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the_snowpooch
7th April 2010, 01:18 AM
I am both a skeptic (avid, attend a group etc) and a long time Mason (Past Master). I'll address how I rationalize these two seemingly incongruous affiliations at the end of this post.

One thing I have noticed is that some skeptics downplay the Masonic significance of the back of the US one dollar bill. The all seeing eye thing is a well established masonic symbol. We come across this symbol in various degrees (3rd "blue lodge" degree and here and there in the Scottish Rite degrees). It is referenced many times in Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry as being a principle symbol of the craft - basically symbolizing something called "Divine Omniscience".

Freemasonry has more symbols than a Neil Peart drumkit (yeah, groan). The all- seeing eye is one of perhaps fifty that I can identify at a moment's notice. Many have no doubt been co-opted (or in post-modernist terms: appropriated), throughout time. Given the fact that Masons have a long history of involvement in US politics and government, is it so unbelievable that one can find Masonic symbolism on the back of a slip of paper which bears the likeness of an actual Freemason on the front? I know this organization well and I've met more than a few Masons with enough (perhaps too much) zealous love for the fraternity that given the chance, they'd spray paint a square and compasses on Buckingham Palace, if given the chance. Knowing that, it's not a big deal for me to say the eye and the word "Mason" in the star of David could probably be the work of a Mason, even if the creator of the symbol was not a Mason himself. Does it hint at a conspiracy of Zionist "international bankers" bent on establishing a new world order? No. Could it be the work of an overzealous Mason? In my opinion, definitely possible. More possible in fact than that of coincidence.

I appreciate any intelligent thoughts on this.

There's a lot of pseudohistory in Masonry (duh) and I like being prepared whenever I encounter and provide a brother with the truth (or the next, best thing).

OK - now for a TL;DR description of how one can be both a Mason and a skeptic. Excuse my slipping from third to second to first person POV.
When a guy goes through the first two degrees, he is asked to take certain oaths and obligations. Most of these oaths and obligations are very attractive and agreeable to any male who desires the friendship of other men without having to resort to debasing himself in displays of machismo or oneupmanship ("cock-blocking", in the parlance of our times). Basically, it works well for nice guys who don't want to finish last. You meet nice guys who are there to help you out and you get to help others as well. It's all good. Then at the final stage of the game, in the third degree - you are asked to avow to never be present at the making of a Mason who is either an atheist or what they call an "irreligious libertine" (a horribly irksome phrase). Bear in mind that this is something like the tenth of fifteen obligations you've been asked to take in the 3rd degree. At that point, you're already fully invested and it seems like absolutely nothing for an atheist to answer in the affirmative, at the time, ignoring or perhaps ironically aware that all the others are actually breaking their vows by watching you being made a Mason.

The organization is rife with mysticism and pseudo-history. Sometimes the pseudo-history is raised to a meta level. For instance, they take historical accounts from the Bible and change them to fit the Masonic outlook. But, ultimately when confronting a long standing Mason about the discrepancies, they tend to reply something to the effect that "it's all ********, all of it".

After a while, it's just a bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep a live a tradition for it's own sake - almost indistinguishable from any family tradition. The secret work, available on any of a hundred websites, gets handed down, word for word, from memory, from adept to novice. I suppose this is what creates and strengthens the bonds - fraternity, fealty and charity.

That, and the booze and no-limit poker games.

I wonder how many Mason-skeptics exist out there? If you are one, let me know. Maybe we can visit and have a few laughs?

DC
7th April 2010, 01:31 AM
ah a ruler of the world :D
nice post

Orphia Nay
7th April 2010, 01:54 AM
Welcome to the forum, the_snowpooch. :) I like your style. :)

Then at the final stage of the game, in the third degree - you are asked to avow to never be present at the making of a Mason who is either an atheist or what they call an "irreligious libertine" (a horribly irksome phrase). Bear in mind that this is something like the tenth of fifteen obligations you've been asked to take in the 3rd degree. At that point, you're already fully invested and it seems like absolutely nothing for an atheist to answer in the affirmative, at the time, ignoring or perhaps ironically aware that all the others are actually breaking their vows by watching you being made a Mason.

The organization is rife with mysticism and pseudo-history. Sometimes the pseudo-history is raised to a meta level. For instance, they take historical accounts from the Bible and change them to fit the Masonic outlook. But, ultimately when confronting a long standing Mason about the discrepancies, they tend to reply something to the effect that "it's all ********, all of it".

Cool. :D I've often wondered about that. So they don't mention having to believe in God until the third degree? I'd do the same thing, if they accepted women as Masons. :) Who wouldn't tell a small lie to be a ruler of the world?

I know there are at least a few Masons on the forum, and they visit this sub-forum regularly. I look forward to seeing more on this topic.

lionking
7th April 2010, 02:01 AM
Good post, but can you be a Freemason Atheist?

LightinDarkness
7th April 2010, 02:35 AM
Good post, but can you be a Freemason Atheist?

Depends on the lodge. In "mainstream" recognized Freemasonry you generally must believe in a supreme being. What that Supreme Being is we don't ask - you simply have to state that you believe in one. I have met masons who were atheists, who all had interesting (non-dogmatic) interpretations of what Supreme Being meant. The language requiring a belief in a "supreme being" specifically does not require belief in God.

In some lodges, such as the Grand Lodge of France, atheists can join without having to see if their view of atheism can include some sort of Supreme Being. This is also true for several co-masonry (lodges that admit women and men) and female-only masonry.

As a fellow mason, welcome OP. There are several masons here. Skepticism and freemasonry (which promotes logic, reason, and critical thinking) go along quite well.

DC
7th April 2010, 02:37 AM
Depends on the lodge. In "mainstream" recognized Freemasonry you generally must believe in a supreme being. What that Supreme Being is we don't ask - you simply have to state that you believe in one. I have met masons who were atheists, who all had interesting (non-dogmatic) interpretations of what Supreme Being meant. The language requiring a belief in a "supreme being" specifically does not require belief in God.

In some lodges, such as the Grand Lodge of France, atheists can join without having to see if their view of atheism can include some sort of Supreme Being. This is also true for several co-masonry (lodges that admit women and men) and female-only masonry.

As a fellow mason, welcome OP. There are several masons here. Skepticism and freemasonry (which promotes logic, reason, and critical thinking) go along quite well.
Do you know a lodge in Switzerland that addmits Atheists and Woman?

LightinDarkness
7th April 2010, 02:38 AM
Addressing some of the points of the OP:

As a mason who used to spend a unusually large amount of my internet forum posting time to debunking anti-mason conspiracy theorists (before I learned reason would never prevail), I would have to disagree about the importance of the all seeing eye. The all seeing eye is a masonic symbol, but it spans across many different cultures as a symbol. There is no evidence that the all seeing eye on the dollar bill is meant in any masonic context, and although Mackey may cite it as a "major symbol" other masonic philosophers would disagree.

Drawing a star of david to create the words "MASON" is also just an example of what happens when we search for patterns - we find ones that are not put there with any intention. Why would some secret masonic cabal craft such a trick when FREEMASON would have been more accurate (MASON could just mean brick layers, you know). I used to have a couple of graphs where I ran the seal through all sorts of shapes and came up with all sorts of words other than MASON. What conspiracy theorists do when they find the WORD mason is simply a well known scientific phenomena: illusory pattern perception. Heres a good explanation of it and I really recommend the podcast that comes along with it:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=brain-seeks-patterns-where-none-exi-08-10-03

However, all that being said, as you know - the symbols of freemasonry are highly open to interpretation. I just don't personally think the conspiracy theorist symbols they seem to find amount to anything.

Masonic scholars were the forefront of academic scholarship and many still are - the real history of freemasonry is quite well documented thanks to them. The "pseudo" history you talk about I would also disagree with if you are talking about the legends of the degrees. They are always presented as just that - myths, allegories - things that are not real nor factual in any way but simply a good story to tell to teach the candidate the lessons of freemasonry. I would agree with you about the pseudo-history if you are talking about the brethren who now, in 2010, are still trying to find links to groups like the Knights Templar which we very well know do not exist. There is a small but vocal minority of masons who continue to practice pseudo history by doing everything they can to make the origins of freemasonry more mystic than they really are - and I would agree that they don't really have any evidence.

Finally, although your ritual may strictly prohibit atheists not all lodges do. As you know, the ritual varies so much between jurisdictions. I am familiar with quite a few grand lodge rituals and they all seem to have lines where a candidate swears not to be involving in the making of masons of various characteristics, but not all of them include atheists. I take my masonic vows seriously. Although I wouldn't join a lodge which used ritual banning atheists (and may eventually switch to a co-mason lodge myself as I have a internal struggle with the whole "women masons" thing), I think its important to respect the wishes of the brethren who wish to take such oaths. If your vows specifically bar being present at the making of a mason who is a proclaimed atheist, I don't think they should be initiated under that Grand Lodge - not because I agree with it, but because that is how they wish to practice their version of freemasonry.

Its my person opinion that freemasonry has made grave errors in the way it has initiated people in the past 50 years. Freemasonry should not be a dinner club, nor should it be a fount for nepotism. It should be what it started out as: a society dedicated to the study of philosophy and the promotion of freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and the equality of all human beings. The secrets of freemasonry are NOT the handshakes, signs, and words plastered on google, but the knowledge of these things...which many masons don't even know anymore. Lodges have finally began growing again after being in a downward spiral since World War II, at least in my jurisdiction, but we need to stress quality over quantity. I would be fine with 10% of the members we have now, as long as they actually practice what freemasonry is instead of use it as a club house.

Not that Im opinionated about this or anything :)

lionking
7th April 2010, 02:45 AM
Thanks Lightindarkness, and I do enjoy your posts on this topic.

LightinDarkness
7th April 2010, 02:47 AM
Do you know a lodge in Switzerland that addmits Atheists and Woman?

I am in a "mainstream" lodge so my resources to what my grand lodge would consider "clandestine" are limited, but I believe Switzerland has a vibrant co-masonic movement that initiates deists and atheists (no Supreme Being requirements) with the Fédération Suisse du Droit Humain:
http://www.g-o-s.ch/

From what I can tell there appears to be several Le Droit Humain styled lodges in Switzerland, but I am not sure all of them belong to their international federation. But all of them would admit women and atheists. I can't read the website for the one linked above, that is one of them. Interestingly, the international Federation recognizes the United Grand Lodge of England and its subsequent lodges (including mine) but we don't recognize them.

Oh, and lionking: You are welcome! I'm happy to talk about it. Just doesn't seem to come up on JREF that much, even in the conspiracy forums. Probably because the anti-masons know they wouldn't stand a chance here even if there were no masons present.

DC
7th April 2010, 02:50 AM
I am in a "mainstream" lodge so my resources to what my grand lodge would consider "clandestine" are limited, but I believe Switzerland has a vibrant co-masonic movement that allows atheism en blanc (no Supreme Being requirements) with the Fédération Suisse du Droit Humain.

thank you alot, i will google that :)

Davidlpf
7th April 2010, 04:40 AM
Who controls the British crown?
Who keeps the metric system down?
We do! We do!
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
We do! We do!
Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
We do! We do!
Who robs the cave fish of their site?
Who rigs every Oscar night?
We do! We do!

BaaBaa
7th April 2010, 05:38 AM
I would rather be called an irreligious libertine than Pharaoh of the Two Kingdoms.

Roma
7th April 2010, 01:35 PM
I wonder how many Mason-skeptics exist out there? If you are one, let me know. Maybe we can visit and have a few laughs?

Is an Eastern Star gal okay ?

the_snowpooch
7th April 2010, 05:22 PM
You can be an atheist freemason or an honest freemason but not both - I quit.

TheDaver
7th April 2010, 06:05 PM
I don’t really see any conflict – It’s been said before that being a skeptic doesn’t have to preclude being a Christian. Is there any part of Freemasonry other than the Christian aspect that would conflict with skepticism?

Roma
7th April 2010, 06:14 PM
I don’t really see any conflict – It’s been said before that being a skeptic doesn’t have to preclude being a Christian. Is there any part of Freemasonry other than the Christian aspect that would conflict with skepticism?

I agree with TheDaver, after my teenaged daughter joined the Job's Daughters of the Freemasons her Youth Pastor at our Mennonite church came to the Christmas party and supper at the Masonic Temple.
I am a skeptic and encourage my daughter to be a skeptic but we are not atheists.

snowpooch what are you quitting then, the Masons or the skeptics ?

dropzone
7th April 2010, 06:44 PM
I once put myself out as someone who was open to recruitment by the Masons.

A Mason friend said it was not recruiting but one must actually ask if he could join.

I asked for clarification on the whole "world domination" thing.

He said it wasn't true.

Lost interest. I mean, if it doesn't lead to world domination, what's the point of the dues, good works, and silly ceremonies? :D

Roma
7th April 2010, 07:45 PM
if it doesn't lead to world domination, what's the point of the dues, good works, and silly ceremonies? :D

The point ?

People actually imagine that you rule the world without you having to leave the barbecue unattended or have the ice in the beer cooler melt. Sweet.

Orphia Nay
7th April 2010, 07:50 PM
You can be an atheist freemason or an honest freemason but not both - I quit.

That was sudden! Still, good for you.

LightinDarkness
8th April 2010, 07:10 AM
You can be an atheist freemason or an honest freemason but not both - I quit.

Not true if you join a lodge that allows atheism - which many do.

jakesteele
14th April 2010, 11:40 PM
I am both a skeptic (avid, attend a group etc) and a long time Mason (Past Master). I'll address how I rationalize these two seemingly incongruous affiliations at the end of this post.

One thing I have noticed is that some skeptics downplay the Masonic significance of the back of the US one dollar bill. The all seeing eye thing is a well established masonic symbol. We come across this symbol in various degrees (3rd "blue lodge" degree and here and there in the Scottish Rite degrees). It is referenced many times in Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry as being a principle symbol of the craft - basically symbolizing something called "Divine Omniscience".

Freemasonry has more symbols than a Neil Peart drumkit (yeah, groan). The all- seeing eye is one of perhaps fifty that I can identify at a moment's notice. Many have no doubt been co-opted (or in post-modernist terms: appropriated), throughout time. Given the fact that Masons have a long history of involvement in US politics and government, is it so unbelievable that one can find Masonic symbolism on the back of a slip of paper which bears the likeness of an actual Freemason on the front? I know this organization well and I've met more than a few Masons with enough (perhaps too much) zealous love for the fraternity that given the chance, they'd spray paint a square and compasses on Buckingham Palace, if given the chance. Knowing that, it's not a big deal for me to say the eye and the word "Mason" in the star of David could probably be the work of a Mason, even if the creator of the symbol was not a Mason himself. Does it hint at a conspiracy of Zionist "international bankers" bent on establishing a new world order? No. Could it be the work of an overzealous Mason? In my opinion, definitely possible. More possible in fact than that of coincidence.

I appreciate any intelligent thoughts on this.

There's a lot of pseudohistory in Masonry (duh) and I like being prepared whenever I encounter and provide a brother with the truth (or the next, best thing).

OK - now for a TL;DR description of how one can be both a Mason and a skeptic. Excuse my slipping from third to second to first person POV.
When a guy goes through the first two degrees, he is asked to take certain oaths and obligations. Most of these oaths and obligations are very attractive and agreeable to any male who desires the friendship of other men without having to resort to debasing himself in displays of machismo or oneupmanship ("cock-blocking", in the parlance of our times). Basically, it works well for nice guys who don't want to finish last. You meet nice guys who are there to help you out and you get to help others as well. It's all good. Then at the final stage of the game, in the third degree - you are asked to avow to never be present at the making of a Mason who is either an atheist or what they call an "irreligious libertine" (a horribly irksome phrase). Bear in mind that this is something like the tenth of fifteen obligations you've been asked to take in the 3rd degree. At that point, you're already fully invested and it seems like absolutely nothing for an atheist to answer in the affirmative, at the time, ignoring or perhaps ironically aware that all the others are actually breaking their vows by watching you being made a Mason.

The organization is rife with mysticism and pseudo-history. Sometimes the pseudo-history is raised to a meta level. For instance, they take historical accounts from the Bible and change them to fit the Masonic outlook. But, ultimately when confronting a long standing Mason about the discrepancies, they tend to reply something to the effect that "it's all ********, all of it".

After a while, it's just a bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep a live a tradition for it's own sake - almost indistinguishable from any family tradition. The secret work, available on any of a hundred websites, gets handed down, word for word, from memory, from adept to novice. I suppose this is what creates and strengthens the bonds - fraternity, fealty and charity.

That, and the booze and no-limit poker games.

I wonder how many Mason-skeptics exist out there? If you are one, let me know. Maybe we can visit and have a few laughs?

I am currently an Entered Apprentice at St. John's Lodge #9 in Seattle, Wa. I would appreciate any advice, coaching, mentoring or just friendly chat you can spare. Feel free to PM me.

the_snowpooch
19th April 2010, 07:16 AM
I don’t really see any conflict – It’s been said before that being a skeptic doesn’t have to preclude being a Christian. Is there any part of Freemasonry other than the Christian aspect that would conflict with skepticism?

The "Christian" aspect doesn't actually exist. You can be a wiccan or a pantheist, just as long as you can honestly avow to the existence of a "higher power" (think AA).

As for skepticism, no problem at all. There are basically two groups: those who think the rituals and stuff have some secret, hidden power and those who consider it simple allegory. The preponderance is in the latter camp. I know quite a few brothers with advanced science degrees (like myself) and they have no problem fitting in. There has been a recent upswing in new members hoping to get information on our conspiracies but such is the world these days, what with all the Alex Jones' and the Dan Browns. In a way, a few years of tedious lodge meetings, volunteer work and getting drunk pretty much brainwashes away those fantasies.

the_snowpooch
19th April 2010, 07:24 AM
That was sudden! Still, good for you.

To be clear - my quitting involved several factors: I moved away from my mother lodge and stopped paying dues. Also, I found the meetings very boring and ended up just going to select social events. I've told many of my lodge brothers and they say they don't care that I'm an atheist, however - some are very much opposed to this identity. They suggested I just claim a belief in "nature" or "energy" but I didn't think I could do that in an honest way.

Odds are, I'll get back into it again. Just not now. I still do volunteer work with them for cancer patients though (driving them to appointments, taking them grocery shopping etc). Makes me feel good.

the_snowpooch
19th April 2010, 07:37 AM
I am currently an Entered Apprentice at St. John's Lodge #9 in Seattle, Wa. I would appreciate any advice, coaching, mentoring or just friendly chat you can spare. Feel free to PM me.

I've visited your lodge several times.

Advice? I suppose the best thing I can tell you is go for it. Get your 3rd degree and make a run at WM. I have nothing but good memories and I probably learned a lot of useful things about communication and management.

