MASONIC Digest Friday, 18 Oct 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 1 Today's Topics: Rebirth of the Mason

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MASONIC Digest Friday, 18 Oct 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 1 Today's Topics: Rebirth of the Masonic Mailing list Adminstrivia Introductions: Chuck Dupree William H Magill Laurie F. Alden "paul" Mark Waks Send all submissions and requests to ptrei@mitre.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|. From: ptrei@asgard.bbn.com 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 (ptrei@asgard.bbn.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 ptrei@mitre.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 offensive, IMAO. 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 general net-public. 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 newsgroups: misc.misc,news.groups,news.announce.newgroups,soc.misc, 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.| fraternally, Peter Trei -------------------- From: Peter Trei Date: 18 Oct 1991 Subject: Administrivia 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. :-( Peter ------------------------------ 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! - ced 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: magill@dccs.upenn.edu (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 it.) I also will be at InterOp all next week. T.T.F.N William H. Magill Manager, PennNet Technical Services Data Communications and Computing Services (DCCS) University of Pennsylvania Internet: magill@dccs.upenn.edu magill@eniac.seas.upenn.edu magill@upenn.edu ½PT: I think that's "Philalethes Society" | ------------------------------ From: 69014v@d1.dartmouth.edu (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 - Fraternally, 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.| | ------------------------------ From: paul@actrix.gen.nz 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: justin@inmet.camb.inmet.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 may vary. 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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