Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Brother Asks: Secret Society

A Brother Asks: Are we members of a secret society?

Coach: You bet we are!
Brother: But how could this be?  We are not unknown.  Anyone can look our organization up in multiple ways and find us.  Our buildings are clearly marked and identifiable.  How could we be considered part of a secret society if our society, our meeting places and our meeting times are known and able to be pointed out or found out readily?
Coach:  That's because most people have no clue what "secret society" actually means.  This includes many members of our organization!
Brother: But doesn't "Secret" mean "not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others"?
Coach: Yes.  It does have that meaning.
Brother: Then how can we be a part of something that most anyone can find out if they don't know?  Would you please explain further.

Coach: Sure. Most all of the confusion stems from "semantic drift" and context usage. 
Brother: Semantic Drift?
Coach: Yes.  Words change meaning over time and within the context of how they are used. 
Brother: Context?

Coach: Yes.  Many words change their meaning depending upon how it is .  I can secret something away to keep it a secret.  The word changes meaning depending upon how it is used.  It also changes meaning when it is used as a noun, a verb or an adjective.
Brother: Okay.  So, the word "secret" has changed its meaning and can change meaning depending upon use.  The most common usage of the word is along the lines of what I shared, "not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others". However, within the context of being an adjective describing a society, it has an utterly different meaning. Right?
Coach: Yes.  The word didn't always have the common meaning used today.  It used to mean "separate; distinct"[1]. These days, its meaning has drifted and the original use has become obsolete and unknown. Its meaning has drifted so far from the original use that most of society has no idea what it actually means.
Brother: Yes.  I can see this occurring every time the term is "secret society" is brought up, even within the fraternity.   You would not believe the arguments that I been witness to. 
Coach: I would.  I've seen them as well.  The fact of the matter is, we "set ourselves apart" from the un-separated masses the moment we step through that inner door, enter the temple and remove ourselves from the profane world.
Brother: Okay.  I get it.  Although the existence of our organization is not unknown, as in, not a secret, by belonging to it, and setting ourselves apart by being members, we are members of a society that sets itself apart thus being a secret society.
Coach: Yes, you do get it.  Kudos!
Brother: Thanks!

Coach: Furthermore, if you want to call me "secretive", I accept this as a compliment, even though it is implied by the un-separated masses to be a dark stain upon my person due to their ignorance of the term. 
Brother: And those who reside within the fraternity who don't get it?
Coach: All we can do is provide them further Light and hope that they come to understand it also.
Brother: I agree.
Coach: Joining this secret society is opting to be set apart for all the right reasons.  Membership is a badge of honor, one that I wear with pride.

Brother: I agree with this as well!  But what do we say to those Brothers who insist that we are not a secret society; we are a society with secrets?

Coach: We tell them that we are a well-known secret society with secrets and we make no effort to hide these facts.  It may cause them to pause and reflect.  They may actually laugh at the implied irony they assume is present.  They might even reject it saying that the statement contradicts itself. 

Brother: I don't think they'll understand it though.

Coach: Maybe not. But they'll likely never understand it until they are faced with the opportunity to think differently about it.  The point is to get them thinking and talking about it. 

Brother: Agreed!  What about those people outside the fraternity who call us a secret society?

Coach: Give them a chance to get educated?

Brother: How do we do that?

Coach: Start by saying exactly what you said to me early on.

Brother: What 's that?

Coach: How can the fraternity be a secret society when you and so many others know about it?

Brother: Ah!  Give them an opportunity to think about what they are saying?

Coach: Yep.  And if they take that opportunity, they might likely learn a thing or two.


Brother Coach John S. Nagy

[1]  (obsolete) Separate; distinct. [origin] late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin secretus (adjective) ‘separate, set apart,’ from the verb secernere, from se- ‘apart’ + cernere ‘sift.’


A Brother Asks: Sacrilegious Brothers

A Brother Asks: Coach, what do we make of the sacrilegious brothers who reject the fact that Freemasonry has always been intertwined with Christianity and that many brothers believe that the symbolic lodge is supposed to have tolerance for their religious beliefs when in fact they are to have tolerance for hers- Christianity?

Coach: We should make nothing of it.  Yours is not a view that is commonly held by many members and stating it as fact doesn’t help to bring harmony among Brothers and Fellows.  Opinions shared such as yours will likely cause more division than unity.  It is not conducive to the fellowship many seek.

Brother: It's no secret that Freemasonry has been mostly tied to countries in which Christianity is the religion of the land and that the charges hold that we are to be members of the religion of our country, …

Coach: Those charges were Stonecraft charges.  They were not universally in force when Grand Lodge Freemasonry was first established circa 1717 CE (see: Bro. Anderson's disclaimer about "ancient times").  They were based upon prior era Stonecraft documents, not upon Freemasonry documents created during and after the start of the Grand Lodge era.  Brother Anderson referred to these charges in his Constitutions.  However, he did so only to pave the way for a non-religious fellowship, one that was more suited to the ends of the organization and not to the ends of specific religious members.  It is one of many reasons why religion is not to be discussed within open lodge.  It is not what the fellowship is about and for good reasons...  the USA, and many other countries for that matter, is not a Christian country. 

