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.

92DB9A8F-5E8A-4750-B9A8-FD568156395C

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

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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

 

Pope Francis Speaks Negatively on Masonic Lobbying

Hello Readers. Livingstone here.

Two days ago I came across a news article regarding a recent interview with the Pope. Me being a Pope Francis fan, decided to check it out and see what the general response was.

http://news.yahoo.com/pope-says-gays-must-not-judged-marginalized-110838664.html

When I discovered that he was singling out Masonry, specifically Masonic Lobbying, I knew it was time to hit the blog.

Pope Francis right now is huge. Many are saying he is the most popular pope in our lifetime. The Washington Post had an article outlining it here. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-25/national/40863777_1_pope-francis-1-2-billion-catholics-new-pope

And I agree. His washing the feet of young atheists and Muslims, praying for victims not reported in the media, saying we should not judge gays, forgone the riches of his stature for a more humble lifestyle and among many other small instances. He is someone who is reforming the image of the church even while traditionalists kick and scream that he is stripping away the pomp and fanfare of the position. He marches to his own drum and while you may not always agree with him, you respect him. I’m rooting for him and I hope he continues to preach this message.

So when some fellow Brothers directed me to his interview, explaining to me what they read, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Masonry in Europe and America, especially among Catholics, deeply wish the church would drop its animosity to them. The bans on Masonic participation, threats of excommunication, and denial of the Eucharist. In short, the church throws the book at Masons the best they can and that is how they plan to operate. They’ve changed their opinions on Protestants, Jews and Gays but Masons still are forced to live in the dark. So Mote It be it seems.

So when Pope Francis took over, there was interest to see how he would approach Masonry. His policies seemed ripe for the church to come to terms that Masonry is not a threat or competition. However his reference to Masonic lobbying seems to put a damper on that dream. Here is the quote.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?

“The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worst problem,” he said.

“You see a lot written about the gay lobby. I still have not seen anyone in the Vatican with an identity card saying they are gay,” he joked.

Clearly he singled out Masonry here. Yet while he singled it out, his was not doing so in a anti-masonic way. I would argue he was speaking in a more general sense. He is against lobbying by organizations. A very populist approach that is common with politicians in America. Except what inevitably happens is that the lobbying never goes away. The list of lobbying groups he mentions clearly has a negative turn. Greedy people, politicians…Masons. It’s clear. Yet his mention of orientation lobbies in light of his revealed views on gay priests shows a nuance. Also a “nothing is unclean of itself” nuance. At the end of the day, that is all anyone can hope for.

For those who don’t know, Masonry in America and Masonry in Europe are completely different animals. Europe is also packed with Masons who are Clandestine, which means they come from illegal Masonic lodges. Yes this is a thing and I’ll explain in another entry. But Masonry in America is relaxed and more carefree, Masonry in Europe is more of a machine/religion force. The clandestine Masons in France routinely engage in politics and chase after any church members who seek to try and get the church involved with the state n any way. American Masons are self-banned from talking politics or religion and lodges can’t lobby.

So Pope Francis is concerned about the European Masonic lobby and to a lesser extent the Americans. Yet lobbying is one of the foundational freedoms we have. We always talk about lobbying ending and then everyone making sense again. No. People will continue to not make sense, just not in as an insidious way. So lobbying is one of the few things people can do to push through something they strong believe in. To take that away purely is incorrect. However it is looking like digital Masons are already on the case. Yes, we even have hackers.

So the book is out. Masons, guilty by association with these politician Masons, have to deal with the wrath of the American people. At some point they snap and we’ll just hope we’re not the ones holding the button when it happens.

So in conclusion, Pope Francis has made his decision about Masony and that is what it may be until the next Pope comes along. For the Masonic community, a little depressing about how to cope with this. It’s too bad Masonry hasn’t done more to push itself.  But yet again, we live in secrecy. A secrecy that doesn’t allow us to fight back abut individual issues they come up against. Will we ever come to terms with the Catholic Church…no one knows.

