Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What is American Freemasonry in Reality? One man's Opinion.

Greetings to Anyone viewing this.

I do not know if anything I put up here is read at all or not, but today I am motivated to put some of my thoughts and perspectives down. I am extremely cynical in most areas of thought and realize that I may be a minority in that. I am ok with that.

Now, with all the strange happenings that have taken place within my freemasonic world, I have had to do research into different areas of "Freemasonry" and history. I wished to have a better understanding of the Craft and Society as well during the formation of the Original Grand Lodge and the fomenting of spreading masonry throughout the Globe.

I do not claim to be any type of an authority figure on Freemasonry. I could never grasp the real and complete history of The Craft. So much has transpired and changed over a few centuries, that to claim any real authority is futile in my humble opinion.

From my readings and discussions, I have come to an opinion that there is definitely more than one kind of Freemasonry. Different types of Freemasonry to be practiced discussed and experienced. A multitude of examples exist. Freemasonry at times had seemed to be spawned from a Purpose, have a Purpose and created a Purpose within society. From reading Margaret Jacobs writings along with listening to Boston College's Age of Enlightenment 8 cd set, it leads one to believe that a lack of a Freedom of Speech and a Freedom of Worship, spawned Freemasonic Lodges; a place where humans could meet equally, and discuss the despotism of the Crown and Church. Humans in the 17th and 18th centuries were still being locked up for heresy. Freemasonic Lodges offered a place for secrecy and security where humans, with good intentions for making positive changes to the environment around them, could meet. For people to have the ability to assemble, to be able to discuss revolt against a tyrannical government or church, to spread the Light of the Freedom of Conscience, to break bonds of centuries of despotism, a force was needed and Freemasonry was one of the driving forces. A place and society was needed for humans to discuss the topics of Freedom. Freedom was needed in the world and Freemasonry was a(not the only) Tool and a Vehicle for promulgating the idea of an existence without a Crown or Church tyrannically ruling you.

People would show up to a Lodge meeting to be educated and Enlightened in the HOW they were Equal to a King or a Pope. Taught about biology, how a kings blood was the same as theirs. The 7 Liberal Arts sciences had real meaning to these men. Learning about Logic and how each and every one of us has it within us and how it can govern us.

Spawned from a Purpose (Despotism and Tyranny), and had a Purpose (Freedom of Conscience and Spreading Enlightenment).
This radical way of thinking and existing was taking the world by storm. Church and Crown had to defend themselves about their abusive past and despotic present. A Purpose then was created in reaction to Freemasonry's impact on the general society, an anti Masonic Purpose was created and backed by the despots who were losing their power and control over the minds and hearts of the human race. It was easy for those two establishments to work the uneducated and unenlightened masses into distrust of the Craft.
America's reaction to this was to turn Freemasonry into a social and beneficial society. Remove the discussion of politics and religion and make it service oriented. Freemasonry's cry in the 18th century was one of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; in the 19th century it was just Fraternity.

I have problems understanding how the Church or other Governments could have any issues with modern day American style Freemasonic practice. There is absolutely nothing within all the rituals and degrees available that would be in violation of ones duty to their church of choice or government. So, there must be Freemasonry whose lessons and Purpose was in contradiction with the Church and certain Governments. That Freemasonry is not American Freemasonry.

American Freemasonry of the 20th and 21st century has changed and become a 501c10. The Freemasonry of our Founding Fathers is dead and gone in America. Pre 1800's it was an entity on its own. Today it is one of many other 501c10's. I remember the past master's of our Lodge stating that one of the only things that made Ohio freemasonry different from the moose and elks was we did not allow alcohol in our Temples. That was the only difference they knew of outside of how to become a member.

Now, what is a 501c10?
This is from Wikipedia: 501(c) (10) establishes exemption from federal income taxes for groups, associations or organizations that operate as a fraternal organization. These groups usually operate as "lodges" or sub-chapters under the control and/or supervision of a parent.

The tax-exempt function is related to the cause that these groups raise funds for; for example, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine support Shriners Hospitals for Children. While they are a tax-exempt organization, the only charitable tax deductible contributions that are allowed must be used exclusively for the support of a recognized 501(c) (3) public charity.

That does not sound like the Freemasonry of George Washington and Ben Franklin?

Here is another view of 501c10:
Domestic Fraternal Societies (501(c) (10))
A domestic fraternal society, order, or association may file an application for recognition of exemption from federal income tax on Form 1024.
The application and accompanying statements should establish that the organization:
Is a domestic fraternal organization,
Operates under the lodge system,
Devotes its net earnings exclusively to religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, and fraternal purposes, and
Does not provide for the payment of life, sick, accident or other benefits to its members.

The organization may arrange with insurance companies to provide optional insurance to its members without jeopardizing its exempt status.

This is not the Freemasonry of Levi or Voltaire.

So, The Elks, Moose, Knights of Columbus, Freemasonry and any other non-profit fraternal organization are all the same in status, just differing in how the members of the fraternal society have a common fraternal bond. In order to have a common fraternal bond, the members must have adopted the same or very similar calling, avocation, profession, or be working in unison to accomplish some worthy objective or common cause. The key word here is "ADOPTED". American Freemasonry of today "ADOPTED" the Freemasonic Legend as their common fraternal bond.