Brother: …but what do you make of the fact that modern Masons have destroyed the significance of the Holy Bible as the Volume of Sacred Law in order to fit their logic of "universality?"

Coach: You are stating your opinion as fact and doing so in a clearly divisive manner.   Modern members of the Freemasonic fraternity accept other members based upon their belief in a Supreme Being and not how they choose to view that Supreme Being.  The sacred text of each member is only significant to that member; as it should be. None of this destroys anything other than the ability of zealots to push their own personal religious agendas upon other members.

Brother:  If I live in Idaho and Christianity is NOT my religion but the Holy Bible is the VSL in my lodge in Idaho, what does that say about me if the Bible is not binding on my conscious?

Coach: Using your proposed “ifs”, I give you the following… The book you took your obligation upon should be the book that best exemplifies what is etched in your heart.  The book that is upon the Altar should be that book when used for that purpose.  Unfortunately, the Volume of Sacred Law upon the Altar does indeed vary from one jurisdiction to another.  Should the book upon the altar not be your Volume of Sacred Law when your obligation is taken, then the default defense for taking your obligation upon a different book is that the book symbolically represents, as a suitable substitute due to the jurisdiction’s conditions, the book that is etched within your heart.  We could painstakingly quibble the nuances of this ad nauseam; however nothing shared will change the validity and utility of what was just shared.  It's the reality and it is this way for good reasons as well.

Brother: In my opinion, it means that my obligation is not binding and thus void.

Coach: I’m glad that you are sharing this as your opinion. It is a typical one brought about by an either-or, all-or-nothing, black-or-white mental process.  Freemasonry invites men to think outside this narrow box.  That being said, ritual is a “symbolic” lodge experience.  The Volume of Sacred Law is a symbolic prop that you place your hand upon during the Obligation.  In turn, when you want authenticity, it should be symbolic for what is etched within your heart.  When you can get to use the real thing to take your obligation upon, it only adds to the authenticity of your experience!  However, when you can’t have in place the actual artifact you would like to have, you must find or accept a suitable substitute that'll serve this purpose instead.  It doesn’t invalidate anything, unless you truly want it as an excuse to invalidate something. That will always be your choice; however, invalidation is not required and it is certainly not desired by the majority.

Brother: If I subscribe to no religion, as many brothers today, then ultimately there is no book for me to take my oath upon.

Coach: Within the context of your "if", you can take a lot of things to an extreme in analyzing Obligation scenarios.  However, your all-or-nothing conclusion is not supported by any strong realistic arguments.  The entirety of ritual is allegorical and when taken literally, and not symbolically, tends to ruin the experience and its intent.  A non-religious spiritual person already understands the Volume of Sacred Law to be symbolic for what is already etched within the heart of the man taking the obligation.  Books in these scenarios are only outward representations of what is already written within. 

Brother: If every lodge in America uses the Bible as their primary Volume of Sacred Law, what does that say about modern American Freemasonry and its members?

Coach: Once again, within the context of your "if", it says that the symbolic lodge experience is still vibrantly valid, that it is not taken literally by the majority of its members and that zealots have not yet ruined this experience for the majority.  I think that says a lot about the special nature of our institution, its resilience and the men who belong to and run it.

Brother: My cognition is that we're doing it wrong and allowing some to join who really don't belong and it is these sacrilegious brothers who have tarnished the proper order and interpretation of the symbolic lodge, just as in the higher degrees of the AASR where Jesus Christ was revered as the Grand Master of Masons before these sacrilegious men infiltrated Freemasonry and removed all connotations and references to Christ.

Coach:  It appears you are quite zealous in your stance and equally zealous in your views.  You have the right to state your opinion in this matter.  However, I believe you’ll not find much support for your staunch opinions and views by the majority of men who do not and will not buy into either of them, and for good reasons too.  The premises, arguments and conclusion you have put forth are not based upon reality.  They are based upon conjecture, false conclusions and wishful thinking and not many care to hang their hats upon things that will not hold them in a secure way.  You might do well to keep your passions within due bounds on this for they are bound to cause undue friction when shared with those whom you disagree.


Bro. John S Nagy


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Brother Asks: Freemasonry's Design and Intent

A Brother Asks: What is our organization designed to do?
Coach: The Organization is Designed to Introduce men to what they can do to Improve themselves.  More specifically, what they must do to move themselves from Youth to Mastery.

Brother: Okay, so it introduces men to the work that improves them.  What occurs afterword?

Coach: Once Initiated into that System, it is up to each man to Step Up to Do the actual Work.

Brother: That's it?  There's nothing else?

