classify disrespect. Showing images of Islam is considered disrespectful to many Muslims. Showing Israel in a bad light is considered disrespectful to many Jews/Judaism.  Because of the fluid and diverse range of views within each group it’s impossible to exercise free speech without disrespecting someone. So for me, I take the “gloves off approach” where all forms of satire are welcome. When a NY Art Exhibit displayed a Jesus made entirely of shit (Article), my first instinct was to be offended. My second instinct was to understand that this person was exercising free speech. And the best way to “push back” was to have an open and honest dialogue about this. Or to “vote with our attendance” and just not validate things like this. I still probably would have shown up anyways to see what we really going on.

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“constantly threatened with death for doing something as simple as writing funny cartoons”

One man’s funny is quite offensive to others. You don’t attack other’s beliefs, especially religion. You respect the rights of others to believe what they want. You don’t continually mock one’s religion/God/prophet in satirical illustrations that some even offend people NOT of the religion being mocked. They weren’t being funny, they were being mocking, nay, derisive and full of hatred in their magazine.

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I disagree. You ABSOLUTELY question other people’s religious beliefs. If people are twisting their own religious doctrine to fit an agenda, I would argue with them the same way I would a scientist who tries to twist his research to fit an agenda. Question everything is my motto.

Ryan calls them an attack, and I can see why he feels that way. But again, it’s so hard to find the line between questioning vs. attacking that I err on the side of considering everything questioning. This also makes other people feel less likely that you are attacking them and helps the conversations stay civil.

Also in regard to people not finding those comics funny, there were people who absolutely found those comics to be funny. They would have been out of business if they didn’t. And again regarding it being disrespectful, see my thoughts in the previous section.

——-

“We as Masons are taught through our ritual and through our culture that we have a bond to the fraternity and each other”

We are also instructed that we are all on the level and that we shouldn’t judge others for their beliefs. We’ve also learned as Masons that it’s not fun to be persecuted… I mean the wiki entry Suppression of Freemasonry is a good starting point. Let me ask you this Brother, how would you feel if someone took something sacred to you, let’s say Freemasonry, and began making hate-filled ‘satirical’ cartoons about Freemasonry. You’d be mad. Now what if you were devoutly religious and someone started taking your God/prophet/important religious figure and started making cartoons about them showing them doing idiotic thing, carrying out acts of a sexual or romantic nature with a person or animal that your religion prohibits etc? You’d be mad.

Pardon my language, but what really chaps my ass, is the fact that there WERE Brothers working at this publication. We shouldn’t be making fun of the beliefs of others, whether we find it comical or not (because they probably won’t). These satirical comics that Charlie Hebdo were producing were funny to some but grossly offensive to others. That’s just unacceptable.

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We shouldn’t judge other people for their beliefs? Where in the ritual is that? Also many many MANY Masons in history have questioned various religious and political beliefs. That is one of my favorite parts of the fraternity.

If someone made comics attacking Freemasonry, I would be THRILLED to offer a rebuttal. Them getting me mad would mean my passions are not in due bounds. I would stay calm and offer reasons to why the comic or such was misguided.

Also in regard to attacking my religion, I would be mad at first but my VSL calls for me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. So anger would be something I would try to avoid.

I’m glad brothers were working at Charlie Hebdo. Again no matter what you do you will always find a way to offend someone. I do agree that we and they shouldn’t be making fun of people for their beliefs. Yet people are sensitive and just describing someone’s religions in the wrong way could make that person think you’re making fun of them.

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“I also felt pride that my brothers were there, doing things that stood for something and shaped the world.”

I’m sorry, I don’t take pride in bullying and bigotry. They weren’t making cartoons saying why they preferred their belief over the belief of their target, they were showing extreme prejudice and bigotry for a specific group of people that make up a significant portion of the world’s population.

——-

Bullying? Charlie Hebdo was a publication with 45,000 papers circulated per issue. A minor player on the grand scheme of things and treated as such by French society. Not quite the school yard bully who runs the show by intimidating the smaller kids around him. More like a fly in the ointment.

Also the criticism that they weren’t saying their preferred belief over the belief of the target shows a misunderstanding of the nature of political cartoons. They target a problem and show it in a humorous or thoughtful light. Asking them to clarify complex issues is like complaining that a poem doesn’t show real character development. It’s not their purpose to do what you’re criticizing them for.

Also the significant portion of the world population is immaterial to me. Wealthy people are a fraction of the population. Atheists are a moderately sized part of the population in Europe. Jews are a fraction of the population. Christians are a massive population. Muslims have a massive population. People who believe that Global Climate Change is real are a signification portion of the population. People who believe Evolution is real or not real both significant or small portions of the population depending on where you are. Etc. Population size is immaterial to me.

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“but Michel and Bernard were the ones who actually were going out and doing something. They were the ones with the guts. The ones without fear.”

They were the ones showing cowardice, afraid of the beliefs of others and lashing out against those beliefs with disrespectful illustrations that they claimed to be tasteful satire. Disgusting.

I’m truly sorry that these individuals were killed but let us take some good from this tragedy. Let us see it as a reminder to be more civil and tolerant of the beliefs of others, to be more respectful of the beliefs of others. There is absolutely no reason, in a civil society, that those comics should have been created and published.

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Afraid of the beliefs of others? Citation needed on this one.

Lashing out? Showing St. Peter having sex with a deity isn’t lashing out to me. It’s just shock value satire. By that logic, Howard Stern is lashing out all the time. However I could be convinced people like him a problem. That’s a worthy discussion.