Livingstone

Masonry and Religious Tolerance

http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2013/06/florida-overturns-gms-edict-re-gnostics.html

The passed resolution reverses the Ruling in its entirety, and concludes by affirming “that Florida Masonry hereby declares its eternal devotion to the religious toleration that is one of the immovable and Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, never to be changed by any man or group of men.”

The Jurisprudence Committee had recommended rejection.

The backdrop of the story was Florida’s Grand Master Jorge L. Aladro had a dispute with some non-Abrahamic/ non-Eastern religious Masons and dropped the hammer on Pagans, Wiccans, and Gnostics. It was a horrifying and saddening display of a man who decided he was bigger then the craft and let his own views supersede the values he learned in it. Masonry, for all the breathless hyperventilating the conspiracy theorists do about it’s existence and disproportionate influence on the world always forget one key element, the human element. And Masonry is as handcuffed to it’s human flaws just as any other group.

The fact that it was overturned by his own brothers who he sees every day is a testament to the ability of Masons to focus on Brotherly Love and to remember that when it comes to religion in the lodge –> “that Religion to which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves”.

http://www.orlutheran.com/masoniclodge.html

Masonry’s ability for self-correction throughout history is almost unparalleled, specifically in the area of being open to Brothers who believe in a higher power but have differing beliefs. Speculative Masonry’s know history of tolerance was mainly when it manifested itself during the warlike conditions between the Catholics and Protestants during the 16th and 17th centuries. It eventually came to encompass Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and then just about everything under the sun. While we don’t know of Operative Masonry’s religious make-up, we can only assume that since Masons traveled the world the the fraternity also encompassed men of all backgrounds.

This tolerance led Masonry to be viewed with suspicious and outright condemnation.

Pope Leo XIII said of Freemasonry:

“By opening their gates to persons of every creed they promote the great modern error of religious indifference and of the parity of all worships, the best way to annihilate every religion, especially the Roman Catholic, which being the one true one, cannot be joined with others without enormous injustice.”

http://www.masonicdictionary.com/toleration.html

Yet there is nothing in Masonry about anyone denouncing membership of the Catholic Church. Masonry is just an organization that allows men of their own opinions to spend time together in Truth, Relief, and Brotherly Love. Masonic teaching never mention to change your beliefs, only to inform you of the eternal concepts that created men who built the structures that stood the test of time. Yet the attack against Masonry’s “tolerance persists”

It has been said that the only group which the Nazis hated more than the Jews, were the Freemasons. Adolph Eichmann kept an index with the names of all Freemasons who had supported humanity, tolerance and brotherhood. Most of them were persecuted and arrested.

http://www.waterloomasons.com/masonic_education/masonry-persecuted

It has been alleged that the Masons were far more of a threat to the Nazis then anyone else. Yet for the Nazi agenda their tolerance was a virus that would infect people and prevent them from “overthrowing their oppressors”. In Nazi terminology, they wanted people to stop being docile so they could become soldiers and kill others. There is no room for tolerance in this state.

Masonic tolerance is many times misconstrued by people who don’t know or anti-masons looking to twist words for their own agenda. It’s not acceptance. It’s not understanding of other religions. There is no universality of it. There is no indifference to it as Masons are always taught to, paraphrasing, constantly be in motion with the world around them. It just says keep your ideas to yourself while in the lodge. When Masonry came into the light in 1717 by revealing itself, the world was in a constant state of war that was fueled greatly by religious strife. England itself had been in a bloody back and forth between Catholic and Protestant control. For people who enjoyed twisting religious for war and power, Masonry was a huge problem. If people from radically different religious thought processes could co-exist then their doctrine of violence was a sham. So they set out to crush Masonry and it’s been that way ever since.

Masonic tolerance has been a foundation of the fraternity since time immemorial. When the ancient Masons were commissioned to build the Pyramids for the Egyptian pharaohs, it was only sensible that they all secretly had differing opinions when it came to their belief system. Their privileged position in society allowed them to study the knowledge of the world. THis was done to make them better builders but they also became men who saw the world in radically different ways. Especially for the belief in God. For the Operative Masons, seeing the potential destructive elements existing within their fraternity most likely instituted a policy making it so everyone kept their opinions to themselves while in lodge and socializing. This kept everyone in harmony and most importantly kept anyone from killing anyone else. Their tolerance was created for pragmatic reasons. And for their growing roster of members, to prevent the best from joining because of their alternative views could potentially create a situation who someone who wasn’t let in becomes a competitor. So again the “tolerance” was a foundational element for Masonry’s sustained and significant influence.

