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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Uninformed Brethren and the Charge of a Master Mason

It is generally assumed and accepted that a man who has become a Master Mason has reached the pinnacle of the degree system in Craft Masonry. A Master Mason enjoys all of the same privileges and responsibilities of any other Master Mason outside of the existing leadership structure of the Order. Master Masons are further informed that they have been introduced to all of the knowledge capable of being shared in a symbolic lodge. New Master Masons are given a charge – instructions – at the time of their raising to the Sublime Degree.
In the character of a Master Mason, you are authorized to correct the errors and irregularities of your uninformed brethren…

…and by the regularity of your own behavior afford the best example for the conduct of others less informed.1
From these excerpts, it is recognized that a Master Mason has certain responsibilities concerning uninformed Brethren. Maybe somewhat strangely, the Charge of a Master Mason does not identify who are considered the uninformed Brethren. It could possibly be argued that the uninformed are the Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts, but the charge does not specifically say that. If Master Masons are included as possible members of the group of the uninformed or less informed, however, then a contradiction of sorts appears.

An uninformed or seriously less informed Master Mason would not be able to comply with or execute the instructions contained within the Charge of a Master Mason. It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that a Master Mason must himself be an informed member of the Craft. There can be no other reasonable option.

Of course, no Master Mason can be fully informed or fully knowledgeable about all aspects of the Craft. A Master Mason is still an imperfect human after all. A consensus as to what constitutes being informed enough in order to satisfy the requirements of the Charge is unlikely to be reached by any group of Masons – no matter how small the group. It may be far easier to define what is considered as uninformed. An uninformed Mason could very well be one that does not have at least a working personal knowledge of the rituals, lectures, and laws concerning the governance of his lodge and Grand Jurisdiction. The personal working knowledge is critical. “Knowledge” obtained simply via observation or through the verbal, off the cuff, guidance of others may not create an informed Master Mason since what he has observed or has been told could be incorrect. An informed Mason must first become a reading Mason or at the very least be guided by a known reading Mason.
Such Masons are distinguished, not by the amount of knowledge that they possess, but by the number of jewels that they wear. They will give fifty dollars for a decoration, but not fifty cents for a book.2
So what does an informed Master Mason have on his reading list? He can have many books but – in the Grand Jurisdiction of South Carolina – there is one book that he must have as his primary reference. It is the Ahiman Rezon which contains the Constitution and Code. He must also have that personal working knowledge of the rituals, which includes the lectures. If he has those two things, studies them, and understands them; then he very likely cannot be grouped with the uninformed Brethren. He will also be able to comply with his Master Mason’s Charge.

1. The Ahiman Rezon of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina, Lexington, S.C.: Grand Lodge of South Carolina, 2007, pp 161-162.
2. Mackey, Albert G., "Reading Masons and Masons Who Do Not Read," Voice of Masonry, June 1875.

1 comment:

The Millennial Freemason said...

Remember Socrates and the essential basis of philosophy, "The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing."

Nick