Whenever you get the chance, visit other lodges. This is perhaps the coolest aspect of the craft. I'm not a great traveler but all my visits to lodges in Canada and the US have been great experiences. My most memorable experience was being saved from a severe ass-kicking in New Orleans from a stranger and his friends. The stranger was wearing a square and compasses T-shirt. Two days later I went to lodge with them - a PHA lodge.

My good friend is a very avid visitor. He's been to lodges in England, US, Canada, Germany and Japan. Each place gave him customary food and drink. Many have given him accommodations and even souvenirs.

When you get your 3rd degree, PM me and we'll see about you doing a visit up here (Vancouver). Perhaps even a combination lodge meeting / skeptics meeting if the calender colludes. First pint is on me.

Aquila
9th June 2010, 05:08 PM
I am both a skeptic (avid, attend a group etc) and a long time Mason (Past Master).

I hope that no one minds that I've revived this thread after 2 months, but I've been away from the forum for a while and just saw it. I'm very interested in the connections between skepticism and Freemasonry, both positive and negative, mainly because our current inspirational leaders in the field of skepticism, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Michael Shermer - even Randi himself seem reluctant to mention Masonry outright.
Why?

Am I mistaken here, but it seems that these people have plenty to say about religion, and Sam Harris seems very upset about astrology, but I haven't heard one of them come out and say anything about Freemasonry. Correction, I did see a link on Michael Shermer's Skeptic website to a song about Freemasonry, but that's about all. Is this because they just don't know much about it, or that they do know a lot about it and are, or have been, in fact members of lodges and are worried about getting beaten up if they reveal too much?

Personally I don't see how a skeptic or scientist can, in good conscience, belong to any organization which puts so much emphasis on secrecy. If the root of science and skepticism are evidence and objectivity, how can they be compatible with secrecy?

Imagine two research scientists who belonged to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? I agree that you can't be in both camps.

What about homosexuality. Are gays admitted (and lesbians to co-masonry?) - I've heard that there are separate gay lodges, or is there a "don't ask, don't tell" rule?

dudalb
9th June 2010, 05:41 PM
I don’t really see any conflict – It’s been said before that being a skeptic doesn’t have to preclude being a Christian. Is there any part of Freemasonry other than the Christian aspect that would conflict with skepticism?

The problem is great many people do equate being a Skeptic with being an Athiest.

dudalb
9th June 2010, 05:45 PM
I hope that no one minds that I've revived this thread after 2 months, but I've been away from the forum for a while and just saw it. I'm very interested in the connections between skepticism and Freemasonry, both positive and negative, mainly because our current inspirational leaders in the field of skepticism, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Michael Shermer - even Randi himself seem reluctant to mention Masonry outright.
Why?

Am I mistaken here, but it seems that these people have plenty to say about religion, and Sam Harris seems very upset about astrology, but I haven't heard one of them come out and say anything about Freemasonry. Correction, I did see a link on Michael Shermer's Skeptic website to a song about Freemasonry, but that's about all. Is this because they just don't know much about it, or that they do know a lot about it and are, or have been, in fact members of lodges and are worried about getting beaten up if they reveal too much?

Personally I don't see how a skeptic or scientist can, in good conscience, belong to any organization which puts so much emphasis on secrecy. If the root of science and skepticism are evidence and objectivity, how can they be compatible with secrecy?

Imagine two research scientists who belonged to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? I agree that you can't be in both camps.

What about homosexuality. Are gays admitted (and lesbians to co-masonry?) - I've heard that there are separate gay lodges, or is there a "don't ask, don't tell" rule?



Because they don't see anything sinister about Masonry?
Because the "secrets" of Masonry are not very secret or evil?
And by your definition, skeptics should not serve in the military because there is a lot of secrecy in any military
Randi and company don't spend a lot of time on Freemasonry because they don't have the time to waste on crap conspriacy theories. They probably think a lot of the Masonic rituals are silly, but also think it is nothing to be concerned about or waste time over.

defaultdotxbe
9th June 2010, 05:50 PM
Imagine two research scientists who belonged to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? I agree that you can't be in both camps.
how does anyone know 2 non-mason scientists arent doing the same thing?

Cuddles
10th June 2010, 03:58 AM
Is this because they just don't know much about it, or that they do know a lot about it and are, or have been, in fact members of lodges and are worried about getting beaten up if they reveal too much?

It's most likely, as dudalb says, simply that there's nothing for them to say about it. Freemasonry is essentially little more than a social club. Sure, it may be intended to focus more on philosophy and thinking and less on just being a drinking club (although as LightinDarkness says it tends more towards the latter these days), and it may have a longer history and a bunch of assorted silliness to go with it, but that's about it. There's really no more reason for Randi to talk about Freemasonry than there is for him to talk about the working men's club down the road.

Personally I don't see how a skeptic or scientist can, in good conscience, belong to any organization which puts so much emphasis on secrecy.

A large proportion, quite possibly the majority, of science has been done as part of organisations with at least some emphasis on secrecy. The military is the obvious example that has already been mentioned, but pretty much every researcher anywhere will have some restrictions on what they are allowed to share, as well as what they can get from other people.

Think of things like the Manhatten project, or radar, or Ultra (the intelligence from cryptographic work during WW2). Think of the huge fights that have been had over who invented what first, and who should get patents, or even simply who should be credited with discovering a particular equation.

If the root of science and skepticism are evidence and objectivity, how can they be compatible with secrecy?

Very easily. Objectivity is in no way incompatible with secrecy, so I don't see how that's relevant at all. And evidence is evidence no matter when it is presented. There's nothing unscientific in keeping something secret until you're sure it works and can be certain you'll get the credit and the profits. Or in keeping something secret because you'll have an advantage over other people who don't know about it yet.

You can certainly argue about this sort of thing from a moral point of view. The question of whether all knowledge should be open to everyone is actually quite an important subject at the moment, for several reasons. For example, I recently took part in a survey as part of an international investigation of whether all papers should be available online for free rather than requiring journal subscriptions. Then there are other issues such as information potentially useful for terrorists, or even just regular enemies, being kept as secret as possible, while others say that people who really want to will find it anyway so you may as well just publish it all openly.

But the point is, these are all philosophical and social questions, and have nothing to do with whether something is scientific or not.

Imagine two research scientists who belonged to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? I agree that you can't be in both camps.

Imagine two research scientists who didn't belong to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? The simple fact is, we don't. This is why there always have been and always will be examples of fraud in science. Remember Hwang Woo-Suk? Remember Wakefield? You don't need imaginary conspiracies to get dishonesty, you just need dishonest people. Sadly, there is no shortage of them.

Mojo
10th June 2010, 08:17 AM
I am both a skeptic (avid, attend a group etc) and a long time Mason (Past Master).


It's OK as long as you aren't a Freemason On The Land. ;)

dudalb
10th June 2010, 10:56 AM
It's most likely, as dudalb says, simply that there's nothing for them to say about it. Freemasonry is essentially little more than a social club. Sure, it may be intended to focus more on philosophy and thinking and less on just being a drinking club (although as LightinDarkness says it tends more towards the latter these days), and it may have a longer history and a bunch of assorted silliness to go with it, but that's about it. There's really no more reason for Randi to talk about Freemasonry than there is for him to talk about the working men's club down the road.



A large proportion, quite possibly the majority, of science has been done as part of organisations with at least some emphasis on secrecy. The military is the obvious example that has already been mentioned, but pretty much every researcher anywhere will have some restrictions on what they are allowed to share, as well as what they can get from other people.

Think of things like the Manhatten project, or radar, or Ultra (the intelligence from cryptographic work during WW2). Think of the huge fights that have been had over who invented what first, and who should get patents, or even simply who should be credited with discovering a particular equation.



Very easily. Objectivity is in no way incompatible with secrecy, so I don't see how that's relevant at all. And evidence is evidence no matter when it is presented. There's nothing unscientific in keeping something secret until you're sure it works and can be certain you'll get the credit and the profits. Or in keeping something secret because you'll have an advantage over other people who don't know about it yet.

You can certainly argue about this sort of thing from a moral point of view. The question of whether all knowledge should be open to everyone is actually quite an important subject at the moment, for several reasons. For example, I recently took part in a survey as part of an international investigation of whether all papers should be available online for free rather than requiring journal subscriptions. Then there are other issues such as information potentially useful for terrorists, or even just regular enemies, being kept as secret as possible, while others say that people who really want to will find it anyway so you may as well just publish it all openly.

But the point is, these are all philosophical and social questions, and have nothing to do with whether something is scientific or not.



Imagine two research scientists who didn't belong to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? The simple fact is, we don't. This is why there always have been and always will be examples of fraud in science. Remember Hwang Woo-Suk? Remember Wakefield? You don't need imaginary conspiracies to get dishonesty, you just need dishonest people. Sadly, there is no shortage of them.

Not to mention that most scientests employed on project by private companies are expected to keep a lot of their work secret from people not in the company, for the simple reason that the company will want to make money from any discoveries made, and making that public is sort of stupid until you have the patent for the discovery in hand.

LightinDarkness
10th June 2010, 05:18 PM
Most of this has been answered very well, just a few thoughts -


Imagine two research scientists who belonged to a Masonic lodge. How does anyone know that they aren't falsifying their research data and have agreed to cover for each other? I agree that you can't be in both camps.

Why would you think this? The only secrets freemasons keep have been released since 1725: the passwords and grips. We don't keep the secrets because they are secrets - they are not - its just done to show masons are men of their word. Masons SPECIFICALLY SWEAR not to do the stuff your talking about.


What about homosexuality. Are gays admitted (and lesbians to co-masonry?) - I've heard that there are separate gay lodges, or is there a "don't ask, don't tell" rule?

There is no homosexuality rule I have ever heard of. Gays and lesbians are allowed. No one cares. No one will ask, but we don't care if a member is gay. It just doesn't come up.

jakesteele
10th June 2010, 06:41 PM
I am both a skeptic (avid, attend a group etc) and a long time Mason (Past Master). I'll address how I rationalize these two seemingly incongruous affiliations at the end of this post.

One thing I have noticed is that some skeptics downplay the Masonic significance of the back of the US one dollar bill. The all seeing eye thing is a well established masonic symbol. We come across this symbol in various degrees (3rd "blue lodge" degree and here and there in the Scottish Rite degrees). It is referenced many times in Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry as being a principle symbol of the craft - basically symbolizing something called "Divine Omniscience".

Freemasonry has more symbols than a Neil Peart drumkit (yeah, groan). The all- seeing eye is one of perhaps fifty that I can identify at a moment's notice. Many have no doubt been co-opted (or in post-modernist terms: appropriated), throughout time. Given the fact that Masons have a long history of involvement in US politics and government, is it so unbelievable that one can find Masonic symbolism on the back of a slip of paper which bears the likeness of an actual Freemason on the front? I know this organization well and I've met more than a few Masons with enough (perhaps too much) zealous love for the fraternity that given the chance, they'd spray paint a square and compasses on Buckingham Palace, if given the chance. Knowing that, it's not a big deal for me to say the eye and the word "Mason" in the star of David could probably be the work of a Mason, even if the creator of the symbol was not a Mason himself. Does it hint at a conspiracy of Zionist "international bankers" bent on establishing a new world order? No. Could it be the work of an overzealous Mason? In my opinion, definitely possible. More possible in fact than that of coincidence.

I appreciate any intelligent thoughts on this.

There's a lot of pseudohistory in Masonry (duh) and I like being prepared whenever I encounter and provide a brother with the truth (or the next, best thing).

OK - now for a TL;DR description of how one can be both a Mason and a skeptic. Excuse my slipping from third to second to first person POV.
When a guy goes through the first two degrees, he is asked to take certain oaths and obligations. Most of these oaths and obligations are very attractive and agreeable to any male who desires the friendship of other men without having to resort to debasing himself in displays of machismo or oneupmanship ("cock-blocking", in the parlance of our times). Basically, it works well for nice guys who don't want to finish last. You meet nice guys who are there to help you out and you get to help others as well. It's all good. Then at the final stage of the game, in the third degree - you are asked to avow to never be present at the making of a Mason who is either an atheist or what they call an "irreligious libertine" (a horribly irksome phrase). Bear in mind that this is something like the tenth of fifteen obligations you've been asked to take in the 3rd degree. At that point, you're already fully invested and it seems like absolutely nothing for an atheist to answer in the affirmative, at the time, ignoring or perhaps ironically aware that all the others are actually breaking their vows by watching you being made a Mason.

The organization is rife with mysticism and pseudo-history. Sometimes the pseudo-history is raised to a meta level. For instance, they take historical accounts from the Bible and change them to fit the Masonic outlook. But, ultimately when confronting a long standing Mason about the discrepancies, they tend to reply something to the effect that "it's all ********, all of it".

After a while, it's just a bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep a live a tradition for it's own sake - almost indistinguishable from any family tradition. The secret work, available on any of a hundred websites, gets handed down, word for word, from memory, from adept to novice. I suppose this is what creates and strengthens the bonds - fraternity, fealty and charity.

That, and the booze and no-limit poker games.

I wonder how many Mason-skeptics exist out there? If you are one, let me know. Maybe we can visit and have a few laughs?

Hello, hello, fellow Mason. I'd give the secret word for Entered Apprentice (which I am, currently) but I would suffer that horrible fate!:scared: To me there is nothing to reconcile between being a Brother and a skeptic. No one knows any more than anyone else the answers of ultimate questions about Life, the Universe and Everything. And atheist is no better equipped than a theist.

I am beginning the initial stages of the journey and I belong to St. John's Lodge #9 in Seattle, Wa located on Greenwood Ave. in the north part of town in the area of the U of W. I would love to chat and ask you some questions about the Craft. Let's PM each other.

ArmillarySphere
11th June 2010, 02:32 AM
When it comes to atheists, is there any particular reason for the requirement that you have to believe in some sort of higher power, or is it just tradition?

LightinDarkness
11th June 2010, 03:19 AM
When it comes to atheists, is there any particular reason for the requirement that you have to believe in some sort of higher power, or is it just tradition?

Well, it depends on the lodge - in many cases there is no requirement to believe in any sort of higher power. Some do require a specific belief in God (although they never tell you what that God is - as long as you believe). Others allow very generic belief in something greater for yourself - which would fit agnostics or atheists who have some sort of belief in general goodness or nature. Still others have no such requirement at all.

The tradition of requiring a belief of some sort is actually connected to many early masons being clergy. Before the enlightenment era even the Catholic Church (GASP!) actively promoted freemasonry. Over time, the requirement has morphed and changed.

I always get a chuckle out of reading anti-mason sites fueled by fundamentalist Christians who claim that we're an atheist arm of the Illuminati, though.

fitzgibbon
13th June 2010, 08:18 PM
It's most likely, as dudalb says, simply that there's nothing for them to say about it. Freemasonry is essentially little more than a social club.

You toss that off as if it's out-and-out fact which it isn't. Oh certainly like any other gathering, there's a social component. But as mundane as it sounds, it really is about making good men better; better for themselves, their families and their community.


Sure, it may be intended to focus more on philosophy and thinking and less on just being a drinking club (although as LightinDarkness says it tends more towards the latter these days),

I'd differ with LiD on that. It depends on the Lodge and the person. My experience as a Mason of 10 years has been that there's a greater interest in the esoteric than there has been previously and I think that's reflective of a desire within society for something more grounded.


and it may have a longer history and a bunch of assorted silliness to go with it, but that's about it. There's really no more reason for Randi to talk about Freemasonry than there is for him to talk about the working men's club down the road.

As you care to see it. I think your take on it is a bit flippant and does a disservice to actuality. I don't see Randi talking about Freemasonry simply because there isn't a Sylvia Brown-equivalent that needs debunking.

LightinDarkness
13th June 2010, 11:18 PM
Fitz, I would say there is more interest in the upcoming generation of masons in the esoteric side of the society. Which, I think is good. Masons in the 18-35 range seem to be very interested in the philosophy of the fraternity. I would agree there is a definite shift away from being a dinner club - which is a shift that occurred after members of the WWII generation became members.

Still, it really varies between lodges in my experience. In my own home lodge we are very into the philosophy of freemasonry. We still have dinners and we still do charity, but no one thinks that is the goal of the fraternity in and of itself. To that end, we don't have a dress code and try to keep any such barriers to entry (which is what a dress code is IMO, especially for blue collar workers who might have to come straight from work) low. The dinners are a casual affairs - hotdogs and burgers usually.

Across town, we have what I call the dinner masons who enforce a strict, tux-only dress code that have catered dinners and do very good ritual. The fees are high to accommodate all this. But there is no thirst for the philosophy behind the ritual.

I very much look forward to freemasonry returning to a esoteric society concerned with philosophy. I think we are getting there. I will take deep, meaningful discussion of the multiple layers of meaning behind the Hiram legend over a hotdog and beer over a four star dining experience talking about what other people are wearing. But its going to take a while.

defaultdotxbe
14th June 2010, 12:51 AM
Personally I don't see how a skeptic or scientist can, in good conscience, belong to any organization which puts so much emphasis on secrecy. If the root of science and skepticism are evidence and objectivity, how can they be compatible with secrecy?
it just occurred to me, randi is also a magician, and magicians are of course notable for keeping the details of how their tricks are performed a very closely guarded secret.

so how do you reconcile this secrecy with skepticism? and why can it not also reconcile the secrecy in freemasonry?

Aikenhead
23rd July 2011, 01:39 PM
When it comes to atheists, is there any particular reason for the requirement that you have to believe in some sort of higher power, or is it just tradition?

I realize that I'm late to the discussion, but I don't think your question was really addressed. As an active Freemason, perhaps I can explain how and why a belief in a "higher power" is required today in Anglo-masonry. (As others have explained, it's not a requirement in many other jurisdictions outside of the US and Britain.)

There are many different claims made for Masonry's origins, with the two most popular being that they were the descendants of the Knights Templar, or of medieval stonemason guilds, which were, in a sense, co-opted by non-masons for a number of practical reasons. We generally acknowledge the latter as being more historically accurate. However, it is important to remember that neither the Knights Templar nor medieval stonemasons were particularly religious (indeed, the former were routinely charged with heresy) and, both groups having traveled around to different areas, would have more likely become "contaminated" by different -- even heretical -- ideas. So, there's no support for either of these alleged progenitors of Freemasonry being particularly pious, believing in any particular "higher power", or passing it on to Freemasonry.

There's no doubt that one of the most important influences on the foundation of Freemasonry was the Enlightenment. I doubt that I need to remind anyone that this movement was anything but populated by devout believers; a look at the list of its main personalities shows just the opposite. So if you accept that Freemasonry was begun by Enlightenment freethinkers who used stonemasons' guilds for their formal structure, there's no reason to place any emphasis on a belief in a "higher power" in early Freemasonry.

