Monday, December 15, 2014

THE CRAFT UNMASKED BOOK PREVIEW: Chapter II. Confusion in the Temple

Good Day My Fellow Travelers,

Here's an article published in Dec. 2014 based upon my newly published book, "The Craft UNMASKED! The Uncommon Origin of Freemasonry and its Practice", that might be of interest to you. 

Fraternally and Sincerely,

Bro. John S. Nagy


II. Confusion in the Temple

When you want to know where to start to
unravel the Mysteries behind the Craft, Start by
Focusing upon the Blatant and Blaring
Misunderstandings and Inconsistencies that its Membership Actively Refuses to Deal with Effectively 
When you remain even loosely active in Craft activities and have taken the time to discuss it at length and in depth with others, you shall soon become acutely aware that there are many aspects of the Craft that appear to be confusing at best, and deeply disconcerting at worst.  These aspects shall continue to plague the Craft until such time that all members find themselves harmoniously discussing differences.

It was only after a few years within the Craft that I began comparing notes with my Brothers.  It was not an easy task either.  As you might know from your own experience, trying to come to a common understanding of things about the Craft even at a superficial level is sometimes blocked by many assumptions.  After many misunderstandings and miscommunications I slowly became aware that I had to create a super-flexible translator for myself, especially when I tried to speak about the Craft with others. 
There are many times when Brothers make an effort to draw distinctions between things that they are told and things that they observe.  I became aware of this when I started reading and hearing key differentiating words inserted into conversations and discourses.  This occurred most often when Brothers were describing who they saw and what they were doing. 
The words that were used by them to distinguish some members from others were prefaced with “True”, “Authentic” and “Real” as opposed to “False”, “Fake” and “Bogus”.  The words that followed these precursors were usually “Brothers”, “Masons”, “Masonry”, “Freemasons” and “Freemasonry”.  In a very genuine way, each was making a sincere effort to communicate to others what they were seeing before them.
And this effort was not limited to members of the Craft.  Writers who were not members of the Society used these very same methods to communicate that there were huge differences between members of the Society and those who actually Practiced the Principles that the Society espoused.
With more time and interactions, I became aware that there were Brothers who didn’t use such prefacing words in their efforts to share what they saw.  They opted for using words that were familiar to all but assigned, through their use, distinct meanings that would be understood by those who would read them.
Examples of this can be found within Craft writings throughout the 1800s and 1900s.  There are countless times when the word “Freemason” was used by some authors to indicate members of the Craft who actually practiced the principles of the Society.  These same writers would call other members who did not practice Societal Principles mere “Masons”.  It was clear that their efforts were put forth to draw distinctions between two classes of members within the Society.
This caused tremendous confusion within those members who saw being a member synonymous with being a Freemason.  They earnestly believed that if you are a member, you are both a Freemason and a Mason.  The spotlights shown by authors upon members who were true to Society Principles and members who were untrue to these principles could not be seen by these Brothers.  Because they could not see any difference, the main intents of the writers and speakers were utterly lost in the minutia of the confusing discourse. 
 Uncommon Ground
Adding to this situation is a clear reversal of meanings conveyed by some twenty-first century Brothers. They have summarily dismissed these conventions and adopted pre-Society distinctions that would appear to be a complete antithesis of these definitions.  By taking the issue of practice outside the Society and assigning it strictly to practice versus non-practice, these Brothers have assigned a distinction that removes membership from the equation defining Masons.  They have opted to define Freemasons as mere members of the Society of Free & Accepted Masons while in the same effort defining Masons as individuals who Practiced Principles that transform males toward maturity and wisdom regardless of affiliation. 
In the eyes of some, Freemasons were members of a Society whereas Masons were Builders.
None of these definitions denoted that there was mutual exclusivity between the two.  They didn’t mean that members could not be Builders too or that Builders could not be members.  It merely communicated a base understanding that one was not necessarily the other and one didn’t have to be one to be the other. 
Using this assignment of meaning and applying it to questions about historical figures can cause tremendous confusion within those not knowing these definitions.  One such example is President Thomas Jefferson.  It is quite clear that this man Raised himself up from Youth to Manhood and to Age.  It is clear that he was not only mature but also wise in what he did with his time and efforts.  It was also abundantly clear that he was a Builder of himself, his fellow men and the country which he helped found.  He was also surrounded by men who were members of the Freemasonic Society.  From all outward signs, this man was clearly a Mason (Builder) according to one set of assigned meanings.  By another set of assigned meanings, what was not clear from anything that was written down about him was whether he was a member of the Society of Free & Accepted Masons and hence a Freemason (a Member of the Society).
One of the biggest problems that differing definitions bring to Craft discourse is the unwillingness of certain members to accept that word meaning is assigned within the context of the communication.  Furthermore, these same members have also steadfastly refused to accept that meaning does change in ways that may be counter to what they have come to understand and accept as true for themselves. 
When listening to and reading discourse and debate between Society members, you can quickly pick up on those who grasp this understanding and who stubbornly refuse to accept the offered meanings in any way.  Within a very short time, the discourses involving these men degrade to arguments of definitions rather than the actual intent of the person trying to communicate Light.  Rather than trying to seek to first understand[i] what the other person is trying to communicate, the effort is put forth by these listeners to have the person accept the listener’s well-entrenched meanings before further discourse can occur. 

