Can Masonry Save God?

god-sky

Hello Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decline of Religion in America

The Decline of Faith in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.Christian Treatment of Homosexuals. (and others)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.What about the other Gods?

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Livingstone

Talking Politics and Religion in America

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Hello Readers, Livingstone here.

 

I have one phrase for you.

 

America…you’re doing it wrong.

 

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

What is the old saying?

Never talk about politics and religion at work.”

or is it…

“Never talk about politics and religion at parties.”

I thought it was…

Never talk about politics and religion on social media.”

or maybe it’s…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This California drought is getting worse and worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Trowel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As William Bradshaw says in Politics and Religion Do Mix,

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

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

Livingstone

 

5 reasons being a Freemason enlightened me to support Gay Marriage

CNN-Quotes-Democrat-Comparing-Traditional-Marriage-Fight-to-Slavery

Hello Brothers,

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

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

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

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

Without further ado, my reasons for supporting gay marriage.

a-light-in-the-darkness

1. Masonry never addresses the issue of marriage

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

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

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

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

quote-our-entire-life-with-our-fine-moral-code-and-our-precious-freedom-consists-ultimately-in-jean-anouilh-320522

2. Gay marriage isn’t against our moral code

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Marriage makes you happy, why deny it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

masonic-symbol-plumsquarelevel

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

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

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

Livingstone

Masonic Health: God Can Cure You

Apple of God

Hello readers,

Now many religious figures in history and in scripture have all said or claimed that God or the belief in God can not only lead to salvation, but help you in this world by having God heal or help you. Now for many of us, being scientific minded people, the idea of prayer curing cancer alone is beyond comprehension. We know that good science, medicine, and the work of trained professionals is what helps cure us and make us healthier. Masonry is filled with men who are pragmatic in how they approach health. The doctor know best.

But is is just that? Is it only a visit to the doctor? Or following a healthy lifestyle? Is that the difference between a sick and a healthy life? The answer is no and I will show you how God can be the force to cure you, and why the belief in God has been so beneficial to Masons around the globe.

Believing in God is Good for Your Health

Here are some choice quotes from the article.

One of the studies, where more than 20,000 American adults participated, shows that income and education had little impact but those who went to church regularly had seven years added to their life expectancy. It highlights that life expectancy doubled for African Americans with an extra 14 years.

People with mental health problems, such as psychosis, also proved to cope better when religion was involved. They also showed to be more compliant with their medication.

They are less likely to commit suicide or suffer anxiety, display fewer psychotic tendencies, and are less likely to suffer alcohol and drug abuse.

Looking to Light of GodAnd to be a Freemason, you need to believe in a supreme being, which more often then not means you are part of a religion. Now there have been many reasons why Freemasons have been successful over their time, but one aspect that is always missed is how their health has helped them. People who suffer from health problems, mental illness and such are more likely to do worse economically, socially, and mentally. If you’re trying to get ahead, or are trying to at least get your life on your two feet, dealing with medical problems is one of the biggest obstacles you’ll deal with. It’s an anchor that makes life a constant struggle. And the above shows that Freemasons and their many times religious nature are major reason why they’re in such good health.

I suffered from a chronic mental illness myself recently. Dealing with an incurable disease is one of the most soul crushing things that can happen to anyone. It feels like you are constantly walking on ice, never able to gain the right footing. How can you lead a career or chase your dreams when you’re constantly suffering? While there are examples of people who overcame their health issues to reach where they are in society, they are the exception to the rule.

Now it isn’t always about the career. Many Masons see the world not in works in the world, but works for above. Their only goal is to be happy. And lucky for them, good health is one of the most important elements to people becoming happy. Studies show that Health, not wealth/marital status/age/etc, makes people happier. Not works. Not things you own. Pure solid health. I realized halfway through when dealing with this illness that I would rather be healthy then anything else. Good health means everything.

So lets talk about how this related to Freemasonry. As we know Freemasonry requires a belief in God to join. And the men who join Freemasonry encompass the entire spectrum of a belief in God. From mainstream religions, to paganism, to deism, and everything in between. Masons believe in God, and they come in with a system of their own choosing.

Bible StethoscopeI chose Christianity for multiple reasons. I was raised in it. I left it. And then I returned to it. Putting the studies aside for a second and speaking personally, Christianity has done wonders for my mental health. At the very core, feeling that an all powerful being is watching over you  and looking out for you takes a tremendous weight off your shoulders. In a world where you feel like you’re going at it alone, knowing that God is going to try and make sure you’re ok is  extremely important psychologically. Also the belief in an afterlife makes the pains and troubles of this world less threatening and frightening. You see them only as temporary obstacles or tests and they don’t define your life. It has caused me to mellow out in a real way. I’m not as angry or obsessed with the injustices of the world. I do wish to still stop injustice, but the thought of it isn’t killing me anymore.

Also I remember when I first because a Christian, it did wonders for my confidence. I had gone from someone drifting through life to now having God making sure I was going to be ok. It wasn’t just my problem anymore. Also God became an anchor for me, giving me a central point where I could find the answers to morality and how to live my life. It also gave me a sense of purpose. When I was sick I became less focused on the sickness and more focused on my purpose here in the world. It wasn’t always the direct psychological cause, but it put in a foundation for me that helped me overcome the challenges I was facing.

The More Religious You Are, the Healthier Your Lifestyle

Some choice quotes.

