No. 17 -- The newsletter of The Freemasons Chamber -- January 2001

That a belief in the Supreme Being." (Part VII)

On September 14th 1877, the Grand Orient of France voted to eliminate from its ancient constitution the following article: "Freemasonry has for its principles the existence of God, the immortality of the soul and the solidarity of mankind." The Masonic world was plunged into horror at this "act of atheism". This was certainly the most radical move in modern Freemasonry. Many grand lodges severed fraternal relations with the Grand Orient. However, there were Masonic scholars and bodies who attempted to understand the reasons behind this drastic amendment. This installment points out that the French amendment was actually in perfect conformity with Andersonís original specifications! Any Brother wishing a complete set of the three discussions by leading Masons, may request an e-mail copy. Ė Editor.

"The way back to God."

Various explanations have been given as to what this is that was lost, and which all Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Gentile, Christian and Pagan, are seeking for. The simplest and clearest explanation of this that was lost is that it was "the way back to God." That is the door then to which Masonry leads. Cannot any of us go as far as that door with any, be he Agnostic, Deist, Buddhist, or any other, so long as he conforms to Andersonís original specifications, and is a good man and true, a man of honour and honesty? At the door, of course, we would separate, each to follow on his own way. But happily we can come back to the Lodge again and again for mutual encouragement, and for strength for a fresh start on our several paths, all of which are alike dark and obscure.

It is not the function of Masonry to solve the riddle of life but to propound it and stimulate and encourage each of her initiates to search for his own solution. It takes each man so far, and there leaves him to find the answer for himself. By the very fact that Masonry itself gives no answer, it demonstrates clearly that the answer is not the same to every man. All this would seem to lead to freedom from dogma of all kind and justify France and Belgium in the stand they take.

I do not wish to be understood to say that it is wrong for a Mason in Lodge to declare belief in God. But I would like to be able to accept as brethren any good men and true, men of honour and honesty, who are earnest searchers after the same truth as we are, even though they do not insist in Lodge on a declaration of belief in God. French Masons appear to be worthy men, doing a wonderful work for the cause of progress and enlightenment.

Another so-called grievance against the Grand Orient of France is that they have taken the Bible off the altar. Many of us have imagined that because the Bible is one of the Great Lights according to our Ritual and usage that its place has been in Masonic Lodges from time immemorial. To most the presence of the Bible on the altar is in some way a landmark. Surprising it may be, but the Bible was not even mentioned in Masonic Rituals until 1724, and it was in 1760 that Preston moved that it be made one of the Great Lights of Masonry. One might properly question whether Anglo-Saxon Masonry did not violate a landmark when she introduced religious dogmatism into Masonry in the middle of the Eighteenth Century.

As Masons, we have before us the great object of the fraternal brotherhood of man. This will carry with it peace and prosperity. Is not the attainment of this worth the abolition of narrow intolerance? Let us maintain, if we wish, our own principles concerning God and religion, but forever banish all dogmatism as to what others shall do in this connection, so long as they are earnestly working to attain the great principles of Masonry. Does not the situation demand the serious thought of every Master Mason?

Should not Tolerance and Fraternity prevail? France is holding out the brotherly hand to us, saying: "Let by-gones be by-gones, and let us look solely to the future." Should we as Masons hold at more than armís length an institution which consistently devotes itself to those lofty aims and pursuits which we preach better than we practice?

Even as the Arts, Sciences, and other phases of human activity have benefited by international discussion and concord, so also can Masonry benefit. If Masonry is to sustain in the future its splendid record, and attain the object she seeks, is not world-wide international co-operation necessary? How else can we attain a Universal Brotherhood?

With the present world crisis the time has come when Freemasonry should stand forth, free from all entrammelling influences, in its grand simplicity. Our Lodges should be centres of thought, influence and effort, holding no task alien that will advance the cause of righteousness on earth. To this end we could learn much by confraternity with such an organization as the Grand Orient of France. Is "Brotherly Love" to be nothing more than a label which we carry but which does not properly belong to the goods at all? (To be continued)

No due guard! He canít be a Mason. Can he?

by Nelson King, FPS

I am a Master Mason. Try me and prove me. No, I donít have a Due Guard. Whatís a Due Guard? I have a dues card! I donít know what you mean by Blue Lodge. I belong to a Craft Lodge. You say my signs in all the Degrees seem strange to you. Your signs are just as confusing to me.

