MASONIC Digest Friday, 18 Oct 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 1 Today's Topics: Rebirth of the Mason
MASONIC Digest Friday, 18 Oct 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 1
Rebirth of the Masonic Mailing list
Introductions: Chuck Dupree
William H Magill
Laurie F. Alden
Send all submissions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. MASONIC
digest is moderated. Please remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM:
YOU MUST ASSUME THAT MANY READERS ARE NON-MASONS. Please include a
relevant subject line. If you require anonymity, say so at the top of
your message (and give a nom-de-net). All contributions remain the
property (copyright 1991), and responsibility of the authors.
My own comments remain mine (Copyright 1991 Peter Trei), and represent
only my views at the time of posting - not neccesarily those of
my employer, or of any Grand Lodge.
Back in November 1989, I started the Masonic mailing list. The
digest lasted 10 issues and several months, finally dying when I was
laid off from BBN. I've been at MITRE now for over a year, and am
finally settled enough to think about working on it again.
Below is the initial kick-off message from the original digest, with
updates in ½square brackets|.
Date: 14 Nov 1989 12:00 EDT
Subject: Birth of a notion.
This is the first issue of MASONIC digest. I'm running this list
from a VAX running VMS, so the regular digest software is unavailable.
As a result, it may crash any de-digestification software you may be
using. Due to my inability to create a mailing alias, all mail will
have to be sent to my personal mailbox (email@example.com) for the
moment. This may change when I gain access to a UN*X machine here.
½I'm now on a SUN, and the address is firstname.lastname@example.org|.
I'm mailing this out to 23 addresses, in the US, Canada, and
Britain. If you have not yet sent me an address confirmation note,
please do so as soon as possible.
½This message is going out to 80+ people, in the US, Canada, Britain,
Finnland, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. About half of you
were on the distribution list of the old digest. The rest have
indicated on the net that they are Freemasons, or have an interest in
the masonry. Not all of you are in favor of the Craft - I hope to have
some interesting discussions. On the other hand, I have not invited a
few of the more rabid, less rational anti-masons (though if they ask,
they'll be on the list). As I said in my earlier note, I'll keep
mailing you issues unless you ask to be taken off, or your address
fails several times.|
To forstall some expected questions.
1. Yes, I'm a Master Mason. I'm Senior Steward in Wilder Lodge,
Leominster MA, and will be starting the York Rite in January.
½I'm now Junior Warden, and am moving up to Senior Warden on the 26th.
I have advanced in the York Rite as far as Royal Arch.|
2. This is an open forum. There is no way (short of requiring
each member to mail me a copy of his dues card) that I can confirm the
Masonic status of anyone on this list, and each issue potentially
passes (unenciphered) through every machine on the internet. Take due
notice that non-Masons are reading, and govern yourself accordingly.
3. This forum is moderated. I will not pass on any message which
contains or purports to contain material I am obliged to conceal, or
which I believe members of other orders are obliged to conceal.
Within that restriction, I will be as liberal as possible. Postings
from non-Masons are welcome. So is criticism of Masonry, as long as it
is reasoned and in good taste. I retain the right to cut off postings
from any person who becomes offensively repetitive or repetitively
4. I have chosen a digest format because it reduces the required
resources and it allows me to group related messages. I decided not to
go for an USENET newsgroup since (a) many potential readers are not on
USENET, (b) I could not moderate such a group, not being directly on
USENET, and (c) mailing lists tend to be quieter in tone and more
reasoned than newsgroups, since one must actively seek them out. (d)
I have no idea if there is enough interest to start one. Postings
should be sent out at least weekly, more often if justified by volume.
5. In many places around the world, masons are far more discreet
than in the US, and in some countries Masonry is actually banned. For
this reason, I have decided to permit anonymous contributions. If you
wish to post anonymously, you must say so at the very top of your
message, and include a "nom de net" so others may keep track of your
submissions. I will strip off identifying headers (please help by
not including .signature files).
6. Why am I doing this? When I first gained access to netnews a
year ago, I looked for this group, and could not find it. The only
mentions of Masonry on the net were occasional critical mentions in
the religion groups, and bizarre theories in alt.conspiracy. I
finally realized that the only way I could get what I wanted would be
to start it myself. I also feel our Fraternity needs a slightly higher
profile and I've been inspired by the success of the Masonic NOTES
file at DEC.
The goal of this list is twofold: (a): Fellowship. Freemasons
like to visit with each other, and this is a way for us to visit
electronicaly, regardless of distance. (b) Education. We have much to
tell each other about the state of the Craft in different parts of the
world, and more importantly, much to tell non-Masons. There seems to
be no other source of informed answers about Masonry available to the
I'd like input from readers as to what they feel this list's role
should be. Remember that we cannot create a secure environment for
discussion of esoterica.
