Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Calling all recognized Ancient Craft Masons...

I'm a bit concerned that the Internet today isn't reflecting the Masonic reality. Why? There is a disproportionate amount of what Timothy Bonney at Freemasonry Resources calls Fake Masonry, in fact, it feels to me that the Masonic blogosphere is about 30% of this flavor and 70% Recognized Masonry, when in reality the number of recognized Freemasons in the english speaking countries probably dwarfs the others at around 99%. If you were only going by Grand Lodges in the US alone, there are approximately 70 recognized Grand Lodges (counting Prince Hall) that are highly active and no more than 4 (and I'm being generous) unrecognized Grand Lodges that are also very active. That's still 95% recognized. The Internet gives voice to whoever writes on it. Google does not discriminate. KingSolomonsLodge.org has chosen to discriminate ONLY on informational content and not on recognition in order to avoid politics and verifying recognition and authorship at the listed blogs. Yahoo!, MSN, blogspot, Wordpress, etc... They do not discriminate. And this means that whoever yells the loudest looks the biggest.

Well, I'm calling for Recognized Masons to Yell Louder! There are probably many Masons out there who would actually be very great at running their own blog and sharing their thoughts and insights into Masonic education. I am not trying to declare a war on unrecognized Masonry, I am simply asking that those of you who are able to, please blog about YOUR Masonry, so that the statistics will begin to come back into the balance and accurately reflect the real world.

I will gladly assist any Masons who wish to begin an adventure in blogging to get started, just contact me by email or comment and I will do whatever I can to assist.

Lets spread the light of Ancient Craft Masonry - please do not take this as a message to bash on clandestine or unrecognized groups - that is FAR from my point, but rather demonstrate that genuine recognized Masonry is alive and well. At 95% we would take our rightful place as the defacto Internet voices of the craftsmen, and the other 5% would still be able to speak but their audience would be more deliberate instead of people generally seeking Masonic information.

We need more Masonic bloggers!

Note: I hold a certain amount of respect for those who are participating in some of those groups that are currently unrecognized. It must take some guts to take such a leap of faith, and I trust that the majority of them are decent men. However, on both sides of the fence some of the individuals and groups are lacking in judgment and are bringing discredit to the good name of the Fraternity. I value personal integrity very highly, and as such, I recommend that all Masons live up to every aspect of their Masonic obligations to the fullest extent possible. If everyone would do this, we would not even have this issue to begin with!


Anonymous said...

GREAT POST! You managed to call on everyone to show all sides of Freemasonry, while tactfully managing to include those brothers who feel a need to split from the current GL structure. I agree that the "mainstream" or "recognized" masons should speak up, as a voice explaining why many of us choose to improve from within the craft.

Tom Accuosti said...

I really am starting to cringe at the term "fake" or "bogus" Masonry. A Google search will turn up dozens of unrecognized Grand Lodges in the US and in other countries - groups that have split off from the mainstream GL for one reason or another. While there undoubtedly are a handful of GLs that duplicitiously attract members, it seems that most of these GLs have had constituent lodges in their areas for years, presumably with members who do ritual work, confer degrees, and act upon the square. What's "fake" about that?

The Tao of Masonry

Tubal Cain said...

some masons feel recognition is the key to being a "real" mason.

I again ask the question, "if in 1776, we threw out the british rule, why would we, as american free masons, subject ourselves to british masonic rule? look to them for recognition?
Why are we not on equal footing?

I am so glad that I don't get caught up in recognition/fake/regular/irregular etc....
what are we really doing with masonry that is so important that we must feel as if we "must" be the only one on the block?

It seems so petty to a man who just wants brotherhood with equality. I don't need acceptance or permission to acknowledge a man as a brother.
Most of my childhood friends I consider a brother, just as much as obligated masons, and they can't sit in lodge with me, but they are my brothers as well.
so petty and small minded possesive men who want to be the only ones. it is a shame that universal brotherhood is not the main priority, instead, it is join my legit group, or go home, you wanna be!


Anonymous said...

