Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Elitism of the United Grand Lodge of America

The Elitism of the United Grand Lodge of America by Bro. Jeff Peace

I've been reading in the Internet forums about how the United Grand Lodge of America is elitist because it promotes both Masonic and University education. Ironically the same brothers who whine about education as being elitist turn around and bemoan how there isn’t any Masonic education in their lodges. I just had to laugh at such circular reasoning. They want to “restore” the Craft back to the days when men like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin sat in their lodges, and to a time when learned men such as Albert Pike and Albert Mackey wrote volumes of Masonic history and philosophy, but yet they seem oblivious to the fact that all of these men were well educated.

The present Grand Lodges along with the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite have declared war on intellectualism and labeled the educated brethren as “elitists.” Forming “Traditional Observance” lodges is at best a painful process beleaguered with anti-intellectual sentiments from condescending blue collar controlled Grand Lodges. Yet these same “leaders” continue to give orations about the need for “guarding the west gate,” “the need for more young men in Masonry,” and “the importance of Masonic education.” It seems only reasonable to ask a few questions. Who will provide education if no one is educated enough to teach? Will education be relegated to re-reading the old scholarship of Pike and Mackey over and over again? Who will provide new scholarship based on recently discovered materials? Who will read the Latin manuscripts of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries? Why would men like Washington and Franklin join a fraternity of the blind leading the blind? Step back for a moment and think about what you are saying and its implications.

The fear that Freemasonry will become the domain of intellectuals only is unfounded. The fraternity has a long history of intellectuals meeting on the Level with men of varying degrees of education and helping to educate them in areas where they would otherwise have been left entirely in the dark. Freemasonry is about brotherhood and brothers helping brothers. A Freemasonry that fears intellectualism is a Freemasonry that fears one of the many things that led to its past greatness and the many benefits it has bestowed upon humanity.

In grammar and high school didn’t you expect that your teachers were themselves educated enough to teach you? How would anyone become educated if there were not any teachers? If you want to demand more Masonic education then perhaps you should ask: “from where will it come?”

Another point worthy of consideration when you talk about elitism is racism. The two are separated by the thinnest of lines. The United Grand Lodge of America is open to men of all races and creeds. Many state Grand Lodges discriminate based on race while others pretend to be color-blind by recognizing their Prince Hall counterparts while not allowing visitation. Others pat themselves on the back for being recognizing their Prince Hall counterparts and opening their doors to visitation while continuing to recognize other Grand Lodges that openly practice racial segregation. They excuse themselves by saying that they have no control of what another jurisdiction does. This is a lie. When the Grand Lodge of Minnesota recognized the Grand Lodge of France a few years ago they were de-recognized by many state Grand Lodges in order to apply pressure to them to withdraw recognition from the Grand Lodge of France. Don’t buy the baloney that they “have no control of what another jurisdiction does.”

Freemasonry belongs to the Freemasons, not the Grand Lodges. This fraternity can be what you want it to be if you are willing to stand up for your rights as a Mason. If you don’t stand up who will? The United Grand Lodge of America is leading the way to a kinder and more gentle Freemasonry where men from all walks of life can feel comfortable meeting on the Level. We are tearing down the walls of racial inequality and restoring the time honored Masonic principle of religious tolerance. We are doing what everyone else is merely talking about doing because the best way to lead is by example.

— Bro. Jeff Peace

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  1. I was willing to give the UGLA the benefit of the doubt, but this posting is over the line. The author makes the common mistake of equating a college or advanced degree with the ability to educate others.

    Freemasonry is not a research project or masters thesis. Freemasonry is a set of ideals about living a better life. You make well-founded charges of explicit and implicit bigotry in Grand Lodges, yet you seem to feel it is acceptable to turn your nose down to "blue collar lodges." It is completely off-base to assume that an "educated" Mason can teach others more about the craft than a mere "blue collar" Mason. Masons learn by example, by being with other men who strive to lead a life guided by masonic principles.