So where did it come from? I think that there are four main sources.

First, as soon as Freemasonry had any public visibility, it was seen as a threat to existing powers; mainly the Church and the Crown (which was usually indivisible from the Church, as in Britain, where the King/Queen was also head of the Church). Because of this, the easiest charge for those powers to make was that Freemasonry was irreligious or even blasphemous. And, when faced with that sort of pressure, the easiest response is "Oh no we're not; we're good, god-fearing men!" Unfortunately, that has been the response from the leaders of Freemasonry whenever those charges have been trotted out over the past 3 centuries.

Second, some of the early key figures in Freemasonry have been religious men, such as James Anderson, whose eponymous "Constitutions" are important documents. Anderson was a Presbyterian minister who became a Mason, and his religious background seems to have colored his views of what Freemasonry should be. It was he who wrote "...a Mason...will never be a stupid atheist..." Notwithstanding the fact that atheists probably tend to be less stupid than the average theist, this passage seems to contradict Anderson's own words in the same paragraph: to "admit(s) into the Fraternity all that are good and true; whereby it hath brought about the Means of Reconciliation amongst Persons, who, without that Assistance, would have remained at perpetual Variance." And many of the most brilliant Freemasons of the time (d'Alembert, d'Holbach, Diderot, de Condorcet, de Missy, Helvetius, et al) were indeed atheists, albeit not in the same jurisdiction as Anderson.

A third reason for requiring a belief in a "higher power" is because Masons have to take a number of vows, not least of which to keep the secrets of Freemasonry inviolate. (One of the main reasons for this is rather mundane: because Freemasonry is based upon trust, since a Mason will always try to help brother Mason in a time of need; something that can and has been exploited by men falsely claiming to be Masons.) It was believed that the most solemn and binding vow one could take would be with a "supreme being" as your witness. That was even true in the courts of law until recently, where one had to swear an oath to "god" to make one's testimony true.

The fourth reason may seem a bit cynical, but there was a commonly held utilitarian belief that religion had the effect of making people "good", which is to say "behave themselves" and not break laws. This was exemplified by Benjamin Franklin who supported just about any religious project that entered his sphere, even though he was a doubter and at best, a deist. This "moralizing effect" of religion in a nation that was large and growing, but had very few constables for law enforcement, seemed to make sense at the time. And likewise, if religious belief made people "good", it thus would make Masons "better".

It's important to remember that at the time of Freemasonry's greatest early growth (say, 1720-1820), there was no viable alternative cosmology to theism or deism. Even the greatest thinkers of the day (Voltaire, Franklin, et al) wanted to get as far away from theism as possible, but could only go as far as deism; the lack of any other "first cause" limited them. Had they lived 50 years later, after Darwin and other scientists were able to demonstrate an entirely naturalistic cosmology, they would surely have been atheists.

Finally, when any institution survives as long as Freemasonry has, it builds up its own resistance to change. Even though many of the Masons who I know well would register at least 5 on the Dawkins Scale, we also understand that it's very difficult to change an international organization of millions that has, as one of its chief appeals, an illustrious tradition. And even if any given Grand Lodge in the US were to break with tradition and no longer require a belief in a "supreme being", they would lose their recognition with the Mother Lodge of Freemasonry, the United Grand Lodge of England, who are determined to at least pay lip service to "belief" until the end of time. That recognition is not something that most Grand Lodges are willing to risk losing.

So, there you have it. I hope this helps clear up any confusion on the subject. Let me know if you have any further questions.

timhau
23rd July 2011, 02:01 PM
Who controls the British crown?
Who keeps the metric system down?
We do! We do!
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
We do! We do!
Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
We do! We do!
Who robs the cave fish of their site?
Who rigs every Oscar night?
We do! We do!

And here I was, thinking that you're our benevolent overlords.

Aikenhead
23rd July 2011, 02:04 PM
I hope that no one minds that I've revived this thread after 2 months, but I've been away from the forum for a while and just saw it. I'm very interested in the connections between skepticism and Freemasonry, both positive and negative, mainly because our current inspirational leaders in the field of skepticism, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Michael Shermer - even Randi himself seem reluctant to mention Masonry outright.
Why...worried about getting beaten up if they reveal too much?

No Mason gets "beaten up" for revealing Masonic secrets. You get expelled, and no good Mason will associate with you anymore. That's all.

Personally I don't see how a skeptic or scientist can, in good conscience, belong to any organization which puts so much emphasis on secrecy. If the root of science and skepticism are evidence and objectivity, how can they be compatible with secrecy?

The secrecy in Masonry has nothing to do with anything outside of Masonry, and is in no way incompatible with "evidence and objectivity".

What about homosexuality. Are gays admitted (and lesbians to co-masonry?) - I've heard that there are separate gay lodges, or is there a "don't ask, don't tell" rule?

There are no "separate gay lodges". Gays and lesbians are welcome in all branches of Masonry. There is probably the same percentage of gay men in Masonry as there are gay men in every other large group, and there are gay men in the lodges I belong to that are openly so.

Aikenhead
23rd July 2011, 02:26 PM
I am both a skeptic (avid, attend a group etc) and a long time Mason (Past Master).

Me too.

The organization is rife with mysticism and pseudo-history. Sometimes the pseudo-history is raised to a meta level. For instance, they take historical accounts from the Bible and change them to fit the Masonic outlook. But, ultimately when confronting a long standing Mason about the discrepancies, they tend to reply something to the effect that "it's all ********, all of it".

After a while, it's just a bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep a live a tradition for it's own sake - almost indistinguishable from any family tradition. The secret work, available on any of a hundred websites, gets handed down, word for word, from memory, from adept to novice. I suppose this is what creates and strengthens the bonds - fraternity, fealty and charity.

Well, I have to disagree with you there. Certainly, there's a lot of "mysticism and pseudo-history" in Masonry, but if you haven't found anything beyond that, it's not due to its absence. There's a great deal of content that simply isn't made available to Masons who don't have the inclination or interest to look for it. One of the best ways to begin one's search for it it is through Traditional Observance lodges, or research lodges.

There are also countless "invitational societies" that tap Masons for membership that you'll never hear about unless they tap you. Many of these focus on esoteric aspects of Masonry and related disciplines (sometimes very distantly related).

In short: the "bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep alive a tradition for its own sake" is just the lowest, largest and most visible group. The good stuff simply isn't for public consumption.

Orphia Nay
23rd July 2011, 11:37 PM
Welcome to the forum, Aikenhead! :w2: Interesting and informative posts! :thumbsup:

Aikenhead
24th July 2011, 11:51 AM
Welcome to the forum, Aikenhead! :w2: Interesting and informative posts! :thumbsup:
Thanks for the welcome!

Happy to add to the discourse, even if it's one year after the fact.

LightinDarkness
25th July 2011, 01:15 AM
In short: the "bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep alive a tradition for its own sake" is just the lowest, largest and most visible group. The good stuff simply isn't for public consumption.

I question anyone who makes these sort of statements unless its highly qualified. Its true that most of the interest esoteric and philosophic aspects of freemasonry aren't for "public consumption," but only because people aren't looking for it. Its not hidden or kept secret from the membership (or the public at large, really).

Most masons simply don't care to go deeper - but there arent huge numbers of "invitation only" branches keeping the "good stuff" from you.

little grey rabbit
25th July 2011, 01:34 AM
Obviously, there is no good stuff.

Can LinD describe one Freemason meme that is anything other than a motherhood statement?

I presume the only attraction is the belief that it will help boost careers, but I don't want to discount the possibility that it used to provide an outlet for men in a time when wearing an apron was socially disapproved of.

Aikenhead
25th July 2011, 12:20 PM
I question anyone who makes these sort of statements unless its highly qualified. Its true that most of the interest esoteric and philosophic aspects of freemasonry aren't for "public consumption," but only because people aren't looking for it. Its not hidden or kept secret from the membership (or the public at large, really).

Most masons simply don't care to go deeper - but there arent huge numbers of "invitation only" branches keeping the "good stuff" from you.


What percentage of Republicans had even heard of the PNAC during its 8 years of publishing papers? Very few noticed it. What percentage of the 3 million US servicemen and women in the armed forces today know about Continuity of Operations Contingency Site D? A minuscule number, and entirely on a need-to-know basis. What percentage of Catholics had heard of Opus Dei before that Dan Brown book? -.001%? And that's an organization with 90,000 members around the world who make no attempt at secrecy!

For that matter, how many of the 2 million Masons in the US today know about Amaranth, Quetzalcoatl, MOVPER, the Corks, the Tall Cedars, Allied Masonic Degrees, Societas Rosicruciana and the Order of St. Thomas of Acon? Not one in a hundred, I'd guess, and these are all "official" Masonic bodies with a public presence. How many Masons have even heard of Traditional Observance Lodges, even though there are almost 30 of them in the US today?

Sorry, but just because you don't know about invitational Masonic orders doesn't somehow demonstrate that they don't exist. And it's not like I'm going to list them here (not that their names would mean anything to you anyway). And many such invitational orders are specific to one area, so if your lodge is outside of that area, you'd never be noticed to be tapped for membership. Others limit themselves by other parameters which might again preclude your being tapped.

As Dr. Sagan was fond of saying: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence."

fitzgibbon
25th July 2011, 01:44 PM
Sorry, but just because you don't know about invitational Masonic orders doesn't somehow demonstrate that they don't exist. And it's not like I'm going to list them here (not that their names would mean anything to you anyway). And many such invitational orders are specific to one area, so if your lodge is outside of that area, you'd never be noticed to be tapped for membership. Others limit themselves by other parameters which might again preclude your being tapped.

As Dr. Sagan was fond of saying: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence."

And your point is? We can argue this as if the rabbit hole is actually reality and that darkness conceals the enormity of that which LiD is overlooking. However, it falls to you to delineate that which you claim exists. Quite honestly, your posturing seems to have more in common with anti-Masonic views than those of avowed Masons.

While the "absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence" sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Aikenhead
25th July 2011, 03:27 PM
And your point is?

I should've thought that my point was obvious.

Person A claimed that nothing existed beyond the superficial, within a society with millions of members. That is an argument from ignorance and an appeal to authority. After all, what member of any "society with secrets" could possibly know that there did not exist anything beyond their experience or knowledge?

Person B responded that in fact more did exist, beneath the surface. An assertion from experience carries more weight than an assertion from ignorance. Does that require "extraordinary evidence"? Only if person B cares to try to persuade others. He doesn't. He was informing, not proselytizing.

We can argue this as if the rabbit hole is actually reality and that darkness conceals the enormity of that which LiD is overlooking. However, it falls to you to delineate that which you claim exists.

Hardly. First, no one claimed an "enormity"; I said that there were "countless 'invitational societies'". In that, I am correct. Second, it's rather silly to demand that a member of a "society with secrets", who asserts the existence of related societies that operate in the background by intent, must prove their existence to the satisfaction of one and all. Now, what would you say that the odds are that I'm going to betray those organizations in order to satisfy the curiosity of outsiders?

Quite honestly, your posturing seems to have more in common with anti-Masonic views than those of avowed Masons.

I don't see how. You seem to be suggesting that these "invitational societies" within Freemasonry are somehow nefarious. That has not been my experience. Of course, I can't claim to know the purpose or methods of every such group, so I can't speak authoritatively on the subject.

While the "absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence" sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Perhaps, but I think it's wiser to leave the determination about what is or isn't a cigar to tobacconists and cigar aficionados, than to those who have never seen the object in question.

LightinDarkness
25th July 2011, 03:29 PM
What percentage of Republicans had even heard of the PNAC during its 8 years of publishing papers? Very few noticed it. What percentage of the 3 million US servicemen and women in the armed forces today know about Continuity of Operations Contingency Site D? A minuscule number, and entirely on a need-to-know basis. What percentage of Catholics had heard of Opus Dei before that Dan Brown book? -.001%? And that's an organization with 90,000 members around the world who make no attempt at secrecy!

For that matter, how many of the 2 million Masons in the US today know about Amaranth, Quetzalcoatl, MOVPER, the Corks, the Tall Cedars, Allied Masonic Degrees, Societas Rosicruciana and the Order of St. Thomas of Acon? Not one in a hundred, I'd guess, and these are all "official" Masonic bodies with a public presence. How many Masons have even heard of Traditional Observance Lodges, even though there are almost 30 of them in the US today?

Sorry, but just because you don't know about invitational Masonic orders doesn't somehow demonstrate that they don't exist. And it's not like I'm going to list them here (not that their names would mean anything to you anyway). Most of them never meet beyond once a year or once every two years since they are SIDE ORDERS with busy members who are all active in their "drinking club" as you call it blue lodges and the major side orders. And many such invitational orders are specific to one area, so if your lodge is outside of that area, you'd never be noticed to be tapped for membership. Others limit themselves by other parameters which might again preclude your being tapped.

As Dr. Sagan was fond of saying: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence."

Yeah Fitz, this makes me think this guy is CTer, fakemason, or in a "mail order" fraternity that he joined in order to feel special. I've never seen such a caustic response from a real mason, and I know plenty of real masons in the US who are in far more "prestigious" invitational orders than he could ever dream of. Men like Dr. S. Brent Morris, who also has achieved the Scottish Rites highest invitational only honor (separate from the 33rd degree), who the picture of humility and grace. And what do you know...he spends nearly all of his time conversing with those "drinking club" level masons.

Indeed the entire concept promoted by Aikenhead here is something we see expressed by conspiracy fruitcakes all the time - the whole "high level" mason thing. It looks like either Aikenhead isnt a mason or hes getting off on thinking hes special - in either case conduct unbecoming a real mason.

Of the 2 million North American masons I'd say much of them have heard of some of those organizations - they aren't seem as some sort of "secret keepers" of knowledge by anyone except you it seems. The TO movement is also well known, and people like you do a good job at presenting why its opposed where it is.

Sorry, but you've failed. Try again. I love the assumption that I couldn't possibly be in any invitation orders by the way, when I am in at least 4 where membership is extended by invite only and in 2 where membership numbers are limited by the charter - but then again that just proves that I know what I am talking about and you are clueless. There is nothing in them that is hidden from the general membership, and its not hard to get an invite either, even in the "membership is limited" bodies (membership limits can be raised...).

LightinDarkness
25th July 2011, 03:35 PM
I should've thought that my point was obvious.

Person A claimed that nothing existed beyond the superficial, within a society with millions of members. That is an argument from ignorance and an appeal to authority. After all, what member of any "society with secrets" could possibly know that there did not exist anything beyond their experience or knowledge?

Person B responded that in fact more did exist, beneath the surface. An assertion from experience carries more weight than an assertion from ignorance. Does that require "extraordinary evidence"? Only if person B cares to try to persuade others. He doesn't. He was informing, not proselytizing.

Unfortunately this argument only took place in some fantasy realm where no one but you was present. Back away from the delusions and back into the reality:

I argued that while there was certainly more to learn than just the general blue lodge, that none of it was actively barred from people who wanted to look for it.

You argued that there was within freemasonry numerous mystical invitational orders where the "real" stuff was, and that general freemasonry was for the stupid guys.


Hardly. First, no one claimed an "enormity"; I said that there were "countless 'invitational societies'". In that, I am correct. Second, it's rather silly to demand that a member of a "society with secrets", who asserts the existence of related societies that operate in the background by intent, must prove their existence to the satisfaction of one and all. Now, what would you say that the odds are that I'm going to betray those organizations in order to satisfy the curiosity of outsiders?


Then you really know 0 about actual freemasonry since its not a "society with secrets" and hasn't been since about the time you could buy the ritual in Barnes & Noble. There aren't countless invitation societies - real Grand Lodges have limits on how many masonic orders they allow to be regular as to not stretch people too thin. Also, no REAL masonic invitational body keeps its existence secret from the general membership, as it would have to be approved by the Grand Lodge (those good old pleb masons again!).

By the way, what Grand Lodge are you under again? Please answer that question in your next vulgar expulsion of non-sense about freemasonry.

Aikenhead
25th July 2011, 03:53 PM
Yeah Fitz, this makes me think this guy is CTer, fakemason, or in a "mail order" fraternity that he joined in order to feel special. I've never seen such a caustic response from a real mason...

...which you then responded to with an entirely caustic reply. Way to keep the high moral ground.

...I know plenty of real masons in the US who are in far more "prestigious" invitational orders than he could ever dream of...I love the assumption that I couldn't possibly be in any invitation orders by the way, when I am in at least 4 where members can join by invite only and in 2 where membership is limited by the charter - but then again that just proves that I know what I am talking about and you are clueless. There is nothing in them that is hidden from the general membership, and its not hard to get an invite either, even in the "membership is limited" bodies (membership limits can be raised...)

Congratulations for proving my point for me.

...the whole "high level" mason thing.

Except that I never even suggested "higher levels" in Masonry. Was that a reading comprehension failure or a strawman? No one in Masonry is "higher" than a Master Mason.

It looks like either Aikenhead isnt a mason

That's easily proved. Shall I scan my dues cards (name redacted) and post them here? Will you do the same?

...or hes getting off on thinking hes special - in either case conduct unbecoming a real mason.

I made no claims of "specialness"; I merely said that there was far more to Masonry than "a social club" -- a claim that you yourself to umbrage to a few posts ago. And you should be aware that my words here hardly constitute "conduct".

LightinDarkness
25th July 2011, 04:21 PM
...which you then responded to with an entirely caustic reply. Way to keep the high moral ground.



Congratulations for proving my point for me.



Except that I never even suggested "higher levels" in Masonry. Was that a reading comprehension failure or a strawman? No one in Masonry is "higher" than a Master Mason.



That's easily proved. Shall I scan my dues cards (name redacted) and post them here? Will you do the same?



I made no claims of "specialness"; I merely said that there was far more to Masonry than "a social club" -- a claim that you yourself to umbrage to a few posts ago. And you should be aware that my words here hardly constitute "conduct".

You've come full circle on your stupidity now to this, which if that had been your original point we could have agreed upon. If you are really a mason - which I doubt - I am ashamed of the fraternity. We failed on letting someone with such arrogance in. You won't even respond by telling me your Grand Lodge, saying you'll scan a dues card is hysterical since if you were a real mason you'd know that you could make one up in photoshop. Giving a Grand Lodge name wouldn't establish your a mason either, of course, but it would be a start as I could cross check how many of the organizations you listed are active in that jurisdiction.

Anyways, enjoy the ignore list. There really isn't anything left to respond to. I debunk you and you respond "thanks for proving my point" as if thats going to erase the fact that your quoting something which shows you have no idea what you are talking about.