If you're basing the "fake masonry" appelation on the recognition issue, then tell me... What's fake about it? Same truths, same content, same context. Are you basing your analysis on just the fact that this lodge or that lodge doesnt recognize another lodge? So a piece of paper determines what makes a real and a "fake" lodge. So that would make all masons who believe this "paper masons". Masonry is not bestowed by investiture by any human agency. Masonry is bestowed by the divine into the hearts of honorable men. What mandate of divine right do Blue Lodge GL's claim to speak for the divine?
The UGLA is composed mostly of men who were raised in the Blue Lodge. What "secret" knowledge do YOU possess that invalidates the truths taught to these men and now being taught to a future generation of UGLA masons?

Darren Simpson

Widow's Son said...

I think it will be interesting to see how many "non-fake" Masons — the Antient, conventional, commonplace, "regular" guys — fire up a blog in response to your plea.

I ran an "officially non-fake" website for my Blue Lodge from 2002-2005. Once you've posted the obligatory "2B1ASK1" statements, a little history, and maybe a few Old Tiler's Talks, let me tell you this: You got damn little left to write about. When you do actually write about something Masonically interesting, the Old Guard gets angry and comes after you.

Most regular Blue Lodges (that I know of) do little more than host a string of fish frys, gospel singings, rodeos and other fund-raisers, hold boring business meetings, raise new candidates, slap each other on the back and present plaques to each other, and get all excited when the Grand Master's entourage comes to visit.

I posted that kind of blather on my lodge's website for three years. Ho, hum and a yawn. What is Freemasonry doing today that's worth reading about?

Jeff said...

Let me point out that "fake" wasn't my word, I was just pointing out how Freemasonry Resources classified "them."

In response to Mary & the Widow's Son I'm not talking about official Lodge websites or Lodge blogs here. I'm talking about individual Masons writing what they are thinking, studying, and doing, etc, as pertaining to Masonry. The great thing about individuals in Masonry is that each is able to have his own point of view, his own understanding of the Craft, and when not speaking as an official vehicle for the Lodge, that freedom does not necessarily step on anyone's toes (regarding the angry Old Guard). This is about showing people what kind of men are in Masonry and what they think of it.

New Masonry said...

Well if the ancients decide who they can call fake, bogus, lay claim to all symbolism, knowledge and recognition what ever that is, I guess they win. Since they know all there is to know.

Lock step with the Scottish Rite Supremacy march, ho hum, ho hum, ho hum....

Jeff said...

Statements like "Since they know all there is to know" and "Lock step with the Scottish Rite Supremacy march" are not very demonstrative of brotherly love.

I would never claim to know all there is to know, and I have opted out of Scottish Rite, disliking it enough to write the Grand Commander a personal letter of complaint as I withdrew from it. So, perhaps you have me mixed up with another blogger.

Also, you're only further proving my point that the Internet or at least the Blogosphere is at this time Masonically skewed towards groups other than mainstream Masons, and needs to regain balance.

Anonymous said...

ohhhhhhhhh excuse me for living then

Anonymous said...

I read a lot of masonic websites, and it seems the same men lurk on every site, ready to pounce and demonstrate how "brotherly" and "masonic" they are by defending fake/new/improved/UGLA/modern Freemasonry/Free-Masonry. This blogger had the courage to call on all men to espouse why they believe in our Craft, regardless of recognition. As usual, the Usual Suspects saw another opportunity to turn this into a negative. Perhaps we should all do some masonic studying and self-improvement during our free time, instead of acting like pre-teens on My Space. Take a day off from telling everyone what you think, and take some time to ponder why others think the way you do. You may be surprised at what you find.

Anonymous said...

To the last Anonymous,

Why take a break? It seems you are working overtime! There was nothing negative about my post. I think it is indeed laudable to try to improve your grand lodge from within. This is something we tried in Georgia for years! Nothing moved or changed. I think that when the Blue Lodge apologists stop trying to convince the world that they are the ONLY voice of Freemasonry, then all of the other bodies that are NOT recognized will stop responding with characteristic alarm and indignation. YOUR post was somewhat negative because you used the same negative terms: "fake/new/improved/UGLA/modern Freemasonry/Free-Masonry"
That just smacks folks in the face and it would appear that you are singling out the UGLA as "fake".