Where did Charlie Hebdo claim it was tasteful satire? IMO, There is no way they believed that. Some of them may have believed that but any reasonable people would have seen all the other media publications out there and would have known where Hebdo stood among them.

As for your last paragraph, I covered that in my previous sections. And to finish off, I appreciate Ryan for putting all his thoughts together and carefully spelling it out. And I also really appreciate him for being civil while doing it.

To wrap up my rebuttal, the idea of question and attacking anything is one of the greatest things to come out of modern society. Many Masons lost their lives question and attacking the power structures of monarchal Europe and we should all admire them for their work. And we should continue to admire those people that exercise that very free speech in the face of danger. Words can’t hurt us unless we allow them to hurt us. We can only use our words to answer the satire that we disagree with. There is no need to get mad. We should always strive to be civil and there are always better way then how Charlie Hebdo did it. But they are not cowardly. They are not lashing out. And they were certainly never afraid of the beliefs of others. They did what they always did. They went after everyone. It’s the ones that killed them or tried to censor them are the ones we need to be disgusted by.

Livingstone

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Giving Relief: Evolved

Hello Readers,

Livingstone here.

So I stumbled along a fascinating story about a young boy who was given a robotic arm at a Shriner’s hospital. For those who don’t know the Shiner’s are a special Freemason organization. And the Shriner’s hospital is part of the Shriner’s Hospital’s for Children. What are they? They are free hospitals for children, funded by Freemasons who want to make the world a better place. Part of these hospitals are for treatment, but almost another major part is for research.

We as Masons are charged with the importance of relief in our organization. But it isn’t enough just to just help someone, we have to think how to IMPROVE in our help of them. Feed a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Splice a fish’s genes so it becomes twice as big and that one man will be able to feed two men for a lifetime.

There is a problem that we have in this country sometimes. This world even. The problem is that we often look to help other without thinking of the larger ramifications of it. Why are we helping them? Are we truly helping them? If you have a child who regularly gets into fights, are you helping them by unconditionally supporting them, or are you hurting them by not trying to keep the fights from beginning in the first place.

Shriner’s Hospital for Children

The Shriners are thinking the same way.

Shriner’s Hospital for Children

While the overwhelming emphasis of the hospitals is to provide medical care to children regardless of the family’s ability to pay, the mission of the hospitals also includes research on the conditions treated and the education of medical professionals, including medical residents and fellows, nurses, physical, recreation, and occupational therapistsspeech and language pathology,psychologistssocial workers, and child life specialists.

It’s not just about helping sick kids, but it’s also finding way to do it better.

And the Shiner’s are not alone in their focus on progression forward for relief.

Midnight Mission

The Midnight Mission is also run by Freemasons. And it’s not just about getting people food, but bringing them back in and rehabilitating them. The Midnight Mission is constructed of several phases for the prospective member who wishes to get off the streets.

The Midnight Mission offers a path to self-sufficiency to men, women and children who have lost everything. Our emergency services, 12-step recovery program, job training, education and work programs offer a compassionate bridge to productive lives. We remove obstacles to self-sufficiency and provide the accountability and structure that people who are experiencing homelessness need to rejoin their communities. Our conviction and commitment to their success define us.

It is all too common for many philanthropists to not consider the overall point of their giving. It can be argued that charity can also be very damaging. Surprised? Don’t be, there is numerous examples scholarly work and media reporting showing this to be real.

Arguments Against Charity

This is an interesting article that explores the negative effects of charity. It’s a real thing and something we need to be aware of. Here are the main points.

1. Charities often target symptoms, not problems.

2. Charity may become a substitute for real justice

3. Charity may not provide the best solution to the problem

4. Charity may benefit the state rather then the needy

5. Charity may lead to favoritism, not fairness

6. The relationship between charity and the tax system can do harm

7. Our charitable giving is often inefficient

8. Is it ethical to give charity with string attached

And then one more I will add, that this article doesn’t touch on

9. It can create a system where people of a certain identity group or status may end up creating a system that perpetuates their status.

You will often see buildings, stadiums, museums, schools and so forth being named after people who give. But if you sit back and think sometimes, are they giving effectively. Is there a better use for their money?

Sometimes you will see people donate a lot of money to their community and then local university.  Inadvertently creating a system where this community ends up betting a huge boost over the other surrounding communities. And then that community will grow disproportionately richer and richer as the cycle continues. People grow in with advantage, go to university with advantage, and return to their community and “give back”. And the maw between them and the have nots grows wider. Yet no one would dare question them for they are giving and helping people, right?

Charity and relief must be done with education. And not just for those receiving the charity, but also for those who give it. When we speak of relief, we must be always be prudent in the decisions we make.

And when I speak about this, I’m not speaking to other Masons but I’m speaking to everyone. We all at times in our lives have given to others in the form of charity or have come to someone’s relief. This involves all of us and this is something we must all consider.

Livingstone

Debunking: “Top 10 Scandalous Freemason Secrets”

Hello Readers,

Livingstone here. Welcome to Masonology. The blog about Freemasonry and all things related to Masonic Self-Improvement, Masonic Thought, and the Freemason World.

So there is this thing called the internet. And people post things onto it. Like ideas. And theories. And there is this funny thing that happens. Sometimes people post ideas and theories that aren’t true. Either because A: They’re ignorant, B: Someone told them it was true, or C: Because they’re liars.

Surprising. I know. Who knew that anonymity would be the vehicle to allow people to spread misinformation and libel. You can’t ever trust anyone who tries to be secretive. Wait…us Freemasons are secretive, aren’t we?

