Recently inspired by something I read on a Masonic website, I googled "The Enlightenment," and discovered some most interesting pages, including "Enlightenment" and "A Study Guide for Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary.
It was this paragraph, on the second of the two pages mentioned above, that made me fully realize that the new breed of Masons, the "outcasts" from the tired old "establishment," those trying to refocus Freemasonry to its original goals and ideals, are indeed part of today's New Enlightenment.
"It has been said that 'Voltaire criticized the Bible, but now everyone reads the Bible and no one reads Voltaire.' Besides being wildly overstated, this jibe misses the point: we no longer read most of Voltaire's writings because the ideas he fearlessly promoted have mostly become commonplaces which we take for granted. The agenda of the Enlightenment is a familiar one to anyone studying classic American values: freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and opposition to the cruel caprices of unenlightened monarchs, to militarism and to slavery."
In publishing blogs like this, in bouncing back as websites are banned by Grand Lodges, as Brothers are stricken from their lodge's records upon order of Grand Masters, as a new United Grand Lodge of America is established, as I continue to experience the anti-intellectual roadblocks in my own lodge, it is obvious that we are doing what the Enlightened thinkers mentioned in the quote above were doing in the 17th and 18th centuries, trying to gain, within the established Masonic world, freedom of speech, press (websites), assembly, and freedom of thought, in opposition to the unenlightened.
It's odd that today's "regular" Freemasonry, once the leading edge of the Enlightment, helped lead the Civilized World to enjoy these freedoms, but now itself denies its own members these same freedoms with capricious edicts by unelected monarchs.
May the Light be with each of us.
And as Brother Todd Drew is fond of saying, "Namaste'."