Fitz, if he mentions a Grand Lodge PM me with it since I wont see it as hes on ignore. By the way, Fitz, this one sounds like an ATS troll if I am remembering correctly..you getting the same vibe as me? Remember the ATS troll we had that claimed to be a mason and made up a whole huge story around it? Wonder if this is reincarnation V2.0?

Aikenhead
25th July 2011, 10:48 PM
You won't even respond by telling me your Grand Lodge, saying you'll scan a dues card is hysterical since if you were a real mason you'd know that you could make one up in photoshop. Giving a Grand Lodge name wouldn't establish your a mason either, of course, but it would be a start as I could cross check how many of the organizations you listed are active in that jurisdiction.

I'm inclined to believe that it is your reading comprehension that's at fault, especially if you think that you "could cross check how many of the organizations you listed are active in that jurisdiction". First, I never said that I was active in any of those groups (although I might be); I simply asked what percentage of Masons know of their existence. Second, you would have to be a Mason within my state to have access to its GL records. Third, you would only be able to see what organizations I was a member of that aren't the sort I was discussing, e.g., the major ones like Scottish Rite. Fail, fail and more fail.

As for the "you could just make it up in Photoshop" dodge -- well, first one would have to know what those documents look like. It's extremely unlikely that a non-Mason would have access to say, a dues card for a blue lodge, much less a 32nd Degree or KCCH certificate. And then, for example, you'd have to have some way to reproduce the embossed gold foil seal on my 32nd Degree certificate, or the blindstamp on my dues card. I could easily photograph these at an angle, which would make the possibility of faking them near zero. But of course you won't ask for me to do this, nor will you offer your own, since that would too easily disprove your claim that I'm not a real Mason.

There really isn't anything left to respond to. I debunk you...

Except, of course, that you did nothing of the sort. I asserted that there were "secret" (if that's an easier term for you to grasp) invitational organizations for Masons. And your "debunking" of that assertion? That you "know plenty of real masons in the US who are in far more 'prestigious' invitational orders than he could ever dream of." So you explicitly state that there are indeed such organizations, but they're "secret" and I don't know about them. Sound familiar? You may be blind to both your self-contradiction and the irony of your "debunking", but I'm not.

Then you really know 0 about actual freemasonry since its not a "society with secrets" and hasn't been since about the time you could buy the ritual in Barnes & Noble.

Perhaps you haven't been a Mason for very long, but Masonic "tell-alls" have been around since the 18th century. However, seeing line drawings of body positions or hand positions hardly conveys "secrets", especially since the details vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and an impostor, parroting whatever they might've seen in a book from Barnes & Noble would quickly be exposed as such.

The TO movement is also well known, and people like you do a good job at presenting why its opposed where it is.

Some people oppose TO? Amazing. I just hope that doesn't jeopardize my invitation to my non-TO lodge's annual beer & pizza feed.

There aren't countless invitation societies - real Grand Lodges have limits on how many masonic orders they allow to be regular as to not stretch people too thin. Also, no REAL masonic invitational body keeps its existence secret from the general membership, as it would have to be approved by the Grand Lodge

So you actually believe that every invitational society requires approval or charters from GLs?! What GL charters or approves say, the Philalethes Society? -or the Masonic Renewal Foundation? (Not that either of these are the sort of invitational societies that I've been referring to, since they're open to all Masons.) It may be news to you, but many Masonic groups that operate without a charter or approval from any GL.

You argued...that general freemasonry was for the stupid guys.

Nope. What I wrote was "the 'bunch of guys drinking and doing their best to keep alive a tradition for its own sake' is just the lowest (as in position), largest and most visible group." Nowhere did I suggest "stupidity". That's been your tack.

I love the assumption that I couldn't possibly be in any invitation orders...

Ah. Now I get it: this is about your ego. Got it.

If you are really a mason - which I doubt - I am ashamed of the fraternity.

What you ought to be ashamed of is your knee-jerk ad hominem reaction to what was, on my side, an innocuous assertion. You immediately accused me of the following:
being "CTer" (I presume that's accusing me of being an alt)
a "fakemason"
"in a 'mail order' fraternity that (I) joined in order to feel special"
"(not) a mason or...getting off on thinking (I'm) special"
"clueless"
that I "know 0 about actual freemasonry"
"stupid"
"arrogant"
and "a troll".

You're quite a credit to the Fraternity. With brothers like you, who needs anti-Masonry agitators?

Anyways, enjoy the ignore list.

If being ignored by you means that I'll miss your spleen-venting, then I'm sure I shall. I'll believe it when I see it.

LightinDarkness
26th July 2011, 12:40 AM
OK, we can close the book on this one. After talking with Fitzgibbon, we can definitely say that you have no idea what you are talking about, nor are you a freemason. For future trolling attempts, what gave you away was your statement that Grand Lodges don't have to approve of any self-proclaimed "masonic order" operating within their jurisdiction.

1. As real mason knows, the Grand Lodge sets the standard for recognition of masonic bodies - they can and in fact do from time to time issue BINDING proclamations barring their membership from taking part in self-proclaimed side masonic orders. Without the Grand Lodge's approval, these bodies are irregular freemasonry - and if Grand Lodge members leave to join these bodies, they are no longer masons because they have left their blue lodge.

Lets take a look at a recent example where the lowly Grand Lodges disapproved of a invitation only side order:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D_9dexJ5SaQ/Tcr7p5DeaOI/AAAAAAAAETA/zWAf0nlx2ZY/s1600/Edict_11_04_25_Page_2.jpg

Why look, as recently as March 2011 a lowly Grand Lodge was issuing an order barring its members from joining a invitation only side order. But obviously thats just a big joke, I mean its not like these side orders need Grand Lodge approval to get members..er...oh, wait.

2. You continue to fail to provide any information you are really a mason. Welcome to Google. http://home.comcast.net/~mark_krubsack/K6MAK/photos/view_15.html. Now, you could provide some real information to verify, but you won't do that because you don't know how to. Because you are not a mason.

Dismissed aikenhead. Thanks for playing!

A Laughing Baby
26th July 2011, 10:47 AM
I'm getting my third put on me at the end of this summer, so I guess I'll get to join the Skeptic Mason Crew.

Aikenhead
26th July 2011, 11:34 AM
OK, we can close the book on this one. After talking with Fitzgibbon, we can definitely say that you have no idea what you are talking about, nor are you a freemason. For future trolling attempts, what gave you away was your statement that Grand Lodges don't have to approve of any self-proclaimed "masonic order" operating within their jurisdiction.

1. As real mason knows, the Grand Lodge sets the standard for recognition of masonic bodies - they can and in fact do from time to time issue BINDING proclamations barring their membership from taking part in self-proclaimed side masonic orders. Without the Grand Lodge's approval, these bodies are irregular freemasonry - and if Grand Lodge members leave to join these bodies, they are no longer masons because they have left their blue lodge.

Lets take a look at a recent example where the lowly Grand Lodges disapproved of a invitation only side order:

Why look, as recently as March 2011 a lowly Grand Lodge was issuing an order barring its members from joining a invitation only side order. But obviously thats just a big joke, I mean its not like these side orders need Grand Lodge approval to get members..er...oh, wait.

Yep, it's "reading comprehension", and you seem to struggle with it often. Did you even read that page before you quoted it?! Here's what the salient bit says:

"the Commission...reported on a situation whereby members of Grand Lodges became affiliated with an organization whose charter originated from an irregular source".

What organization? "The Reformed and Rectified Rite of the USA". Chartered by whom? "The Grand Priory of Occitania" (the latter is an irregular French body). Of course a GL can take action when talking about irregular or clandestine lodges and GLs! But that's not what we've been talking about here. Read it again: "invitational groups".

Oh, and BTW: Bro. Chris Hodapp (PM, 33*) is on record as actually opposing the Commission's decision. Perhaps you don't think he's a "real Mason" either.

Next, nowhere did I say "side orders", as you have claimed. Again, do you even know the difference between the "invitational groups" I've been talking about and "side orders" (or "appendant bodies") like Shrine? No GL has any jurisdiction over groups like the Philalethes Society or the Masonic Renewal Foundation. Any such group can limit its membership to Masons in good standing. The ONLY thing that would bring them or their members into conflict with a GL is if they overstep their bounds (i.e., conduct themselves as a lodge). Again: what GL charters the Philalethes? NO GL. What GL could shut them down for doing what they do? NO GL. What GL could expel a brother for membership in them? NO GL. Quantum fail.

2. You continue to fail to provide any information you are really a mason.

Amazing that you haven't said what information you would accept that would prove it. What were you expecting? -a notarized letter from the Master of my Lodge? (Of course, that could be faked with Photoshop, natch.) Me to appear in front of you with my driver's license and my GL number, to check it with? (Of course, licenses can be faked.) I suggested the most obvious, difficult to fake proof, and you (not surprisingly) didn't like it.

Welcome to Google... Now, you could provide some real information to verify, but you won't do that because you don't know how to. Because you are not a mason.

You can claim that until the cows come home but it doesn't make it true. Well, I can say the same: you aren't really a Mason. Wasn't that easy? Now try to prove me wrong.

I can easily prove that I am by photographing one of my dues cards and my 32nd certificate -- from an angle, showing the embossed gold foil seal and the blindstamp. Please explain how one could possibly fake the complex reflections off of an embossed gold foil seal and the 3-D of a blindstamp. You can't.

I'll post mine this afternoon. I'll be waiting for you to do the same.

Dismissed aikenhead. Thanks for playing!

And thanks for putting me on "ignore". With ignoring like this, who needs attention? No, the only thing you managed to ignore was my point about how un-Masonic it was for you to immediately go ad hominem on me.

fitzgibbon
26th July 2011, 01:10 PM
I'm getting my third put on me at the end of this summer, so I guess I'll get to join the Skeptic Mason Crew.

Congratulations! You're in for quite the ride. :)

LightinDarkness
26th July 2011, 06:15 PM
I'm getting my third put on me at the end of this summer, so I guess I'll get to join the Skeptic Mason Crew.

I remember you talking about being interested in masonry a long time ago..PM me with how things have been going if you get a chance. As Fitz says, your in for quite a fun (but meaningful) ride.

And then you get to join the super secret elite side orders, according to the fakemason in this thread :D

Aikenhead
27th July 2011, 12:22 AM
And then you get to join the super secret elite side orders, according to the fakemason in this thread :D

Except, of course, that I never said "side orders". I dare you to go back and find even one instance of me saying "side order" or "side degree". You know you can't. Reading comprehension? -or a lie? From a Mason? I'd hope not.

And as for "fakemason" -- here you go: photos from many angles of my 32nd Degree certificate, and my dues card from one of the lodges I belong to. (I've redacted names and places.) Since the forum only allows the posting of URLs after 15 posts, you'll have to add the usual h t t p : / / w w w . before each URL below, but hopefully that's not beyond your grasp.

Note that they're sitting on top of today's edition of the Times, which means that the photos could only have been taken today. Note the obvious three-dimensionality of the embossed foil seal and of the blindstamp. Note the differing reflections on the gold foil, from different angles. Go right ahead and try to explain how anyone could've faked these, Mr. Photoshop. Or why they'd bother to try.

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2613/2959940311361292201311750011lmNqMCUHbgVC8YknFIp8.J PG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/1516/10602895048899365331311750028vRHJv04hNderjV4UE8Xk. JPG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2111/608954562135855427313117500387sDGtbM0RxowarJIuw3O. JPG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2477/99839022112433464061311750045RPqaO0vBxwASQoFMLJE8. JPG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2132/7856110416330049791311750064X16jkIM6kR7YmMBv60Dq.J PG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2113/42457485510588082101311750079ErTZLb5MLmZWSfmugCcD. JPG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2026/1815929902381328322131175008734TvG4eO1R5NoNijtClH. JPG

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2970/252760371988849361311750161vZReSkgLsKpS1sxm8Hus.JP G

picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/1815/80311104010730555541311750166kV6noTiVJP8q4DCXHR3k. JPG


I'll be waiting to see your bona fides now, and I'm ready to accept an apology from you for your libeling a fellow Mason.

Aikenhead
27th July 2011, 10:19 AM
*sigh*

For some reason, my posting these automatically adds a space near the end of each URL. I presume that this is related to the fact that I don't have the requisite 15 posts under my belt to be allowed to post links. Just remove any spaces you see, add the h t t p : / / w w w . at the beginning (if necessary) and take a look.

Childlike Empress
27th July 2011, 10:25 AM
Thanks for the Great Work, Gentlemen. This thread is quite amusing. There you go:

http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2613/2959940311361292201311750011lmNqMCUHbgVC8YknFIp8.J PG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/1516/10602895048899365331311750028vRHJv04hNderjV4UE8Xk. JPG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2111/608954562135855427313117500387sDGtbM0RxowarJIuw3O. JPG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2477/99839022112433464061311750045RPqaO0vBxwASQoFMLJE8. JPG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2132/7856110416330049791311750064X16jkIM6kR7YmMBv60Dq.J PG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2113/42457485510588082101311750079ErTZLb5MLmZWSfmugCcD. JPG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2026/1815929902381328322131175008734TvG4eO1R5NoNijtClH. JPG
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/2970/252760371988849361311750161vZReSkgLsKpS1sxm8Hus.JP G
http://www.picvalley.net/v.php?p=u/1815/80311104010730555541311750166kV6noTiVJP8q4DCXHR3k. JPG

Aikenhead
28th July 2011, 01:14 AM
Thanks for the Great Work, Gentlemen. This thread is quite amusing.

Heh. I have to say that it's a little surreal, having to prove that I actually am a Freemason. And a little surprising to encounter so much bile from another Mason, but there it is.

I guess what's not surprising is the deafening silence from "Mr. You're Not Really A Mason", now that he's figured out that I actually am, and has tiptoed off in embarrassment.

Masons aren't usually like this, you know. When we're not running the world, hiding the extraterrestrials in Area 51, keeping the metric system down and so forth:rolleyes:, we're generally pretty good-natured.

Thanks for helping out with the picture hosting, BTW.

little grey rabbit
28th July 2011, 04:01 AM
So where is LinD?

I seem to recall that the Lodge of freemasons he claimed to belong to was an Internet Lodge.

Maybe he is a member of the ancient and accepted order of Trollmasons?

Aikenhead
28th July 2011, 01:22 PM
So where is LinD?

I seem to recall that the Lodge of freemasons he claimed to belong to was an Internet Lodge.

Seriously?! :rolleyes:

Nice to know that I wasted all of those posts trying to prove my bona fides to some iMason.

Internet Lodges make about as much sense as text orgies.

Howie Felterbush
28th July 2011, 08:09 PM
Seriously?! :rolleyes:

Nice to know that I wasted all of those posts trying to prove my bona fides to some iMason.

Internet Lodges make about as much sense as text orgies.

How do you do a secret handshake over the internet?

Childlike Empress
28th July 2011, 08:18 PM
How do you do a secret handshake over the internet?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_Layer_Security#TLS_handshake_in_detail

edit: all like in real life:

at this point, the "handshake" is complete and the application protocol is enabled, with content type of 23.


:p

Howie Felterbush
28th July 2011, 08:49 PM
Joker.

Seriously, though. That was funny, but are there such things as internet Masonic Lodges? How are they viewed by non-internet Masons? I Googled it and found a few, but they still seemed like they had brick-and-mortar meeting places.

This is interesting to me. My roommate in college was a Mason, and to me it seemed like it was just something he was doing because his father and grandfather did it. I have no opinion one way or the other about Masons, but it is an interesting subject.

ShadowSot
28th July 2011, 11:07 PM
I used to really enjoy Freemasonry, and I still do for that matter.
I've never been a Mason, but the ritual, philosphy, and members really helped encourage me to pursue it.
Thing is, though, I am an atheist. My part of the country is fairly... conservative.
Still mostly all right guys but want God in there somewhere.

Most of the reason I got into it was the conspiracy forums I was a member of.
The Freemasons on the site were generally fair and sceptical, while the others in that subsection mostly..... were not.

USEagle13
28th July 2011, 11:48 PM
I am from a conservative part of the country and I had a couple questions.

I have an Uncle that was a Mason for 50yrs (he is dying now) but he never wanted to talk about it. Why?

A guy I used to work with whose dad was a freemason in one of the major cities in our state and told me some things.

Women could not join his lodge.
People of color (Arabs and Africans) could not join.

Why?

Also he stated that African Americans have something similar but it is not technically free masonry.

Is all that true and could you explain?

My grandfather was a freemason and there is literally a lodge right down my street and I was seriously thinking about joining but there are some issues with the lodge by my house.

1. I or anyone else have never ever see anyone there. Not even cars.

2. There is no website for it on the net.

3. I live in a very small town.

4. I don't even know who is in it. I live in a small town and practically know everyone and no one even acknowledges that the very inconspicuos brown tin barn looking building with no windows is even there. When I have told ppl in the past about it they tell me later OMG you're right they have the sign above it with blue background with yellow compass and square and everything. These are people who (including me) have lived in this town their whole life who never even knew it was there.

5.Also it is directly behind the town library (which is kinda funny)

Hope you can help me with my questions, thanks.

Aikenhead
29th July 2011, 12:13 AM
Seriously, though. That was funny, but are there such things as internet Masonic Lodges? How are they viewed by non-internet Masons? I Googled it and found a few, but they still seemed like they had brick-and-mortar meeting places.

The only "internet lodge" I know of is in Britain, and it also meets in person at least 3 times every year. Frankly, I think the whole thing is a gimmick to try to appeal to "those kids and their interwebs". There are two main things that Masons do in Lodge (a Masonic "Lodge" is a group of Masons, not a place): ritual work (which would be impossible to do on-line) and "stated meetings", which are for the transaction of Lodge business. The latter *could* be done on-line, but why? Most stated meetings take place once a month and last maybe an hour; not exactly causing great hardship.

This is interesting to me. My roommate in college was a Mason, and to me it seemed like it was just something he was doing because his father and grandfather did it. I have no opinion one way or the other about Masons, but it is an interesting subject.

There are many different reasons why men (and women, if we're going to include co-masonry) become Masons. In the 18th century, one of the main reasons was because the Enlightenment was the greatest thing going, and Freemasonry was a hotbed of Enlightenment philosophy and philosophes. In the 19th century, a big attraction was networking for politicians, tycoons (and aspiring tycoons), etc. In the mid-20th century, it appealed to millions of returning GIs who missed the camaraderie they enjoyed during the War.

But now, one of the biggest draws to Masonry is a hunger for the intellectual, philosophical and esoteric substance that society lacks. One of Masonry's great strengths is that it has borrowed liberally from just about every mystery school and inner tradition in history, so you'll find (among other things) elements of Egyptian mythology, Paganism (in the original sense of the word), Zoroastrianism, Arthurian myths, Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism and Alchemy, and a large dose of Deism.