So here is my response to secrecy, and I’m going to take a page out of the Christian Bible to do it. “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Romans 14:14. As always, nothing is evil of itself unless we believe it to be evil. And we believe something is evil when there are other moral rules that we live by that prove something to be unclean. And I’ll clarify this a bit more in a moment. Secrecy can be used for good and bad. On the internet we can deal with many people who use secrecy to further their own agenda, whether altruistic or corrupt.

A long while back, when I was first learning about Masonry, I discovered an article about “Masonic Facts”. I didn’t know what to think at first and I had to take it seriously as I gathered information. I heavily considered its merits. However as time went on, I realized it had problems. Here it is.

Top 10 Scandalous Freemason Secrets by Anonymous at Listverse.com.

Essentially, Listverse is where people put top 10 lists ABOUT EVERYTHING! Yes, we want to hear the top “10 Mythological Ways to Become Immortal”. Essentially it’s an information drug factory of things that satisfy your brain’s hardwired desire to learn. But it’s irrelevant enough where you forget almost everything you read soon after. A time waster disguised as a place to learn.

I sound bitter. So how about we look through the article and I’ll let you decide.

Here is what they first write.

The Freemasons are one of the most secretive and controversial religious groups in the world.

A nice ambiguous sentence to start things off. Freemasonry is secular but very God oriented. In the Boyscouts you have to believe in God but after that it’s pretty secular. Same thing. But let’s look up the definition of religious order to see if they’re right.

From Wikipedia

religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder’s religious practice. The order is composed of initiates (laity) and, in some traditions, ordained clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world’s religions.

So close, yet so far. Note “specific religious devotion”, “founder’s religious practice”, and “exist in”. I’ll throw them a bone and starting off I’ll help support their argument.

The says goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

Well remember the whole “it is not evil unless we believe it to be evil?” Well that’s because people have told you how to look, or you haven’t been educated to understand what you’re seeing. Masonry really looks like a religious order from those who haven’t fully researched Masonry. Everyone believes in God, prays together, talks about morality, the afterlife, and has a recognized group element to themselves. But again, I’ll put in another Masonic detractor argument as the “duck”response is actually a good one. The reason being is because the duck line is used in debate formats to counter abtrusive arguments.

Abtrusive

  1. (obsoleteConcealed or hidden out of the way; secret.
  2. Difficult to comprehend or understandreconditeobscureesoteric.

And Masonry is pretty abtrusive.

So let’s look at #1 of the Abtrusive definition. Masonry being secretive is well known and much discussed , but not in its identity isn’t so discussed. Many many books have been written on its teaching and sciences that are part of the ritual. It’s buildings are well marked and anyone can stop by and check it out. The CIA, NSA, and White House or more secretive then we are. I would argue you are more secretive then you let on. No one walks around telling people they got fired from a job, or the dirty thoughts they think in the shower, or some of your true feelings on politics or religion. Masonry sees secrecy as a reality of humanity and codifies it.

So, lets move onto #2 of the abtrusive definition and actually try and explain how it isn’t like a religious order. Let’s break down the three things I noted – “Specific religious devotion”, “founder’s religious practice”, and “exist in”.

Specific religious devotion – Nope. Each Mason prays to their own specific God when they have their non-denominational prayers. In your heart, you are praying to your God. So it’s actually wildly different in religious devotion. We all aren’t praying to the same thing which doesn’t fit what the definition is implying.

Founder’s religious practice – There isn’t any Masonic founder. Even the figures associated with Masonry don’t have a specific doctrine they have left us with. Masonry is up to each Mason.

Exist in – And the hammer. We don’t exist in any religion. We are not a religion. We’re a secular non-profit organization that doesn’t have any leadership.

It’s clear we’re not a religious order. Saying we’re “God Based” is more appropriate but religious order already shows this writer is clearly just throwing terms around right now without doing any research. You’ll notice this is a theme in this blog entry. Also you’ll notice me spending hundreds of words on a single sentence from that blog post as I have just done. This may or may not also be a theme of this blog entry.

Masons have existed for centuries – and if we are to believe their claims, they’ve existed covertly for even longer. 

Whatever their history, speculation has always been an enjoyable pastime – and this is especially true in the case of the Masons’ more scandalous secrets. Having passed down traditions and secrets from one generation of initiates to the next, they make it difficult to know what’s outdated and what’s still practiced. Consider these ten masonic activities as provisional facts – we don’t know for sure, but it’s always an interesting exercise to imagine what might be going on behind our backs.

I’m going to play wet blanket here and the whole part about not knowing for sure and how it’s fun to make “facts” is frankly…chocolate bullshit. No. If you don’t know for sure, it’s speculation. NOT A FACT. We Masons are called Speculative Masons when we try to interpret our rituals and moral instruction. But no one knows for sure and no one in their right mind would ever assigned “Fact” labeling to anything they say. I could wheel out the whole “Masons have been murdered for the lies and false facts people say about them” card. But I have seen other people use their identity to silence discussion. And out of principle I won’t have any part of that. So we’ll continue on, looking at these “facts” and I’ll do my best to guide you along to considering otherwise.

10.

They will not testify truthfully against each other

Gavel
Freemasons are commanded not to testify truthfully when another Mason is on trial. They admit that it may be perjury, but to them, it is a far greater sin to not protect one of their own.

10 – A: Firstly, let’s use our good friend science to solve this. They don’t have any statistical evidence to prove this is true. Point – Freemasons. Here is some analysis on my part. Since the mid-90s anyone in a public position in the UK had to declare if they were a Freemason or not. And here is what they found.

Freemasons no Longer have to declare Masonic connection

“The Justice Secretary said yesterday a review of the system for checking appointments had ‘shown no evidence of impropriety or malpractice’.

