MASONIC Digest Friday, 16 Mar 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 6
Administrivia - sorry for the delay
More Responses to Tom Albrecht (Christianity & Freemasonry)
Masonry & Religion (& Prince Hall)
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(Copyright 1990 Peter Trei), and represent only my views at the time
of posting - not neccesarily those of my employer, or of any Grand
Date: 14 Mar 1990
From: Peter Trei
Well, the digest is back after a long break. There are various
reasons/excuses for the gap: I was hoping for more submissions besides
those related to Tom Albrecht's message (and have now decided to print
those anyway), and also various bits of family business (I'm going to
be a daddy!) have conspired to keep it on the back burner.
I hope to keep things on a more regular basis from here on in.
Remember, all kinds of submissions are welcome, including questions
and comments from non-Masons.
Since the responses on the potentially incendiary topic of
religion have been so well tempered so far, I'm going to let this
thread continue for a while. Tim Maroney's message below shifts it to
a new and I think interesting topic.
Date: Fri, 02 Feb 90 16:32:18 EST
Subject: Masonic Digest V02N005
An open letter to:
I've just finished reading the Masonic Digest for Friday, 2 Feb
1990 (Volume 2 : Issue 5) in which you responded to Mr. Albrecht's
condemnation of Freemasonry.
Thank you for your thoughtful, reasoned, and non-flaming
responses to Mr. Albrecht!
As Peter, our gentle moderator knows, if I didn't quite *hit* the
roof when I read Mr. A's posting, I certainly floated up and bumped it
a few times; and could not produce anything suitable for publication.
Your excellent letters were a great lesson, an example of what I
am trying to learn as a Mason, and a reminder of one of the first
question-and-answers taught to a new Entered Apprentice. Thank you
for reminding me what I came here to do.
Again, my compliments for your responses. (And if you'll be
anywhere near Winthrop, Mass. on March 7, write to me about attending
a Table Lodge!)
Wor. Gary L. Dryfoos
½PT: Thanks, Gary! I got to your Table Lodge, and had a wonderful time.|
İGary L. Dryfoos İ "...onlookers were
İARPA/Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org İ overwhelmed with
İ UUCP/Usenet: ...mit-eddie!athena.mit.edu!dryfooİ a fear that lasted
İ Phone: (617) 253-0184 / (617) 825-6115 İ for several days."
İ USPS: Box 505 Cambridge, MA 02142 İ
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 90 23:47:39 PST
Subject: Nature of God in Freemasonry.
½PT - for those who have not been following for long, Tim has
previously stated that he is not a Mason.|
The responses to Albrecht have been extremely temperate and
well-phrased overall. My own response would simply be to point out
that his disagreement is not so much with Freemasonry as with all
forms of ecumenicism, and that since this is explicitly an intolerant
and narrow-minded position, it demands neither respect nor elaborate
My question here is somewhat different, though it comes from
comments made in the responses to Albrecht. What if any constraints
does Masonry put on the definition of "God"? As must be apparent,
this is a very vague term.
My own beliefs accept God under certain non-Western
interpretations, as "Atman", "Brahman", "Tao", and "Nibbana"; would
this impersonal form of "God" be considered acceptable under Masonry,
or is "God" definitely considered "a person"? I would tend to assume
the more inclusive interpretation, but certain comments made about
"acceptability to one's Supreme Being" would seem to contradict this.
Atman and Tao accept all real phenomena and embrace all reality, far
beyond the animal concepts of good and evil; while I do accept a moral
code, I consider it to exist at a level far below that of the ultimate
ground of reality, being of an essentially pragmatic nature bearing on
the conditions of human existence.
But I digress. The real question is how Masonry defines "God",
and what definitions if any might be excluded from its framework.
Tim Maroney, Mac Software Consultant, sun!hoptoad!tim, email@example.com
"The Diabolonian position is new to the London playgoer of today, but
not to lovers of serious literature. From Prometheus to the Wagnerian
Siegfried, some enemy of the gods, unterrified champion of those
oppressed by them, has always towered among the heroes of the
- Shaw, "On Diabolonian Ethics"
Tim, you certainly know how to pick your topics! What constitutes
a precise definition of Deity (in Masonic contexts, we tend to use
this word to further fuzz the matter) is a question largely dealt with
by ignoring it. About the only thing we are taught is that we exclude
atheists because no obligation is binding on them. Thus, an acceptable
belief system must include a supernatural component to promote or
enforce honorable behavior.