Adopted, not actually being the real thing. So, since American Freemasonry is a 501(c) (10), and "adopted" the Freemasonry of old as its Fraternal bond type, means it is not THE FREEMASONRY of Old. It is kind of like thinking the Knights of Columbus are really descended from the REAL Knights who traveled with Columbus, or that the Knights Templar of Freemasonry in America has any real ties to the Templars of Lore!

So, all these exclusive and fraternal orders are no more than grown men and women "adopting" ideals of older, real organizations that existed, and changed them to meet the federal governments’ requirements to exist with certain tax status. What makes them all different is the type of fraternal bond that each "ADOPTS", not are in reality.

Also, this is also from the IRS's website: Many lodges are small organizations run by volunteer officers. Volunteers; it did not say Worshipful Masters, or Illustrious Potentates or Most Excellent High Priests and Sir Knights! All adopted names and titles to confuse the volunteers. So, the Federal Government is not concerned with Titles or positions, we are all volunteers to them: Elks, Moose’s & KoC’s members are all Volunteers, no matter what Title we bestow upon these people. We might as well call them Most Worshipful Grand Volunteer.
What are they really Master's of? Other volunteers?

I see some others on the net have picked up on the perspective of this and get an understanding of what American Freemasonry really is: a 501c10 that has adopted the Legend of the Freemasons of Lore as there theme for a common fraternal bond. Guys adopted the Knight Templar theme, Islamic Nobles as a theme, Mystical Prophets of the Enchanted Realm theme; all themes adopted by men wanting to make their volunteer organization more than it is. Plus all these append ant bodies have created an unleveled field. Freemasonry used to purport Equality. Since some can now be 32nd degree masons and KYCH or Illustrious this or that, strictly so they can get "introduced" as a "special volunteer" who has acquired a title because he had more spare time to volunteer than another man.

Gaining titles and admission is not warranted on merit anymore, just free time to volunteer to the many bodies that divide us into a weaker fraternity, instead of all of us dedicating our time to Blue Lodge Freemasonry like our forefathers did.
The two are nothing alike and have nothing in common except a name.
FREEMASONRY of old and Freemasonry of today have no Linkage or Lineage to each other.

This of course is just my opinion, deduced from my own personal experiences and texts that I have read. The Freemasonry Dr. Margaret Jacobs writes about is not the Freemasonry I joined in '01.
One day classes to just raise money, was never a game plan of Grand Master Ben Franklin (a real Grand Master, not a Volunteer).


David said...

The argument you seem to be making is that since Freemasonry qualifies for certain benefits under US Tax Code, and chooses to take advantage of them, the relevant Tax Code is a de facto comprehensive description of the organization.

To wit, since the IRS says we are a charity, we must be nothing more than a charity. Since it says we are all volunteers, we are nothing more than volunteers. I fail to discern the logical steps leading from the premise to the conclusion.

I freely grant that any lodge may choose to only act as a charitable organization and that many do. This means that these individual lodges, by the choice of their members, have chosen to do so. Several of the lodges in my area have done exactly this.

The lodge of which I am a member has not, and focuses quite a bit of effort on Masonic and Moral Education, which is, as I understand it, the historical primary goal of Freemasonry. While there certainly are brothers who choose not to avail themselves of this, many do and we have a very strong, active lodge as a result.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

I am glad to hear that brother.

When we tried to reshape our Lodge's purpose into a more educational and serene place for its members, we were met with resistance from above.

not by the Lodge members, but by GL. Removal of educational material that is considered "enlightening" and "philosophical" written in the 1700's, was mandated not to be available to our members. Material masons were imprisoned for writing back in the day!

We were ordered to not use a chamber of reflection for new candidates prior to their EA Degree. Material dealing the elements, symbols and the eternity of the soul was present within the chamber for enlightenment and degree preparation.

My experience as a member and as a Past Master has shown me that enlightenment and education is a secondary, if at all, purpose of freemasonry in the Cleveland Ohio area.

I was a member of the scottish rite. Pure Joke of a body. Offers nothing.
I was a member of the york rite bodies, another joke for men to gain titles and play in an unlevel environment.

I was an active member of a shrine parade unit, but I can party any time, so the shrine lost its luster.

I joined freemasonry off of the lore of our forefathers, and the idea that certain inalienable rights are worth fighting for and preserving. The freemasonry in America today is nothing like this, and that was why I dissected it in the manner I did.

especially after being sued by the Grand Lodge,
one really needs to know their rights and status as a "freemason".

A national uniform motto or purpose needs to tackled, instead of every Grand Lodge turning blind eyes to what other Grand Lodges are doing. We are a scattered bunch with little fiefdoms where males who get Titles feel they are entitled to run rough shod over the craft.

I prefer to stand for and promote Liberty, Equality and Fraternity over Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth(if that is ever done anymore within the craft).

Brotherly Love, relief and truth fall under Fraternity for me, American Freemasonry has removed the Original Masonic Tenets of Liberty and Equality.