Thursday, December 13, 2007

Guest editorial: Accepting change within Freemasonry

The following is a guest editorial by Bro. Dylan, a Freemason in Canada.

What we are seeing is change happening, change within Freemasonry.

As a body, our Craft is very resistant to change, and rightly so. We are dedicated to preserving our Ancient Landmarks while at the same time not knowing exactly what they are! Some of the landmarks are obvious, well known and agreed on, but anyone who has done any light research knows that there is no definitive list of what they are....

Our very craft is shrouded in mystery, or as the ritual says "veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Nothing of the treasure of what Masonry holds in trust for mankind is given openly, obviously. There are no silver platters. We are effectively given a bunch of symbols and obscured meanings and told to go figure it out for ourselves. The meanings and revelations we uncover are innately personal, the Truth of the Mysteries really cannot be shared, it has to be worked for and earned. There is, and cannot be, one definitive form of Masonry. This is why it does differ around the world.

We must be resistant to change in order to make sure that we do not lose things that we do not yet understand the hidden meanings of. Visiting lodges that practice different work in different jurisdictions allows us to discover little pieces of ritual or practice that have already been lost in our own lodges.

But Freemasonry does change, anyone who has even glanced at the Ancient Charges can see that. There was a time when King Solomon was new to the Craft. There was a time when the third degree was a new invention. In our rituals we hearken back to the ancient Egyptians and great Greek philosophers — did they practice the work as we know it today? Did they even use the same set of symbols? — Some, but not all....

It does change. Everything in nature changes. In the natural world the only things that do not change are dead things, and if we study the Hidden Mysteries of Nature, we would understand that.

So Freemasonry is changing, but it does not change lightly or easily. We need both the old guard and the new wave, and we will continue to have them both. In another generation or two, we will go through the same thing again. If we study the history of our Craft we will also see that such change has indeed come before as well.

We need the old guard to defend what we do not fully understand — our Craft and our symbols.

We need the new guard to push for change.

The two together are a dynamic harmony that will play itself out. However, just like in every day life, what is happening provides new opportunities for each of us (including Grand Masters!) to identify rough spots on our own Ashlars. We each have a choice as to whether we wield the chisel to smooth out the rough spots, or to make them more pronounced....

At the end of the day, Masonry is a personal experience for us all.

— Bro. Dylan, Canada

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  1. Thanks for that excellent editorial. It is something that I am going to share with other Masons. Our craft is changing an we must be careful to maintain our traditional values while becoming relevant in today's society.

  2. This is quite a document, but I'm confused with the following:

    "We need the old guard to defend what we do not fully understand — our Craft and our symbols.

    We need the new guard to push for change."

    Freemasonry, to me is founded upon timeless principles and values. Do we really feel that because some of us are of a different generation, there is justification in not living by those fundamental principles?

    I for one, think that the change that is required, is to re-focus our individual daily actions, to more accurately reflect those ancient charges. Changing the "package" that Freemasonry is delivered in, does not achieve the goals, I think many are looking for.

    Food for thought.....


  3. A nice restatement of the Hegelian dialectic.

    It remains to be seen if the next round of changes will be peaceful evolution or vitriolic revolution.



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