The list of “clear and documented cases” of Masons circumventing the system amounts to a few conspiracy theorists with blogs and people anonymous anecdotal evidence.

As for me, if someone broke the law and I had to testify against them in a court of law, why would my Masonic obligation supersede my court obligation? Why would I violate my obligation to The Bible for someone else? This is God’s and my afterlife we’re talking about here. If someone commits a crime and I’m asked by a lawyer to tell the truth, I will.

9.

They have a secret handshake

Pope Blair Mason Handshake1
Though some members deny it to the public, the Freemasons have at least one secret masonic handshake. Supposedly, there are even phrases a Freemason can utter when facing grave danger – causing other members to rush to their aid. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, is said to have uttered this phrase in the last moments before his death.

9 – A: This area is tricky because I want to truthfully respond without violating my obligation. Even explaining what the obligation itself may be violating my obligation. But this is going to sound funny but the obligation itself is also VERY much open to interpretation.

What does this have to do with the alleged Masonic handshake? If I deny something, that could technically be considered violating the obligation. Lets say someone tells you to pick a number between 1 and 2 and not to tell anyone which I picked. I’ll pick 2 in this instance. If someone guessed 1 and I told them they were wrong, they now know it is 2. I have violated my promise to keep it secret.

See, this secrecy thing can make you nuts! So I am interpreting this in the more minimal manner.

Long Answer Short: This is one of the few things I can’t comment on. Sorry.

8.

They have several secret passwords

Masonic French
This is one of the best-known facts about the Masons, but the general perception is that they have just one password. In fact, there are several passwords for various occasions and reasons. As the one person with the final syllable for the ultimate secret word was murdered, they substituted “mor-bon-zi” for this word, and only very few people know the actual secret word. This secret word is used only for ceremonies: “tu-bal-cain” is the more common secret password, on the tip of every Freemason tongue.

8 – A: So much for few things I can’t comment on. Same as above. For modes of recognition, I have to play hardball and say no. Only Masons know the answer.

7.
Their rituals involve a noose

759933-Noose Lg 716525 Large
The initiation rituals- though described by Masons as beautiful ceremonies – include a noose. It’s hard to tell whether this is meant as a threat, a call to maintain silence, or simply as the symbol of an umbilical cord (as they claim), but in any case, it’s unusual enough to warrant a mention.

7 – A: Alright, I can technically answer this one. Here is my interpretation off of “the noose” as this article calls it.

Ropes are used to tie things together. Ropes tie ships to a dock, boxes to the roof of your car and so forth. Ropes create bonds. They can also be used to pull things around.

As you learn in Masonry, you are introduced to a lot of things and the lessons from your interaction give clarity to things you will face in the future. There will be times where people will try to bond you to them or to an organization or concept. Remember that the bonds you make are two fold. When you choose to make a bond, you must uphold it. The only exception being if it conflicts with your moral code. Also, remember that the bond to something with a wrong moral code can very much corrupt you and you must be wary to make bonds to things that disagree with your conscious.

6.
They’re obsessed with the sun

Flat,550X550,075,F
Freemasons believe that the east symbolizes rebirth. They sing the sun in its flight – marvelling at its passage through the sky. Masonic lodges tend to be built in the east and in the west, as an attempt to control solar power for their own purposes.

6 – A: Alright busted. I love the sun. I love warm weather, sunny days and a shiny world around me.

Everything else said here is hilariously untrue. East symbolizes rebirth? I giggled. This is the only website that I have seen where it says we sing to the sun. At least the author is creative. Control solar power for our own purposes? The mental image of some guy focusing really hard on the sun so it can move a little bit to get a better angle on his solar panels amuses me greatly.

5.
Masons exclude atheists

Russell-2
It’s impossible to become a Freemason if you’re an atheist. The first requirement is that potential members must believe in a higher power of some sort. They claim not to care what higher power that is, but you must define it for yourself. You can lie about it, but religion seems to be a point of honor among them. On the other hand, traditionally excluded groups – such as gay men – are included in Masonry, so long as they behave in the same moral manner as other groups. The temple still excludes women, but some groups are currently challenging that fact.

5 – A: Yep. No atheists allowed. For a wide wide variety of reasons which are far to large to answer just here.

4.

They work to control politics and finance in various countries

Handshake
The official corruption of Masonry is well-documented, but often covered up. Half a million Masons in England are disproportionately involved in banking, politics, and government. Even hospitals and universities are often controlled by the Masons.

4 – A: The easy answer is no. But I am going to give you something to think about regarding this stereotype. Lets have a thought exercise. And this thought exercise will extend to much larger themes that I will be covering throughout my time on this blog.

So a company is looking to hire someone. They have a ton of very qualified applicants. They bring them in an interview them. Any of them could do a great job. But one of the applicants is a Freemason. The people doing the hiring know there is this story that flows around that Freemasons have international connections and are connected with people in power. So the people doing the hiring look at all these similar candidates and then they see this Freemason who supposedly has worldwide international connections. That sounds like one hell of a hire. And no threat to you because you run the company. But someone who could give you that little extra. Also Freemasons are disproportionately successful at what they do. Another reason to hire. While I have never seen this happen (see, I can make up things too, but I’m speculating) it has logical elements to it. The same way people complain about elitism because Ivy Leaguers run everything, the same elements can occur for Freemasonry.

