Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Turkish Masonic lodges shaken by mass resignations

Until 1999, the goings-on in Turkey's Masonic lodges was hush-hush. They took the concept of being a secret society very seriously. That year marked the first time Masonic lodges in the mostly Muslim nation interacted with the public or the press, when they held observances marking 90 years of Masonry in Turkey.

Since then, it seems they can't avoid the limelight. They're having trouble maintaining "peace and harmony" and staying on track with that brotherly love thing, in a big way. The goings-on there make everything we've ever wrote about on Burning Taper about Masons not getting along pale in comparison.

In March, 2006 former Grand Master Kaya Paşakaya and two top leaders of the Main Lodge (Grand Lodge) were expelled from the group on corruption charges, making newspaper headlines across this nation of 70 million.

Now this week a wave of mass resignations has rocked the fraternity. Recent resignations include those of former Grand Master Demir Savaşçı, five board members and three stand-by board members, Today's Zaman reports.

The paper says:
Lodge members are highly skeptical that the reason behind the 2006 expulsions was actually "corruption doubts," and direct serious accusations at Grand Master Asım Akin. A former board member of the lodge, Yalçın Erceber, among those who recently resigned, asserted that last year's expulsions had been registered at a date three days earlier than the meeting out of which the official expulsion decision had emerged. Erceber also claimed that signatures collected earlier from board members on blank sheets of papers had been used to approve the expulsions ahead of the meeting. Former Grand Master Kaya Paşakaya, Grand Secretary Koray Darga and Grand Treasurer Professor Ali Sait Sevgener were all expelled from the Mason Lodge in March 2006 on charges of corruption. News about the expulsions hit the national media while mutual accusations between the expelled and the Lodge administration were brought to court.

In addition to reactions to the expulsions, some members have resigned to demonstrate exasperation with a new by-law introduced at a meeting on March 4, 2007. Members who resigned following a meeting on the new by-laws include former Grand Master Demir Savaşçın and three other board members from the İzmir chapter. These resignations were a bombshell in the Turkish freemasonry scene. The topic was dealt with at a board meeting on March 17, with many stating there was a vacuum in the İzmir chapter leadership. The current board, in an e-mail message it sent to lodge members, stressed that the massive resignations were a first in the history of Turkish masonry. The message underlined the need to take immediate action and warned that massive resignations would constitute a "masonic crime."
If I understand this correctly, there are allegations that the acts of expulsion against the Grand Master and two subordinates were part of an orchestrated plot against them. That's some pretty serious politicking and backstabbing. I don't know who did what or who took offense, but I'm sure in all the turmoil there were many shouts of "That's not how we do it around here!"

What is it that makes us — Masons, whoever and wherever we are — get caught up in quarrels great and small? Doesn't Freemasonry teach us that men of differing backgrounds and opinions can meet together "on the level" to debate and discuss our differences as gentlemen? Why do Masons fail at this as often as non-Masons? Has Freemasonry failed us, or have we failed Freemasonry?

Image: Inside the Turkish Main Lodge

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1 comment:

  1. "What is it that makes us — Masons, whoever and wherever we are — get caught up in quarrels great and small?"

    It's a "high school" mentality, pure and simple. Masons won't admit that, but it's true.

    The whole business about "secret handshakes," and being a member of some sort of "exclusive club," is purely juvenile. It's delusional thinking in which people believe that they and their friends are somehow better than "ordinary" people, who aren't in their "club."

    Just as in most college fraternities and sororities, members are taught to believe that they're "more special" than members of other fraternities or sororities, and they're MUCH "more special" than "profane," ordinary folks, who prefer to make their friends on their own.

    Virtually all "social" fraternities and sororities function as "rent-a-friend" clubs, where people with few friends can meet others with few friends, and together, they can all feel the "security" of having LOTS of friends (as long as they pay their dues, and don't make waves). It makes no difference if it's the Moose, Elks, Masons, Eagles, Pikes, Chipmunks, or MENSA, all such organizations take advantage of the natural human inclination to "belong," and they all make money by selling their members that sense of "belonging."

    Don't get me wrong, there ARE organizations that have real benefits for members. A coin collecting club would be a good example, where coin collectors can meet other coin collectors, who can help them learn about coins and expand their collections. That's very different from a "social" organization, however, which doesn't have any "practical" purpose, except to make people feel like they have more friends than they really do.

    Show me an organization that offers no tangible benefits, yet charges annual dues, initiation fees, etc., and I'll show you an organization that plays upon the human need for "acceptance" (a natural human "weakness") in order to stay in business.

    Their "product" is a sense of "belonging," and the type of people who patronize their business, are the sort who are naturally inclined to "get caught up in [juvenile] quarrels."

    It's as simple as that.


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