MASONIC Digest Wednesday, 18 Dec 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 5 Today's Topics: Administrivia (Pe
MASONIC Digest Wednesday, 18 Dec 1991 Volume 3 : Issue 5
Administrivia (Peter Trei)
Lodge Organization/Discrimination ("DeWitt Clinton")
Volume of the Sacred Law/Discrimination (Tim Maroney)
Masonry in popular culture (Peter Trei/many others)
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digest is moderated. Please remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM: YOU MUST
ASSUME THAT MANY READERS ARE NON-MASONS. Please include a relevant
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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
From: Peter Trei
Date: 17 December 1991
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
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:
news.announce.newgroups (Moderated, but carries mailing list info)
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)
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.
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
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"
Victoria Lodge (now Victoria Seagate
Lodge) #1037 F&AM, NY.
½ PT: Lodge organization varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction: In |
½ Massachusetts the regular officers are: Master, Senior and Junior |
½ Wardens, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior and Junior Deacons, Senior and |
½ Junior Stewards, Inside Sentinel, and Tyler. All lodges also have a |
½ Chaplain and Marshal, and many add Lighting Steward, Organist, and |
½ Ritualist. NY has Masters of Ceremony, which MA does not. |
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 91 14:15:35 PST
From: email@example.com (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
½ PT: Neither of these are correct. There is really no such thing as a |
½ "Christian Lodge" or a "Jewish Lodge", etc; all lodges should welcome |
½ men of any creed. It is true that many lodges will be predominantly |
½ one sect or another, but this is due to humanity's natural "birds of a|
½ feather" tendency, rather than any official policy. In fact, the lodge|
½ I was raised in was almost wholly Jewish, which I am not. |
½ Kipling boasted that he was raised in a lodge (in India) which had |
½ among the officers Catholics, Anglicans, Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs, and |
½ Jews. This is much more the ideal. |
½ As for the VSL, the rule is that the altar must hold a VSL acceptable |
½ to every Mason present: for 99%+ of US lodges, a regular Bible does |
½ the trick, as the overwhelming majority of US Masons are Christians or|
½ Jews and most Jewish Masons find the presence of the Old Testament |
½ sufficient. If no one book is acceptable to all Masons present, the |
½ rule is to have multiple VSLs on the altar simultaneously. I have |
½ heard a first hand account of a lodge (in Ladakh) which used a Bible, |
½ a Koran, a Gita, and a Sikh holy book simultaneously. (It must have |
½ been a pretty crowded altar :-). |
½ Rotating VSLs would not be acceptable; such a policy would require |
½ that a Mason accept the holy book of a different religion as having |
½ spiritual value to him. This is would be syncretism, which is not |
½ a Masonic virtue (despite the accusations of our enemies). |
½ This touches on another speculative topic: what is the appropriate VSL|
½ for some of the more unusual religions? I've heard of Mormons using |
½ the BoM, but what about (Neo)Pagans, etc? I suppose a Thelemite might |
½ want to use a Crowleys' Book of the Law. An Erisian might propose |
½ using the Principia Discordia, and could then enjoy the confusion his |
½ 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.
½ PT: Many American Masonic lodges are working to correct the history of|
½ racial predjudice they have inherited. In doing this they are merely |
½ falling back into line with accepted Masonic practice in the rest of |
½ the world. The gender bar is universal in regular Masonry the world |
½ over, and is written into the landmarks. It will not change in the in |
½ 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:
The Magic Flute.
Sarastro's organization has distinctly Masonic overtones;
Mozart was a Mason.
... 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.
Contains many allusions; Melville was a Mason.
Great conspiracy novel. The Masons are a minor theme.
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.
War and Peace
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
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.
½pt: 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
One of the recurring plot elements is the question of whether
Bloom is or was at one time a mason.
Jude the Obscure
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
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
"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
The Illuminati Papers
etc. ad nauseam
"Time Masters", a comic book series from DC involves Illuminati/Masons.
"Illuminatus!" comic version of Wilson & Shea's Illuminatus trilogy.
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
...is chock full of Masonic and Illuminati symbols
½I 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
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
"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.
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?
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