Landmarks? No, my Grand Lodge does not have any Landmarks, ancient or other wise. Working Tools? Yes we have Working Tools. What are they? In the First Degree they are the 24 Inch Gauge, the Common Gavel and the Chisel. In the Second Degree they are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule. In the Third Degree they are the Skirret, the Pencil and the Compasses.

What is a Skirret? Well a Skirret is an implement which acts on a centre pin from which a line is drawn out to mark the ground much like a chalk line. No there is not a Trowel to be seen anywhere in my Lodge. Yes, we have Volume of the Sacred Law. What passage is it opened at? Well in the First Degree it is opened at Ruth IV verse 7. Why? Because it tells of Boaz and being slipshod. In the Second Degree the Volume of the Sacred Law is opened at Judges XII verse 6, because it tells us of the password in the Second Degree and of the forty and two thousand that were slain. In the Third Degree the Volume of the Sacred Law is opened at Ecclesiastes XII, you know the passage "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth." No. I have never heard of the Volume of the Sacred Law being opened at Psalms 133.

Jewels? Yes we have Jewels. We have Moveable and Immoveable Jewels. What are they? My Moveable Jewels are the Square, the Level and the Plumb Rule, and my Immoveable Jewels are the Rough and Perfect Ashlars and the Tracing Board. Yes! I am sure. The Moveable Jewels are moveable because they are worn by the Master and his Wardens and are transferrable to their successors at Installation. The Immoveable Jewels are immoveable because they lie open in the Lodge in all Degrees for the Brethren to moralize on. I understand they used be to your Moveable and Immovable Jewels, that is until the Baltimore Convention of 1843. And we also have a Tracing Board which is for the Worshipful Master to lay lines on and draw designs on.

No, I have never heard of a Trestle Board. Who wears the Hat in my Lodge? No one of course. The only head coverings allowed are those worn for religious proposes, such as a Yarmulka. Yes that is right, my Master does not wear a hat. Why? Because our Lodges have been consecrated with Wine, Corn, Oil and prayers to the Almighty, consecrated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God, and you do not cover up your head on consecrated ground, unless it is a part of your religion, it is like being in Church.

Yes, in my Lodge I can walk in front of the Master, between him and the Altar which, by the way, is in the centre of the room, always moving from left to right, turning at right angles at each corner. It is called Squaring the Lodge and dates back to the time when what we now know as floor cloths were drawn on the floor with chalk. You Squared the Lodge so that you would not erase the chalk marks.

Yes, we have pillars in my Lodge. No they do not have celestial and terrestrial globes. They are adorned with chapiters, and these chapiters or bowls are enriched with net-work, lily-work and pomegranates. Network from the connection of its meshes, denotes unity, lily-work from its whiteness denotes purity and pomegranates from the exuberance of their seeds denote plenty.

Yes we have the Letter G. No it is not suspended in the East. The letter G, denoting God, is suspended in the centre of the Lodge Room. Why? Because it says so in a part of the closing ceremony in the Second Degree. You know, where the Worshipful Master says: "Bro. Junior Warden, in this character what have you discovered?" Junior Warden: "A sacred symbol, Worshipful Sir." Worshipful Master: "Bro. Senior Warden, where is it situated?" Senior Warden: "In the center of the building, Worshipful Sir." Worshipful Master: "Bro. Junior Warden, to whom does it allude?" Junior Warden: "To God, The Grand Geometrician of The Universe, Worshipful Sir."

No, we donít have Stated Meetings. Yes, we conduct Lodge business. It is done during our Regular Meeting. No, as I said we donít have Stated Meetings, we only have Regular and Emergent Meetings. Whatís an Emergent Meeting? An Emergent Meeting is any meeting called by the Worshipful Master that is not a Regular Meeting. No, we donít do our Lodge Business in the Third Degree. We do all the Lodge Work in the Entered Apprentice Degree. The only reason to go to the Fellowcraft or Master Mason Degree is to confer those degrees. Lodge is always Opened in the First Degree and is always closed in the First Degree. If you have just raised a Candidate to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, you must close in the Third Degree, then the Second Degree and finally in the First Degree.

Our Entered Apprentices are expected to take part in all voting, serve on committees, learn and perform ritual work in the Degree that they have, and are considered full Masons even entitled to Masonic Funerals. And yes, you also used to do all your Lodge work in the First Degree. Again this change was due to the Baltimore Convention in 1843.

