MASONIC Digest Monday, 21 Nov 1989 Volume 1 : Issue 2 Today's Topics: Administrivia Introd

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MASONIC Digest Monday, 21 Nov 1989 Volume 1 : Issue 2 Today's Topics: Administrivia Introduction - Gary Dryfoos PH <-> AF&AM Pledge of Allegiance (2 msgs) DEC notesfile. Review: "The Temple and the Lodge" 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 1989), and responsibility of the authors, and may not be diseminated beyond the list without their express permission. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: (Peter Trei) Date: 21-Nov-1989 Subj: Administrivia. A few points on style to make moderation easier. 1. Please mail separate topics in different messages, with appropriate subject lines. 2. Please keep included text to a minmum. If different messages in the same issue quote the same text, I will probably edit it out of all but one. 3. If you have a signature file, I will be editing it out except for one message per poster per issue. 4. If you mail me something, and don't want it published, please say so. Conversely it would also help to indicate that something IS for the digest. I'm going to be including my responses to messages in square brackets| at the end of messages. If anyone wants to further broadcast the existence of this list - I won't stop you, but please exercise restraint. I did not announce it to talk.religion.* or alt.conspiracy because of concerns over the kind of people we would get. I hope we can get this list well established before I have to moderate large numbers of laymen and critics. Those who are interested will find it soon enough. I'm having trouble getting through to subscribers at the following sites:,,,, and If anyone knows a good path to those sites, or if you are a subscriber at one of those sites, please send me mail with as much useful routing info as you can. I will soon have to drop those addresses. We are now up to 31 readers in 3 countries. -peter ------------------------------ From: (Gary Dryfoos) Date: 16-NOV-1989 20:22 Subj: Introduction. As this is my first posting to this Digest, I will follow Peter's lead and introduce myself. My name is Gary Dryfoos, and I am currently the master of Ocean Lodge, AF&AM in Winthrop, Massachusetts (Sept-June, 1st Wednesdays). I am also a candidate instructor for the First Lodge of Instruction, which meets in Corinthian Hall at the Tremont St. Grand Lodge Temple, Boston. I have not yet joined any collateral bodies, but am considering the Royal Arch, *AFTER* I retire from the East (past masters will understand.) +----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gary L. Dryfoos "A man's concepts should ARPA/Internet: exceed his vocabulary... UUCP/Usenet:!!dryfoo Phone: (617) 253-0184 / (617) 825-6115 ...or what's a metaphor?" USPS: E40-342g, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139 -- Plato Schrimp +============================================================================= ------------------------------ From: (Gary Dryfoos) Date: 16-NOV-1989 15:08 Subj: New group I'd suggest that you save the first item in the first digest -- the explanation, rules, and caveats. Keep them around in a separate file, and whenever someone gets added to the list, that should be the first thing you mail them. -- Gary PT: I fully intend to do so. In fact, I want to build up a little library of frequently asked questions and their answers, to mail laymen interested in Masonry. I already have a couple pamphlets online: "Freemasonry as a way of life.", and "Should I ask?", both from the Massachusetts Grand Lodge. If readers find any of the terms and acronyms in this digest confusing, please mail me your questions. I'd like to prepare a little glossary covering the commonly used ones.| ------------------------------ From: (Gary Dryfoos) Date: 16-NOV-1989 20:22 Subj: Re: Prince Hall Masonry (long) } From: } Subject: Interesting rumor from Connecticut } } I recently heard that the Grand Lodge of Connecticut and the } Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Connecticut have agreed to mutual } recognition. This would allow fraternal visitation, but not cross- } affiliation. Can anyone confirm/deny this, or add more details? I would also be interested to know about this, and I'd also hope that some Prince Hall Masons will join this mailing list. As someone who know almost nothing about PHM, my opinions have been shaped by a carefully written book called "Prince Hall Masonry, A Documentary Approach" (Don't have a copy now, so I can't give author or publisher. Massachusetts Masons can borrow it from the Grand Lodge Library -- Roberta will be able to find it for you.) I won't try to summarize all of it, but basically the author shows pretty convincingly that PHM does not have a "regular and duly constituted" line of descent from the Grand Lodge of England; and although they did have a type of dispensation or charter at one point, even that was revoked after they failed to send regular reports to GLA. That much is fact, but it *may* be irrelevant. The questions that Grand Lodges have to wrestle with appear to me to be: 1) Does PH observe "regular" Masonry? Do they do the same work as recognized lodges? Do they conform to all the Landmarks? The answer to this is probably `Yes'. I have been told that PHM in Massachusetts is very similar, or identical, to Mass. GLM. Apparently, their candidates