MASONIC Digest Wednesday, 18 Dec 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 5 Today's Topics: Administrivia (Pe

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MASONIC Digest Wednesday, 18 Dec 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 5 Today's Topics: Administrivia (Peter Trei) Lodge Organization/Discrimination ("DeWitt Clinton") Volume of the Sacred Law/Discrimination (Tim Maroney) Masonry in popular culture (Peter Trei/many others) Send all submissions and requests to 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 issues are available, as are a couple standard pamphlets. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Peter Trei Date: 17 December 1991 Subject: Administrivia I'd like to apologize for the long delay since the last issue; I've been busy, and more to the point, there has not been much material. This lack is a big problem - I can't carry this thing on my own. I'd like to encourage people to send stuff. this list currently has about 85 members. I'm starting to think I'm going to have to advertise for more. I'm considering posting a note in the following groups: soc.religion.christian bit.listserv.christia talk.religion.misc talk.religion.newage alt.atheism alt.conspiracy alt.pagan alt.magick news.announce.newgroups (Moderated, but carries mailing list info) news.groups soc.history bit.listserv.history soc.misc I will also send entries for the various lists-of-lists. Unless there are protests from the list, I'm likely to do this in early January (when people are back). The good point of doing this is that it will get a lot more readers (and hopefully, contributors) - a major goal of the list is to be a place where non-Masons can learn about Masonry from (relatively) authoritative sources. The bad point is that (for a while at least) there will be a lot of people whose interest is peripheral, hostile, or mocking. While I will add *anyone* to the list who asks, I will continue to exercise control on what is sent out. I don't think I censor heavily; I've refused nothing this volume, and in vols 1 & 2 I think I refused one msg (it was from a Mason, and strayed too far into esoteric material), and requested one rewrite (which was printed). In any event, I'd like to send the seasons' greetings to everyone on the list. fraternally, Peter Trei ------------------------------ From: "DeWitt Clinton" Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1991 23:28 EDT Subject: Masonic Digest Vol. 3, Number 4 I apologize in advance for referencing the most recent Masonic Digest (Vol. 3, No. 4) in this fashion, but there are a few points that I wish to make. Again, I'm using the pseudonym of . One Brother from Massachusetts (whose name escapes me as I write this; I didn't use the reply/extract feature!) referred to himself as a Senior Steward of his Lodge. I bring up a question: In New York, we were informed that it is incorrect to refer to Sr. and Jr. Stewards; they are both known simply as Stewards, serving two years as they go up the chairs. The question that I ask is, did he inadvertently refer to his office incorrectly (I'm far more forgiving than my Assistant Grand Lecturer was 8-). Or is it different in Massachusetts? As far as the other Brother talking about the color barrier, _MASONRY_ has none! However, not all Masons practice the time-honored principles of our Craft. In my own Lodge, which was entirely Jewish before our merger (now we're ~90% Jewish), a few members, including Past Masters, threatened to blackball any Gentiles proposed. This is un-Masonic, and I did not win any popularity contests saying so. Similarly, there are Lodges that I know inside and outside of my district that will not accept Jews. This is just as un-Masonic. It is part of the human condition that we do not always live up to the principles that we espouse. Masons often show their humanity in this regard. This does not mean that we should accept it. A man's admission to the Craft should be judged only on his own worth. His faith, his ethnicity, his race are and should remain completely irrelevant. These should remain non-issues in balloting on him, in the conferring of three degrees and in his rise through the ranks. And the facts that this is not always the case does not make it the fault of Masonry; it makes it the fault of men who do not deserve to wear a Masonic Apron. W.'