And these bits aren't just picked at random, but harmonized into something that "works" across all cultural lines. That's why Masons refer to whatever "supreme being" they prefer to ascribe divinity to as "the Great Architect of the Universe" -- a term that can be as personal as say, Yahweh, or as impersonal and ineffable as Spinoza's "god" (scientific pantheism). The "sacred volume" that rests on the altar of every Lodge room can be whatever such book a particular Lodge prefers; Christian Bible, Torah, Bhagavad-Gita, etc.

Masons aren't permitted to discuss religion (or politics) within Lodge, and this has been one of Freemasonry's greatest strengths; that it can transcend divisive tribalism. On the other hand, this has also provided fuel to both conspiracy theorists ("theorists" is really too kind a term) and to churches who choose to characterize this refusal to subscribe to *their* particular god as proof of apostasy, or worse. Usually worse.

Aikenhead
29th July 2011, 01:05 AM
I am from a conservative part of the country and I had a couple questions.

I have an Uncle that was a Mason for 50yrs (he is dying now) but he never wanted to talk about it. Why?

I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. Many older Masons don't talk much about Freemasonry, and there are many different reasons why. Some are confused about what part of it is OK to talk about to non-Masons. Some are worried about the stigma of belonging to a group that has been characterized in countless negative ways. Some think that the subject must be boring to others. Perhaps some think it's more special if they keep it secret. No doubt there are other reasons, and I have no idea what his might be, but you shouldn't feel like it's a taboo subject.

A guy I used to work with whose dad was a freemason in one of the major cities in our state and told me some things.

Women could not join his lodge.
People of color (Arabs and Africans) could not join.

Why?

Also he stated that African Americans have something similar but it is not technically free masonry.

Is all that true and could you explain?

It is true that women can't join any Masonic Lodge that operates in accord with the "mother Lodge" (the first Grand Lodge in the world) -- the United Grand Lodge of England, or "U.G.L.E." There's a fairly sensible reason for this. Imagine if men and women were meeting behind closed doors, doing god-knows-what, and all of them sworn to secrecy? Could many husbands or wives absolutely trust that their spouses would not be getting into mischief? It would potentially be a serious problem for all concerned. it would also totally change the dynamic of the Lodge, since men and women behave differently in co-ed environments than they do in single-sex ones.

Having said that, there are other Masonic groups that accept both men and women, or are just for women. The only downside is that a Mason (either man or woman) who belongs to such a Lodge cannot sit in Lodge with any Mason whose own Lodge is in accord with the UGLE, so that rules out most Lodges in the US and Britain (and many other countries). If, for example, when I'm in France, I were to go sit in a co-ed Lodge meeting, I could be kicked out of Freemasonry in the US. It's a bit harsh, and it may be changing soon, but that's the rule for now. France in particular has lots of Lodges for women.

Men of all ethnicities can join Lodges. One lodge I belong to is about 50% European-American, with the rest made up of Asian-, Hispanic- and African-Americans. There are indeed Lodges that are predominantly black, called "Prince Hall Masonry", after its founder. This came about before slavery was abolished, while the nation was heavily racially-polarized. Prince Hall Lodges do allow non-black members, but they seem to be where many black Masons feel more comfortable. And their Lodges are recognized as legitimate Freemasonry by every Lodge in accord with the UGLE, so a Prince Hall Mason is just as much of a Mason as I am, and I'm so white, I glow in the dark.

My grandfather was a freemason and there is literally a lodge right down my street and I was seriously thinking about joining but there are some issues with the lodge by my house.

1. I or anyone else have never ever see anyone there. Not even cars.

2. There is no website for it on the net.

3. I live in a very small town.

4. I don't even know who is in it. I live in a small town and practically know everyone and no one even acknowledges that the very inconspicuos brown tin barn looking building with no windows is even there. When I have told ppl in the past about it they tell me later OMG you're right they have the sign above it with blue background with yellow compass and square and everything. These are people who (including me) have lived in this town their whole life who never even knew it was there.

5.Also it is directly behind the town library (which is kinda funny)

Hope you can help me with my questions, thanks.

Many Lodges are dwindling or even "going to sleep" (too few members to continue), especially in small towns. Also, most Lodges meet at night, and just once or twice a month, so you might not see them when they're coming or going. Likewise, many smaller Lodges don't have websites, and even some larger ones are slow to have a web presence, since many of their members are older and barely computer-literate.

There's another aspect of Freemasonry that you should know, and it's one that blows away most conspiracy theories about Freemasonry being part of some global domination plan: Lodges are forbidden from recruiting new members. A prospective member has to ask to join, and technically, he has to ask three different times, to prove his interest. He has to get to know at least 3 members in the lodge, who have to sign his petition for membership (they're putting their credibility on the line by doing so).

Prospective members mustn't have a bad reputation in the community. Criminal records generally disqualify a candidate, unless there's a credible backstory. So does being physically disabled at time of joining. He has to be able to support himself and his family. (These last two reasons are because Lodges have an obligation to help Brother Masons in times of need, and they don't want to get a member who will immediately need charity, hospitalization, etc.)

He must have some sort of belief in some "supreme being" (take your pick), and a belief in some sort of a hereafter. Having said that, most American Masons will be Christian (or Jewish), so it's important to respect the beliefs of others and not be offended if they use a Bible as their Sacred Volume of Law, while you want them to use your copy of the Necronomicon or whatever.

It helps if a candidate is interested in serving the community in some way (donating to charities, fixing food for soup kitchens, whatever), and being friendly, having good manners and not looking like Marilyn Manson, are all important attributes. So is enthusiasm and a willingness to help out and to learn. It's definitely not a good tack to begin a conversation with a Mason with "I hear you guys worship Baphomet and sacrifice babies! Kewl!" And one doesn't have to join the closest Lodge; it's more important to find one that's a good fit.

I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to ask any others.

USEagle13
29th July 2011, 01:32 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your uncle. Many older Masons don't talk much about Freemasonry, and there are many different reasons why. Some are confused about what part of it is OK to talk about to non-Masons. Some are worried about the stigma of belonging to a group that has been characterized in countless negative ways. Some think that the subject must be boring to others. Perhaps some think it's more special if they keep it secret. No doubt there are other reasons, and I have no idea what his might be, but you shouldn't feel like it's a taboo subject.



It is true that women can't join any Masonic Lodge that operates in accord with the "mother Lodge" (the first Grand Lodge in the world) -- the United Grand Lodge of England, or "U.G.L.E." There's a fairly sensible reason for this. Imagine if men and women were meeting behind closed doors, doing god-knows-what, and all of them sworn to secrecy? Could many husbands or wives absolutely trust that their spouses would not be getting into mischief? It would potentially be a serious problem for all concerned. it would also totally change the dynamic of the Lodge, since men and women behave differently in co-ed environments than they do in single-sex ones.

Having said that, there are other Masonic groups that accept both men and women, or are just for women. The only downside is that a Mason (either man or woman) who belongs to such a Lodge cannot sit in Lodge with any Mason whose own Lodge is in accord with the UGLE, so that rules out most Lodges in the US and Britain (and many other countries). If, for example, when I'm in France, I were to go sit in a co-ed Lodge meeting, I could be kicked out of Freemasonry in the US. It's a bit harsh, and it may be changing soon, but that's the rule for now. France in particular has lots of Lodges for women.

Men of all ethnicities can join Lodges. One lodge I belong to is about 50% European-American, with the rest made up of Asian-, Hispanic- and African-Americans. There are indeed Lodges that are predominantly black, called "Prince Hall Masonry", after its founder. This came about before slavery was abolished, while the nation was heavily racially-polarized. Prince Hall Lodges do allow non-black members, but they seem to be where many black Masons feel more comfortable. And their Lodges are recognized as legitimate Freemasonry by every Lodge in accord with the UGLE, so a Prince Hall Mason is just as much of a Mason as I am, and I'm so white, I glow in the dark.



Many Lodges are dwindling or even "going to sleep" (too few members to continue), especially in small towns. Also, most Lodges meet at night, and just once or twice a month, so you might not see them when they're coming or going. Likewise, many smaller Lodges don't have websites, and even some larger ones are slow to have a web presence, since many of their members are older and barely computer-literate.

There's another aspect of Freemasonry that you should know, and it's one that blows away most conspiracy theories about Freemasonry being part of some global domination plan: Lodges are forbidden from recruiting new members. A prospective member has to ask to join, and technically, he has to ask three different times, to prove his interest. He has to get to know at least 3 members in the lodge, who have to sign his petition for membership (they're putting their credibility on the line by doing so).

Prospective members mustn't have a bad reputation in the community. Criminal records generally disqualify a candidate, unless there's a credible backstory. So does being physically disabled at time of joining. He has to be able to support himself and his family. (These last two reasons are because Lodges have an obligation to help Brother Masons in times of need, and they don't want to get a member who will immediately need charity, hospitalization, etc.)

He must have some sort of belief in some "supreme being" (take your pick), and a belief in some sort of a hereafter. Having said that, most American Masons will be Christian (or Jewish), so it's important to respect the beliefs of others and not be offended if they use a Bible as their Sacred Volume of Law, while you want them to use your copy of the Necronomicon or whatever.

It helps if a candidate is interested in serving the community in some way (donating to charities, fixing food for soup kitchens, whatever), and being friendly, having good manners and not looking like Marilyn Manson, are all important attributes. So is enthusiasm and a willingness to help out and to learn. It's definitely not a good tack to begin a conversation with a Mason with "I hear you guys worship Baphomet and sacrifice babies! Kewl!" And one doesn't have to join the closest Lodge; it's more important to find one that's a good fit.

I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to ask any others.

You did a really great job at answering all of my questions and have been very informative. I really appreciate your help in explaining in detail the answers to the questions I asked you. You're fellow Mason's would be proud.

Thanks for clearing that up about my uncle. I really appreciate it sir.

Howie Felterbush
29th July 2011, 08:11 AM
You did a really great job at answering all of my questions and have been very informative. I really appreciate your help in explaining in detail the answers to the questions I asked you. You're fellow Mason's would be proud.


Seconded.

Thanks, Aikenhead.

Howie Felterbush
29th July 2011, 08:57 AM
But now, one of the biggest draws to Masonry is a hunger for the intellectual, philosophical and esoteric substance that society lacks. One of Masonry's great strengths is that it has borrowed liberally from just about every mystery school and inner tradition in history, so you'll find (among other things) elements of Egyptian mythology, Paganism (in the original sense of the word), Zoroastrianism, Arthurian myths, Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism and Alchemy, and a large dose of Deism.


Follow up question.

I attended some events with my old roommate. Mostly open house type things at his Lodge; one dinner, one slideshow from a guy who had visited Isreal, stuff like that. The people I met at these events were very friendly and the atmosphere was one of brotherhood and fellowship. But these people were mostly farmers or local businessmen. I didn't really see them getting into intellectual or philosophical discussions much beyond grain prices or tractor repair.

Now, this is not an insult to Masonry; these are good people who do good things. Around here, it seems like Masonic lodges are more of a social club/charity organization than anything else. Does the intellectual and philosophical stuff just happen behind closed doors, or what?

fitzgibbon
29th July 2011, 12:55 PM
Follow up question.

I attended some events with my old roommate. Mostly open house type things at his Lodge; one dinner, one slideshow from a guy who had visited Isreal, stuff like that. The people I met at these events were very friendly and the atmosphere was one of brotherhood and fellowship. But these people were mostly farmers or local businessmen. I didn't really see them getting into intellectual or philosophical discussions much beyond grain prices or tractor repair.

You'd go wrong presuming anything in advance of speaking with a particular Mason. Which is not to say that all are deep into esoterica but you might be surprised at who is.

Books and covers and all that


Now, this is not an insult to Masonry; these are good people who do good things. Around here, it seems like Masonic lodges are more of a social club/charity organization than anything else. Does the intellectual and philosophical stuff just happen behind closed doors, or what?

The intellectual and philosophical happen within to the extent that they're entertained

Aikenhead
29th July 2011, 01:35 PM
Follow up question.

I attended some events with my old roommate...I didn't really see them getting into intellectual or philosophical discussions much beyond grain prices or tractor repair.

Now, this is not an insult to Masonry; these are good people who do good things. Around here, it seems like Masonic lodges are more of a social club/charity organization than anything else. Does the intellectual and philosophical stuff just happen behind closed doors, or what?

No, you're absolutely right in your impressions. It's important to bear in mind three things, though.

First, you're right in thinking that "the intellectual and philosophical stuff happens behind closed doors".

Second, Freemasonry is extremely generational. As I mentioned, the main reasons for men becoming Freemasons in the US have changed drastically and often over the past 270 years of it being practiced here. Of the 2 million or so Masons in the US today, most are over 60 years old. Most of them got into it because of the desire for the social interaction they knew in WWII or Korea, or because they thought it would advance their career or community standing. Very few joined for the intellectual or philosophical reasons I mentioned, because very few knew it even offered such things. So, the vast majority of Masons alive today know or care very little (if at all) about those things. However, of those who are under say, 50 years old, many are indeed interested in those things; it may be what brought them to it in the first place. In general, the younger a Mason is today and the more recently he's gotten into it, the more likely he is to have joined for those reasons.

And third, Freemasonry is like a pyramid. The vast majority of what most people see as "Freemasonry" is really "Blue Lodge" Freemasonry. That's the first three degrees -- Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master. However, Freemasonry extends far beyond that. The two main "appendant bodies" are the Scottish Rite (which, confusingly, is actually more French than Scottish in background), and the York Rite (which the British call the "American Rite"!) These are systems of teaching more esoteric aspects of Freemasonry. Any Master Mason can choose to go into either or both system and spend the rest of their lives learning far more than will be taught in Blue Lodges.

And that's nowhere near the end of it. The Scottish Rite, for example, has degrees from 4th through 32nd that can be learned and earned. Each degree uses a different historic myth -- usually acted out by actors and then studied, memorized, discussed, etc. -- to teach an important moral truth. In the past, and still in some countries, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year to progress from one degree to the next. In some jurisdictions today, it can be done in a weekend. For those people, there are also active study groups that one can join and discuss each degree at length (usually once a month), so one is able to get more out of it.

After getting to the 32nd Degree, one can choose to go into Shrine or any one of a number of other Side Orders and affiliated bodies (there are dozens of them). If one has gone through the York Rite system, one can become a Knight Templar (although that group has explicitly Christian symbology that may not be for everyone), or other groups as well. Only maybe 5% of Masons will go through either system.

After a member has held the 32nd Degree for at least 4 years, the particular Scottish Rite body to which one belongs can choose to honor one by making one a "Knight Commander of the Court of Honor". After at least another 4 years of being an active participant, they can choose to award the 33rd Degree. (These last two are totally honorary and cannot be "earned".) And even then, there are levels and honors that one can be given, such as the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor, a very rare honor. Looked at as a pyramid with Blue Lodges on the bottom, for every maybe 20 Master Masons, there might be 1 who goes into the Scottish or York Rite. For maybe every 10 of them, there might be 1 who is given the KCCH. For every 10 KCCH, there might be 1 who is given the 33rd Degree. For perhaps every 50 33rd Degree Masons, there might be 1 who is given the GCCH (these are rough estimates, off the top of my head).

There are also "Research Lodges", many of which are very active and publish both original research being done by their members, and re-publish important (and often obscure) older research.

Furthermore, there is a small (but rapidly growing) group of "Blue Lodges" that are called "Traditional Observance" (or "TO") Lodges which have sprung up in the last decade. These place a strong emphasis on formality and very well-done ritual work, and most require each Mason to do original research and present their papers in front of the Lodge. TO lodges are intensely intellectual, philosophical and esoteric, and their members tend to be under 40.

And that brings me to the statement that I made which precipitated the pissing match with "LightInDarkness" -- the existence of invitational groups that are only open to Masons, and are not openly known about. There are indeed such groups, but they keep their existence dark. If they think that a Mason might be a good member, they'll tap them, but otherwise, a Mason will never hear of their existence. Most of these groups seem to be centered around a specific theme or field of interest. This is where the most in-depth philosophical, intellectual and esoteric stuff goes on. LiD didn't like the sound of that, for whatever reason (elitist? spooky? jealous?) and insisted I must be wrong. Well, I speak from personal experience. I'm not wrong.

Anyway, that's where the intellectual and philosophical stuff goes on. Not much of it in Blue Lodges (other than TO Lodges), but lots of it in the higher degrees, Research Lodges, reading groups, invitational groups and so forth.

Childlike Empress
29th July 2011, 02:30 PM
Interesting, Aikenhead.

btw, in the aftermath of the horrible events in Norway I learned about the Swedish Rite, which is worked in Scandinavia and by parts of german freemasons, exclusively Christian and has eleven degrees.

edit:

Furthermore, there is a small (but rapidly growing) group of "Blue Lodges" that are called "Traditional Observance" (or "TO") Lodges which have sprung up in the last decade. These place a strong emphasis on formality and very well-done ritual work, and most require each Mason to do original research and present their papers in front of the Lodge. TO lodges are intensely intellectual, philosophical and esoteric, and their members tend to be under 40.[...] Well, I speak from personal experience.


Could you give us an example of the kind of research you do?

Howie Felterbush
29th July 2011, 07:58 PM
You'd go wrong presuming anything in advance of speaking with a particular Mason. Which is not to say that all are deep into esoterica but you might be surprised at who is.

Books and covers and all that

This was not a slight towards these fellows. I knew a lot of these guys my whole life. The majority of them went to school with my father, and I grew up with their kids. I knew them pretty well. Salt of the earth types, but not really what you'd call "into esoterica". But then again, most of the conversations I had with these guys over the years didn't really veer into esoterica. :) No offense intended.

...snip...
Anyway, that's where the intellectual and philosophical stuff goes on. Not much of it in Blue Lodges (other than TO Lodges), but lots of it in the higher degrees, Research Lodges, reading groups, invitational groups and so forth.


Good stuff. Thanks a bunch.

If I was interested in getting into this, would it behoove me to travel to a larger city (Madison is about fifty miles away and has several lodges, I think) to find a more varied group of lodges to prospect to, or are the opportunities available at any lodge? I know you said "any Master Mason" but would being from a rural lodge hinder my chances compared to being exposed to a larger cross section of the Masonic community?

Orphia Nay
29th July 2011, 08:39 PM
Good stuff, Aikenhead.

I think LiD didn't like the idea that the esoteric stuff is, well, esoteric.

I'm sure if you're a mason and you want to learn about that stuff, you can if you want. It's not hidden, per se, but it's not forced down masons' throats either. Is that correct?