and officers study "mouth to ear" without the cypher books that we use in GLM, so there is no way that I myself can verify the similarities. The Mass.G.L. apparently thought well enough of their observance to attempt a reconciliation a number of years ago. (see below) (If the question could be answered on this point alone "Do they do what Masons are supposed to do, and hold what Masons are supposed to hold?" then GL recognition of PH would pretty obviously be the right thing to do.) 2) Can any American Grand Lodge recognize a body that would violate the doctrine of exclusivity? (I don't know what the formal name for this is.) That is, all of the sovereign GLs in the US have separate geographical territories, with no overlap. Massachusetts cannot recognize the petition of a would-be lodge in Oklahoma or California. The phrase we are used to is "within whose jurisdiction I shall reside." PH cannot be recognized as a regular, co-equal sovereign body without resolving this issue. 3) Can any GL afford to recognize PH? This is the hard question. I have been told that Mass. tried to recognize PH a number of years ago, and that they were quickly informed by a number of other GLs that if it persisted, they would drop recognition of Mass. I'd love to know more about this, but I don't know how open the records are on this point. To return to the original topic -- Conn. may run into exactly the same problem. This could cause a terrible schism, with a lot of intemperate words hurled across a widening gulf. I hope that this will lay out the grounds for a clear discussion (with more Light than heat.) Clearly, Masons are not perfect exemplars of what we are trying to learn and teach. Racism may motivate some who would exclude PH from regular Masonry, and so I've gone into detail here precisely to show that there are, in fact, other quite valid reasons for not just recognizing PH instantly. The situation is, frankly, a tangled mess, and I hope someone else solves it before I become Grand Master :-) --Gary PT: Excellent post! About a month ago we had an open installation, which anyone - Mason or otherwise - could attend. Among the audience was a PH Mason and his wife. The District Deputy Grand Master asked him to stand up and introduce himself, and expressed his hopes that mutual recognition would soon be achieved. This idea was warmly received by all present. There is one precedent I can think of for this. The original "Modern" Grand Lodge of England, and the independently started "Antient" Grand Lodge merged back in the 1830's. This took many years of delicate negotiation, but it *was* accomplished in the end, despite the fact that each GL initially regarded the other as illegitimate. The territorial exclusivity issue is more than a red-herring. Suppose the Connecticut GL recognizes not only the Conn PHGL, but also the PHGL of Arkansas, while the Arkansas AF&AM and PH GLs refuse to recognize each other. You can see the problems which would face a Mason from New Haven visiting Little Rock! If he visits a lodge of either group, the other would probably refuse to deal with him. There would have to be a general agreement among AF&AM GLs to only recognize PHGLs when the local AF&AM GL does so. (I apologize if any PHMs reading this find it too AF&AM oriented - it's hard to write this stuff in a neutral way). As Coil says in his Masonic Encyclopedia (page 128): "...since each Grand Lodge considers itself sovereign and makes its own rules, recognition between Grand Lodges is almost chaotic, except within the English-speaking circle, where it is merely illogical or inexplicable."| ------------------------------ From: (Gary Dryfoos) Date: 16-NOV-1989 20:22 Subj: Re:Pledge of Allegiance (long) } From: } Subject: Should we pledge allegiance in lodge? } } I have always felt that Masonry should strive to be a world-wide } fraternity, existing outside of nationalism. In many American lodges, } the opening includes a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance while } facing the US flag. I have often wondered how this strikes visiting } brethren from other countries, and if it is a practice we should } continue. After all, it's hardly a landmark. This has bothered me as well. "Americanism" i.e. the iconic reverence for our countries patriotic symbols, is so well ingrained in many people that The Pledge is considered a nearly content-less Good Thing: "If a school hockey game is good, then a school hockey game that begins with everyone reciting The Pledge is better." Or, witness our last presidential election: "If a Brookline Town Meeting is good, then a Brookline Town Meeting with The Pledge is better." A previous Master of our lodge began a few meetings with The Presentation of the Colors, and The Pledge. The fact that so many of our members are still WWII veterans, and faithful Cold-War veterans makes it a difficult topic to discuss. Should we continue the practice? Go ahead, try to discuss it with a 65 or 70-yr-old veteran of "The Good War" and see where it gets you. They're not being mean or obstinate, they just cannot understand why anyone would object to doing it, since it's a Good Thing. Reciting it just for the sake of doing so makes me uncomfortable. It's as if a whole room full of people were reciting: "We love America more than anybody, and nobody better accuse us of not loving America, 'cause we're good Americans. We really are. So there!" I