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antient free and accepted masons

freemasonry and Christianity

I wonder whether we are missing the point in the current discussions about freemasonry and Christianity.

A generation ago few people questioned whether freemasonry and Christianity were compatible. Many respected church leaders were freemasons, like their fathers and grandfathers before them. The Rev Norman Vincent Peale is one example. Because of the high ethical and humanitarian ideals of freemasonry a many faceted relationship with the Church was an informal and unofficial actuality.

For the same reason many community leaders were freemasons. Freemasonry was accepted as part of a free society, like motherhood and apple pie. What could be more innocent than honorable men meeting socially and agreeing not to discuss religion or politics? Freemasons were seen to be honest men who treated everyone fairly and were honest in their business dealings. Freemasons were also strong supporters of education, hospitals, charities and were active in voluntary community organisations.

As few men born after 1945 have joined freemasonry, it is natural that the activities of freemasons and their contribution to the good of society is being discussed. These discussions can be a valuable source of information to assist freemasonry adapt to current patterns of social interaction and recreational interests. Since the formation of the first Grand Lodge in 1717, freemasonry has constantly evolved to meet the changing needs and expectations of its members and society.

Recently I saw a 1948 Studebaker bullet nosed sedan at an antique auto show. This model was the peak of Studebaker styling, before it ceased all vehicle production. It looked mint. The body panels were fair and smooth. The paint was perfect and well shined. The tires new. The windows clear and unblemished.

I asked the owner how it ran. He said seldom.

He explained that replacement parts were hard to find and buy, it did not meet current emission standards, and, as a showpiece, he was unwilling to subject it to use and exposure that might result in damage. Further he explained, he was not willing to substitute parts, like an engine, transmission or rear end, from other manufacturers that would enable him to use the car, or at least keep it running. These parts, he said, even though unseen, would change the car from what it was to something else even though it would be more usable and give it a longer life.

As I listened to the owner's remarks, I suddenly thought "This is how some people talk about freemasonry."

They think of freemasonry as

  • a collection of antiques assembled so that the curious could appreciate a bygone era.
  • a prestigious name but the supply of parts is inadequate to replace those lost to the ravages of age, and unable to operate without restriction in its current environment.
  • attitudes of a true antiquarian, limit exposure that might result in damage, and NO SUBSTITUTION OF PARTS, even though they would strengthen the structure and add to it's life.

Unlike the Studebaker, freemasonry is not a museum piece. Freemasonry is not an historical reenactment society. It has survived for over 250 years because freemasonry moves with the times to remain relevant.

Groups that remain outside the Internet communication revolution will become ghettos, like some Puritan communities in the 18th and 19th centuries, who tried to halt the passage of time to preserve tradition. Changes arising from computer technology are irreversible and are responsible for enormous cultural transformations. Even the way thought is constructed has been modified.

Handmade furniture and jewellery made by the Amish, an ultra-Puritan group in the United States which refuses to use post-17th century inventions such as bicycles, cars and electricity, are now being sold on the Internet. Although tractors, telephones, radio and television are banned by the Amish, a company marketing their handmade products is using customised websites to meet swelling demand, particularly from the Far East. The furniture-makers do not personally touch the keyboards.

to be continued . . . email your thoughts

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