. "DeWitt Clinton" Master 1986-1987 Victoria Lodge (now Victoria Seagate Lodge) #1037 F&AM, NY. PT: Lodge organization varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction: In | Massachusetts the regular officers are: Master, Senior and Junior | Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior and Junior Deacons, Senior and | Junior Stewards, Inside Sentinel, and Tyler. All lodges also have a | Chaplain and Marshal, and many add Lighting Steward, Organist, and | Ritualist. NY has Masters of Ceremony, which MA does not. | ------------------------------ Date: Thu, 14 Nov 91 14:15:35 PST From: (Tim Maroney) Subject: Volume of the Sacred Law Another Masonic question from a non-Mason: What is the current practice regarding the identity of the Volume of the Sacred Law? Theoretically it is not limited to the Christian Bible, but apparently in practice this is almost always used. I believe there are two approaches to the issue. You may have "Christian Lodges", "Jewish Lodges", "Hindu Lodges", etc., which always use the same VSL at all functions; or you may have a religiously integrated lodge at which the Lodge Master makes the determination of which book to use at general functions, while the candidate is allowed to choose the VSL at initiations. Which of these is more common? Are there other approaches? Whis is superior? (As a religious eclectic myself, I have fairly strong feelings in favor of the more open approach, and I would even prefer that a deliberate policy of book rotation at public meetings be applied.) PT: Neither of these are correct. There is really no such thing as a | "Christian Lodge" or a "Jewish Lodge", etc; all lodges should welcome | men of any creed. It is true that many lodges will be predominantly | one sect or another, but this is due to humanity's natural "birds of a| feather" tendency, rather than any official policy. In fact, the lodge| I was raised in was almost wholly Jewish, which I am not. | | Kipling boasted that he was raised in a lodge (in India) which had | among the officers Catholics, Anglicans, Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs, and | Jews. This is much more the ideal. | | As for the VSL, the rule is that the altar must hold a VSL acceptable | to every Mason present: for 99%+ of US lodges, a regular Bible does | the trick, as the overwhelming majority of US Masons are Christians or| Jews and most Jewish Masons find the presence of the Old Testament | sufficient. If no one book is acceptable to all Masons present, the | rule is to have multiple VSLs on the altar simultaneously. I have | heard a first hand account of a lodge (in Ladakh) which used a Bible, | a Koran, a Gita, and a Sikh holy book simultaneously. (It must have | been a pretty crowded altar :-). | | Rotating VSLs would not be acceptable; such a policy would require | that a Mason accept the holy book of a different religion as having | spiritual value to him. This is would be syncretism, which is not | a Masonic virtue (despite the accusations of our enemies). | | This touches on another speculative topic: what is the appropriate VSL| for some of the more unusual religions? I've heard of Mormons using | the BoM, but what about (Neo)Pagans, etc? I suppose a Thelemite might | want to use a Crowleys' Book of the Law. An Erisian might propose | using the Principia Discordia, and could then enjoy the confusion his | suggestion engendered. :-) What could a Wiccan use? | One slightly off-topic note: I appreciated the comments on racial and sexual discrimination in the last digest. I could never be a regular Mason because I'm a feminist, but I would consider membership in an irregular co-Masonic group such as the O.T.O. which is sexually integrated. I've recently had contacts with the group out here in the Bay Area, and it seems both sexually and racially integrated; but of course it has a very different feel from how I imagine regular Masonry must be. The same is true for other descendants of heretical gender-integrated Masonry, such as Neo-Paganism. (This is not to imply that these more occult flavors of quasi-Masonry are lacking in problems of race and sex. The O.T.O. has never had a Queen, and most Neo-Pagan covens seem lily-white. But in some ways they seem to have made more progress than Masonry proper.) "Adaption or extinction" is a billion-year-old natural law established by the Grand Geometer hisself. I hope that one day some recognized Grand Lodges will start to realize that this law takes precedence over some of the traditional restrictions, and that every once in a great while, a solemn oath needs to be re-examined. Tim Maroney PT: Many American Masonic lodges are working to correct the history of| racial predjudice they have inherited. In doing this they are merely | falling back into line with accepted Masonic practice in the rest of | the world. The gender bar is universal in regular Masonry the world | over, and is written into the landmarks. It will not change in the in | the forseeable future. | ------------------------------ From: Peter Trei Subject: Masonry in popular culture. Date:Dec 17 1991 A long time ago, I put out an inquiry on the net, asking about mentions of the Freemasons and Masonic-like organizations in popular culture. I've lost some of the sources, and others came from multiple responses, so I can't say who each reference came from. Somewhat digested, here's what I got: ----------------------- Opera: Mozart The Magic Flute. Sarastro's organization has distinctly Masonic overtones; Mozart was a Mason. ----------------------- Literature: Thomas Pynchon: Gravity's Rainbow ... includes a section about Lyle Bland and the Masons (near the end of the book) - it postulates the United States as one big joke the Masons (a.k.a. the founding fathers) pulled. Melville Moby Dick Contains many allusions; Melville was a Mason. Umberto Eco Foucaults Pendulum. Great conspiracy novel. The Masons are a minor theme. Kipling Kipling was a Mason, and *many* of his works contain Masonic allusions; most notably The Mother Lodge, For the Benefit of the Brethern, and The Man who would be King. Tolstoy War and Peace Poe The Cask of Amontillado ... deals with a fellow finally getting even with a friend who belittles him all the time. Enroute to the revenge, the fellow makes clear that he is a mason. The fellow does not understand, but says that he is one, too, and holds up a trowel such as one would use to do masonry. In the end, the fellow gets the friend drunk and bricks him into a cavity in a catacomb. Bulwer-Lytton: Check out Bulwer-Lytton (yes, he of the famous Bulwer-Lytton prize). He was very prolific and wrote a number of novels with strains of Masonic craft in them. pt: the prize mentioned is awarded for conspicuosly *bad* prose; B-L is the person who once started a book "It was a dark and stormy night..." Joyce Ulysses One of the recurring plot elements is the question of whether Bloom is or was at one time a mason. Thomas Hardy: Jude the Obscure Ishmael Reed: Mumbo Jumbo: The end of this contains a wonderful fantasy concerning the origins both regular and Prince Hall Masonry. Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. Some of these make minor reference to Masonry. The general opinion of the Baker Street Irregulars is that Holmes was probably not a Mason, but knew a lot about it (but then, he knew a lot about verything. :-) George R.R. Martin Wild Cards One or two of the "Wild Cards" books edited by George R.R. Martin (the second?) have a plot involving Masons as the bad guys (naturally). Heinlein: "Revolt in 2100 AD" (or was it "Beyond this Tomorrow"?) - Lazarus Long makes Masonic allusions (RAH was a brother). Robert Anton Wilson: The Illuminatus Trilogy. (with Robert Shea) The Historical Illuminatus Series Cosmic Trigger The Illuminati Papers etc. ad nauseam Comics: "Time Masters", a comic book series from DC involves Illuminati/Masons. "Illuminatus!" comic version of Wilson & Shea's Illuminatus trilogy. ------------------------------------------------------------ Film War and Peace You might check the Russian-language version of "War and Peace" (1967), directed by Sergei Bondarchuk. The book has a long episode involving Pierre Bezhukov's (one of the main characters) induction into Freemasonry, and as I recall the long, Russian-language print (with English subtitles, rarely shown in this country), lasting about eight-plus hours, also has a version of this subplot. The cut of the film generally released in the States (a mere 6 1/4 hours), which is dubbed into English, may no longer have this scene, due to editing, but I'll be happy to check. The Manchurian Candidate chock full of Masonic and Illuminati symbols I didn't spot any. -pt| The Brotherhood of the Bell (a TV movie) ....but be warned, this is one of the scariest anti-Masonic movies I have ever seen....along the lines of the "Grand Conspiracy" theme. Kept me from becoming a Mason for *years*. Now, I'd kind of like to see it again. There were some interesting parallels with the points of the compass around that I'd like to have a look at again. As I recall, the person who was supposed to occupy the north point of the compass was missing.... Interesting, No? "Sons of the Desert" Laurel and Hardy attend what is clearly meant to be a Shriner's convention in Chicago. Most of the humor revolves around around hiding this from their wives, whom they trick into thinking they are actually on a health trip to Hawaii (how things change!). "The Man who would be King." Sean Connery/Michael Caine. Superb action/adventure based on Kipling story of the same name. (Kipling was a brother). Worth seeing regardless of masonic interest. "Murder by Decree." Loosely based on a book by Stephen Knight, this has Sherlock Holmes tracking the Ripper murders into English high society, with a Masonic coverup. While the basic premise of the plot is absurd, the acting and direction are very good, making this an above-average Holmes pastich. Worth seeing. "Amadeus" Highly hyped-up life of Mozart; Masonry is mentioned briefly. Films with minor allusions to Masonic, or Mason-like organizations: True Stories Shriners appear briefly Peggy-Sue Got Married one scene takes place at an unspecified "lodge" The Plot Against Harry one scene takes place at an unspecified "lodge" Fictional Mason-like organizations: Water Buffaloes (Flintstones) Raccoon Lodge (The Honeymooners) anyone have any additions? Peter ------------------------------ End of MASONIC Digest *********************


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