think that if saying The Pledge really meant something, than saying it once (or perhaps once a year at a Fourth of July rally or something, if you like that sort of thing) would be enough. We don't recite our Obligations over again at each meeting, do we? We don't have to -- we said it once and meant it. Saying it counted for something. * * * Finally, public thanks to Peter for starting this mailing list. --Gary ------------------------------ From: Steven Gatton Date: Fri, 17 Nov 89 17:25:07 -0500 Subject: Pledge recitation. Because of the University community and our proximity to Canada, we have a lot of opportunities to entertain Masons from outside the U.S. In the past few years, we have had visitors from Canada (reciprocal visitation), the U.K., Brazil, and Greece. When we recite the pledge, they stand respectfully, and then we sing (or listen to a recording of) their national anthem (the Brazilian one is *really* a great piece of music). We also try to get a flag for their country if possible. Showing respect for the country of our citizenship has not caused any trouble of which I am aware. We are admonished to be good citizens and to show respect to our country, and it is our custom to open meetings, Masonic or otherwise, with the Pledge. I have not personally had the experience of visiting in Canada, but it is my understanding that they sing our National Anthem when our Lodge visits. Steve Gatton/BGSU ------------------------------ From: (George Georgiou) Date: 17-NOV-1989 01:22 Subj: Re: Masonic NOTES file at DEC Hello, In the first issue of the digest you mentioned the "Masonic NOTES file at DEC". What exactly is that and how can I get it ? I am familiar with, but I haven't seen such a file there. Thanks, George Georgiou Computer Science Department Tulane University New Orleans, LA 70118 PT: Within DEC, there is a series of notesfiles, one of which covers Masonry. Unfortunately, non-Deccies can't access it. I only know of it because my wife is a DEC employee and sometimes dials in to let me see it. I hope to get some cross-posting going.| ------------------------------ From: (Peter Trei) Date: 21-Nov-1989 Subj: Review: "The Temple and the Lodge" The Temple and the Lodge, by Michel Baigent and Richard Leigh. Arcade '89, ISBN 1-55970-021-1 $22.95, 306 pp, with illustrations, index, and bibliography. Most of us will have heard of the authors previous book: "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", which in 1982, made the bestseller lists with extraordinary claims about the life of Christ. In the present volume they continue in their revisionist vein, but (at least in the US) I doubt that this book will have the same success. Once again, they question generally accepted history, but the modification they propose will strike most people a sideshow. Basically, this is the thesis: 1. The Knights Templar in 1307 received warning of their impending supression by Phillip the Fair the Pope Clement V, and many escaped (with their treasure) to Scotland. Scotland was at that time under papal interdict, and thus beyond the papacy's reach. 2. The Templars assisted Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, assuring Scotland's continued independence from England for over three centuries. 3. The Templars abandoned their vows of chastity and mixed with the local population, passing many of their traditions and much of their philosophy into the culture. Certain Scottish noble houses in particular seemed to have been charged with preserving their memory, and the Templar lands were preserved administrativly distinct long after they were legally dissolved. 4. Scottish operative stonemason's guilds (already influenced by Templar philosophy) were further influenced in the late 1500's by various esoteric doctrines, including Rosicrucianism, creating Freemasonry. This spread south to England. 5. After the English Civil War Masonry supported the old House of Stuart. When in 1688 William of Orange drove the Stuarts into exile in France, many important Masons followed, becoming champions for the Jacobite cause. As a side note, one prominent Jacobite, the Viscount Dundee, is said to have been wearing the Grand Cross of the Knights Templar when he was killed at the battle of Killiecrankie, in 1689. 6. The Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717 largely as a ploy by loyalist English masons to remove influence from the Jacobite faction. 7. Masonic philosophy - stressing universal brotherhood and crossing social boundries - was instrumental in preventing a French-style revolution in England. 8. Masons were prominent in pre-Revolutionary America, particularly in the military lodges of the British army during the French and Indian War. Later, Masons played important roles on both sides of the Revolution. The authors claim that masonic philosophy strengthened the resolve of the revolutionaries, while causing many of the British to see the injustice of government policies. 9. Masonry influenced the formation of the American style of government. * * * It would be very easy to accept this story - it would be nice to provide a longer historical pedigree for our order (the very earliest generally accepted traces are the Regius Old Charges, dated to 1390, but the first hard evidence is from 1646). However, there are several questionable points in the authors argument. 