7. I have distributed my announcment to a restricted set of
and soc.men. I've also mailed notices to Gene Spafford's and Rich
Zellich's mailing-lists lists. Do you have any other suggestions for
publicising the lists existence? Feel free to pass on this issue to
anyone who you think may be interested.
½This message is only going out to the mailing list. I'll update
Spafford's and Zellich's lists after this list is a going concern.|
From: Peter Trei
Date: 18 Oct 1991
In addition to the above message, I'd like to add that I reformat
messages. When administrative stuff of interest to only myself only is
included in a message, I will strip it out. I also cut long
signatures. I do not otherwise edit for content. If I feel part of a
message is not suitable for the digest, I will return it to the writer
with suggested changes. If a comment seems appropriate (usually to
forstall a flood of identical replies), I'll add it in ½square
brackets|. Otherwise, I will usually try to put my responses in the
next issue, along with other readers.
PS: All systems at MITRE will be down midnight Friday thru
midnight Sunday while they play with the powerplant. You may want to
hold posting responses till Monday, unless you like bouncing mail. :-(
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 91 14:40:06 -0700
From: Chuck Dupree
Subject: Masonic Digest.
> 1. You were on the distribution list for the old digest.
> 2. I think you may be a member of the Masons (or a related group).
> 3. I otherwise think you may be interested.
I expect that 3 applies to me. I'm certainly very interested in
your Masonic Digest. I wasn't on the original list. While I'm not a
Mason, I am a member of a group that derives many of its traditions
and methods from Freemasonry. Also, I've been doing a lot of reading
about Templars, Masons and associated topics over the last couple of
years. So I'm very glad to hear about your digest, and am looking
forward to receiving it.
Re: contributions, my general impression of Masonry is quite
positive, so I wouldn't tend to submit critical material. But I'm
also aware that any large, long-lived, secretive organization is
subject to misuse, and am interested to hear about such exceptions.
In addition, such an organization is often accused of conspiracies,
and no doubt a few of these accusations have some basis in fact.
Exploring such accusations, in my opinion, should help to clear up
misconceptions about Masons. So I'd be interested in such material if
you get it. ½As well, of course, as any other material on the
subject, historical, philosophical, cultural, and so forth.|
As I said, I've been reading about Masons, Templars and
associates a lot lately. If it appears to be useful or interesting,
I'd be happy to send along book reviews or summaries. But subscribers
to your digest have probably seen this material before, so I'd like to
know if there's an archive of previous digests that I could examine so
as to avoid duplication.
Thanks very much for letting me know about the digest, and I'm
looking forward to seeing the first issue!
P.S. Since I'm not a member of any Masonic lodge, I don't mind
having people see my net address. As for the group of which I am a
member, I won't be sending in anything that is supposed to be kept
secret; thus, I hope that I won't create more work for you by
submitting stuff that needs to be edited.
½PT: Based on my previous experience, very few Masons (at least in the |
½US) feel a need to conceal their membership, and I've had very little |
½cause to edit for secrecy. |
½ I'm sure everyone will be asking: "OK, can you tell us just |
½*what* group are you a member of?" Can you tell us anything about it, |
½and how it relates to Masonry? |
Date: Fri, 4 Oct 91 18:37:24 -0400
From: email@example.com (William H. Magill)
Subject: Masonic Digest.
Greetings. Here's a start
Glad to see such a list. I don't recall where I ran into you or
the list on the net, but it might have easily been via "roots-L"
(soc.roots on usenet.) There have been several folks, myself included,
there who have answered questions about Masonic topics which people
have encountered during their genealogical research.
I have been fascinated to find (but not completely surprised) the
number of Masons on both sides of my family during my own researches.
Here's a couple of topics/questions for folks.
Anybody out there a member of the Philalthes Society?
How about a Research Lodge?
Have you seen the latest Barnes and Nobel catalogue's "Masonic" books.
What do you "know" or "have heard" about P2.
Bill Magill, PM
University Lodge Number 51
Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania
and the Masonic Jurisdiction thereunto belonging
PS: (Yes, I'll explain the formal name of the Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania in the future, if there is interest. Pennsylvania is also
an "Antient York" Grand Lodge. It's a fascinating part of the history
of the "War of the Rebellion" as the Grand Lodge of England would call
I also will be at InterOp all next week.
William H. Magill Manager, PennNet Technical Services
Data Communications and Computing Services (DCCS) University of Pennsylvania
Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
½PT: I think that's "Philalethes Society" |
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Laurie F. Alden)
Date: 4 Oct 91 17:12:16
Subject: Re: Masonic Digest.
Yes, I'd love to receive the digest!
I am a majority member of Rainbow with a question for the
audience for the first issue of the new Digests...