In practice, a candidate is asked "Do you believe in a Supreme
Being?" If he has no problem answering affirmatively, we don't have a
problem either. While some Grand Lodges officially specify monotheism,
Hinduism is generally acceptable, as it can be argued that the Hindu
pantheon are all aspects of one Godhead. I have no problem extending
this inclusiveness to less personalized concepts of Deity, such as
those you mention above. If the candidate feels that his spiritual
viewpoint is such that he would benefit from Masonry, I'll take his
word for it.
I am aware of Masons who are Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu,
Sikh, Shinto, and Zoroastrian. Some forms of Buddhism (eg, Tibetan and
Amida) are probably acceptable, but I don't actually know of any
Buddhist Masons. There are a fair number of neo-Pagan Freemasons.
Aleister Crowley was in a lodge at one point, and I am under the
impression it had quite an effect on his beliefs. You probably know a
lot more than I about this.
As I said, we really don't worry about it too much. An atheist
truly dead to the spiritual aspects of life will find nothing of value
in Masonry. Those whose beliefs are very rigidly defined will not join
since, by their lights, we're doing it wrong. Other men, who wish to
join with others to celebrate what we share in common, and acknowledge
something beyond the mundane world for it, are welcome in the lodge.
Date: 04 Feb 90 18:53:13 EST
From: Steve Mesnick / Steffan <70166.1402@CompuServe.com>
Subject: Masonry & Religion
One of Masonry's attractions to me is the fact that it encourages
its members to follow the path of reason: in fact "Follow Reason" is
the motto on the coat-of-arms of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Now, reason tells me that the performance of Good Works, and striving
to improve myself and the lot of my fellow-man is a Good Thing.
In reading Tom Albrecht's comments, I was struck by several
points. The major one of these was his claim that his denomination of
Presbyterianism recognizes no other path to salvation but a faith in
Jesus Christ as savior. By this view, anyone who accepts Jesus is Good
and anyone who doesn't is, well, what's the opposite of good? What you
*do* is quite irrelevant. What you *believe* is all-important.
Now, if that's where you're coming from, Mr. Albrecht, you are
absolutely correct. Freemasonry is decidedly not an organization in
which you would feel comfortable. I must confess a certain sadness
however, that in this world, in these times, there are those who
fervently believe that Mohandas Ghandi is in Hell because he was not a
Christian, and Miguel de Torquemada is in Heaven because he Believed.
Personally, it seems to me tthat any divinity worthy of my devotion
ought to care a little bit about how I treat my fellow man, as well as
how I feel about Him/Her/It/Them.
The above is, of course, my personal view. What does Freemasonry
teach about it? Again, this is my interpretation, but I understand the
Craft as encouraging its members to follow the teachings of their own
religions and be worthy of their God, however they percieve him. Good
works matter. It is *not* every man for himself out there. Yes, prayer
is part of our meetings. Invocations and benedictions don't make an
institution a religion unto itself, otherwise the US Senate, for
example, must be counted a church! (I suspect that if prayer were not
a part of our meetings, we'd be condemned as atheists....)
In conclusion, Mr. Albrecht is quite correct in *most* of his
comments. But this is because he speaks from the universe of the
logic of his religion, and religions *define* their own logical
universes. There is no chance of rational discussion with a person who
holds the doctrine of "God said it; I believe it; and that settles
The one thing that Mr. Albrecht says that I must strongly
disagree with is his statement that Freemasonry is "anti-Christian".
Freemasonry, is at most "non-Christian" within the Presbyterian
definition of Chistianity. Mr. Albrecht, just because I'm not with
you doesn't mean I'm against you. As a Jew, I am a non-Christian, but
that doesn't make me an anti-Christian.
Steven Mesnick, 32'
Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA
The preceding comments were solely my own opinions and not *necessarily*
those of any lodge, Grand Lodge, other masonic body, or of any branch of any
organized religion whatsoever.
Date: 9 Feb 1990 17:21 EST
Subject: Masonry & Religion (& Prince Hall)
In the February issue of the Northern Light, published by the
A.A.S.R., Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, on page 12 is an article
titled, "A Fraternity Under Fire" which was written by the Rev.
Forrest D. Haggard, 33` that discusses the issue of Masonry &
Religion. The Rev. is also the author of a book, "The Clergy and the
Also, on page 23 of the same issue, it states that "the Grand
Lodge of Connecticut passed a resolution in October to officially
recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Connecticut. The motion
provides for the rights of visitation within the two Grand Lodges and
the constituent lodges. Several other Grand Lodges are believed to be
considering similar proposals in the near future".
Charlie Hildebrandt 32' (908) 780-3548
Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite
Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U. S. A.
Valley of Trenton, NJ
½PT - This is good news! I hope Massachusetts and the other Grand
Lodges follow suit soon. Any idea how the United Grand Lodge of
England is reacting?|
End of MASONIC DIGEST