1. The evidence they give that the Templars escaped to Scotland is pretty weak. Many prominent Templars *were* captured and burned at the stake, including Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master of the order. Surely he at least would have escaped if warned. 2. I found their "proofs" of the continued existance of the Templars to be mostly circumstancial. Anonymous warriors gravestones are assumed to be Templar, as is any cross that flares at the ends. 3. The proposed genesis of speculative Freemasonry in Scotland is extremely fuzzy and complex. This is a failing throughout the book - whenever the authors are on shaky ground, they throw vast numbers of barely relevent facts at the reader, linking them with unproved assertions in a way which becomes both irritating and predictable. This fog of factoids is the main way they bridge over the 300 year gap which the standard objection to the Templar origin theory. The authors also tend to accept at face value any claim from any source which advances their thesis, either ignoring more reasonable explanations or relegating them to chapter notes at the back. For example, on page 159, in discussing how the rebuilding after the Great Fire of London in 1666 put operative masonry into a prominant position, they say of Sir Christopher Wren (the architect of St. Paul's): "He is alleged to have become Grand Master of Freemasonry in England in 1685.", and go on to discuss his thus-derived importance as a link between operative and speculative Masonry. Only in a chapter note on page 280 (in small type) do they admit the extreme dubiousness of this claim. It appears in Anderson's "Constitutions" of 1738. The first edition (1723), makes no mention of Wren as a Mason. In the 1738 book, published 15 years after Wren's death and the death of King George (who disliked Wren), Wren is suddenly given an elaborate Masonic history starting in 1663, when he was supposedly Grand Warden (a very high rank). This conflicts with the only other known masonic mention of him, where John Aubrey claims that Wren was made a Mason in 1691. It is generally agreed that Wren *might* have been a mason, but not before Aubrey's date. A very careful reader, or one familiar with masonic history, will notice the conflict in dates. The casual reader will simply beleive that it is accepted knowledge that Wren was Grand Master. They also fail to explain how he could have been a Grand Master 22 years before Grand Lodge was formed in 1717. BTW, the history of Masonry in the 1738 Constitutions is fabulous to say the least: it has Adam as the first Freemason, and Moses as a Grand Master.| There are good points too. 1. They show photos of gravestones in crusader castles with arguably masonic emblems - from the 13th century! 2. The most interesting idea they present, and one which I think deserves further careful consideration, concerns the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Masonry was already well established by this period, but not centrally organized. In 1751 a rival organization, the "Antients" appeared, and Masonry was split between the "Antients" and the "Moderns" until 1813 when they merged. The Antients claimed all along to be true to the older ideals, and were the first known to practice many of the side degrees such as the Royal Arch. The merger was accomplished in such a way that it can be argued that they got the better end of it. The authors suggest that the "Modern" Grand Lodge represented a minority viewpoint in English Masonry, but that since it won the support of the crown and wound up writing the history books, it managed to portray itself as much more important and legitimate than it actually was. In presenting this idea, the authors are continuing a pre-existing trend in Masonic history - a slow re-evaluation of the importance of the Antients. This trend started in 1887 with the publication of Henry Sadler's "Masonic Facts and Fictions - Comprising a new theory of the origin of the 'Antient' Grand Lodge", and continued with Batham's Prestonian Lecture of 1981. I'm becoming a subscriber Quatuor Coronati Lodge's Transactions soon, and look forward to seeing what they think of these ideas. (QC is a Lodge of Research, and delves into Masonic History.) Overall, I found this an interesting but sometimes frustrating book, flawed by the authors determination to present their theory in spite of the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence against them. I would *not* recommend it to the layman curious about the genesis of Freemasonry - it's far too speculative, and I feel misleadingly so. It is also rather expensive. I appreciate the way the authors have gone to some trouble to actually do research in the field, though as non-Masons they are hampered in their interpretations and tend to read meanings into things no Mason ever would. For the interested layman or Mason, John Hamill's "The Craft" (Crucible, 1986) is a much better place to start. BTW, "The Craft" is listed by the authors as their source of the Wren story. I suspect Hamill is very displeased at the way his information has been presented.| (As a final note: It's strange to read wild allegations about the Templars presented as fact at the same time as reading wild allegations about the Templars presented as fiction in Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum :-) End of MASONIC Digest *********************


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