Aikenhead
29th July 2011, 09:21 PM
in the aftermath of the horrible events in Norway I learned about the Swedish Rite, which is worked in Scandinavia and by parts of german freemasons, exclusively Christian and has eleven degrees.

Yeah, the Swedish Rite is off on its own fascinating little corner of Freemasonry. And I should stick a big qualifier at the head of my last few posts -- something to the effect of "My comments apply to American Freemasonry (and to a lesser degree, to British Freemasonry); not all Freemasonry."

Could you give us an example of the kind of research you do?

Oh, the variety is endless. Off the top of my head, some of the original research papers I've heard in the past couple of years have included these subjects:

Elizabeth St. Ledger, the first female Freemason

Mithraism and Freemasonry -- parallels and blinds

non-Yahwehists and the swearing of oaths

the Freemasonry of Napoleon Bonaparte and his brothers

the disappearance of the chisel in American Masonic "working tools"

Albert Pike and the Ku Klux Klan

Jungian archetypes and the initiatic ritual

Francis Dashwood, Benjamin Franklin, and the Hellfire Club

how virtuality will (not) save Freemasonry

traveling military Lodges in India during the Raj

George Washington -- Christian or Deist?



I hope that gives a sense of the variety of original research being done today.

Childlike Empress
29th July 2011, 09:38 PM
I'm sure if you're a mason and you want to learn about that stuff, you can if you want. It's not hidden, per se, but it's not forced down masons' throats either. Is that correct?


That's also correct if you substitute mason with human, and for a lot of stuff. Here's a short message from the most interesting character I found in my passing studies of Freemasonery, Manly Palmer Hall.

XufMBXISCGc
As I type this I see Aikenhead's response in the preview - thanks.

LightinDarkness
30th July 2011, 11:27 PM
Joker.

Seriously, though. That was funny, but are there such things as internet Masonic Lodges? How are they viewed by non-internet Masons? I Googled it and found a few, but they still seemed like they had brick-and-mortar meeting places.

This is interesting to me. My roommate in college was a Mason, and to me it seemed like it was just something he was doing because his father and grandfather did it. I have no opinion one way or the other about Masons, but it is an interesting subject.

Sorry for the late response, I don't usually respond to the troll threads once they get derailed, and since at least two of JREF's biggest forum trolls are posting here (looks like they are bringing Aikenhead into the fold?) I rarely look at it once it gets past that point. But you ask a good question - once of which I didn't see Fitz or any of the other known JREF masons answer.

Yes, there is a internet masonic lodge (http://internet.lodge.org.uk/)- all of its members must hold membership in a regular masonic lodge recognized by the UGLE. So, for example, I am a member of a lodge under the Grand Lodge of NC AFAM which has cross recognition with the UGLE, and in joining the Internet Lodge I get dual membership in a UGLE lodge. This has some practical benefits - although I could previously travel and attend any lodge with shared recognition, holding dual membership removes several administrative formalities that makes visiting UGLE lodges abroad much easier. It fits my personal traveling style (which is usually pretty spontaneous). I can't always make every meeting, since the lodge meets around the world, but membership attendance isn't required. I think quite a few members never go to a meeting but just enjoy use of the quite active listserv and website.

Real masons know that internet lodges - and there are a handful, but the one under the UGLE was the first and most well known - are quite regular masonry. Its like any normal lodge except due to the wide membership everyone can't make every meeting, so there are only a handful of meetings a year (whereas my local lodge meets every 2 weeks).

LightinDarkness
30th July 2011, 11:45 PM
I am from a conservative part of the country and I had a couple questions.


Although I understand you want questions answered I should point out that you shouldn't trust what you read on forums. In this case you have at least one person who is claiming to be a mason here who is most likely not (and if he is, he demonstrates 0 of the qualities of the real Freemason). Of course, he would because hes trolling say the same thing about me or Fitzgibbon, so the point is when your asking these sort of questions you MIGHT get the real answer but you are best off going to a masonic web site. I'd recommend something like http://askafreemason.org or http://www.thefreemason.com/community/.

Some people choose to not talk about their membership for a variety of reasons. Some lodge cultures put more value on secrecy than others. Some come from evangelical, Catholic, or otherwise anti-masonic parts of the community (active resistance to freemasonry is small but fierce).

Women can't join a mainstream lodge because its a fraternity. They can join other types of freemasonry like Le Droit Humain, International Co-Masonry, etc. These are not considered "mainstream" lodges by the lodges that get to arbitrate such things. However, lodges like the United Grand Lodge of England have stated that besides the fact that these lodges admit women, they are otherwise like mainstream freemasonry and regular in every other way. I consider it a bit like college fraternities and sororities.

Any mason who told you "people of color" couldn't join his lodge is either not a mason or in a lodge that doesn't practice the values they teach. Someones race (along with their social status, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) has no impact on them joining. My local lodge is actually minority Caucasian, and I'm in North Carolina. If its a real masonic lodge the answer is sad but simple: racism. Unfortunately, some lodges have a racist past - its a sad fact but a reality. I would never attend such a lodge, and would in fact do everything I can to stop such practices - as would 99% of real masons.

There are what are called historically African American lodges called Prince Hall. They are like other lodges in every way, and were in fact early on recognized as regular masonry by things like the UGLE. Today these lodges are only "historically black" sort of like HBCUs - anyone from any race is welcome.

Smaller lodges may not meet that often or during certain periods of the year (they call it "going dark" - usually happens in the summer). So that may be why you never see anyone there. I wouldn't go there just because its your grandfathers lodge. Find one that fits your personal culture. Local lodges vary widely in terms of demographics, dress code, and community involvement. I'd be surprised if there wasn't one within a 30 to 45 minute drive that fits you. To find other lodges, type in "Grand Lodge of <Your State" in google and make sure that the website for your state matches one in the following list:
http://www.ugle.org.uk/about-ugle/recognised-foreign-grand-lodges/grand-lodges-in-north-america/

Most of the state grand lodges now have search engines that list all the lodges by location, so you can find one that might be more active and to your interests.

Again, don't trust a word I've written just as you shouldn't trust a word by anyone else here due to the prevalence of fakemasons - before acting on any of this make sure you double check for yourself.

LightinDarkness
30th July 2011, 11:50 PM
I'd differ with LiD on that. It depends on the Lodge and the person. My experience as a Mason of 10 years has been that there's a greater interest in the esoteric than there has been previously and I think that's reflective of a desire within society for something more grounded.

I'd say my personal experiences are more in line with yours, Fitz - my intiaition and lodge membership has been in an environment very supports of esoteric philosophy and masonic education. Before I visited other lodges I had no exposure to the "drinking club" brand of masonry.

And of course, perhaps I've been too generous in characterizing much of masonry as just a drinking club previously - it does exit in such forms and depending on location may even be the prevalent form, but overall its been the minority in my experience. That may be a reflection of my traveling patterns though.

However, I tend to believe most lodges are beginning to embrace or turn back to teaching and exploring masonic philosophy as one of their chief functions. Its what new members want, and we are indeed going through a period of membership growth - explosive growth, in some states - and much of those new members are in their 20s and 30s. I doubt such men would join for yet another drinking club.

LightinDarkness
30th July 2011, 11:57 PM
Good stuff, Aikenhead.

I think LiD didn't like the idea that the esoteric stuff is, well, esoteric.

I'm sure if you're a mason and you want to learn about that stuff, you can if you want. It's not hidden, per se, but it's not forced down masons' throats either. Is that correct?

No, what I didn't like is Aikenheads completely false insistence that there are these "unknown" groups to most masons that focus on deeper aspects of masonry. They don't exist. Hes wrong, and he knows hes wrong, which is why he lost the pissing match is now on ignore. Masons are well aware of these invitation only groups - as all of them must operate under the watchful eye of the GL if they are to continue recruiting in that jurisdiction. Whats even more hilarious is he brought up examples like Traditional Observance lodges, which in every case have had to have GL approval and thus are the subject to reams of public records and yearly assembly votes. They are about as hidden as the Scottish Rite's 33rd degree - which is to say, they are not at all. Whats going on here is a simple example of pride: Aikenhead no doubt belongs to a few (even if hes a fakemason I'm sure they have their own equivalent fake side orders) and thinks hes cool and special for it.

What you've said in bold is the reality - for a mason so inclined to get into masonic philosophy, its completely available. No need to search for invitation only organizations. In fact, as a member of several of those invitation only organizations, so much time is taken up nominating and initiating new members (since most only meet a few times a year, if that) that you'd get more in depth masonic philosophy from reading a book about it.

Anyways, I'm off for my annual August vacation. If the threads still alive when I get back, I'll respond to those who aren't on ignore.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 12:16 AM
I don't usually respond to the troll threads once they get derailed, and since at least two of JREF's biggest forum trolls are posting here (looks like they are bringing Aikenhead into the fold?) I rarely look at it once it gets past that point. But you ask a good question - once of which I didn't see Fitz or any of the other known JREF masons answer.

Ah, the "'known' JREF masons". How are they known? Nobody knows.

I think it's safe to say that I am the only Mason here who has posted anything like proof of his Masonic affiliation. I notice that you still haven't. Why not?

And this supposed "troll" has posted more substantive information about Masonry in this thread than you, chum.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 12:35 AM
Although I understand you want questions answered I should point out that you shouldn't trust what you read on forums.

Does that include what you write? If not, why?

In this case you have at least one person who is claiming to be a mason here who is most likely not

Uh-huh. Suppose you explain how I was able to "Photoshop" up an absolutely real 32nd Degree certificate and dues card, photograph them on top of that day's Times, and from a variety of angles, proving their 3-dimensionality? Well?

And how have you proved that you are a Mason?

...and if he is, he demonstrates 0 of the qualities of the real Freemason...

I'll tell you one quality of a Mason that I've demonstrated here that you've absolutely flouted. It comes near the end of the 3rd Degree Obligation. Hint: it has to do with swearing to not wrong a fellow Master Mason. That includes defaming or libeling him.

Some people choose to not talk about their membership for a variety of reasons...Women can't join a mainstream lodge because its a fraternity...Any mason who told you "people of color" couldn't join his lodge is either not a mason or in a lodge that doesn't practice the values they teach...etc.

That's already all been covered. Thanks anyway.

LightinDarkness
31st July 2011, 12:52 AM
Oh my, looks like Aikenhead is going hysterical again. Buddy, I know you need desperately to get in the "last word" but you are ON IGNORE. The only person reading what you write are you and the two trolls egging you on in this thread. All I see is that you (or Childlike..or LGR...) have posted, thats it. And since you keep posting EVERY TIME after I post, I thought maybe you didn't get it.

By the way, I thought about showing how easy it is for fakemasons to convince non-masons they are by posting an easily obtainable masonic certificate and then posting my real one. But then spending $40 isn't worth it to prove a point as anyone any real mason knows this is the reason why posting degrees and dues cards mean nothing:
http://cgi.ebay.com/1012-Scottish-Rite-Certificate-Leather-Holder-Case-/230644327206

All one has to do is buy them (and they go as cheap as $3 on ebay, the above is a bit expensive) and black out the personal information. BAM! Instant internet e-cred with the fancy golden seal (because really who could fake that, am I right?) You can do the same with lodge dues cards, 33rd degree certificates, and really certificates from nearly any invitational body. Any mason who has been around on the internet long enough is even familiar with the old usenet fakemason who did just that - I wonder if that was Aikenhead. The typing style and claims are familiar. How long have you been trolling forums, if I may ask?

Anyways, while I'm away you keep foaming at the mouth and try to remember (if you really are a mason) the lessons of the first degree which you have clearly forgotten in your arrogance and attitude.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 01:03 AM
No, what I didn't like is Aikenheads completely false insistence that there are these "unknown" groups to most masons that focus on deeper aspects of masonry. They don't exist. Hes wrong, and he knows hes wrong...

Well, I've got to hand it to LiD for his ambition: to disprove the existence of something that he has never encountered. That's rather like someone saying that they know that intelligent life could not exist anywhere else in the universe. Or like a Catholic parishioner adamantly denying the existence of some group that meets privately in the Vatican, of which he could not possibly have any knowledge. Or an Army private insisting that it's impossible that a group of Defense Intelligence Agency staffers with TS+ clearance could be meeting for lunch somewhere in the Pentagon. Or...

...which is why he lost the pissing match is now on ignore.

Ah, yes. "Won" = "lost", and "obsessively respond to" = "ignore".

Masons are well aware of these invitation only groups...

Which ones? The ones that supposedly don't exist?

...as all of them must operate under the watchful eye of the GL if they are to continue recruiting in that jurisdiction.

Except, of course, that the groups I'm speaking of do not possess charters, nor do they behave like Lodges, Side Degrees or Appendant Bodies, so GLs have no jurisdiction over them. And equally to the point: with a few exceptions (that I'm not going to go into), GLs don't even know of their existence. You seem to be confusing the situation with something like colleges and banned frats or something.

Whats even more hilarious is he brought up examples like Traditional Observance lodges, which in every case have had to have GL approval and thus are the subject to reams of public records and yearly assembly votes.

Reading Comprehension. I'll repeat: READING COMPREHENSION. You seem to lack it.

Nowhere did I even suggest that TO Lodges don't have to have GL approval. Nowhere. Of course they do, just like every Lodge does. Nor did I ever even suggest that the invitational groups I refer to were (1) Lodges, (2) chartered, (3) or in any way under the purview of GLs. If you were paying more attention, I might think that was a strawman you were trying to foist on us, instead of plain ol' poor reading comprehension being to blame.

~ ~ ~

I wonder if you have any sense of the fact that, by persisting with your ad hominem attacks, your insistance that I'm not a Mason (despite my concrete evidence that I am, and your lack of same), that you're making Masons look petty, divisive and douchy? If you don't, you should. Freemasonry is supposed to "make good men better". If this is your example of "better", the Fraternity's in sorry shape indeed.

LightinDarkness
31st July 2011, 01:10 AM
Oh my goodness I can't even refresh the page to proof read my own posts without seeing ANOTHER notification that the troll has responded AGAIN. Its kind of sad to watch the train wreck in progress. Oh well, good night all, and enjoy the good comedy Aikenhead is so generously providing us with. This will make a good dinner conversation with the lodge brethren I am visiting while on vacation. Hes a member of a big bad secret masonic organization that is hidden from the rest of us, hes so special, hes so important. If he needs to believe in this fantasy to maintain his own personal sense of self-worth, go for it. We all have our crutches :)

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 01:15 AM
Oh my, looks like Aikenhead is going hysterical again. Buddy, I know you need desperately to get in the "last word"...

You mean after your last four posts? Oh, but that's wasn't a "last word", right?

...but you are ON IGNORE. The only person reading what you write are you and the two trolls egging you on in this thread.

...and, of course, you. The same person who put me "on ignore" many exchanges ago. Please keep "ignoring" me; it makes for such lively conversation.

This will be the last time I say anything to you.

Holding my breath in 3...2...

Over the past few years here many fake masons or "real" masons showing terrible qualities like you have come and gone - you are nothing unusual. Although how quickly you've become buddies with our resident Holocaust Denier and NWO believer is hysterical.

"Become buddies"? [shrugs] I doubt it, and I doubt they think so either. People asked questions. I answered questions. Heck, you came back and answered questions. Does that mean that [I]you're trying to buddy up?

Well, I hope your vacation is restful. Perhaps you'll come back with a little less pique and a little more of the spirit of the Fraternity.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 02:28 AM
Hes a member of a big bad secret masonic organization that is hidden from the rest of us, hes so special, hes so important. If he needs to believe in this fantasy to maintain his own personal sense of self-worth, go for it. We all have our crutches

LiD has put me "on ignore", so I'm sure he won't be reading this...:rolleyes:...but it makes me wonder what the difference is between him saying that, and saying this:

"He's had the 33rd Degree conferred upon him; hes so special, hes so important. If he needs to wear a white hat to maintain his own personal sense of self-worth, go for it. We all have our crutches"?

I see no difference between these two statements. There's nothing a Mason can do to earn the 33rd Degree (I'm still not sure why they made me a KCCH). A group of other 33rd Degree Masons meets behind closed doors (ooh! not fair!) and decides -- sometimes quite arbitrarily -- to make some member of the KCCH a 33rd Degree Mason, while passing over many other members. It's unlikely that I'll ever have that honor conferred upon me, but it's not like I'm going to sulk, stamp my little foot and cry "unfair!", or more absurd still, accuse some group of not existing, just because I cannot see them meeting behind closed doors.

It seems to me that what is really behind LiD's claims that he knows something can't exist, and his claim that anyone who participates in invitational groups (like the 33rd Degree is, remember) is just this: sour grapes.

He should bear in mind that it was also a possibility that he wouldn't be accepted into the Fraternity (but he was), and that he wouldn't be invited to belong to the publicly-known invitational groups that he belongs to (but he was). He seems to be unable to follow that progression just one step further, because to do so would be to admit that he hasn't been welcomed everywhere he might want to be, and he finds that personally insulting. The sad thing is that it's entirely possible that there are no such groups in his area and, the only reason why he doesn't belong to one or more of them is because he simply isn't within their orbit. A wise man would see things dispassionately and objectively -- even humbly -- rather than striking out against others from his lack of knowledge and fragile ego.

Oh well; I guess we'll never hear his rebuttal, since he's busy ignoring this. [cough]

Orphia Nay
31st July 2011, 02:42 AM
This is all very weird. LiD and Aikenhead seem to agree, but they're arguing. Could someone explain why? :(

little grey rabbit
31st July 2011, 03:36 AM
Gentlemen (as you all have to be gentlemen) this discussion is fascinating.

Can I say I much prefer LinD as a freemason as he far better fulfils the stereotype of the Evil Mason ruling the world, whereas Aikenhead seems alarmingly normal. I daresay it is all a pose that Aikenhead has only been invited to the 32nd degree because he has mastered the art of seeming normal to such a high degree.

Alas, Angels and Demons is about to start on TV and I am naturally anxious to watch the Illuminati strive to bring light to a world mired in Catholic superstition.

Poor old Galileo, he never did understand the principle of Camera Obscura which that sly charlatan Kirchner dangled under his nose.

little grey rabbit
31st July 2011, 03:50 AM
What can I say? Never trust a Jesuit.

VonKleist
31st July 2011, 04:45 AM
Alas, Angels and Demons is about to start on TV and I am naturally anxious to watch the Illuminati strive to bring light to a world mired in Catholic superstition.



No, it isn't. Couldn't you have found some other hook to hang this on?

little grey rabbit
31st July 2011, 04:48 AM
No, it isn't. Couldn't you have found some other hook to hang this on?
I'm from Australia and I'm here to help.

VonKleist
31st July 2011, 04:54 AM
I'm from Australia and I'm here to help.