Going back to Masonry revealing itself to the world in 1717, England was in a state of religious war. For many Catholics and Protestants, they had independently joined the order on their own accord for various reasons. For many of them, Masonry was the only time where a Catholic could meet a Protestant without being forced into some sort of confrontation. Most likely a violent confrontation. How they discovered their religious differences…the human element. While religious discussion is banned, brothers do meet outside the lodge and then anything goes. And they soon must have realized that they could peacefully co-exist and that their differing views weren’t ruining the other’s life. They could still be free to go out and talk religion and convert others to their viewpoint, but for a world in a state of conflict…Masonry was their only refuge.

These were radical ideas then. Of course tolerance was already practiced in many places around the world in regard to religion. Except those were small pockets of peace in the large field of warfare and bloodshed. Today in the western world though, religious tolerance seems like a standard viewpoint boiler point. Everyone should be tolerance and expect it. I find this a twisting of an idea that Mason were largely behind. Masons believe in mason tolerance by the non-debate of religion. That doesn’t mean we have to ACCEPT views we feel are incompatible with out belief system. Far from it. Some Masons have said they have become more Christian since becoming Masons. Other Masons feel their eis only God and nothing else. Each brother has their own journey it seems. No Masons should be forced to accept something we do no agree with. But when in lodge, we should put our opinions at the door and our aprons on. So we can give ourselves a few hours to enjoy the brotherhood, philosophical discussion and inner growth one has in Masonry.

Religious tolerance is one of the pillars of a modern civil democracy/republic. As the Florida Grand Master learned, no matter how small the people or idea, the right idea is the one that will overcome all obstacles and stand the test of time.

Livingstone

Believing in something when the rest of the “world” does not

Watching the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman story, the NSA wiretapping, drone strikes, war in the middle east, health care issues, the ongoing economic issues, Wall Street shenanigans, etc., it must feel like the world is tearing itself apart. And for many of you, your perspective doesn’t always match your community of people or what the media tells you. It must feel very lonely out there.

So I’ve decided to address that from a Masonic perspective. This blog post will be about how to believe in something and maybe even stand for it when the rest of the world doesn’t. A concept that we Freemasons have learned throughout the years.

Being a Mason isn’t easy. Not to get into specifics but Masons learn during their education that you can be killed for what you know and what is in your mind. It’s a universal element that everyone knows but to learn about it in such a vivid way changes your approach to the world around you.

Yet knowledge is not something that we Masons shy away from. Far from it. While many Masons have their own perspective of the world, they are in constant motion to seek out knowledge. However Masons aren’t just information vacuums eating away at an information buffet. You also have to be careful of what goes into your mind. Be wary and conscious of how information is being presented and implemented in you.

One of the first things Masons learn in their Masonic science is to be temperate in how they approach all things. You have to keep your emotions in check. And this is not something new and surprising but it’s the very core of good debate. When you get emotional, control yourself. Getting emotional causes the blood to rush through your body, you to become distracted, it causes your argument to become fragmented and you end up looking threatening to the person you’re talking to. If you are calm, cool and collected people will think you have your life together. People associate wild ideas with wildly emotional people. By being calm they will internally process what you say as if you are saying something that is not far out there. This also applies to the internet but that is for a later blog post.

The journey for some is harder then others

You must also show some fortitude when you approach an argument. Think of a pioneer, or a mountain climber, or an astronaut. People respect those who deep down know they are climbing a mountain and also respect that they have the gut to pull it off. That respect translates into your untraditional arguments. Make sure they know that you are facing an uphill battle with your perspective. It’s not an easy task you’re undertaking. This psychologically also makes them sympathize with you because you’re at a weaker point. Also it allows them to respect that fact that you aren’t siding with the popular opinion. That internal fortitude is what will make people see you as someone who is willing to stand out in the storm and try new things. People who have that ability are the type that people follow. We all face storms. To be with someone who can stand in that tempest only makes us feel safe with them.