No, I have never heard of a Middle Chamber, but we have one ceremony. It is not a Degree. It is only opened after the Third Degree and only on Installation Night. It is called the Board of Installed Masters, where only Installed Masters and Past Masters are permitted, with the exception of the Master Elect. Here, the Master Elect takes a further Obligation as regards the Secrets of the Masterís chair. Here he receives the Grip and Word of an Installed Master and the sign and salutation of a Master of Arts and Sciences. He is then Installed in the Chair of King Solomon. The Board is then closed. All Master Masons are invited back to the Lodge Room. The new Master is then presented to the Master Masons, and the Master is given an explanation of the Working Tools of the Third Degree. The Lodge is then Closed in the Third Degree and all Fellowcraft are invited back to the Lodge Room, where they are presented to the new Master, and he is given an explanation of the Working tools of the Second Degree. The Lodge is then closed in the Second Degree and all Masons are invited back into the Lodge Room. Once again all are presented and the working tools explained. Then all other Officers are invested as Officers of the Lodge. The Worshipful Master is the only one who is installed.

Can I give you the Master Masonís word? Yes I can, but it is really two words and can be only given on The Five Points of Fellowship and in a whisper. Yes in a whisper not in a low breathe and yes it is two words.

Am I a Master Mason? Try me and prove me.

I am a part of a worldwide group of Masons whose ritual is called Emulation Ritual. In The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario our Ritual is called "The Work" and it is an Emulation Type Ritual.

Emulation is one of the oldest post-Union workings. It may well be the oldest, but in view of rival claims and in the absence of complete proof, this question cannot be answered with certainty. There are two points about Emulation that seem to put it into a class of its own:

(a) As a Lodge of Instruction, it goes back to 1823, with continuous existence since then.

(b) It is today the best organized of all the "named" rituals, having had a governing body to Ďprotectí it throughout its history, and in that respect, I believe it far outstrips all other "named" forms.

Bro. C. F. W. Dyer, in his, "EmulationóA Ritual To Remember", which is the standard history of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, published in connection with its sesquicentennial in 1973, shows that the founders experienced difficulties in its formation, because Lodges of Instruction at that time had to be sponsored by a Lodge. The Emulation founders had decided that their Lodge of Instruction was to be for Master Masons only (as it is today), and the Lodges which were invited to act as sponsors were not ready to accept that restriction. Eventually, the Emulation Lodge of Instruction was sponsored, on 27 November 1823, by the Lodge of Hope, then No. 7, whose Master, Joseph Dennis, was one of Emulationís original members.

Is Emulation the original or oldest form now worked in England? It is certainly one of the oldest, but it would be impossible to say whether it is the "original." As Bro. Dyer explains: "No official record has ever been found of the Lodge of Reconciliation Ritual that was approved by the Grand Lodge." Emulation is probably as near to the forms then prescribed as any of the workings surviving from that period. Its principal virtue is that it has enjoyed a proper continuity of control of its forms ever since its foundation.

In England in 1813, the two rival Grand Lodges, the Ancients and the Moderns amalgamated after sixty years of savage hostility, and formed the United Grand Lodge of England. After the Union, which is post-Union, the ritual was totally revised to make it acceptable to both parties. That is when many of the distinctive portions of the pre-Union ritual were jettisoned. That is when the two adopted substitute words came into use; one belonged to the Ancients and one to the Moderns, and they could not agree which was right, so they kept both. By the way, the Ancients were the modern group and the moderns were the oldest group, but that is a different story. And that is why my ritual differs so much from yours. That and the Baltimore Convention of 1843 when you decided to do all your work in the Third Degree, and changed the Moveable Jewels to the Immovable Jewels, in order that you could keep out all Cowans and Eavesdroppers. This National Masonic Convention even changed the Due Guard in the First and Third Degrees. Due Guards, that I donít have.

The work of well over half the Lodges under the English Constitution and the standard work of several overseas Constitutions including the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario is based on the Emulation Ritual.

No, I donít have a Due Guard. But I am a Master Mason. Try me and prove me.

By what instruments of architecture will I be tried? By the Square and Compasses, the well-known symbols of Masonry, which convey the abstract means and end of the Science in a most clear and comprehensive manner, Worshipful Sir.

(Selected Article from: Nelson King, FPS - Home-page http://freemasonry.org/nking/)

Editorial Board: Bro Tofique Fatehi, Bro Ahmed Bharucha, Bro Larry Grant.
Published for The Freemasons Chamber by Larry Grant, Post Box 1610, Mumbai 400001, India
Phone 91-22-2151001. E-mail
larry@vsnl.com.
Master Masons are welcome to request free copies. Please send full name, name and number of lodge, and address. Copies also available by e-mail.
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