. . . . like a cheap fiddle.

fitzgibbon
31st July 2011, 05:53 AM
Ah, the "'known' JREF masons". How are they known? Nobody knows.

I'll vouch for LiD credentials by virtue of some year's association here and on other forums. But then it necessarily follows that you'll attack my credentials too. C'est la vie.


I think it's safe to say that I am the only Mason here who has posted anything like proof of his Masonic affiliation. I notice that you still haven't. Why not?

Matthew 7:16 "By their fruits you will know them". You strut a card as primary 'proof' but your attitude decries the 'proof'. You're quite insistent on acknowledgement and therein lies the chief shortcoming I have with your claim. The laddie doth protest too much.


And this supposed "troll" has posted more substantive information about Masonry in this thread than you, chum.

If you say so. Nothing that isn't searchable. Knock yourself out.

The issue I had (and continue to have) with you is that your complete lack of online humility is completely at odds with the RL Masons of my acquaintance (even the ones that I know to be quite successful in their day-to-day avocations). But then again, nobody ever claimed that there isn't the occasional dick in the fraternity.

fitzgibbon
31st July 2011, 05:59 AM
Double post

fitzgibbon
31st July 2011, 06:23 AM
This is all very weird. LiD and Aikenhead seem to agree, but they're arguing. Could someone explain why? :(

Mutual suspicion on one another's bona fides. There are many online who pretend to be Masons by virtue of being a Google warrior and the 'secrets' they've discovered in their travels (secrets that have been published and available to the non-mason since less than a decade after the UGLE formed in 1717). They demand acknowledgement and acquiescence and tend to get more vociferous the longer they go without it. There's also the matter of behaviour which I find tends to separate the wheat from the chaff much more often than not. IMHO, Aikenhead falls into the chaff/apprentice category by virtue of his behaviour. A PM or two with Lid would've been sufficient to settle this minor brouhaha but that that didn't happen only confirms IMHO my original judgment.

Aikenhead seems more emblematic of the Sorcerer's Apprentice than the Sorcerer.

But that's just my opinion FWIW.

MoeFaux
31st July 2011, 11:22 AM
Well, I sure liked the Rush reference in the OP.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 11:27 AM
This is all very weird. LiD and Aikenhead seem to agree, but they're arguing. Could someone explain why? :(

Actually, we don't agree. I had mentioned -- almost as an aside -- that there were groups that sort of "fly under the radar", that are made up of Masons, that are invitation-only, and that don't need to have the authority of a Grand Lodge to be able to exist, since they don't require a charter and because, well, Grand Lodges don't even hear about them. They're very discreet.

LiD (rather oddly to me) took that bone in his mouth and will not stop worrying it. He insists that such groups do not and cannot exist, partly because they don't have the authority to exist by Grand Lodges (see above). This proves that he either has serious reading comprehension issues, or he's not arguing that they can't exist, but that he's offended that he hasn't been asked to join any of them.

Beyond that, he keeps on suggesting that I'm not really a Mason. It is, perhaps, a fool's errand to try to prove such a thing on-line, but I believe I did so to any reasonable person's satisfaction (see my post above). And all the while, LiD has claimed that he's a Mason, but never offered any proof of it. Still, he persists in claiming I'm a "fakemason", and accusing me of being unworthy of being a Mason. It's pointless, rude and silly, but it seems to be his shtick.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 12:13 PM
I'll vouch for LiD credentials by virtue of some year's association here and on other forums. But then it necessarily follows that you'll attack my credentials too. C'est la vie.

The only "attacking of credentials" going on here, chum, is by LiD. Despite my posting clear evidence that I'm bona fide, he persists in casting doubts and aspersions upon me (while conveniently not posting any of his own). And for all I know, you are his sockpuppet. Is that the most likely explanation? Perhaps not, but for someone like LiD who seems to be unwilling to be convinced by even the most convincing of evidence, it's not unreasonable for me to point out the lack of reliability in your (and his) claims of authority on the matter.


Matthew 7:16 "By their fruits you will know them". You strut a card as primary 'proof' but your attitude decries the 'proof'. You're quite insistent on acknowledgement and therein lies the chief shortcoming I have with your claim. The laddie doth protest too much.

This is just outright silly. First, your interpretation of Matthew 7:16 is novel, to say the least. Was Jesus speaking about "attitude"? Nope. He was talking about works, and neither you nor he know anything about my works. For all you or he know, I've been uncommonly generous. Of course, I won't go into detail about my works because then I'm sure you'd try to hold that up as more evidence of my "lack of humility". Nice catch-22 you've got going on there. Second, I didn't "strut out" anything; I went to pains to provide it, as proof. Third, you're pinning your claim of someone's membership or non-membership to their supposed attitude?! Has it never occurred to you that LiD, from the get-go, was flat-out obnoxious towards me, ad hominem, derogatory, defamitory and in other ways in violation of even the most basic level of collegiality that's required of Masons? Not to mention the fact that Masons are supposed to be improving their character, which means being (if nothing else) more polite and harmless even to non-Masons (and, one presumes, to "fakemasons")? If you're looking for a good example of ideal Masonic character, you're not going to find it in LiD's behavior on this thread. If you're honest, you'll have to admit that. Real Masons (in character) do not accuse strangers of being frauds, egomaniacs, liars and so on.


The issue I had (and continue to have) with you is that your complete lack of online humility is completely at odds with the RL Masons of my acquaintance (even the ones that I know to be quite successful in their day-to-day avocations). But then again, nobody ever claimed that there isn't the occasional dick in the fraternity.

Here's a project for you; it shouldn't take you more than 5 minutes: you claim that I "lack online humility". Please go back through my posts and copy and paste examples of my lack of "online humility" here. For extra credit, copy and past examples of LiD's lack of "online humility" as well. And no, my saying that I belong to invitational groups does not constitute "lack of humility". After all, LiD also said that he belonged to invitational groups (albeit publicly-known ones), as well as trotting out that he knows someone who belongs to invitational groups so awesome that I could never even dream of belonging to them, thus demonstrating his lack of humility by association!

Childlike Empress
31st July 2011, 02:26 PM
Aikenhead, I think you missed that LightInDarkness started the "proving" stuff in #55, offering this (http://home.comcast.net/~mark_krubsack/K6MAK/photos/view_15.html) link to what is without a reasonable doubt a scan of his 32nd degree scottish rite certificate.

I suggest that the Gentlemen just accept that the other really is a mason and carry on from there.

little grey rabbit
31st July 2011, 03:38 PM
Aikenhead, I think you missed that LightInDarkness started the "proving" stuff in #55, offering this (http://home.comcast.net/~mark_krubsack/K6MAK/photos/view_15.html) link to what is without a reasonable doubt a scan of his 32nd degree scottish rite certificate.

I suggest that the Gentlemen just accept that the other really is a mason and carry on from there.

I don't want to seem pedantic, but I saw no explicit claim that this was his freemasons certificate

He wrote:

2. You continue to fail to provide any information you are really a mason. Welcome to Google. http://home.comcast.net/~mark_krubsa...s/view_15.html. Now, you could provide some real information to verify, but you won't do that because you don't know how to. Because you are not a mason.

Now it would be a reasonable assumption that LinD is indeed such a person, but I do remember a gloating LinD boasting about getting a research. graduate student sacked because she said rude things about freemasons

Now it was my contention that LinD was just inventing a bizarre troll re this unfortunate graduate student in his evil masonic way. If LinD really is claiming the identity of this certificate - and I stress it is unclear that he is - then it would demonstrate I was absolutely right.

Again.

Aikenhead
31st July 2011, 08:11 PM
Aikenhead, I think you missed that LightInDarkness started the "proving" stuff in #55, offering this (http://home.comcast.net/~mark_krubsack/K6MAK/photos/view_15.html) link to what is without a reasonable doubt a scan of his 32nd degree scottish rite certificate.

I suggest that the Gentlemen just accept that the other really is a mason and carry on from there.

For my part, I don't doubt that LiD is a Mason. Why else would anyone bother being so almost comically dismissive about someone else's membership if they weren't one? Occam's Razor agrees.

Having said that, I'm quite certain that the 32nd Degree cert is not his; he was just citing it as an example of such documents being accessible on-line. Of course, there's a huge difference between a flat scan of a document (which is easily 'shopped) and the photos that I took and posted of mine, but LiD would be loathe to admit that.

Aikenhead
24th September 2013, 12:44 AM
Sorry for not responding for two years (!), but more-or-less forgot about this thread. If you're still out there, I'll try to respond.

I belong to a few different research lodges, and each has its own culture, rather like different grad schools. Some are more scholarly and academic, others seem to encourage research that includes more experiential or speculative matters. Here are a few examples:

Freemasonry has centuries of accretions of different symbols, most of which are largely forgotten. I've heard/read many research papers that attempt to tease out the meanings and origins of one or more of these symbols ,such as the Blazing Star, the Broken Column, the Beehive, and so on.

I've heard/read papers on one specific historic event, such as the founding of an early Lodge or one of its illustrious members. Others presentations have been on speculative connections between Freemasonry and other mystery schools, Jungian archetypes in Freemasonry, on Masonic members of the British Royal Family, on Freemasonry and the Comacines, on the typologies of 19th century Masonic photographic portraits, on whether or not the First Temple (Solomon's) ever really existed, on Rosslyn Chapel and the Sinclair family, on the evolution of Stated Assemblies, on the varieties of Tyler's swords, on Masonic pocket watches, on Masonry and state chivalric orders, on military Lodges, on whether or not Anglo-American Masonry will ever reconcile with French Masonry, on whether Thomas Paine was a Mason -- even one paper on which figures in JFK conspiracy theories may have been Masons! And those are just off the top of my head. Pretty much anything goes, subject matter-wise. Hope this answers your question (two years late). :o


Interesting, Aikenhead. Could you give us an example of the kind of research you do?

halleyscomet
27th December 2013, 02:52 PM
These days freemasonry is a social club and the symbols and ritual are for fun. Most the Freemasons I know are very skeptically minded.

Robrob
27th December 2013, 06:32 PM
These days freemasonry is a social club and the symbols and ritual are for fun. Most the Freemasons I know are very skeptically minded.
I would assume so. Most of their legends are analogous to stories of Washington throwing a dollar across the Patomic. Obvious tales that no one is really taking seriously.

Aquila
27th June 2014, 11:44 AM
Why do scientists and skeptics join the Freemasons? If the whole point of science and skepticism is to be objective and honest, why join a secret society to which one has to make vows of silence, under threat of physical violence?

And how can other scientists trust claims made by scientist Freemasons? Without repeating their experiments ourselves, how can we be sure that they have not fudged data, backed up by fellow Freemason-scientists to prove their beliefs?

It's hypocritical, in my opinion, for skeptics to continue to fudge the issue of Freemasonry, saying that it's only a sort of men's club to have fun and advance in business. Freemasonry is an occult-based secret order based on Biblical and Egyptian symbology, not science. Stop lying.

Bishop
27th June 2014, 10:14 PM
Why do scientists and skeptics join the Freemasons? If the whole point of science and skepticism is to be objective and honest, why join a secret society to which one has to make vows of silence, under threat of physical violence?

And how can other scientists trust claims made by scientist Freemasons? Without repeating their experiments ourselves, how can we be sure that they have not fudged data, backed up by fellow Freemason-scientists to prove their beliefs?

It's hypocritical, in my opinion, for skeptics to continue to fudge the issue of Freemasonry, saying that it's only a sort of men's club to have fun and advance in business. Freemasonry is an occult-based secret order based on Biblical and Egyptian symbology, not science. Stop lying.

I don't see a conflict of interest unless their scientific work is somehow related to their membership in the Masons. Like if they're doing some sort of sociological study of Masons, or a critique of any paranormal or mystical claims that Masons make, or whatever. It's Freemasonry that they have to be quiet about, after all, not necessarily anything else.

ShadowSot
28th June 2014, 08:01 AM
Why do scientists and skeptics join the Freemasons? If the whole point of science and skepticism is to be objective and honest, why join a secret society to which one has to make vows of silence, under threat of physical violence?
Because the vows of silence only refer to the rituals,, and there are no threats of violence.


And how can other scientists trust claims made by scientist Freemasons? Without repeating their experiments ourselves, how can we be sure that they have not fudged data, backed up by fellow Freemason-scientists to prove their beliefs?

Er... in science you have to repeat and test other people's experiments to verify the research and all research has to pass through peer review.



It's hypocritical, in my opinion, for skeptics to continue to fudge the issue of Freemasonry, saying that it's only a sort of men's club to have fun and advance in business. Freemasonry is an occult-based secret order based on Biblical and Egyptian symbology, not science. Stop lying.

Of course it's not science. Science is science.
Christians and other theists can be good scientists, so can atheists with woo beliefs.
You seem to have a beef with Freemasons while not knowing much about either science or Freemasonry.

And if LiD or Fitzgibbon return, hey guys long time eh?

Aquila
28th June 2014, 05:10 PM
I don't see a conflict of interest unless their scientific work is somehow related to their membership in the Masons. Like if they're doing some sort of sociological study of Masons, or a critique of any paranormal or mystical claims that Masons make, or whatever. It's Freemasonry that they have to be quiet about, after all, not necessarily anything else.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I've heard that Freemasons protect their own. A hypothetical example which is often given is that of a Freemason who has committed a crime. The example postulates that just as the judge is about to hand down a sentence for the crime, he learns that the criminal is a Freemason and gives him a lighter punsihsment, for even gets him off completely, making up a loophole in the laws.

Similarly, two Freemason scientists working together could, hypothetically fudge data and publish it. "Peer review" would not really do much unless the data had glaring errors, and suppose that the scientists reviewing the published paper were also Freemasons who trusted the researchers? As mentioned earlier, the only way to really test the data would be to repeat the experiment, and I doubt whether this goes on very often.

I know enough about science to have a BSc degree and biology, physics and chemistry A-levels, and have studied quite a lot about the symbols used in Freemasonry without being a member. Shadow Sot is right in that I do have a slight beef not only about Freemasonry, but groups which use secrecy to keep members interested.

On this note, I have a question for Freemasons; would you still have joined your lodge if there was no secrecy involved? If you did not have to agree to keep passwords and ritual details secret, would the organization still have held the same appeal for you?

ShadowSot
28th June 2014, 05:57 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I've heard that Freemasons protect their own. A hypothetical example which is often given is that of a Freemason who has committed a crime. The example postulates that just as the judge is about to hand down a sentence for the crime, he learns that the criminal is a Freemason and gives him a lighter punsihsment, for even gets him off completely, making up a loophole in the laws.

Yeah well, if you trust everything people tell you and rumors, Obama's a Kenyan born Reptilian Atheist Muslim, right?

I no longer have references, and if Fitzgibbon or Light in Darkness still post here three years later they might, but Masons are instructed to not shield fellow Masons from the law.
Doing so will get you black balled if you are caught.

You do know the rituals and such have been published and available to the public for over a century now right? Duncan's Monitor and Ritual Guide are available online, as are books like Morals and Dogma.
While Masons can't tell you what they are themselves, they can point you to where you can find out.
That is the only thing they have to not reveal themselves personally.

As to your second point, well what if they are reviewed by members of their own University or College? Or church? Or they happen to be friends? Or any number of other reasons.
Hell, I've gotten out of speeding tickets because me and the officer went to the same dojo.

Yes, Peer review isn't a perfect process. But falsified studies are almost always sussed out.
I was thinking about joining Freemasonry, and it wasn't the secrecy. I genuinely enjoy rituals and symbolism, and being part of something with a historical background.
The charity work is also a bonus.
Unfortunately most lodges require religious belief.
Out of curiosity, when you researched the symbols do you check actual freemasonry sites, or ATS and David Icke?

Aquila
28th June 2014, 10:09 PM
Out of curiosity, when you researched the symbols do you check actual freemasonry sites, or ATS and David Icke?

The former, and the most obvious similarity is that some Freemason symbology is "borrowed" from the kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Not even the mystic side, just plain Judaism. I am Jewish, and have always found this intriguing, if not a little irritating. You know, we're still trying to recover from our parents surviving the Holocaust, only to see non-Jews using the symbols for their secret rituals.

I've also seen astrology symbols on the "Grand Arch" of Freemasonry. I thought skeptics designated astrology is woo??

http://www.grandchapterofwashington.org/images/20_ra_tracing_board6_s.jpg

http://www.grandchapterofwashington.org/images/20_ra_four_living_creatures_s.jpg

(above shows the 4 Fixed signs of the Zodiac)

Both images from:

http://www.grandchapterofwashington.org/20_grand_chapter_about.html

ShadowSot
28th June 2014, 10:55 PM
The former, and the most obvious similarity is that some Freemason symbology is "borrowed" from the kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Not even the mystic side, just plain Judaism. I am Jewish, and have always found this intriguing, if not a little irritating. You know, we're still trying to recover from our parents surviving the Holocaust, only to see non-Jews using the symbols for their secret rituals.

Yes, that's been taken up since (at least) the 1700's, and religious groups don't have copyrwrites on their symbolism. Their useage far predates the Holocaust.
Freemasonry takes a lot from the Old Testament especially legends around the building of Solomon's temple.
It's strictly legendary, and isn''t intended to be taken literally.

I've also seen astrology symbols on the "Grand Arch" of Freemasonry. I thought skeptics designated astrology is woo??

Using the symbolism doesn't equal out to believing all things associated with the symbol. Especially when symbolism has changed meanings over time.
Maybe look into how Fremasonry uses the symbols, by asking a Mason about it?
Some of the symbolism was simply adopted for appearances, some was part of art, some because it just looked cool. Other were given new meanings as part of the rituals that Masons them into.
Freemasonry itself has some basic rituals and apart from requiring a belief in a Supreme Being (Grand Architect of the Universe) doesn't have any other supernatural baggage, a product of the time it was developed.
In my own experience Masons take the symbolism and internalize it themselves. It can be strictly symbolic and be simply a mnemonic device, or they may take a more mystical interpretation.

ShadowSot
28th June 2014, 10:58 PM
And it should of course be noted that no one is skeptical in all things. Everyone has a holy cow or a blindspot from their own biases. Political, cultural, religious, ect.
One can be an excellent historian and dismiss claims of ancient alien visitation while taking seriously the claims of modern visitation.
Or a similar example, the fellow who did an excellent takedown of the Ancient Aliens program on the history channel believes in a global Flood.

Checkmite
29th June 2014, 12:13 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I've heard that Freemasons protect their own. A hypothetical example which is often given is that of a Freemason who has committed a crime. The example postulates that just as the judge is about to hand down a sentence for the crime, he learns that the criminal is a Freemason and gives him a lighter punsihsment, for even gets him off completely, making up a loophole in the laws.

