Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Brother Asks... Why no Innovations?

A Brother Asks: Why is there a section in the Worshipful Master's installation oath that proscribes innovations?

My Response: It comes directly from one of Brother Anderson's Landmarks.  The Landmark in question is as follows:
25.  That the landmarks of Masonry can never be changed.  These constitute the landmarks, or as they have sometimes been called, "the body of Masonry," in which it is not in the power of man or a body of men to make the least innovation.
And it is put in there to assure that the man taking office does not take any liberty in his office.  It is believed that any innovating action would change the Grand Lodge's franchise authorized processes, scripts and choreography that assures consistency in what is offered to all who experience a specific Jurisdiction's Rituals.

That being said, it should be clear from all the changes that have been made over the centuries and the wide diversity in rules, regulations, landmarks (that are recognized), rituals and lectures, that Freemasonry is full of innovations. It must have them since it is primarily a social Order that must keep up with the times and the norms of each society it is within.

Masonry though, being different from Freemasonry, has no innovations at its most basic core levels.
  1. Apprentice: What Masonry requires from men to mature is exactly the same now as it has been from the beginning of mankind.  
  2. Fellow: What Masonry requires of men to learn is exactly the same now as it has been from the moment such things were taught in schools as far back in time as Ancient Athens.
The core has not changed since its beginnings and, when Freemasonry came into the Grand Lodge Era (circa 1717ish), its Ritual made every effort to capture this in its Privatized Morality plays; plays that, to this day, continue to change based upon the needs of any one particular jurisdiction.  Its focus though has remained consistent:  Mature men and Make them Learned, but only when they desire to do the Work to accomplish both!

Masonry does however have technological advancements at its Master level. This occurs each time the men who Practice and Master Masonry discover new understandings or uncover old understandings that should be implemented at that level from then on.

That is why Masonry is referred to as "a Progressive Science", while Freemasonry is a static art, well, at least until societal changes force it to innovate once again, as it should.

As you perpend all this, keep in mind that the landmarks are not universally embraced and those that are, vary widely from one jurisdiction to another.  Some actually have in writing that innovations are permissible with "the consent of the Grand Lodge having first been obtained." 


Brother John S. Nagy

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