Thursday, November 19, 2015

Guest Article: "Freemasonry in the 21st Century and Beyond" by Bro. Jared Chapman

Bro. Jared and His Awesome Fam
As machines replace humans more and more in an effort to create more efficiency and profits for shareholders, humankind must adapt. We must evolve. The world is not so round anymore. We cannot sit idly by, homogenizing ourselves into tribes of single-minded thought. Technology has made for us a global community, where with our differences and diversity could cause strife, but should not. We should embrace these differences as oddities, peculiarities, and idiosyncrasies, as we recognize and focus more on our similarities, finding harmony among humanity. Our survival depends on our ability to spread love, truth, and charity from one end of the world to the next.

Freemasons are at the forefront of such an endeavor. We are the messengers and practitioners of peace and liberty. Our teachings provide for us the necessary tools to lead others toward a brighter tomorrow, not in the world beyond, but in the here and now. As we do good works in the here and now, helping humanity survive and leaving the world a better place than we found it, we will find a brighter tomorrow in both this world and the next. We must embody the principles we are taught and inculcate those to all of humanity, as they will see by our example the good work we do.

The greatest of these works are charity and relief, but within that we find tolerance and understanding. It is incumbent upon us to spread charitable relief, and we can do so only by accepting those who differ in belief, thought, and appearance from ourselves. We must treat them with respect and all the humanity that we expect to receive in return, but we must never expect that it shall be returned; and if it is not, we should never do anything to retaliate for any offense we may feel. We must recognize that we are taught those principles to make us better than we were and acknowledge that not everyone has been taught as such.

We must step forward and take our place as the light-bearers we are, standing against injustice and tyranny. We must be the first to speak out against war as a means to exploit and retaliate, but recognize the necessity of fighting and battling for those who are suffering. Though we seek peace, it may come with a fight, and we must be ready. For humans are not so perfect beings that they are not corrupted by power and greed, we must be the exemplars that light that way. We, who seek equality, justice, liberty, fraternity, and peace.

Idealists in thought, heart, and work, we must evolve and adapt. We must move beyond our bygone traditions of yesteryear that make us look like the dilapidated rubble of an ancient wonder and be willing to accept the truth that Freemasonry is a progressive science. Not just progressive in the nature of the learning from the profane to the enriched, but from the constant forward momentum we use to propel us into a future where we are no seen as obsolete; a future where the moral principles inculcated in our teachings are seen as the constitution by which all humans should live by, whether or not they believe in a higher power.

Over the next century, we need to evolve in thought, heart, and work if we are to survive and lead the way. It is beholden to us to keep the great torches lit, the temples secured, and the masses cared for. How can we do this when we are not the global community we should be? As technology increasingly allows us to communicate with one another, traveling by means of waves and electricity, we must spread light beacons our message of love, truth, and charity across the world.  Yet, many of us sit behind the anonymity of the computer screens, judging belittling, and derogating others for their differences in thought, belief, or appearance. For those brethren, sadly Freemasonry is not their primary worldview.

While Freemasonry should never be primary in one’s life above God, Family, Country, and Neighbors, the principles and tenets of Freemasonry are expected to provide focus to one’s worldview. They are the means to clarity in thought, heart, and work, as they push out the clouds of bigotry, selfish disinterest, and excessive ego. As such, Freemasonry should inform one’s worldview above and beyond all other teachings, for with such clarity, the truth becomes apparent. We are all the children of the Grand Architect of the Universe, and our divine parent who embodies all the divine principles of good, including love, truth, and relief, would never want to see suffering among those children or fighting among those siblings.

When we see our brethren willing to reject a potential brother based not on his moral character, but his difference in belief, thought, or appearance, we must stand up for such injustice. If we are to survive this next century, we must seek to liberate all humans and inculcate our teachings. To be sure, not everyone should be a Freemason, but we should not be so delimiting in our nature or keep our West Gate so secured that good becomes just as restricted as bad, because that which is deemed bad are superficial qualities, idiosyncrasies, and banalities some brother sees through his clouded view. We must guard the gate against those who would corrupt our ancient institution by means of bigotry, selfish disinterest, and excessive ego for they are true indicators of moral degradation.

As we evolve, internalizing our teachings, we should and will eventually realize, as many brothers now do, that the inclusive, universal nature of Freemasonry cannot be so, if we continue to allow inflexible distinctions to exist between practitioners of Masonic principles based on so-called traditions. Within the common fold, we must accept all those practicing Freemasonry in their Regularity. We must unite the Mainstream and Prince Hall variations within the United States, so a combined force can eliminate all irregular, spurious Masonic bodies. We must help those lost in the irregularity heal, if they can be healed and welcome them to the family.

We must acknowledge the existence and accept the work of Women Freemasons, recognizing them as Female-Craft Freemasonry and accepting our place as Male-Craft Freemasonry. Thus, these two groups would exist as separate entities, recognized by one another as Regular, but limited to out-of-lodge interactions alone, as Male-Craft Freemasonry should only raise Males and Female-Craft Freemasonry should only raise Females. In this global healing of Freemasonry, we must also acknowledge those belonging to Co-Masonry. We should allow them to become an appendant body of the Craft lodges, whereby they would not initiate, pass, or raise any members into their degrees, but accept Master Masons only, similarly to Scottish Rite, York Rite, and the Shrine. Co-Masonry would be haut-grade degrees only where Male-Craft and Female-Craft Master Masons would work together.

The continued healing of these groups would provide a broader family for the future of Freemasonry, one that truly espouses and exemplifies its principles and tenets. We truly would be builders and artificers, fashioning the future in the model that we have been shown. Although we will evolve to survive and this version of Freemasonry may be seen at odds with our traditional structure, it is only so, because the tradition is taken as literal and not subject to symbolic interpretation. When one elucidates symbolically the structure, we find the truth. Tradition clings to those elements like a fog, and we must illuminate them to get through it. It will take the next century to evolve into the structure Freemasonry needs to be, but we can do it. We are the light we seek; we just need to find it within us.

Bro. Jared Chapman writes on a number of topics on his blog, "Fresh From the Quarry." Definitely check his blog out!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Masonic Roundtable Ep. 90: The Generation Gap

Well, considering that I am the Millennial Freemason (let's be honest, I'm just one of a growing segment of our Masonic population), I had an absolute blast chatting with Eric Diamond and the boys of TMR on our generations in lodge. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we had on it. Enjoy!