MASONIC Digest Friday, 16 Mar 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 6 Today's Topics: Administrivia - sorr

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MASONIC Digest Friday, 16 Mar 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 6 Today's Topics: Administrivia - sorry for the delay More Responses to Tom Albrecht (Christianity & Freemasonry) Masonry & Religion (& Prince Hall) Send all submissions and requests to ptrei@asgard.bbn.com (*not* neccesarily the Reply-To: field.) (From enet:DECWRL::"ptrei@asgard.bbn.com") MASONIC digest is moderated. Please remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM - YOU MUST ASSUME THAT MOST READERS ARE NON-MASONS. Please include a relevant subject line, and cover one topic per message. If you require anonymity, say so at the top of your message (and give a nom-de-net). All contributions remain the property (Copyright 1990) and responsibility of the authors, and may not be published beyond the list without their express permission. My own comments remain mine (Copyright 1990 Peter Trei), and represent only my views at the time of posting - not neccesarily those of my employer, or of any Grand Lodge. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: 14 Mar 1990 From: Peter Trei Subject: Administrivia. Well, the digest is back after a long break. There are various reasons/excuses for the gap: I was hoping for more submissions besides those related to Tom Albrecht's message (and have now decided to print those anyway), and also various bits of family business (I'm going to be a daddy!) have conspired to keep it on the back burner. I hope to keep things on a more regular basis from here on in. Remember, all kinds of submissions are welcome, including questions and comments from non-Masons. Peter Since the responses on the potentially incendiary topic of religion have been so well tempered so far, I'm going to let this thread continue for a while. Tim Maroney's message below shifts it to a new and I think interesting topic. ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 02 Feb 90 16:32:18 EST From: dryfoo@ATHENA.MIT.edu Subject: Masonic Digest V02N005 An open letter to: Mark Waks Howard Steel Peter Trei Len Bliss Dear Brothers, I've just finished reading the Masonic Digest for Friday, 2 Feb 1990 (Volume 2 : Issue 5) in which you responded to Mr. Albrecht's condemnation of Freemasonry. Thank you for your thoughtful, reasoned, and non-flaming responses to Mr. Albrecht! As Peter, our gentle moderator knows, if I didn't quite *hit* the roof when I read Mr. A's posting, I certainly floated up and bumped it a few times; and could not produce anything suitable for publication. Your excellent letters were a great lesson, an example of what I am trying to learn as a Mason, and a reminder of one of the first question-and-answers taught to a new Entered Apprentice. Thank you for reminding me what I came here to do. Again, my compliments for your responses. (And if you'll be anywhere near Winthrop, Mass. on March 7, write to me about attending a Table Lodge!) sincerely, Wor. Gary L. Dryfoos ½PT: Thanks, Gary! I got to your Table Lodge, and had a wonderful time.| +----------------------------------------------------------------------------- İGary L. Dryfoos İ "...onlookers were İARPA/Internet: dryfoo@athena.mit.edu İ overwhelmed with İ UUCP/Usenet: ...mit-eddie!athena.mit.edu!dryfooİ a fear that lasted İ Phone: (617) 253-0184 / (617) 825-6115 İ for several days." İ USPS: Box 505 Cambridge, MA 02142 İ +============================================================================= ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 2 Feb 90 23:47:39 PST From: tim@toad.com Subject: Nature of God in Freemasonry. ½PT - for those who have not been following for long, Tim has previously stated that he is not a Mason.| The responses to Albrecht have been extremely temperate and well-phrased overall. My own response would simply be to point out that his disagreement is not so much with Freemasonry as with all forms of ecumenicism, and that since this is explicitly an intolerant and narrow-minded position, it demands neither respect nor elaborate refutation. My question here is somewhat different, though it comes from comments made in the responses to Albrecht. What if any constraints does Masonry put on the definition of "God"? As must be apparent, this is a very vague term. My own beliefs accept God under certain non-Western interpretations, as "Atman", "Brahman", "Tao", and "Nibbana"; would this impersonal form of "God" be considered acceptable under Masonry, or is "God" definitely considered "a person"? I would tend to assume the more inclusive interpretation, but certain comments made about "acceptability to one's Supreme Being" would seem to contradict this. Atman and Tao accept all real phenomena and embrace all reality, far beyond the animal concepts of good and evil; while I do accept a moral code, I consider it to exist at a level far below that of the ultimate ground of reality, being of an essentially pragmatic nature bearing on the conditions of human existence. But I digress. The real question is how Masonry defines "God", and what definitions if any might be excluded from its framework. -- Tim Maroney, Mac Software Consultant, sun!hoptoad!tim, tim@toad.com "The Diabolonian position is new to the London playgoer of today, but not to lovers of serious literature. From Prometheus to the Wagnerian Siegfried, some enemy of the gods, unterrified champion of those oppressed by them, has always towered among the heroes of the loftiest poetry." - Shaw, "On Diabolonian Ethics" ½PT- Tim, you certainly know how to pick your topics! What constitutes a precise definition of Deity (in Masonic contexts, we tend to use this word to further fuzz the matter) is a question largely dealt with by ignoring it. About the only thing we are taught is that we