There are many masonic organizations that exist independently of the Blue Lodge and they are no less regular or masonic than the Blue lodge. I tire of hearing these attacks. It is always the same. You tried to make it sound like you were being positive by putting in the last statement that "we should all go back and study what Masonry is really about..." (paraphrased...)
I do not lurk and I have a feeling that there are more folks chiming in here than just a few "regulars". A simple IP search will answer that and it has to my satisfaction.

I agree that ALL masons need to study what real Masonry is about. UGLA, Grand Orient, Prince Hall Masons should not face persecution for following their consciences. Blue Lodge Masons should follow their consciences and practice in good faith what they profess to believe.

The Recognition Game is FAKE and BOGUS. Used in it's current context, it is a foreign concept and at odds with the original landmarks and ideals of Freemasonry. There are no magic masonic jelly beans that are secretly protected and dispensed by the Blue Lodge. The UGLA does not claim a copyright on the truth. So then, here we are at the same place travelling parallel paths.

Indeed; effect change in your lodge. Make it better if you can. Spare no expense! If you succeed, then superb! If you can't... Do you keep going on with that type of system?

Darren Simpson

Anonymous said...

I've been lurking around for awhile now trying to understand this growing schism in Freemasonry. After reading through as much of the material as I could find it seems the UGLA is a symptom of a uch deeper problem within the Craft. These brothers were expelled from their regular lodge with any due process. It seems the Grand Lodge of Georgia was the first act un Masonically and un brotherly, and they are simply demanding their rights as regular Master Masons.

Under the circumstances it would appear that the UGLA is a regular grand lodge, perhaps more regular than the Grand Lodge of Georgia which caused it to form.

If the grand lodges abuse their powers then what should they expect other than new grand lodges to replace them?

Instead of complaining about things like the UGLA we should start asking our selves some serious questions. Condemning these brothers won't solve our problems. Maybe they have much to tell us about our own internal problems.

I believe we should all stop fighting and start listening before there are fifty more UGLAs to deal with.


Timothy Bonney said...

I didn't coin the term "Fake Freemasonry" either though the term Bogus is more common.

Like it or not, Freemasonry is a certain set of organizations which link their founding to the first Masonic Grand Lodge and have a system of mutual recognition. It is both a philosophical system AND an organizated institution.

If a group of men want to start a club they have a perfect right to do so. But, Freemasonry is not just a philosophy, it is a specific system of recognized lodges and grand lodges.

So, you can't just go start a lodge without warrent and charter and legitimately call yourself a Masonic lodge any more than I can open a computer store and call it an "Apple Store" without the permission of Apple Computer. Or, any more than I could start a new church and legitimately call it the "Roman Catholic Church."

Go ahead, start a new and exciting fraternity. But, don't make claims to being the "real" freemasonry. You or I may or may not approve of how Grand Lodges and Masons behave. But, that doesn't change what makes something a Masonic lodge or grand lodge.

Anonymous said...

Bro Bonney

These guys are regular Masons raised in regular lodges. Now there are more of them from other states.

Pretending they aren't Masons is like sticking our head in the sand. Plus they have a first rate Masonic scholar in Jeff Peace. He gives lectures on Masonry all over the southeast and alone can attract lots of young men to the UGLA.

To me this whole incident is direct result of our own stupidity. Why not utilize these brothers in a productive way? Surely some of our leadership is smart enough to see that the present situation is bad for everyone.

As Masons we need to stick together and work out our problems. To do this we need to work resolve our own internal issues.

Why don't we try opening a dialog with the brothers at the UGLA and get some Grand Masters involved. Maybe there is a middle path here that will work for everyone.


Widow's Son said...

Bro. Bonney,

Interesting that you used as your examples of "you can't do that" a Roman Catholic schism, saying that the breakaway group couldn't legitimately consider themselves to still be Catholics.

Is it just ironic, or did you conveniently ignore the fact, that your own American Baptist religious denomination is a breakaway group from the earlier Southern Baptist Convention, which itself was a schizm'd organization without (originally) any legitimacy? Or can Baptists break away at will while still calling themselves Baptists and believing certain Baptist creeds? And didn't all of Protestantism break away "without warrant" from the reigning one and only official Christian church several centuries ago?

Is Christianity "not just a philosophy, [but]... a specific system of recognized churches and priests"?