So what is my answer to this you say? Again there isn’t a conspiracy. But we are disproportionally represented. We don’t have as much power as you think and because of the secretive nature of Freemasons, we don’t always know who is a Mason and who isn’t. No Mason could ever truly tell you how many are in “influential positions”. But the self-fulfilling prophecy is true. In my opinion, of which all of the above is, Freemasons are harmed because they are Freemasons but also are viewed positively because they are Freemasons. And things can work out in a funny way because of both viewpoints.

3.

Their symbol is on the dollar bill

Dollar Ase
If you’ve ever looked closely at the US dollar bill, you’ve probably seen the All-Seeing Eye above the pyramid. This symbol is a Freemason symbol, and the Latin underneath is a Freemason motto, meaning “new world order”. Many say that the decision to include this masonic symbol was not influenced by Freemasons – Benjamin Franklin being the only Mason on the design committee – but the coincidence remains fascinating all the same.

3 – A: My magic 8 ball says this is completely untrue. The phrase is not Masonic. The all seeing eye is Masonic as other Freemason blogs have mentioned. But I do think the bill is Masonic. In my belief, this is true. I don’t have an intent or smoking gun that showed Masons designed it to be Masonic, but I can show how it is Masonic. I’ll show you soon.

2.

Anders Breivik was a Mason

Breivik 2194965B
Breivik – responsible for the 2011 mass murder in Norway – was a member of the Lodge of St. Olaf in Oslo. He was promptly excluded – but his degree of involvement within the organization is open for debate.

2 – A: The guy went through each degree, attended a meeting, and that was it from all accounts we have heard. The guy as clearly nuts, but unfortunately the Masons who initiated him didn’t know. But maybe they did and just lied to themselves, thinking Masonry can round him out. We’ll never know. Remember the old Masonic motto of “Making good men better”? It’s specific to good men for a reason. If you aren’t a good man, there is nothing we can do to make you better.

1.

Masons played a key role in space exploration

Buzz Aldrin 01
Some say that Masons have an agenda to take over the world – but some Masons seem to have their sights set on the moon. Astronauts in the Apollo program – including Buzz Aldrin – were self-professed Masons. Their rite flags have been to the moon and back, and Aldrin seems to have claimed the moon for his Masonic lodge in Texas.

1 – A: All true. Masons dominated the space program. Masonry attracts men that don’t fear the unknown. So it makes sense astronauts blasting off into space would would be an attractive career for Masons.

And they finish with this.

Some of these strange and scandalous secrets of the Freemasons are obviously urban legends, and should be taken with a grain of salt; but others seem to contain a degree of truth.

Wait. They have called these things facts and now they’re hiding behind their disclaimer that some of these are urban legend? Excellent trickery they are showing here. Strangely, they don’t point out which of the “facts” are actually the urban legends, leaving the speculation up to someone who knows nothing about Masonry. And they really don’t reference proof or other sources for many of these facts. Essentially, they absolve themselves of guilt while allowing you to choose which is true. The anti-Masonic echo chamber consists of many anonymous or semi-anonymous blogs repeating similar themes about Masons over and over again until the uneducated reader starts to believe it is true.

And then they finish with this.

One thing’s for certain – Masonry is by no means an outdated cult. It still has many active members who seem to be working for some purpose – even if we can’t all agree on what that is.

Time to hit the dictionary again.

Cult –

: a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous

: a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much

: a small group of very devoted supporters or fans

So we don’t fit #1 as we’re not part of a religion or a religion at all. Even anti-Masons, when exposed to the definitions of what a religion is know that we do not fit that description. Also extreme or dangerous? Probably the opposite. Freemason men have done a wonderful job of fighting tyranny, helping those in need, and fostering free thought. But maybe we are dangerous. For those who seek to suppress their fellow man, men who are Freemasons have been very dangerous.

#2 This is tricky because technically I can get behind this. Masons must believe in God to join. And dollars to donuts that if you believe in God, you love God. But also some religions have a fear of God and others have an admiration for God. And Masons accept all types of men who believe in God. Its complex. By definition you could also call a religion a Cult because people admire God too much. I wouldn’t though. In my opinion God is the exception. You can never love God too much.

And #3. Very devoted supporters or fans? Of what? Masons have the full spectrum of opinion about Masonry. Some men show up to every meeting and are part of every event. They are very  devoted to Masonry. Others show up once in a while. And some just cut a paycheck to the lodge to retain their Masonic affiliation and that’s it. We don’t fit that definition either.

So there you have it. Exhausting to do this but important to do none the less. One of the reasons I created this blog was to be able to answer these articles in an academic and respectable way. While I do sometimes throw the anti-masonic label around, I ALWAYS make sure to explain myself academically and with logic to why something would be such a way. And we should always approach any matter as such. No matter how much it offends you, you must work civilly and dutifully to educate the other person to why their viewpoint can be flawed.

Thank you for reading. I need a nap.

Livingstone

How Freemasonry makes life worth it

Hello readers,

Livingstone here. Welcome to Masonology. The blog about Freemasonry and all things related to Masonic Self-Improvement, Masonic Thought, and the Freemason World.

So last night I was doing my usual work in studying the arts and sciences. It is something I did before Masonry or course. But ever since I became a Freemason, the Masonic charge to study and become proficient in the 7 liberal arts has given me a powerful directive and focus in this journey.

So last night I was viewing a Ted talk about self improvement given by Jane McGonigal. She’s a video game designer who sees the gaming as an element that expands beyond just sitting down in front of a TV and turning your brain into a vegetable. She actually sees elements of games as a way to help improve human health, happiness, and their life experience. Here is the talk she gave.

The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

What was fascinating about it were the things that people regretted while on their death bed. Here is what they said.