As a result of listener resistance, many possibly valuable communications end in battles over what definitions are right and wrong rather than trying to get past these superficial labels and into the meat and bone of what is trying to be communicated.  Such discourses also tend to eventually degrade into personal attacks upon the persons offering the Light by those who dogmatically oppose how this Light is offered. 

Many members believe that this condition within the Craft shall not change anytime soon.  It is part and parcel of what occurs when the Society itself refuses to educate its members along the lines of what is professed through its Rituals.  As long as members are allowed to Progress in name only, that is, reciting back what they are told rather than thinking deeply about, understanding, and applying what they are told, such Craft disconnects between societal members shall continue.

The meanings that members assign to Craft words are not the only wide variables that you shall find within the Society.  A huge inconsistency that many members see and experience is between what is spoken of within Craft Ritual and what is expected of them from the actual organization.  Given any one specific arena of encounters among members of the Craft, you shall see that there is a higher than usual probability that several members shall display character that is utterly counter to that which is espoused by Societal Ritual. 

One such inconsistency is the support one would normally expect from an organization that espouses at every turn that they are about transforming good men into Better men.  This is stated upfront and is supported by words and phrases sprinkled throughout the entirety of its Rituals, Lectures, Laws and other Organizational writings.  For an organization that professes so highly the value of Bettering men, the stark desert of support its members see before them and the experience they have as a result of their participation, leaves many disenchanted by the words that fall sweetly upon their eager ears. 

Problems that arise as a result are plentiful.  One involves the literal translation of what is shared within Ritual.  This occurs even though it is readily apparent, or should be from what Freemasonic writings share, that Ritual is Allegorical and Symbolic.  Even with this being stated, there are many within the Society that make every effort to understand, convey and live Ritual as if it were not Allegorical and Symbolic.  

This becomes clear when you see the activities that members engage in surrounding their investigation of elements found within the third Degree drama.  This includes either what they experienced directly or of what they are informed, depending upon how their Jurisdiction goes about it.  Some members take the Dramatic information and experience as if it were some secret history that is being kept hidden from the world.  Others believe there is an actual Lost Word.  Still others believe the story conveyed is more accurate than the Scriptures it was based upon. 

All things considered, with even minor Perpending, it should become clear that such fanciful flights of imagination would be better guided if the Society as a whole helped its members do the Work that its Rituals direct men toward.  This would be preferred behavior.  Instead, the present Society merely assures that Candidates experience the Ritual as required.  They soon wear titles that don’t truly represent what they originally did within the Stonecraft Society from which they were supposedly taken.

Between the misunderstanding and inconsistencies lie a perpetual production of disillusionment and disappointment within members who eagerly joined the Craft.   Candidates Entering the Society usually have high hopes of being surrounded by men who have actually developed Life Masteries.  What they find is a wide assortment of males who have yet to master themselves, much less the principles of the Craft.  They also find men obsessed with memorizing things that they have no desire to understand, much less apply.  Included in this are statements from these very men that continually encourage similar attitudes and behaviors within new members who obviously want more from their investment of money, time and energy. 

With no true leadership or examples of what the Society can actually do to develop good men into Better men, some members soon realize that the organization is not what they expected.  Couple this with meetings that provide little to no nourishment for those who attend, it becomes very clear to any man who was initially excited about joining the Society, that it offers little more than activities that maintain the process of Initiating men three times over. 

Many men leave the Society soon thereafter, believing they have obtained all that the Society has to offer.  Other men continue to be dues paying members.  They are still motivated enough to continue having a connection with the Craft but rarely if ever attend meetings.  They realize too soon that meetings offer nothing of interest to them.  A fewer number of members continue to maintain the process, believing it offers worthwhile activities to engage in, regardless of expectations truly never being met. 


[i] Seek first to understand, then to be understood – Habit #5; Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; Stephen Covey