Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Lodge, or the Preparation of the Material

I have been considering what should be the aspects of "The Lodge".....
From multiple readings and discussions, I have tried to put together an outline of what "The Lodge" Should be..........
1) The Nature of Its Work
2) Its Relation to Religion
3) Its Relation to the Outer World
4) Its Ideal Plan
5) Its Course of Instruction
6) Its Chief End

Over time I will post on each of these "aspects" and relate how I might try to morph some of this into our Lodge and see how the Brethen respond.

1) The Nature of its Work
In the Lodge there are two significant terms in common use. Money matters, election of officers, laws and bye-laws and such like are all called "Business". The ceremonies of the degrees,etc., are named "Work". The Work, or main function, of the Lodge, consists of certain ceremonies symbolical in character and mainly, but not exclusively, based on the work of operative masonry.
Operative and speculative masonry are related somewhat in the same way as the inanimate and the animate kingdoms in the natural world. In both the substance is the same, and the one furnishes food for th eother. So operative masonry furnishes food for the speculative. The one rises out of the other. the one is dead, the other is living. The one is practically constant, the "other progressively changes".
In ancient operative masonry the material for a building, after being selected in the quarries, was taken to the lodge, or workshop. There, according to the plan, it was shaped and carved and made fit for a place in the building. In speculative masonry, the lodge exists for a purpose analogous to that. But there is this important difference-in the operative, the material was something outside the craftsman; in the speculative, it is something inside of him. He is both material and worker, and the lodge is the workshop in which he is to shape and square his thoughts to the plan of life laid down on the Divine Trestleboard.

2) Its Relation to Religion
At first sight it might be supposed that masonry claims to fill the function of religion and that it is, therefore, antagonistic to it. But it makes no such claim. It formulates no dogma, the acceptance or rejection of which ensures eternal salvation, or the opposite. It simply demands three general principles of Faith, common to all religions. These are:-
First.- That there exists an almighty creative power, infinite, eternal and beneficent, that rules all things and whom it deisgnates-"The Great Architect," "The Grand Geometrician," and "The Most High."
Second.- That this Divine Architect, by Inspiration and Creation, has laid down His Plan of Life for our government and guidance.
Third.- That the Human Soul is immortal.
These three central truths of masonry are the foundation of all its teachings. That the Creator of All has revealed a plan of life is acknowledged by all religions. Masonry says each man must read that plan according to his conscience. He must choose his own religion. Then, and not till then, begins the work of masonry. The lodge exists as a place wherein masons of varied creeds and different religions may work in peace and harmony to the plan of life, but it does not pretend to declare, or to reveal, that plan. The Conscience of each man must determine that. It only determines and teaches the method and way of working to "the plan that may be accepted".

3) Its Relation to the Outer World
As rudimentary organs in the early development of various animals indicate their future function in the world, so in the old Operative Lodges we perceive the rudiments of the present and future speculative system of masonry. The central motor-idea in the old Operative Lodge was "the building of a sacred structure". Round that all its organisation was formed, and to that end its work was directed. In the same way, but symbolically, the motor-idea of the Speculative Lodge is the building of a sacred structure in accordance with the plan of life laid down by the Great Architect. Round this, as a centre, all ceremonies and symbols of the lodge have been evolved. It is as the sun in the solar system. Without it, all is darkness and chaos. In the lodge the mason is taught how to work at the building, and the preparation necessary for this course of instruction begins with "The Triple Renunciation".
The symbols of the Outer World- the insignia of "Rank", the sword of "Power", and the purse of "Wealth", are laid aside. This does not imply a retreat from the ordinary cares an dduties of life. "In" the world but not "of" it, is the masonic idea. It means that rank, power, and wealth are no ;onger to have the first place in the desires of the heart, nor in the shaping of the life. Why is this Triple Renunciation demanded? Because it is impoosible to carry on the true work of the lodge if the rank, power and wealth of the Outer World are acknowledged within it. on this point let there be no misunderstanding. Men of title, position, and wealth, if "born" into the lodge "of their own free will and accord" and if "under the tongue of good report", should be ever welcome, but not "because" of their position or wealth. Their acceptance must be based on "alone" on their moral qualities as "men". Their social position can only be viewed as giving them a better opportunity of being more useful and of doing more good. Rank, power, and wealth have essentially no affinity with the work of true Masonry. They belong to the material: it is of th emoral world.
With a knowledge of the present condition of many lodges in their minds, some may, perhaps, smile sarcastically at these remarks. But th eideal is never attained in any instituion. Lodges, like chrurches, are often th eopposite of what they should be, and many masons, like many christians, are so only in name.

Part 4,5 & 6 Later......
I want to credit Brother A.S. Macbride,Past Master of Lodge Progress # 873, Glasgow, Scotland, for this material..........

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