1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

2. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

3. I had wished I let myself be happier

4. I wish I had the courage to express my true self

5. I had wished I lived life true to my dreams instead of what others expected of me

She delves into ways to live longer and then she also talks about Post-Traumatic Growth. As in after having a major traumatic moment in life, your body and mind experience a major phase of growth. And then she promises to give you 10 extra years to your life if you follow her game principles every day.

So let’s talk about this in relation to Masonry.

When someone says they wish they didn’t work so hard, what do they mean? What they really mean is they wish they didn’t work at their job so hard. That they took more time to have fun. Or relaxed more. That life wasn’t just about work but it was about the things that didn’t involve work.

Masonry is a lot of fun. After ritual and our stated meetings, life becomes one big brotherly love fest. Revelry, shooting the shit, catching up, telling jokes, talking about life and philosophy. Masonry is about the bond that men have with each other and the joy that comes out of it. Remember, the Oil of Joy? This is one of the things given to us through our Masonic work.

So what is our Masonic work? For us Freemasons, work is a part of our existence. We have to become proficient in Masonry. But it’s not our job. Masonry is a choice. You can be initiated and become a brother and never have to spend a moment of work toward Masonry. But if you want to become a Master Mason, then you must work toward it. As you will see Jane explain, people like achievements. Masonry is essentially an achievement engine. With different levels, different challenges, and different rewards gained for moving up to Master Mason.

2. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. I probably really don’t need to explain this one but when you are surrounded by brothers, on the level with you…it tends to very much satisfy that want of being with your friends more. In Masonry, you have a shared experience that creates new friends and gives you an opportunity to meet with them every week or month. Even more then that. You have 5 million friends around the world. You will always have someone to stay in touch with.

3. I wish I’d let myself be happier. In Masonry, again as I mentioned joy and brotherly love are huge elements of the lodge. Also…it’s a fucking Fraternity. Anyone who knows what fraternity life is like will know that everyone ends up having a great time. Unless you hate socializing and the occasional party.

4. I wish I had more courage to express my true self. In Masonry, tolerance and love of our brothers is part of who we are. No matter who you are, you’ll find the brothers of the lodge support you and your own identity and existence. Masonry charges you to search for truth, and the search for truth regarding who you are is part of the process.

5. I wish I had lived my life true to my dreams instead of what others expected of you. This one is not a Masonic question but a you question. What ARE your dreams. Think that through. Why do you have these dreams? Why do you care so much about them? Why must life meet those dreams to make you feel like you have fund your place in life? Look to God for this answer.

As for long life, it very much happens to Masons too.

Walter Breuning

He was the oldest man in the world just a few years ago. Not bad for Brother Breuning.

At Masonry’s core, it’s a social experience that facilities the human desire to learn and grow. I have mentioned in the past of Masonry’s connection to those legendary builders. And how their 1000s of years have been honed into creating the Masonry we see today. It isn’t just about keeping secrets to build things. It’s about building yourself. And along the way, Masonry realized a few things to help make people enjoy that building experience just a little more then usual.

Livingstone

Masonology is BACK

Hello readers,

Livingstone here. Welcome to Masonology. The blog about Freemasonry and all things related to Masonic Self-Improvement, Masonic Thought, and the Freemason World.

So I vanished last week. Yes, a Freemason descending into the depths of darkness and secrecy is something that probably seems predictable. You must think I went off on some clandestine adventure. To implement some sort of plot to cause a major shift in a major world policy measure.

Obama Hints He May Abandon Syria Strike

What? Obama went from being all gung-ho and ready to bomb Syria to now seeking congressional approval and even, gasp, calling the whole thing off? The same week I vanished off to parts unknown?

Probably just a coincidence. Nothing to see here. Move along.

So in my week away I was handling many things and one of those things was thinking about Masonry. For the profane (non-masons), there must be some curiosity to how much Freemasons think about Masonry. My answer? Too much. But when you have a system that forces the mind to be in a constant state of learning and processing because of it’s complex and interpretive nature, it tends to occupy your conscious a lot.

I will be frank with you. I am not a booster of Masonry. Not at all. Masonry attracts the type of men who are free thinkers and don’t always wish to be a part of the crowd. That makes sense, right? Considering the loaded history of Freemasonry being ostracized and pushed away from not just the mainstream but every stream, it only makes sense it would attract men who had a little bit of the outsider mentality. So when you have a society of Men who are used to thinking for themselves, you’ll find that many of those brothers are just as critical of Masonry. Sure, Masonry is great. It’s mind opening, reflective, challenges your long held views, gives you brotherhood, sense of purpose, etc etc. I could go on for a while with the pros but Masonry has its cons.

There are legitimate criticisms of Freemasonry. The system is very well designed to shield itself from most of those critics, but they do happen. Now when I say the system is very well designed, no one really knows who designed it. So Mote it Be on that. But Masonry seems to have figured out how the system works and has positioned itself to stay out of the hot light of humankind’s judgement.

In a society that heralds transparency, Freemasonry seems like this uncomfortable and bizarre relic from long ago. If you have a secret, then you have something to hide. And something to hide is something that doesn’t mesh with the popular way of thinking or system. That upsets people. Secrecy means that your carefully laid plans in this current system could be threatened by an unknown force that could topple it. Secrecy means you will have to confront something not by your plans. People hate secrecy for those reasons. I guess you can’t blame them. If you saw a group of people traveling around and shielding what it is from your view, you would have some natural mistrust. People are pretty smart in today’s day and age. They have seen just about everything. WHy hide anything from anyone? We get that. Transparency is good…but not always. But we understand those critics.

