Monday, March 2, 2015

Guest Article: Homosexuality & Freemasonry by Ye Grander Hugnot (pen name)




I've published this paper written by a brother; he has asked to remain anonymous. This paper is an excellent discussion and I'm glad to be publishing it.

I honestly cannot believe that I have to write about this. However, this topic came up on a Facebook group that I am a member of. Though the topic has since been deleted, I feel it is extremely important that we discuss the situation at hand. The question asked on the group page the thoughts and opinions of brethren regarding the petitioning of a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender). Being a group of brethren I would assume the answer was an easy one, but I stand corrected. Evidently, there are some individuals who feel that having a Homosexual amongst our ranks is… wrong. So, let’s discuss this. I know I may make a few readers upset and that is fine. I am welcome to your constructive criticism. I will advise any negativity will be ignored. You and I have better things to do with our lives than to argue over the internet, friendly debates are always welcome.

So, lets set something straight. What the ‘L’ represents in LGBT is not welcome in our fraternity, with the exception of Mason lodges that recognize women. However, as a Free & Accepted, we do not recognize women in our lodges, nor shall we. Therefore, for the sake of mainstream American Masonry as lesbians are women they cannot petition. Same goes for Transgender individuals, lets be real here. If a man is petitioning but he wants to become a woman or is in the process of becoming a woman, he is not a man. Soon after petitioning, Joe Snuffy is now calling himself/herself Josephine Snuffy. Not to mention the idea of changing your gender means changing the plans on the Great Trestle Board of the Universe. Our job as Master Masons is to follow the trestle board according to plan not to revise it. We do that enough as it is with our mistakes in life, we aren't perfect.

That leaves us with the ‘G’ and ‘B’. This is where a lot of issues seem be rising. There is a lot of discussion about how we took an oath on the Bible and it is against God to be homosexual or bisexual. It is a question of morality to some brethren, saying these young men petitioning who are gay are immoral.

First thing is first, Since when does religion matter in the Blue Lodge? Have we forgotten the requirements of being a Master Mason? To be freeborn, of lawful age, to be of good report, highly recommended, and the belief of A Creator. It does not state anywhere in our requirements that you must believe in the God of Abraham. So, for anyone to bring Christianity into the debate, let me be frank. It is not homosexuality that is causing the division in our brotherhood, but it is you who argue for religion. We are a secular organization that requires the belief in a Creator. Leave your religion at home and accept a brother for being a brother; not because he believes in the same God as you. If you want to argue calling for the sinful nature of homosexuality, I will ask you if you have ever shaved, or worn mixed material clothing.

Next, if the man standing outside that door is of lawful age we have no reason to not accept him into our Craft. If he is of good report and recommended where is the problem? I know many men who claim to be God fearing and practice their unsaid faith who do not deserve to be Masons. On that token, I know many straight, gay and bisexual men who would be great contributors to our Craft. They are just, moral and align. Some of them actually live more upon the level than those we have already accepted into the Craft. So, morality is not an issue. There are good and bad men in this world regardless of their sexual orientation.

This next argument actually made me laugh hysterically. The man, who shall remain nameless, actually believes it is a scientific proven fact that homosexuality is a mental disorder. Wait. Hold on… I need to sip a little a coffee so I can spit it out and ask… WHAT?! This is by far the most ridiculous argument that I have ever seen in my life. I actually found links for this individual and posted them on the group so he could see how he was wrong. Let’s be clear, Homosexuality is not a disorder or disease. If that were the case, then being attracted to women who are blonde with blue eyes is a disorder. That’s only because the love of my life is brunette with hazel eyes. I’m thoroughly sorry but if you believe this to be a disorder, then you need to go back to the civil rights movement when it was considered a disorder to be in love with a man/woman of color. This is by far the most ignorant statement one man could make. Mental disorders are more something like: PTSD, ADHD, Autism, the list goes on and on. Sexual orientation is not on that list.

If we simply look beyond our own closed minds and see that a man deserves to be a Freemason based on the required criteria we cannot deny anyone regardless of their race, creed or sexual orientation. If you still feel that a homosexual should not be allowed to petition to a lodge or become a Mason based on your own thoughts of morality please let me show you that our Craft uses different tools outside of the VSL to measure morality. One of those tools is the level. It is not our place to judge a man who wants to become better, the man’s sexual preference is none of our business. That is between him and his God. Not yours, not mine, but his and how he relates to the Creator. The man’s politic’s, religion and sexuality is none of our business. Let us choose to elect a man or not for the good of the order.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The #IAmN Pin


I was on Reddit, as I am often, and read a very interesting post. The Southeastern Battalion (kind of like a district in the Masonic context) under the Grand Commandery of Michigan created the nun pin, incorporating the Arabic character ن (pronounced nun). The proceeds were raised for the Knights Templar Ecumenical Relief Fund, with proceeds to be distributed between the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization, and The Knights of Columbus Christian Refuge Relief.

For many who don't know, there is a hashtag campaign called, #IAmN (or some times #WeAreN) that is used to bring notoriety to the plight of Christians being displaced by terrorists like ISIL. Some background: the extremists, when entering a town with Christian residents, will spray paint, ن, on the houses of Christians, essentially telling them to flee, convert, or die. ن is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christians, . This letter, ن, is now being taken back in defiance of those that seek to persecute.

You can read the whole post here.