Coach: Yes.  When a man truly Desires the Improvement he Professes, he Shall and Will do the Work.

Brother: What if he doesn't want to do the Work?

Coach:  When he only gives lip service to a Professed Ideal, you shall see no improvement Work pursued and, as a result of that lack of Work, you shall see no improvement in that man.  The man does not become better.

Brother: Why is it left up to each member to do this Work?

Coach:  The Work has been, is, and shall always be Self-directed and Self-initiated. It is internally driven and must be for mastery to be achieved.

Brother: That makes sense.   If you profess to be a man who desires betterment, then you'll not have to be told twice what needs to be done to get it.  You'll not have to be continually prodded to get to Work.  You'll get to work and do what all men should do to mature and cultivate mastery.  However, when you're not a man who is true to his word, you'll show the lack of integrity such men reveal by their very appearance.  That look shall betray them every time.

Coach: Exactly!  The Organization is only there to assist in pointing out the need for that improvement effort.  Additionally, there are only a few men within it who have done the Work to some degree.  Those who have done the Work shall never nag those who haven't.

Brother: Why not?

Coach: It's the antithesis of what needs to occur for men to mature.  Part of being a man is being proactive in matters of betterment.

Brother: I can see that.

Coach: There is a downside.  Not all men within the organinzation can provide the assistance needed to move males from Youth to Mastery, especially to those individuals who make every effort to go far beyond the accepted and well-entrenched norms of men who never seek this end.

Brother: I agree.  It's clear to me that the organization as a whole does not support such activities.  Additionally, there are very few within the organization who seek anything other than titles in their participations. 

Coach:  Yes.  Fortunately, when a man wants more, he shall find ways of Obtaining it.  He shall invest heavily in accomplishing his passion despite the lack of support he shall encounter at almost every turn.

Brother: Agreed!

Coach: However, when a man doesn't want more, he shall get that too.

Brother: Yes.  I've seen this as well.

Coach: The Work shall always be there for those who want its Benefits.

Brother: What can I do to improve?

Coach: You've been shown.  Study ritual, seek the clues within it that point toward what must be cultivated within you to achieve Mastery, create a plan to do this Work, and stuck to it regardless of what life throws at you.

Brother: That's very doable!  Thanks Coach!

Coach: You're most welcome!  Now... get to it!


Brother John S Nagy

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Brother Asks: Ritual's Points

A Brother Asks: What's the point of Freemasonic ritual?

Coach: The point of Ritual in general is to introduce men to thinking differently about how they think normally. The point of Freemasonic ritual is to let men know they can think extraordinarily!

Brother: What's the point of using archaic words when more modern day words would be easily understood?

Coach:  The point of Ritual's use of archaic language is to jar those who can be jarred into thinking about looking into the meaning of words as they change with time and context. Sure, ritual could use more easily understood words, but such easy engagements do not invite men to exercise extraordinary use of their mental abilities.  Men's brains transform to the better with beneficial use.  They transform in extraordinary ways when the extraordinary is put before them to ascertain and perpend in depth. Add to this the fact that philosophical and theological terms in general were originally conveyed within context and these terms change their meaning when interpreted out of context.  Men who are challenged to recognize, understand and apply this information are more apt to cultivate their minds in extraordinary ways.  This especially applies to preparing them well for their spiritual and philosophical pursuits.

Brother: Wait! These terms change when interpreted out of context?

Coach: Yes.  The point of Ritual is to let men know that the meaning behind the words of their faith are no less transitory in meaning, especially when interpreted out of context.  In other words, if you are not aware of the meaning of specific terms within the context and culture in which they were originally used, you are not likely to interpret these words properly.  Interpreting these terms out of context, you are highly likely to come to a misunderstanding of what was originally conveyed and conclude things that were never intended.

Brother: So, ritual is like a prompt to get men to take actions along these lines?

Coach: Yes, if the man is so able. Ritual is a simple nudge provided to each of these capable men.  The presentation of archaic words within Ritual increases the possibility of having each man realize that the words of their faith are no less archaic.  Each term needs further thought, especially within context. 

Brother: What about those who do not heed the call to explore, comprehend and go further in depth?

Coach: Ritual weeds out those who superficial say through their actions, "I'll apply no in depth thought toward what is put before me".  There are quite a few members who fit this category.  You can tell who they are by how they speak about ritual.  Their very looks betray them.

Brother: Okay that explains it.

Coach: Explains what?

Brother: Why I encounter so many of these members who just memorize and regurgitate ritual but who have little to no in depth understanding of what they share.

Coach: Ritual points are made and, when they are, opportunities to benefit by them are presented to those who shall think deeply about these points. Those who remain superficial about these points will either unknowingly preserve this opportunity for others coming through or leave never knowing of what opportunities they missed.

Here's are questions for you to consider:  What ritual terms have you discovered to have meanings other than what you first assigned to them?  What difference did knowing these actual meanings make for you?


Bro. John S Nagy