The survey found that even after controlling for other kinds of demographic and geographic variables, Americans who say that religion is an important part of daily life and that they attend religious services weekly also report having much healthier habits than people who self-identify as moderately religious or nonreligious.

Fat JesusFirstly, this study and its results are pretty jarring. We know that in The Bible Belt of the US, obesity levels are through the roof and are bordering on epidemic levels. But we must also note that many of us have assumed these very religious people overlap with these people who have health problems. The studies I show in this article says that many of them don’t overlap at all.

Now of course this could be a moment for us God believers to pat ourselves on the back, but there is a key phrasing here that must be noted. It’s not how much you believe in God, but the question was “How religious were you”. What does that mean, specifically for us Masons.

Masonry has had an interesting history when it comes to religion. Obviously our Masonic system accepts all people from all faiths as long as they believe in a higher power. But the men that join Masonry aren’t always religious. I have met brothers who span the entire spectrum of religious devotion. Now, can you be religious and be a Mason? Absolutely. I consider myself fairly dedicated to my Christian faith, so much so that my Christianity supersedes Masonry and Americanism. But Masonry, and being part of the system, has given perspective that we are in a world of many faiths and beliefs and that as long as we follow the tenants of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth…all elements that are found in The Bible, I will be following God’s will.

Many Masons in America are obviously church going men. However for the ones that don’t go to church as much, being a part of Masonry can replicate that experience. Now, Masonry is not a religion but it can be religious in nature. Albert Mackey mentioned this his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.

“I am not disposed to yield, on the subject of the religious character of Masonry, quite so much as has been yielded by more timid brethren. On the contrary, I contend, without any sort of hesitation, that Masonry is, in every sense of the word, except one, and that its least philosophical, an eminently religious institution — that it is indebted solely to the religious element which it contains for its origin and for its continued existence, and that without this religious element it would scarcely be worthy of cultivation by the wise and good” (1874, p. 640).

fat measurementEven if you are not a religious person but are a dedicated Mason, you will experience the same effects in Masonry as you would attending Church as a Christian, Synagogue as a Jew, or a Mosque as a Muslim. So if you’re very involved with Masonry then it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it could make you healthier too.

Here is another great article on the subject.

Religion and Health: Very Religious People Score Higher in Health Evaluations, According to Study

However, the article has some interesting counter points in the comments below. Let’s check them out.

Now the Huffington Post also posted about the article that being religious can make you healthier. However, there were some interesting counter-points from the people who responded.

This is a “self evaluation” based on what you “believe” to be true about your personal health. So the study found that people who are religious tend to “believe” they are healthier and those who are not religious and rely on rational thought don’t tend to over estimate their own health.

Wow, how surprising…NOT!

and

By defining “health” mainly as a self-scored well-being index, the authors completely obliterate any possible relevance to true health. When objective biomarkers are used, religious people are generally found to be LESS healthy. This is related to the well-understood inverse relationship between religiosity and education.

The responses are interesting. I get the skepticism that people self-evaluating themselves who are religious would rate their health higher. But that fails to focus on the main point. And that is PERCEPTION of health. If you feel healthy, by default you are “healthy” in your mind and how you approach the world around you. Sure you may be in terrible health shape, but as long as you feel healthy, then you will experience the positive mental effects of feeling healthy. Sure there are people who could be dealing with a terrible illness and are suffering, but they feel healthier comparatively then those in the same situation who don’t believe in religion or God. Now, I argue it isn’t just perception of health, but I do belief that belief in God actually makes you healthier. Let’s check out a few others links.

Religion Can Make You Happier

One interesting element is that people who believe in a higher power and are religious are also happier as well. And now let’s connect this to my last major health related point.

Happier People are Healthier

Happy business people laughing against white backgroundI will at some point do a blog entry on the power of the community for health, but for now let’s just focus on the “religious” aspect of Masonry. Masonry’s goals are the three things I mentioned above. Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. Also creating harmony between men is a major point in Masonry’s structure. People in harmony together are happierPeople who volunteer and help others are happier. People in love are happier (Do I really need to cite an article for this one?). As you can see, all things that are part of the Masonic structure are things that make people happier.

So not only does feeling and being healthy make you happier, but being happier makes you healthier! So a belief in God makes you healthier and happier. And being happier makes you healthier, and being healthier makes you happier! It becomes a feedback loop, helping to stabilize you. Also because of Masonry’s system of moderation, it helps to prevent the destructive dive into fundamentalism/religious manipulation that can be a destructive side of religion and belief.

It’s no surprise that many Masons live to very old ages. Visit any Masonic lodge and you will see brothers in their 60s, 70s and 80s. And then when you see their records and their Masonic care homes and you’ll find many brothers living into their 90s as well!

US Life Expectancy

For Americans, the average male age they die at is 76 years old. Yet I know many Masons who have lived beyond that. Even just another 5 years of life means that you have an extra 5 healthy years of life. Five years is a very VERY long time. And a lot can happen in five years. And being healthy during that time to me is worth it’s weight in gold. Every day counts.

So what does this all mean? Well it explains why those who believe in God and why Freemasons seem to be so stable with their health. Now, will Freemasonry alone cure your illnesses? No. I also want to point out TRUTH in Masonry. We all know the truth is you need good medicine to be healthy. Also brothers looking out for each other can help lead to healthier habits and we help fellow Masons who are suffering. But don’t discount the importance of believing in a higher power and what religion can do for you. Good health and happiness are priceless, and God can be just what the doctor ordered.

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