Monday, March 7, 2016

A Brother Asks: Why Basic Requirements?

A Brother Asks: Why are some of the basic requirements to become a Freemason fashioned the way they are?

My Response: So many Brother know the requirements that they were told but have no understanding of the basis supporting them.  They have memorized the dogma put forth to them and they merely repeat it back as they were told it believing they are right in doing so.  It is most unfortunate that they have not investigated them below the skin that they have been asked to grasp.

Why these requirements?  Simply put, to assure that only the target market, for which the franchised morality plays are fashioned, experience them. To offer these plays to any unsuitable target audience would ruin its intended and desired affects for not only the candidates, but for the organization and all those who are producing them.

He Continues: Being a Man, Freeborn, of Lawful age and Belief in a Supreme Being?
My Response: Okay, let's cover them one by one...

1) Why Men only (and in male-craft organizations in particular)? The illusion must be maintained. As much as it embraces the façade of Stonecraft, it is still an acting society based upon medieval era guild morality plays.

The first thing to know is that the reality of the past does not support the reality of the present.  There are reports that Women did participate in Stonecraft.  There are even stories circulating of women actually running Lodges where they had inherited them from their husbands. 

However, we don't practice Stonecraft.  We practice Theater that is fashioned to mimic the medieval era and use Stonecraft as our theme.  Women were by law not allowed to be actresses during that era. In Principle, to support the illusion, these re-enactments can't have elements that are anachronistic to the era. Of course, anachronisms occur all the time in current Freemasonic plays since most members do not know what they are participating in, but this one requirement proscribing women seems to be held to for all the wrong reasons. (Source: "The Craft Unmasked")

2) Why Freeborn? This is perhaps one of the most misunderstood words used and misunderstood in the Craft plays. In old manuscripts, it was used to explain the phrase "Able of Birth" which indicated that the candidate was "Superior/Excellent stock", as in "not an idiot, all limbs intact and functioning, and able to eventually be trained to be a Journeyman". It has NOTHING to do with not being born a slave. That slave requirement was covered by not being a bondman. This word has been so misunderstood over the years that it eventually came to mean "a free man" in the minds of those who did not do the work to understand it. This "not being a slave" requirement of course is also important, but it is NOT what the word "freeborn" originally meant. (Source: "Building Free Men")

3) Why Lawful Age? Well, if you understand that these plays were put on for entertainment purposes for the members who came to legally eat, sing, talk and drink (alcoholic brew), you'll understand quickly that you could not have underage involvement. This flies in the face of facts like... Apprentices were prepubescent children.

So...  Why the change? Well, you can't get dinner theater societies up and running with children involved now can you? (Source: The Building Better Builder Series)

4) Why the God requirement? The simplest response is: The Morality Plays are constructed for God Believers only. They have an intended demographic.  It can't get any plainly stated. They are designed to have their impact on this target audience and it alone. Non-believers simply would not take what is offered in the same spirit as believers. They are constitutionally unable to embrace it in the same way that believers do. 

Of course, non-believers can appreciate what is offered, but not in the way that the plays are intended and designed to be experienced. (Source: The Building Better Builders Series)

Another Brother Asks: What about "coming well recommended"?  Isn't that as important as all the others?

My Response: Absolutely!  What do you think about this 5th requirement?

His Response: I just think it's as important as any other basic requirement. If one does not have the positive recommendation of another, and further, the endorsement of at least two current members of the lodge, how do we predict if a new member will "conform to our established laws and regulations?"

My Response:  Yes!  How can we?


Brother John S. Nagy


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