A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Masonic Communication or Conversation

Interesting discussions and debates are often generated when attempts are made to define exactly to what “Masonic communication” refers beyond – of course – the use of the term to indicate a formal meeting of a Masonic lodge or Grand Lodge.[i] To avoid confusion, “conversation” should probably replace “communication” when dealing with the subject of individuals talking or corresponding about Masonic subjects.

Just as it regards non-Masons, it is generally well accepted that regular and recognized Freemasons “are forbidden to associate or converse on Masonic subjects” with clandestine Masons.[ii] What exactly does “associate or converse” mean? No reasonable person should think that the prohibition on association and conversation should include social, vocational, or religious contact with those that do not belong to regular and recognized Freemasonry – as long as such contact is not for the purpose of discussing Masonic subjects. But herein may be the root cause of debates concerning this subject. What exactly are Masonic subjects and what is considered Masonic conversation?

Some Masons take the position that Masonic subjects are limited to those involving certain esoteric teachings and rituals of the Fraternity or – more specifically – the modes of recognition and that the discussion of such with another is the only thing that amounts to Masonic conversation. Some will take it a step further and include in the definition of a Masonic subject the tiled proceedings of a lodge or Grand Lodge that take place behind closed doors. Others are broader when defining Masonic conversation and feel that acknowledging another – without concrete evidence – as a Freemason amounts to Masonic conversation. Then there are those that go to the extreme of not discussing any aspect of Freemasonry or disclosing that that they are a Freemason except with and to those that they have indisputable knowledge that confirms the other man’s status as a regular and recognized member of the Fraternity.

This subject has become very pertinent in the last few years as more and more Masons are using the Internet to correspond and discuss the Fraternity. Grand Lodges and individual Masons are wrestling with how to use the Internet for the good of Freemasonry and their own Masonic self-development while – at the same time – ensuring that inappropriate Masonic communication or conversation does not occur. Without a doubt, the Internet is a medium that the Freemasons of old did not anticipate or plan for and many of the constitutions of Grand Lodges do not adequately address the issue of online sites and forums. The obligation of an Entered Apprentice – as is used in most Grand Jurisdictions – does, however, address the issue and as long as Masons abide by such there should be no real problems.

[i] Mackey, Albert G. as revised by Hawkins, Edward L., An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences, Volume I, New York and London: The Masonic History Company, 1914, p. 170.
[ii] Ibid, p. 154.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Reminders are All Around Us

As we approach Memorial Day 2009, one normally only has to look around his lodge room during a meeting to see living reminders of what the day is all about. If your lodge is anything like mine, you are surrounded by veterans of wars and conflicts ranging from World War II to the current Global War on Terrorism. During this past week alone, I have sat in various Masonic meetings with veterans that represented of all these wars and all of the branches of service.

These men are the living reminders of those for which Memorial Day exists – the ones who lost their lives in the defense of the United States of America. You can bet your bottom dollar that they remember those who died because they were their peers, friends, and loved ones. Many people today think of a military grave marker when they reflect on the reason for Memorial Day. The veterans have something more. They have the memories – which they carry with them everyday – of real faces, conversations, shared trials and tribulations, handshakes, and hugs.

The veterans are walking memorials to those that did not make it home. They are the reminders that are all around us. Please take time this Memorial Day to thank a veteran – inside and outside of Freemasonry. That veteran will surely pass on your feelings to the memories – his friends – that he carries within him.