exclude atheists because no obligation is binding on them. Thus, an acceptable belief system must include a supernatural component to promote or enforce honorable behavior. In practice, a candidate is asked "Do you believe in a Supreme Being?" If he has no problem answering affirmatively, we don't have a problem either. While some Grand Lodges officially specify monotheism, Hinduism is generally acceptable, as it can be argued that the Hindu pantheon are all aspects of one Godhead. I have no problem extending this inclusiveness to less personalized concepts of Deity, such as those you mention above. If the candidate feels that his spiritual viewpoint is such that he would benefit from Masonry, I'll take his word for it. I am aware of Masons who are Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu, Sikh, Shinto, and Zoroastrian. Some forms of Buddhism (eg, Tibetan and Amida) are probably acceptable, but I don't actually know of any Buddhist Masons. There are a fair number of neo-Pagan Freemasons. Aleister Crowley was in a lodge at one point, and I am under the impression it had quite an effect on his beliefs. You probably know a lot more than I about this. As I said, we really don't worry about it too much. An atheist truly dead to the spiritual aspects of life will find nothing of value in Masonry. Those whose beliefs are very rigidly defined will not join since, by their lights, we're doing it wrong. Other men, who wish to join with others to celebrate what we share in common, and acknowledge something beyond the mundane world for it, are welcome in the lodge. | ----------------------------- Date: 04 Feb 90 18:53:13 EST From: Steve Mesnick / Steffan <70166.1402@CompuServe.com> Subject: Masonry & Religion One of Masonry's attractions to me is the fact that it encourages its members to follow the path of reason: in fact "Follow Reason" is the motto on the coat-of-arms of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Now, reason tells me that the performance of Good Works, and striving to improve myself and the lot of my fellow-man is a Good Thing. In reading Tom Albrecht's comments, I was struck by several points. The major one of these was his claim that his denomination of Presbyterianism recognizes no other path to salvation but a faith in Jesus Christ as savior. By this view, anyone who accepts Jesus is Good and anyone who doesn't is, well, what's the opposite of good? What you *do* is quite irrelevant. What you *believe* is all-important. Now, if that's where you're coming from, Mr. Albrecht, you are absolutely correct. Freemasonry is decidedly not an organization in which you would feel comfortable. I must confess a certain sadness however, that in this world, in these times, there are those who fervently believe that Mohandas Ghandi is in Hell because he was not a Christian, and Miguel de Torquemada is in Heaven because he Believed. Personally, it seems to me tthat any divinity worthy of my devotion ought to care a little bit about how I treat my fellow man, as well as how I feel about Him/Her/It/Them. The above is, of course, my personal view. What does Freemasonry teach about it? Again, this is my interpretation, but I understand the Craft as encouraging its members to follow the teachings of their own religions and be worthy of their God, however they percieve him. Good works matter. It is *not* every man for himself out there. Yes, prayer is part of our meetings. Invocations and benedictions don't make an institution a religion unto itself, otherwise the US Senate, for example, must be counted a church! (I suspect that if prayer were not a part of our meetings, we'd be condemned as atheists....) In conclusion, Mr. Albrecht is quite correct in *most* of his comments. But this is because he speaks from the universe of the logic of his religion, and religions *define* their own logical universes. There is no chance of rational discussion with a person who holds the doctrine of "God said it; I believe it; and that settles it". The one thing that Mr. Albrecht says that I must strongly disagree with is his statement that Freemasonry is "anti-Christian". Freemasonry, is at most "non-Christian" within the Presbyterian definition of Chistianity. Mr. Albrecht, just because I'm not with you doesn't mean I'm against you. As a Jew, I am a non-Christian, but that doesn't make me an anti-Christian. Steven Mesnick, 32' Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The preceding comments were solely my own opinions and not *necessarily* those of any lodge, Grand Lodge, other masonic body, or of any branch of any organized religion whatsoever. ------------------------------ Date: 9 Feb 1990 17:21 EST From: "c.h.hildebrandt" Subject: Masonry & Religion (& Prince Hall) In the February issue of the Northern Light, published by the A.A.S.R., Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, on page 12 is an article titled, "A Fraternity Under Fire" which was written by the Rev. Forrest D. Haggard, 33` that discusses the issue of Masonry & Religion. The Rev. is also the author of a book, "The Clergy and the Craft." Also, on page 23 of the same issue, it states that "the Grand Lodge of Connecticut passed a resolution in October to officially recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Connecticut. The motion provides for the rights of visitation within the two Grand Lodges and the constituent lodges. Several other Grand Lodges are believed to be considering similar proposals in the near future". Charlie Hildebrandt 32' (908) 780-3548 Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U. S. A. Valley of Trenton, NJ ½PT - This is good news! I hope Massachusetts and the other Grand Lodges follow suit soon. Any idea how the United Grand Lodge of England is reacting?| ------------------------------ ********************* End of MASONIC DIGEST

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