I spent all of my teen years as a Rainbow Girl, and it had a
wonderful impact on my life. Now that I am settling down again, I
want to attend the meetings of a local chapter and possibly serve as
an advisor. How do I explain to my husband WHAT masonry is? The
masons themselves were never something we specifically studied, and
somewhere between "fraternal order" and "service orgainzation" and
"Shriners' Hospitals" I realize that I don't know enough about the
history of the order to be able to explain it. Any advice?
Thank you -
Laurie F. (Smith) Alden
North Attleborough Chapter #59
North Attleborough, MA
- now settled in West Lebanon, NH
½PT- I'm sending you the text of two pamphlets I have: "Should I |
½ask?", which is published by the Grand Lodge of Massachusets, and |
½"Freemasonry as a way of life", from the Scottish Rite. Anyone else |
½want them? PS: I'd like to get a FAQ sheet started.| |
Date: Sat, 5 Oct 91 9:27:00 NZT
Subject: Masonic Digest
> ... I will not pass on anything which in my opinion may contain,
> or which purports to contain, material which members are required to
> keep secret.
This is a good start. One thing I'd like to look at is the
question of secrecy? Where do we draw the line? During our
obligations, certain promises are extracted in regard to signs, words,
grips etc. I regard these as properly secret, as well as the wording
of the obligation. However, I wonder how much of other aspects must
be kept secret? As we all know, most of Masonry's so-called secrets
have been well published --- in fact that's one of the reasons for its
popularity in the past, I suspect.
Another question of interest to me is what are precisely the
landmarks. Various Masonic writers offer different lists -- I was
wondering if there is some kind of consensus? For example, here in
New Zealand the order is concerned about the slow decline in numbers,
which may possibly be attributable to the ``old-fashioned'' flavour of
Masonry. Some of us have been seeking to reform the ritual (well,
mainly some of the non-essential appurtenances), but have run into
reactionary opposition, who make reference to ``landmarks'' but are
unable to list them. It seems to be used as a blanket term to cover
everything they don't want to change!
I notice also that you mention "sororal" orders. I take it you
mean things like "Eastern Star" -- but what about Co-Masonry, which is
popular in France?
½PT- On "what is secret?": That's a good question. When responding, |
½please remember that there are plenty of non-Masons reading. |
½ As you have pointed out, a determined researcher can find |
½"exposures" claiming to reveal all. The accuracy of these exposures is |
½very erratic, and are usually written by people hostile to the Craft. |
½ I regard the specifics of ritual to be secret, as well as the |
½obligations and the traditional means of recognition. I feel that a |
½new Mason gets the most out of his degrees if he enters them without |
½any idea what to expect. |
½ Sadly, this means that we won't be able to discuss how ritual |
½varies from place to place. |
½ On Co-Masonry: There was a lengthy discussion of this in the |
½earlier issues of the digest. Would you like to see them? I can send |
½all 10 issues to anyone interested. |
From: email@example.com (Justin du Coeur MKA Mark Waks)
Date: Tue, 15 Oct 91 15:12:28 EDT
Subject: Intro: Mark Waks
Since the Masons Mailing List is restarting after a considerable
hiatus, and we've probably changed readership a bit in that time, it's
probably worthwhile to do a new round of introductions, to get
everyone (re)acquainted. So...
I'm Bro. Mark Waks, newly-installed Senior Deacon of Ocean Lodge
in Winthrop, MA. (For those in other jurisdictions: Massachusetts is
unusual in that we have no lodge numbers; hence, you won't see "lodge
#" on most or all of the probably considerable number of postings from
this state.) I'm relatively young (26), and relatively inexperienced
(raised a shade under two years ago now). I'm best known on the Net as
Justin du Coeur, and will probably sign myself that way as often as
not -- habit is strong, and that's the way I sign myself on most other
mailing lists and newsgroups.
I'm something of a philosopher by nature, and will probably be a
mild pest here on this list. While I believe that Freemasonry has a
great deal of merit, in ways that few other organizations around do, I
also feel that it has become so bound up in its own history and
traditions as to become almost moribund. I'll probably be starting a
number of arguments about where Masonry is going, and how it may need
to change if it is to survive the next half-century.
Undoubtedly I will occasionally display my own ignorance -- while
my interest is great, my knowledge is not, and I'm quite sure that
many or most of the others on this list have a greater depth of
Masonic knowledge than I. Also, I may occasionally prove a bit
parochial -- I haven't had much chance to travel, so I'm only
personally acquainted with the state of Masonry locally. Your mileage
Hopefully, that hasn't biased everyone against me *too* badly. I
*am* interested in seeing Masonry survive, but I think it may need to
evolve a fair amount in the next couple of decades in order to do so.
Starting sometime soon, I'll try to start up some discussions of
specific problems that I see...
-- Justin du Coeur
Bro. Mark Waks
Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA
Random Quote du Jour:
"What exactly is gravity?"
"It's a rumor started by your feet for purposes of job security."
-- Robs Fridrich and Whitehead
End of MASONIC Digest
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