    No, not every brother can read or interpret the antient documents that served as the foundation of our brotherhood. There certainly is a need for brothers to research our craft and translate the symbolism and allegories into practical lessons for those who are not as capable of such research. But I would much rather attend a lodge of men who lead a masonic life but did not have the opportunity to achieve university education, as I did, than to sit with brothers who can give oral dissertations about masonic matters yet may lack the effort or desire to live by the same ideals. Masonry is open to all good men, regardless of education or opportunity. The UGLA supposedly espouses diversity. It is from our diversity that we learn from each other and grow as men. Some are more adept at understanding the deep research that can be done on Masonry, and these brothers provide a great service to their lodges. But even the least-educated brother has as much to offer - more - than a college degree. A man is a good man, and a good mason, because he lives by certain principles, not because he can recite the pedigree of the craft. We can all live - and lead - by example. The UGLA has made a mistake in equating masonic education with traditional education. Yes, all brothers need to make efforts to understand the symbolism and allegories of our organization, but all men are capable of obtaining this worthy goal. You make reference to our Founding Fathers and their education.

    You seem to have forgotton one of their biggest legacies: "All men are created equal."

  2. Gee, I didn't get that out of the essay at all. It seems to me the author is saying the "blue collar grand masters" have created their own form of blue collar elitism that segregates intellectuals and labels them as "elitists."

    I think he is right that Freemasonry needs more teachers and leaders that have enough education to help ensure the Craft's survival.

    Just my two cents.

  3. I think anonymous is offbase here. There is no difference between "Masonic education" and "education". They should be one and the same. Living a good life is not the only aim of freemasonry. If that were so, join Promise-Keepers or Knights of Columbus. Making people better also involves feeding the mind as well as the spirit.
    Knowledge is what makes morality possible in the deepest sense.
    What the author was saying was that this is the crucial mission of all masons. The accumulation of knowledge and the practice to apply it with wisdom.
    He wasnt looking down at the Blue Lodge...Just at the actions of many who happen to be attached to the Blue Lodge.


  4. well, I never knew grown men to be soo touchy about the "word" education. Masons were the leading minds of all advanced civilizations, why is trying to regain that a negative? Why is thinking about how to motivate men mentally a negative while discussing what to eat after the meeting is proper and educating?
    The more knowledge one gains, the better able he is to handle situations. The teachings of the symbols and lectures are elementary at best set up for men who had no access to books. It was a place of learning because all men weren't able to attend school, but yet needed education to keep climbing the ladder of evolution. Stagnate minds leads to atrophy, and the challenge of memorizing is different from learning.
    Do not be afriad to learn fellow brother, it is not as scary as you must think. Expanding ones mind is a beautiful thing.....

  5. By the way, Le Chevalier Maconnique is back online. Thought you'd enjoy it's inaugural post.


    We're Back!!!
    After a long hiatus, LCM is returning to the public to spread the news about the Modern Freemasonic Movement.
    We are leaving the Blue Lodge and the "Antients" to their own devices and letting them rave and rant and carry on. We're not going to be a part of it. So let them believe what they want and let them spread the false rumors and rhetoric to the masses. What Modern Freemasonry is building on is the future and anyone who doesn't want to be a part of that future... then we wish them well as they travel their own path. We won't be trying to twist their arms to see things our way. We are here to stay and we are moving onward and forward with our plans to offer honorable men of all races an alternative to mainstream Masonry.
    Let me clarify the fact that mainstream Masonry is a fine organization and many find what they are looking for in that path. What the Modern Freemasonic Movement is offering is a return to the older rituals that were not included in the 1920's reworking of the craft rituals and degrees. Many will find that moving into the future by returning to the past an appealing idea. Some will not. That's OK. Esoteric Masons, Co-masons, and individuals looking for a masonic experience that emphasizes intensive education, research, and practice will find a rewarding life-long journey in Modern Freemasonry.
    As our Blue Lodge counterparts enjoy the wonderful fraternity that has been an established American institution since the first Blue Lodges were chartered in the colonial period; Modern Masons are working towards establishing the first chartered Modern Masonic lodges under The United Grand Lodge of America. This newly-formed lodge is atypical of most grand lodges in that it is a return to grass-roots freemasonry. It does not conform to the Blue Lodge model in that it's representation of it's individual constituents is direct from individual to the grand lodge governing body. You can find out more about the UGLA by going to or clicking the UGLA link on the sidebar.



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