Freemasonry came to world understanding during The Age of Enlightenment. A time for a large part of the world it wasn’t hard work and smarts that got you up into the world, but connections and family status. So you can understand when people become repulsed by this system. A system that seems to have people constantly rise to the top of their respective vocations and become leaders in their field. It feels menacing. As if everything you have been told about hard work and smarts is a lie. That it’s really all about connections. And even worse. It’s all about conforming to a system to be able to get those connections. Sacrificing who you are for whatever goal you want. That goes against everything you have been taught. How you are born perfectly fine and the world needs to accept you for who you are. And I say there is some value in that. I can see the fear of changing who you are. Of changing your core belief systems to be able to attain your dream. It’s the stuff of horror movies. I understand how you feel.

Also the Masonic Obligation. To join, you have to follow through with a ceremony that binds you in almost a spiritual manner to something. It’s very oath-like. Jesus even speaks about it in Matthew.

Matthew 5:33-37

Kind of a bone chilling thing to see. We get that criticism. But poke around on the internet a bit regarding oaths or swearing in God’s presence. You’ll find it’s certainly not as obvious as it seems. But I get the criticism.

We also understand how frustrating that Masonry doesn’t allow women or atheists. We have always been brought up to accept and embrace everyone. But Masonry isn’t some force sent down by God that everyone should belong to. It was build by people. By guys who wanted a place where Men could work in secret on themselves and their thinking. I can understand how women would be put off about this. It almost feels like it’s from a time when women were viewed as lesser then men and we’re allowed into the male power sphere. I get those concerns. Atheists think Masonry is just some super-religious playhouse designed to make atheists feel bad by not allowing them in. I get that. It must feel lonely to not be accepted into something for your belief system.

What is the point of all of this? Of this entry? On my return back, you would think I would dive into something nice and comfortable for you to read on your iPad while you sit in the bathtub or lie in bed? Not on my blog. There won’t be any relaxing moments here.

As a Mason, I seek brotherly love, relief and truth. To shield Masonry from the search for truth, to leave Masonry blameless as I help people, and to mindlessly defend it while I search for love would make the whole system collapse. Nothing is off limits. Not even Masonry.

Yet of every viewpoint I posted above, there is a clear counterpoint. This was by design. But in the search for truth, we measure every point equally.

I am glad to be back and I am glad to be writing to you readers. Over the next month, expect the blog to undergo some serious construction. There is a lot of work to be done in the pursuit of truth. And I hope we can do it together.

Livingstone

Native American Freemasonry: Joseph Brant to the 21st Century

Native American Freemasonry: Joseph Brant to the 21st Century

Hello Readers,

Livingstone here. I want you to read this wonderful article posted by Dr. Joy Porter on her research through Native American Freemasonry. From Joseph Brant all the way throught he 21st century, Freemasonry has served as a conduit for men of all creeds and groups to meet in a Fraternal setting. Here, Dr. Porter talks abut the men who stepped through those Masonic doors and how they affected Masonry in North America.

Enjoy.

Livingstone

The Instructive Tongue

Hello Readers,

Livingstone here. Welcome to Masonology. The blog about Freemasonry and all things related to Masonic Self-Improvement, Masonic Thought, and the Freemason World.

In today’s topic, we discuss the Instructive Tongue, and how we can use it to better ourselves and the world around us.

The origins of the Instructive Tongue come from the 2nd degree ritual. It is part of a three point element comprising the Attentive Ear, Instructive Tongue, and Faithful Breast. There are the three precious jewels of Masonry. While I could write a mile long blog about all three, let’s just focus on the Instructive Tongue. It will be more manageable and it will cement in your mind in a more perfect way.

First, the definition. (Humor me here, as a Mason I have to dissect the basics before I build upwards. It’s a Freemason habit)

in·struc·tive
inˈstrəktiv
adjective
  1. 1.
    useful and informative.
    “it is instructive to compare the two projects”
    synonyms: informative, instructional, informational, illuminating, enlightening,explanatory; More

And tongue.

Wikipedia Tongue

The tongue is a muscular hydrostat on the floors of the mouths of most vertebrates which manipulates food for mastication. It is the primary organ of taste (gustation), as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. In humans a secondary function of the tongue is phonetic articulation. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning one’s teeth.[2] The ability to perceive different tastes is not localised in different parts of the tongue, as is widely believed.[3] This error arose because of misinterpretation of some 19th-century research (see tongue map).

And another part of tongue.

A common temporary failure in word retrieval from memory is referred to as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. The expression tongue in cheek refers to a statement that is not to be taken entirely seriously – something said or done with subtle ironic or sarcastic humour. A tongue twister is a phrase made specifically to be very difficult to pronounce. Aside from being a medical condition, “tongue-tied” means being unable to say what you want to due to confusion or restriction. The phrase “cat got your tongue” refers to when a person is speechless. To “bite one’s tongue” is a phrase which describes holding back an opinion to avoid causing offence. A “slip of the tongue” refers to an unintentional utterance, such as a Freudian slipSpeaking in tonguesis a common phrase used to describe glossolalia, which is to make smooth, language-resembling sounds that is no true spoken language itself. A deceptive person is said to have a forked tongue, and a smooth-talking person said to have a silver tongue.

Yes, I’m well aware I have a hard on for Wikipedia and I know the emails lambasting me for it will be on the way. But it’s a terrific introduction tool to any subject.