Sort of an anti-masonic fairy tale that doesn't make much sense if you think about it. Trials are public things, and if there were a situation where a judge suddenly gave an unexpectedly lax punishment for a crime that a defendant had been convicted of, there would be significant response - instantly from the prosecutor, and then quickly in the press as the case made waves. It would be quite a big news item if a judge suddenly dismissed a case for absolutely no apparent reason. Judges are accountable for their decisions.

Similarly, two Freemason scientists working together could, hypothetically fudge data and publish it. "Peer review" would not really do much unless the data had glaring errors, and suppose that the scientists reviewing the published paper were also Freemasons who trusted the researchers? As mentioned earlier, the only way to really test the data would be to repeat the experiment, and I doubt whether this goes on very often.

In fact it goes on all the time; that's how science works. No single study or experiment is definitive until the results are shown to be independently repeatable - no matter who publishes it.

Peer review isn't confined to some specially-selected cadre. Such a specific group might permit a paper to be published in this or that periodical; but the paper still has to stand on its own merits and if the data is obviously wrong, this will come to light once the scientific public begins to review it. Published papers are discredited on occasion. And if hijinks are discovered, it can result in ill repute for the authors - in rare cases even a loss of credentials. It's happened.

I know enough about science to have a BSc degree and biology, physics and chemistry A-levels, and have studied quite a lot about the symbols used in Freemasonry without being a member. Shadow Sot is right in that I do have a slight beef not only about Freemasonry, but groups which use secrecy to keep members interested.

On this note, I have a question for Freemasons; would you still have joined your lodge if there was no secrecy involved? If you did not have to agree to keep passwords and ritual details secret, would the organization still have held the same appeal for you?

I think I probably would have. There's no debate that secrecy adds intrigue; but this is the 21st century after all. If the only thing about Freemasonry that interests you is what happens during the secret rituals, then all you need is Google.

Aquila
30th June 2014, 11:33 AM
Is Michael Shermer a Freemason?

ShadowSot
30th June 2014, 01:32 PM
As I recall, he's an atheist. So no. But why does that matter?

Aquila
30th June 2014, 02:24 PM
As I recall, he's an atheist. So no. But why does that matter?

Because, as the "wtf" part of the title of this thread suggests, the secrecy aspect of Freemasonry invites suspicion about the honesty of Freemasonry's members who are also skeptics.

Where there is secrecy, there is power and control, and as Checkmite just said There's no debate that secrecy adds intrigue;; the intrigue is used within Freemasonry itself to keep people advancing up the grades (and consequently paying the dues which are dispersed to various charities). We can't blame anyone, in my opinion, for being suspicious of organizations which keep secrets - because for all we know, they could be using the secrecy for some sort of plot.

ShadowSot
30th June 2014, 07:10 PM
Since it's made clear that the only secrets that Freemasons keep are about the rituals, which have been available to the public for well over a century, is there anything to this beyond the same logic that exists behind conspiracy theorists?

Because it's difficult to see how having such an open secret allows for power and control.

If we're going to devolve into conspiracy gab about Freemasons and Illuminati I'm dropping out, as I goot bored with that years ago.

fitzgibbon
1st July 2014, 04:01 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I've heard that Freemasons protect their own.

You're wrong. A Mason is to help a brother if he falls onto hard times/needs assistance because he's infirm/etc.


A hypothetical example which is often given is that of a Freemason who has committed a crime. The example postulates that just as the judge is about to hand down a sentence for the crime, he learns that the criminal is a Freemason and gives him a lighter punishment, for even gets him off completely, making up a loophole in the laws.

Not likely at all. In fact, given the obligations we as Masons take it's far more likely the judge would mete out a harsher punishment if he knew the defendant was a Mason.


On this note, I have a question for Freemasons; would you still have joined your lodge if there was no secrecy involved? If you did not have to agree to keep passwords and ritual details secret, would the organization still have held the same appeal for you?

Certainly. The nominal 'secrecy' of Masonry was neither here nor there as concerns my reason for joining.

Fitz

fitzgibbon
1st July 2014, 04:20 AM
I no longer have references, and if Fitzgibbon or Light in Darkness still post here three years later they might, but Masons are instructed to not shield fellow Masons from the law.

The Master Mason obligation specifically mentions this.


You do know the rituals and such have been published and available to the public for over a century now right?

IIRC, the first printed version of Masonic ritual was available in the mid-1720s and there've been many 'exposés' in the intervening centuries.


I was thinking about joining Freemasonry, and it wasn't the secrecy. I genuinely enjoy rituals and symbolism, and being part of something with a historical background.
The charity work is also a bonus.
Unfortunately most lodges require religious belief.

Mainstream or what's referred to as Regular Masonry requires a belief in a Supreme Creator but beyond that makes no inquiry into the specifics of someone's belief structure. The lodge I'm Master of has a mixture of all flavours of Christian, Jewish, Muslim & Sikh members, all hearing the same ritual and applying to their belief structure as they understand it.

There are some masonic bodies that have eliminated that requirement (most notable being the Grand Orient of France) and are consequently not recognised as being regular having abandoned one of the primary landmarks. However, just as faith, hope and charity are said to be the 3 principle rungs of Jacob's Ladder, I think it's telling that charity is considered the chief of the three as the person in possession of this in its most ample sense may justly be described as having arrived at the summit of Masonry.

HTH
Fitz

ShadowSot
1st July 2014, 09:37 AM
Hey Fitz! Good to see you again.
Hopefully the years haven't dulled my memory to much.
Yeah, I remember the other lodges from my time on ATS, but they are rare and none local to my part of the world.
I might check them out if I'm ever near one but got a lot of things on my plate as always.

Aquila
1st July 2014, 04:02 PM
Yes, that's been taken up since (at least) the 1700's, and religious groups don't have copyrwrites on their symbolism. Their useage far predates the Holocaust.
Freemasonry takes a lot from the Old Testament especially legends around the building of Solomon's temple.
It's strictly legendary, and isn''t intended to be taken literally.

Using the symbolism doesn't equal out to believing all things associated with the symbol. Especially when symbolism has changed meanings over time.
Maybe look into how Fremasonry uses the symbols, by asking a Mason about it?
Some of the symbolism was simply adopted for appearances, some was part of art, some because it just looked cool. Other were given new meanings as part of the rituals that Masons them into.
Freemasonry itself has some basic rituals and apart from requiring a belief in a Supreme Being (Grand Architect of the Universe) doesn't have any other supernatural baggage, a product of the time it was developed.
In my own experience Masons take the symbolism and internalize it themselves. It can be strictly symbolic and be simply a mnemonic device, or they may take a more mystical interpretation.

Perhaps someone could expand on the above. I'm very interested in astrology - just check the majority of my posts on this forum and you will see, and I'm also skeptical about it, in that it has failed to be validated in controlled tests. Apart from Michael Shermer's test with Jeffrey Armstrong, of course, which had a double-blind method. Therefore, I'm a bit confused at Masons studying astrological symbolism. What exactly do you guys see in astrology? Do you see it as a tool to better yourselves, or simply as a way of measuring the seasons?

ShadowSot
1st July 2014, 09:16 PM
Or maybe they just grabbed the symbols and use them without astrological significance but instead have a unique Masonic interpretation of the symbol?
Don't look at it from a astrological point of view.
I have a copy of Morals and Dogma, which has several symbols and the authors interpretations of those symbols.

fitzgibbon
2nd July 2014, 07:35 AM
Hey Fitz! Good to see you again.
Hopefully the years haven't dulled my memory to much.
Yeah, I remember the other lodges from my time on ATS, but they are rare and none local to my part of the world.
I might check them out if I'm ever near one but got a lot of things on my plate as always.

Likewise. I'm here fairly frequently though usually answers have already been provided to questions and I tend to just read through threads that catch my interest.

As for those other GLs, I'm not surprised they're rare in your neck of the world. Good hunting.

Fitz

catsmate1
2nd July 2014, 10:02 AM
Is Michael Shermer a Freemason?
I doubt it, have you asked him?.
Is he a skeptic?

As I recall, he's an atheist. So no. But why does that matter?
Agnostic I think.


Mainstream or what's referred to as Regular Masonry requires a belief in a Supreme Creator but beyond that makes no inquiry into the specifics of someone's belief structure. The lodge I'm Master of has a mixture of all flavours of Christian, Jewish, Muslim & Sikh members, all hearing the same ritual and applying to their belief structure as they understand it.

There are some masonic bodies that have eliminated that requirement (most notable being the Grand Orient of France) and are consequently not recognised as being regular having abandoned one of the primary landmarks. However, just as faith, hope and charity are said to be the 3 principle rungs of Jacob's Ladder, I think it's telling that charity is considered the chief of the three as the person in possession of this in its most ample sense may justly be described as having arrived at the summit of Masonry.

HTH
Fitz
Thank you.

LightinDarkness
5th July 2014, 08:16 PM
Hello ShadowSot and Fitz, it has been a while! Most of this has been addressed but I thought I'd just add a few things...


On this note, I have a question for Freemasons; would you still have joined your lodge if there was no secrecy involved? If you did not have to agree to keep passwords and ritual details secret, would the organization still have held the same appeal for you?

Yes. As Fitz have explained, the pillars of the order have nothing to do with secrecy anyways. I wanted to be a member of group that emphasized brotherhood and charity, but charity in a way that was not audacious or very public. I have also believed that the best charity is that which is done in secret so that you do it for the good of the act, not for the public recognition. Its not always possible to do this - some of the really big charity Freemasonry does (like Shriners hospitals) has to be very public for tax and accounting reasons. But at my local lodge level, where possible, we try to do as much in a very discrete and anonymous way. And I enjoy that, and I also appreciate the work the larger charities do.

The purpose of the secrecy isn't really to keep the rituals secret to begin with - you can find them easily. The point is to show you are a man of his word (by keeping your vows of secrecy), which is an important quality to me.

Finally, I am an academic and have worked with other freemasons. The fact that we are freemasons would never lead us to fudge our data. None of the freemasons I have ever worked for (even outside academia) would be of such a moral characterize to ever abuse the brotherhood. That doesn't mean no bad apples exist, of course, but I've never encountered one and if I did they would be swiftly reported and dealt with.

LightinDarkness
5th July 2014, 08:23 PM
The former, and the most obvious similarity is that some Freemason symbology is "borrowed" from the kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Not even the mystic side, just plain Judaism. I am Jewish, and have always found this intriguing, if not a little irritating. You know, we're still trying to recover from our parents surviving the Holocaust, only to see non-Jews using the symbols for their secret rituals.

I've also seen astrology symbols on the "Grand Arch" of Freemasonry. I thought skeptics designated astrology is woo??

http://www.grandchapterofwashington.org/images/20_ra_tracing_board6_s.jpg

http://www.grandchapterofwashington.org/images/20_ra_four_living_creatures_s.jpg

(above shows the 4 Fixed signs of the Zodiac)

Both images from:

http://www.grandchapterofwashington.org/20_grand_chapter_about.html

Freemasons are also recovering from surviving the holocaust, as they were one of the primary groups other than Jews that were targeted. So your comments are actually very rude and misinformed.

Freemasonry's symbols draw on a wide variety of religious and esoteric traditions. But nothing about them requires them to be believed as religious symbols. For me - there is nothing "wooish" about my interpretation of the symbols - they all represent philosophies or ethical principles that are important to the order. Some of those philosophies might be regarded as woo if you think any generic reference to deity is woo (Grand Architect of the Universe), but that is about as wooish as it gets.

One thing you have to remember about the symbols is that while there are ritual explanations, they are always vague/surface level and there more meaningful explanation is up to the individual. There is no astrology in freemasonry that I am aware of (although some Freemasons might believe in astrology), and in fact your interpretation of the grand arch is not something I would think even more esoteric masons would agree with. To me the zodiac is used as a proxy way of mentioning the cosmos/universe, simply because its more widely known and drawing a picture of the galaxy wouldn't be very pretty. It does not mean belief in astrology is at all a part of the ritual.

This should not be confused with what individual masons may believe, they are free to interpret use of the zodiac as they like although it is NOT the explanation given to them. Even some of the most esoteric masons, like Albert Pike, did not see any astrology in freemasonry. He wrote (as quoted from the below link):

I think that no speculations are more barren than those in regard to the astronomical character of the symbols of Masonry, except those about the Numbers and their combinations of the Kabalah. All that is said about Numbers in that lecture, if not mere jugglery, amounts to nothing .... The astronomical explanations of them, however plausible, would only show that they taught no truths, moral or religious. As to tricks played with Numbers, they only show what freaks of absurdity, if not insanity, the human intellect can indulge.

To read more about the links between freemasonry and astrology, go here: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/astrology_link.html. This grand lodge website is one of the more authoritative I've seen - what it says, I have found, is in general true for mainstream freemasonry in terms of its explanation of beliefs. Note it says:

References in masonic writings to the sun, the moon, the starry firmament and the blazing star combined with the fondness of masonic artists and architects for representations of zodiacs and star charts have led both non-masons, anti-masons, and a few freemasons, to believe that astrology is somehow an integral part of the history, if not the beliefs and practices of Freemasonry. But nowhere in the rituals or practices of Freemasonry is there any hint of astrology, or belief in divination.

Checkmite
5th July 2014, 09:48 PM
Because, as the "wtf" part of the title of this thread suggests, the secrecy aspect of Freemasonry invites suspicion about the honesty of Freemasonry's members who are also skeptics.

I don't understand what you mean, here. Freemasons aren't told to keep their membership secret. Heck, you can put bumper stickers on your car, or wear a square-and-compasses ball cap if you want. If someone says they're not one, there's no compelling reason to suspect they secretly are one but are just hiding it. And since, as has repeatedly been explained, the "secret" components of Masonry are only those involving the ceremonial component of meetings, there's no reason to think that a Mason talking about something non-Masonic-ritual-related, like milk or astrophysics or horseback riding, might be lying about it for some secret Masonic purpose.

Where there is secrecy, there is power and control, and as Checkmite just said ; the intrigue is used within Freemasonry itself to keep people advancing up the grades (and consequently paying the dues which are dispersed to various charities). We can't blame anyone, in my opinion, for being suspicious of organizations which keep secrets - because for all we know, they could be using the secrecy for some sort of plot.

No, I can't blame anyone for being suspicious. And certainly groups of people have used Masonic or quasi-Masonic lodges to facilitate bad behavior in the past. However, I think there's enough public information - both online and freely offered by Freemasons ourselves - that suspicion of any given Freemason based solely on the fact that some things are ostensibly "secret" about Freemasonry isn't a very tenable position to take. Because you're wrong - where there's secrecy, there is the potential for power and control; and while "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence", it sure as heck isn't evidence of presence.

Yes, there's initiation fees; and yes, there's small one-time fees for gaining degrees; and as in any such organization, there's annual dues. But there's a rather limited number of degrees to attain; and once you've got them all - there is no more "advancing". In fact, most Masons will tell you that numbers aside there's not actually any meaningful "advancing" past degree #3.

There's an interesting story to Freemasonry, and I won't deny that interest encourages getting more degrees for people who have the inclination; but this is no less innocuous than buying more of your favorite author's books because you enjoy them. There's certainly also people who aren't so interested in that aspect, who don't go for more degrees or join ancillary organizations, and they're not considered any less "Masonic" for it.

fitzgibbon
6th July 2014, 05:48 AM
There's also the tendency of the suspicion-inclined to view Masonry as a single worldwide behemoth assuming a unified structure that oversees all things Masonic (kind of like a fraternal version of Coke or Procter and Gamble). The reality is that (at least in North America), there's no national governance insofar as concerns Craft Masonry (I can't speak to the side rites like Scottish or York Rite) and each sub-national government (state in the US, province in Canada) has an associated Grand Lodge which is solely responsible for, sets the ritual boundaries and expectations of regular Masonry within the limits of that governmental area. So there's the Grand Lodge of New York which governs Masonry within the bounds of the state of New York or in my case, the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario (try toasting Grand Lodge with that mouthful :) ). Within those boundaries, those Grand Lodges are [B]solely responsible for what the non-Masonic world sees as Masonry. So any attempt at creating a worldwide Masonic cabal with nefarious intentions at its core would be an exercise that would make its proponents look on cat-herding as a far easier, more enjoyable task with a greater likelihood of success.

Yes, there's initiation fees; and yes, there's small one-time fees for gaining degrees; and as in any such organization, there's annual dues. But there's a rather limited number of degrees to attain; and once you've got them all - there is no more "advancing". In fact, most Masons will tell you that numbers aside there's not actually any meaningful "advancing" past degree #3.

Which takes the p*ss out of those who gainsay anything that contradicts their favourite anti-Masonic hobbyhorse with 'but you're not a 33rd degree Mason. You can't possibly know all the secrets'.

There's an interesting story to Freemasonry, and I won't deny that interest encourages getting more degrees for people who have the inclination; but this is no less innocuous than buying more of your favorite author's books because you enjoy them. There's certainly also people who aren't so interested in that aspect, who don't go for more degrees or join ancillary organizations, and they're not considered any less "Masonic" for it.

Personally, I'm interested but having decided to enter the officer run for my lodge I decided that the time investment there wouldn't in fairness to my wife & myself allow me to also do side rites as well until after I'm out of the Master's chair.

Fitz

Checkmite
6th July 2014, 08:25 PM
There's also the tendency of the suspicion-inclined to view Masonry as a single worldwide behemoth assuming a unified structure that oversees all things Masonic (kind of like a fraternal version of Coke or Procter and Gamble). The reality is that (at least in North America), there's no national governance insofar as concerns Craft Masonry (I can't speak to the side rites like Scottish or York Rite) and each sub-national government (state in the US, province in Canada) has an associated Grand Lodge which is solely responsible for, sets the ritual boundaries and expectations of regular Masonry within the limits of that governmental area. So there's the Grand Lodge of New York which governs Masonry within the bounds of the state of New York or in my case, the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario (try toasting Grand Lodge with that mouthful [but I digress] :) ).

And these jurisdictional boundaries aren't just administrative fictions, either; there are differences of opinion between the various Grand Lodges, that in some cases can create substantial barriers.

Here's just one example, and one which I consider even somewhat embarrassing, but I'm not afraid to point it out. I joined a lodge in Ohio, a jurisdiction where the Grand Lodge recognizes its Prince Hall counterpart - there were in fact three visiting Prince Hall masons at my raising. However, I have since moved to another state, one in which the Grand Lodge does not recognize its Prince Hall counterpart. That fact has kept me from formally transferring my membership from my Ohio lodge to a local one - I can't do it in good conscience as long as that policy exists in this jurisdiction. So no, Freemasonry is by no means some monolithic lock-stepping congress. There are differences, sometimes profound ones.