When you read this campaign, you can't help but be sympathetic. It also raises the question on what we, as Commanderies and Sir Knights, can do for our fellow Christians. Currently, the charities available are send a minister to the Holy Land or donate money to the Eye Foundation. This pin campaign is something new and interesting. Sadly, it was also a little to hot for a number of high ranking Sir Knights.

So I guess the question is, should we be involved in ecumenical relief? I think it's a conversation we should be having if nothing else than to decide what Masonic Templarism represents in the new era. We shouldn't be restricted to the past, to the Eye Foundation, to the Holy Land Pilgrimage, we should decide new areas of charitable giving and work. We need to sit down and discuss that.

What do you think? Leave a comment below. And if you want a pin, go to nunpin.org where you can find the purchase page.

Update

I have put my money where my mouth is and have purchased a pin. Also, just for pronunciation's sake, the nun is pronounced noon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

QC Lodge No. 2076 to Celebrate Tercentenary with Conference

Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 has announced that it will host a Masonic conference at Queens' College in Cambridge to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge. The conference will be held from September 9 to 11, 2016. The members of QC2076 are seeking out papers on the subject on the history and development of Freemasonry, in particular, of Freemasonry in England. It looks to be a real interesting conference from the premier research lodge in the world. 2017 is going to be a very busy year.

For more details, click here.

Does Masonic Morality Exist?



Inspiration comes from some pretty strange places. I am a member of a few Facebook groups that focus on Masonic topics. For the most part, these pale in comparison to the discussions on /r/freemasonry, /r/yorkrite, and /r/scottishrite. Facebook discussions are usually a mixture of posturing and hurt feelings. I think what I'm trying to say is that Facebook kinda sucks. But, sometimes lightning strikes and a phoenix rises out of the sulfur pits of that are FB group hell.

A topic was brought up in the usual manner for these hellish places. It goes like this, "ummm, I know it's controversial and stuff, but don't be mad and I hope we can be civil and all that but what do you think about [insert extremely controversial topic here]?" Yeah, this will end well. 

The controversial question dujour was: should an openly gay man be allowed to petition a lodge?However, there was an interesting subtext in the answers by the commentors. Throughout the discussion, I was reading, in varying degrees, two responses. Distilled, they were 1) yes, it's not relevant or 2) no, homosexuality is a sin in the Bible and the Bible is on the altar. 

That got me thinking, does there exist a Masonic morality? We discuss morality within Masonry in some detail. But do we have a defined set of principles, other than to be good men?

Dr. Anderson suggests, in the first version of his constitution, a Mason is "obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral law" and that the purpose of Masonry is "to oblige them (Masons) to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must have remain'd at a perpetual Distance." So, it's really wishy-washy. 

"Religion in which all Men agree, to be good Men and true or Men of Honour and Honesty" Yeah, so, be good. But what is good? Are we talking Aristotelian good? Biblical good?

And then, at the end of his life, Dr. Anderson then revised his constitutions (poorly) to say instead: "[a] Mason is obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachide" and that the purpose of Freemasonry charges them, "to adhere to that religion in which all men agree (leaving each brother to his own particular opinions); that is, to be good men and true, men of honor and honesty, by whatever names, religions, or persuasions they may be distinguished; for they all agree in the three great articles of Noah, enough to preserve the cement of the lodge. Thus Masonry is the Center of Union, and the happy means of conciliating persons that otherwise must have remained at a perpetual distance."

(And, if you're wondering what those three great articles of Noah are, my good friend, Clay A., posits, after doing some research, that it refers to the tenets of Masonry, Brotherly love, relief, and truth.)

Even if we take this as a source of Masonic morality (and considering how many scholars put little weight on this document, it's of dubious use), it's still not helpful. So what is morality in a Masonic context?

To begin, we need to examine ethics. Ethics, also sometimes referred to as moral philosophy, has been philosophized thoroughly in almost all cultures and societies. This makes sense as ethics, in some respects, seeks a sense of order in a chaotic world.

W.Bro., and Dr., Kumar, in his paper entitled, Morality and Freemasonry, presents this formula, "[d]o right if you can; if questionable do not do it; and above all do no harm." At least in the Masonic framework, this statement seems to answer the question. We all have our own moral compass but they all seem to point north.

For many Masons, that moral compass comes their religion of choice (or birth). But there in lies a problem. We, at least in the American Freemasonry landscape, are led to believe that we are not supposed to bring our religion into the lodge room with us. But, we really can't drop that, just like I can't drop trespass from the Lord's Prayer in Commandery. So, if we can't drop our religious or political persuasions into the lodge, then we instead need to find a way to seek common ground.

And that can be hard. Just like the question above, can a gay man join a lodge, we need to find an answer. In Minnesota's Closing Charge, we are told that, "[e]very human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Recommend it more especially 'to the household of the faithful.'" A good friend has also stated the inverse, "Masonry's morality can be summed up like this, 'don't be a dick.'"

We're still going to struggle but I like that idea. We are told to do good to all and not be jerks, leaving those definitions to themselves. Frankly, that's the best I can do with what I have. We can either stand on a podium and scream and pull our hair or we can just stand up and extend our hand in friendship.

What are your thoughts? What is morality in a Masonic context? Does it even exist? Leave a comment below.

Monday, February 9, 2015

MN York Rite Retreat 2015

I just received a note from a good friend of mine, Russ, about this year's York Rite Retreat.

Details below:


I hope to make it out this retreat.