And once more thing I want to add that is close to this.

in·struct
inˈstrəkt
verb
  1. 1.
    direct or command someone to do something, esp. as an official order.
    “she instructed him to wait”
    synonyms: orderdirectcommandtellenjoinrequire, call on, mandatecharge;More

  2. 2.
    teach (someone) a subject or skill.
    “he instructed them in the use of firearms”
    synonyms: teachschoolcoachtrainenlighteninformeducatetutorguide,prepareprime; More

You’ll find the definition for instruct is a bit different then instructive for it’s meaning and actionable nature. But I think it is very much tied into the word instructive and something you should consider.

Now when you first hear the term instructive tongue, it sounds a bit Shakespearean. A lot of things in masonry have that old English romantic element to it and this being no different. Right away when you hear about it, you can surmise the obvious. That you are being told about how precious it is to speak in an instructive way. Now Masonry doesn’t have superfluous elements to its nature, so lets dig into the origins a bit and then we’ll expand into how it can be useful to you.

Like most things Masonic, the origins are clouded in mystery. What we do know is that is is considered one of the three precious jewels of Masonry, along with the ear and breast mentioned above. The use of the term jewel is an interesting one. Masonry will represent things in many different ways. The thing we usually recognize the most is using tools to represent ideas or ways to structure your life. It will also use light to represent things. So to have a “jewel” be the representation of these three principles is interesting.

My interpretation of this is that jewels have great intrinsic value. IN most societies jewels have a great value and are highly coveted. They are also something that people wear to add beauty to themselves. They can also be used as a source of class, as people in wealth are more likely to have jewels then others because of their price. Also jewels have a monitory value and can be sold for materials that you may need.

I consider the first three to be more connected to considering the Instructive Tongue a jewel then the last line I mentioned. By calling the (IT) a jewel, it sends the message that this element is extremely valuable. While we can consider the tools and light valuable, the direct relation to value is far more tightly intertwined with a jewel then anything else. Also, there isn’t any explanation for that the Instructive Tongue means while things connected to light and tools in the lodge have moral explanations as part of the ritual.

We could also consider the (IT) to be highly coveted. People who speak in an instructive way are passing on knowledge, and knowledge is invaluable. People are also more inclined to respond in positive ways to those who seek to improve them with knowledge. More on that later.

Jewels are also a form of class. Those who teach and build with words are in a class of their own and people in society can see that they are a cut apart. Those who bring knowledge are valued in all groups.

Speaking instructively is an element that has a dramatic and real impact on people. As Pick-Up Artist Vin DiCarlo said “The dominant trait in the alpha male is the goal of having an undying focus to draw out the best in the people around you.” “This will cause a feedback loop where you are not only becoming dominant within, but the people around you will see and support your transformation too”

It’s as plain as day. Think to all those social situations you have been in. The person who is usually teaching people is almost always seen as the superior. Their knowledge, in a fundamental human way, makes people look to them for guidance. It’s natural. It;s hard wired into us. Those with knowledge that is of value to us are important to us because they will help us live. It’s evolutionary psychology. While there are detractors to that idea, there is a logic to it as well. In the harsh early environment of human history, those that knew where the food, water, shelter, and safe environments were the ones who survived. And the others who survived were those who was instructed how to do so. People are hardwired to follow and align with those that teach and give knowledge. It’s part of our coding.

So lets return to “Instructive” and “Instruct” connection that I mentioned earlier.

Instructive

1.
useful and informative.

Instruct

1.
direct or command someone to do something, esp. as an official order.
2.
teach (someone) a subject or skill.

 

The words look the same but they are also remarkably different. Instructive is more of a Masonic term. You are giving things to something that is USEFUL and INFORMATIVE. Both words and their meaning are part of the Masonic foundation. Useful harkens back to our tool utilizing ways. We are taught our tools can be used to help change our minds and the world around us. We USE things in an actionable and constructive way. Informative is our Masonic journey from being in a state of darkness to being informed about that for which we did not know. That is our entire degree structure. Instructive is in our DNA.

But I argue instruct is too. It is the harder version of instructive and the word itself, being a verb, is actionable.

Those who command people, as someone who instruct would, tend to be leaders in whatever they do. Now the big question is the chicken and the egg. Does the leader make the commands or do the commands make the leader. I would argue both are right and it depends on the situation. In the military, commanding your superior officer will, how should I put this, not go well. At all. They being the leader get to command you. Yet if you are with a group of friends, when you instruct them you become the leader. It’s just a logical reality. In the presence of a power structure that is not clear cut, the one who instructs will eventually become a leader in some form.

Now the other part of instruct. Teaching some a subject or skill. I am someone who believes in my heart of God’s existence and how he created the world. God gave us existence and life. So to give someone  knowledge of a subject or skill, is a deep honor that I hold with reverence. And I hold those that do the same to others in my highest regard. Masonry’s duality is that it is secretive about its science and rituals, yet Masons are quick to impart what they have learned during that time. We wish to raise the world in the presence of God and in a way that would fit God’s vision for us.

And the last part of this entry. Think of this in a moral way. I have given you the pragmatic and self benefiting way first. I am well aware that in many of us lies an element that ISN’T God oriented and is instead oriented to ourselves. But now it is reality time.

When you use the instructive tongue, it should not be about benefitting yourself. Because if that is what it is in your heart, God will know and everyone else will feel it from you. You must be speaking God’s words that you have learned in your VSL and be speaking with God in your heart. We have a moral imperative to read our Bible or book of Sacred Law and then impart those subjects we have learned to the world around us. We give people the psychological tools to grow themselves so they too may someday look to instruct those around them. This is the essence of Masonry. Our ways make our minds better and make the minds of those around us better. For we must build up the world. For that is our essence. And we cannot do it alone. God gave us the blueprint for how to exist in this world and how to make it better. We must instruct those around us, so they may join in creating that great design.

Livingstone