Open a window; it smells like hypocrisy in here.

Widow's Son

Timothy Bonney said...

Actually, you've got it backwards. The SBC is a breakaway from the beginnings of my denomination. But, since you probably aren't a Baptist, I'd not have expected you to know that. The SBC was founded in 1845 in a breakaway from the Triennial Baptist Convention which renamed itself the American Baptist Missionary Union which later became the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society.

And, in answer to another poster, I'm not ignoring the fact that these men were made Masons in a regular lodge. But, they are no longer regular Masons because they no longer hold membership in those lodges. It is your membership that makes you "regular." If I dropped my Iowa membership and joined the Grand Orient of France, I'd no longer be a regular Mason no matter where I was raised.

I'll also note that you guys through around the word hypocrisy a great deal for a new GL claiming to be the "real" masons.

Timothy Bonney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Bro Bonney,

I'm not a UGLA Mason but I disagree with you about their regularity. They did not leave regular Masonry nor were they ever charged with a Masonic offense or tried by a Masonic court and found guilty of any offense. They were declared clandestine at the whim of a Grand Master who violated the Masonic Code of Georgia in doing so.

I'm not taking sides in this matter but looking at it objectively. They are regular Masons until some recognized and legal process is granted them that proves otherwise. As their brothers we must by obligation defend them or find ourselves in violation of what we swore before G-d.

As a minister of the gospel I would like to believe that you would seek a brotherly conclusion to this situation. If this is approached in a brotherly fashion then we may be able to heal all of the wounds that have been inflicted and restore the spirit of brotherhood, peace and harmony.

To me Masonry teaches us to find positive solutions to difficult problems. If our system is just and true to its claims then we should be able to meet upon the level and settle all the differences betwen us as brothers.

I hope that you will work with me to turn what is now a negative experience for all into a positive one for the Craft. Casting stones will not solve this problem but a brotherly handshake may make all the difference in the world.


Tubal Cain said...

My GL basically used a blog I had going talking about the raw deals we were receiving in dealing with the Masonic Brass of my area to not follow proper procedures of the will of a lodge.
I asked the DDGM why the GL was flexing its muscle at me for exercising my free speech, but did nothing when high ranking masons were cheating, wronging, and defrauding a Lodge of MM's and brothers of that degree!

we actually had to give an EA degree on a lawyer to represent us!
The lack of equality and an inability to admit wrong doings will be th efinal downfall.

Widow's Son said...

Bro. Bonney,

You make an awful lot of assumptions. No one said I was a UGLA member, and for all you know, I AM a Baptist. What's with the "you guys"?

You danced around defending the genesis of Baptists while totally ignoring the deeper meanings behind my questions. Who gave the authority to any of those men who broke away from a previous organziation, whether Southerb Baptist or American Baptist? Were the subsequent groups still "Baptist" and did the earlier groups recognize them?

Why do you cling so to "definitions"? You've backpedalled already, first calling UGLA'ers "fake" Masons, now saying they are real but not "regular" Masons. Why can't you just accept all Masons as brothers, instead of worrying so about recognition and regularity? Religion divides mankind enough; why should an organization devised to bring men together be used to divide them?

Widow's Son

Brent said...

I have a new blog dedicated to what is happening to Freemasonry today.


Tubal Cain said...

North Carolina Grand Lodge votes against recognizing Prince Hall Masons......
more recognized Ancients acting accordingly

Peter Clatworthy said...

The following statement was issued at York on Saturday 29th December 2007.

Regularity and Recognition: The Myth and the Reality

If reports are correct, there is much to commend in the speech recently given by the Pro-Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England to the so-called ‘European Grand Masters’ Meeting’. However, leaving aside the infelicitous claim to speak for ‘England’, there are certain presumptions and confusions in the address that demand the most urgent and serious scrutiny.

Regularity is of course an essential doctrine in Freemasonry but has in recent years been subject to ill-considered assault from within the Craft itself. It is therefore appropriate to analyse those comments of the Pro-Grand Master that seem designed to undermine and devalue a concept that all Freemasons ought to hold dear.