Masons also learn to be prudent in their approach to their fellow man. You can’t fight every fight guys. You can’t climb every mountain or try to take on Mike Tyson in a boxing match (you could probably beat today’s Tyson, but that’s beside the point). Is this a challenge worth having. Look deep into you’re core. You will find that many potential areas of conflict can largely be avoided and self-corrected by others. Before you jump in think about if this way of thinking is worth taking on. Or the conversation isn’t worth having as you need some personal time to brush up on the statistics, numbers and facts of the situation.

Booker T Washington (Master Mason during the US Slavery Era)

And another key point of the Masonic compass is walking with justice. Of all the previous concepts they all cannot be tied together without justice. For justice informs them all. You may have the ability to climb mountains, the attitude to be cool and calm while doing it and the intelligence to not climb a mountain that you can’t but  ask yourself…where is the justice in it. For when you chose to engage in debate with others, you must ask yourself if what I’m saying is just. Is it fair? Is it something that is worthy of a higher power who watches our actions. For those that seek to stand against the storm only those who do it for the greater good, for fairness, and for equality shall come out alive. When someone talks to you, they can sense your values no matter how good you are at concealing them. You must show that you are doing this because you believe it is right even if it means it will not benefit you. Only then will people come to realize that it isn’t you vs. them but you standing tall for something that is right.

So take this with you and think about it. This is only a part of the Masonic equation but part of our core principles. Too much information is no different that having none at all. Take this for now and set it in your heart. Use it and let me know how it works for your own self-improvement.

Livingstone

Benjamin Franklin Explains Freemasonry (Somewhat)

As a part of this blog, I will address  various Masonic text, video, and so forth floating around the internet. Today, I will be addressing a notable YouTube video that was added a while back.

I’m showing this video because recently the Massachusetts Freemasons began running ads telling the world about Freemasonry. Now this is a huge shock to our community as Freemasons typically work in the dark, so to speak. One of our main rules we follow is we cannot invite someone to be a Mason or ask someone to be a Mason.

However the workaround for this rule, is that we can tell people about Masonry, except for the secret stuff. Obviously this is still hugely controversial but for some perspective if there is one thing Masons like to do, its argue with each other. People were going to complain even if they did nothing.

I’m torn on videos like these. I really think this violates our rules but at the same time there are so many misconceptions about Masons, we almost need to let people know about us.

So take a look, and let me know what you think.

The Foundation: The Declaration of the Topics and Code of the Masonology Blog

So this is the true opening blog post for the blog “Masonology” blogged by yours truly, Livingstone. But first, a little about me.

I’m a Master Mason in due form. I was raised in California by a regular lodge in accordance with the laws of the Grand Lodge of California. I am someone who deeply believes in the Masonic values of self-improvement, upright character, and fortitude that are the landmarks of the great Masons that have traveled upon this earth. As as you have figured, Livingstone is a pen name, inspired by Masonic symbolism. Yet as many things in Masonry are, it has multiple meanings.

This blog will be about the Masonic World in all of its aspects. Here are the notable topics that will be covered here.

Self-Improvement

Philosophy

Masonic News

Anti-Masonry Watch

Masonry and its relation to world events

Masonic Charity

The Brotherhood

Other

Masonry and its code of Truth, Relief, and Brotherly Love have existed since time immemorial. Yet we Masons have remained shrouded in secrecy and darkness for a variety of philosophical and pragmatic reasons. Those reasons, will soon be discussed. But in today’s technology age, with boundless information, social networking, NSA observation and our new modern society…Masonry and its place in our society is set to begin a new era. Gone are the days of Masons staying shrouded in total darkness from non-Masons. Now a new generation of Masons are seeking to shine the light of Masonry into the world.

And it is my humble hope that this blog, is one of those lights.

Livingstone