There is, for example, the explicit declaration that ‘to be regular a Grand Lodge must conform to each of our basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition or it cannot be considered as regular’. Given a moment’s consideration a truly outrageous claim! Freemasonry is not, and never has been, subject to or contained within the United Grand Lodge of England. To suggest as much is to diminish the history, role and actuality of Freemasonry. The cart is clearly and contrivedly put before the horse, making regularity the reward for recognition. And conveniently in so doing the two quite separate and distinct concepts of ‘Regularity’ and ‘Recognition’ are conflated.

‘Regularity’ requires a strict acceptance and observance of the Ancient Landmarks of the Order. Such Landmarks are visible and ascertainable and are found within any regular Grand Lodge. Regularity is represented by adherence: nothing more, nothing less. It is not, and cannot ever be, bestowed. Indeed, Regularity is necessarily beyond the capacity of anybody or any organisation whatsoever to bestow, be they Grand Master or Grand Lodge. The very best any such Master or Lodge can hope to do is to bequeath Regularity to his or its successor. And here I can of course confirm that the Grand Lodge of All England is such a regular Grand Lodge and adheres strictly to those Ancient Landmarks that alone can make it so.

‘Recognition’ is a very different concept. There are, for example, devices the use of which may enable a regularly made Freemason to be ‘recognised’ by others. Such may be said to amount to individual recognition and on this level the term is quite uncontroversial. However, the question should be asked as to what purpose Grand Lodge ‘recognition’ actually serves, and who in fact really benefits from such a device. It should here be noted that Grand Lodge ‘recognition’ has its genesis in late eighteenth century legislation, such as the Unlawful Societies Act, designed to stifle debate and discussion within the context of an authoritarian and politically repressive state. We recoil from the memory of such devices and reject this latter day attempt to rejuvenate so tainted and un-Masonic a concept.

Far from having had thrust upon them ‘the mantle of being guardians of regularity’, the United Grand Lodge of England in fact seized upon the opportunity presented by repressive legislation to attempt nothing less than the appropriation of Freemasonry. In contradistinction, the Grand Lodge of All England does not accept the validity of any such spurious doctrine as ‘recognition’ nor does it ‘recognise’ any other Grand Lodges nor seek such ‘recognition’ from others. Rather, it stands as the bearer of traditional Masonic principles and disowns all attempts to subjugate and subvert genuine Freemasonry.

The Grand Lodge of All England has frequently and consistently published its position with regard to these two quite separate and distinct concepts of ‘Regularity’ and ‘Recognition’. Together with a detailed historical exposition this is explained at length on our website at www.grandlodgeofallengland.org and is authoritatively represented on a number of general Masonic websites. It is stated in our official submission to the Commission on Information for Recognition of the Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America, in articles in the hands of various Masonic publishers and in correspondence with various interested parties.

A Grand Lodge is, indeed, ‘either regular or it is not’. But whether ‘recognition’ is extended or denied to one Grand Lodge by another is irrelevant. There is in Masonic terms no historical or constitutional basis for this spurious and wholly political doctrine of ‘recognition’. To continue to employ such a device as a means of dividing Mason from Mason is the residue of one of the least attractive, most repressive and disgraceful periods of modern Masonic history.

From inception, the United Grand Lodge of England has sought, unsuccessfully, to exert a monopoly over Freemasonry. What cannot be countenanced is that this aspiration should be allowed to corrupt the wholly genuine concept, vital to genuine Freemasonry, of Regularity, and to render it nothing more than a self-serving ideological notion. This concern is made all the immediate by the compromises already entered into by United Grand Lodge of England and the dilution of Masonic principles and practices that these compromises have brought about.

Much of the difficulty the Pro-Grand Master sought to address in his speech was to do with the role of the United Grand Lodge of England within the Masonic world. Such difficulty, however, is due to his own Grand Lodge in seeking to redefine Freemasonry in its own image and as in its own gift. The Masonic doctrine of Regularity exists outside and is wholly independent of any Grand Lodge. It is most emphatically not to be confused and conflated with the practice of Grand Lodge ‘recognition’ devised and instituted by the United Grand Lodge of England for its own hegemonic purposes. And Freemasonry, even English Freemasonry, is most emphatically not to be confused and conflated with the United Grand Lodge of England.

John Gordon Graves
Grand-Master Mason
Grand Lodge of All England

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