Friday, March 23, 2007

Idealists with aprons

Lately, especially since I voiced my opinion on the asinine attempt by the Scottish Rite to sponsor a NASCAR driver, Burning Taper's hate mail and crude comments by anonymous readers have increased. This blog has even been "disclaimed" by another Masonic blogger, and links to BT have disappeared from some of the more mainstream Masonic blogs.

Happily, supportive comments and emails have increased, too, from mainstreamers as well as from members of un-"recognized" Masonic groups such as Prince Hall, Le Droit Humane and the United Grand Lodge of America.

Unlike some of my detractors, I don't spend time worrying about recognition or about which group accepts what other group. Exclusion of brothers is not what Masonry is about. It's about the "brotherhood of man," you know. Antient, Modern, Co-Masonry, Prince Hall, Le Droit Humain, Grand Orient of France, Grand Lodge of Wisconsin... if a person thinks and behaves like he or she is a Mason, who am I to judge? The recognition game is just that — a game... of politics.

The original concept of "recognition," ostensibly, was to keep profane cowans from pretending to be Freemasons or from selling memberships and offering nothing in return. Nowadays, maybe we should worry more about card-carrying, chain-wearing Freemasons who behave like profanes.

Recently, I received a letter of support from a brother sister Mason in California that, with her permission, I'd like to share.

As television hosts of yesteryear used to say, "Keep those cards and letters coming!" Send me email or post a comment to this entry.
Dear WS,

I just wanted to let you know how much I've been enjoying The Burning Taper. I've read your "Small Town Freemasonry" series with much interest — and sympathy.

I don't know if you use this saying in your neck of the Masonic woods, but when we see a profane living to high standards, doing good, etc., we call them "A Mason without an Apron." Well, I've always thought we should acknowledge a related category of person: Bastards with Aprons.

The best Masons are the idealists. You have to be a crazy idealist to embrace this philosophy with your whole heart. So it is disappointing to find out that others do not share your passion, or worse, are complete hypocrites. Keep the faith. Over the years I've learned to do what you love, gather the like-minded around you, and just ignore the bastards. The politics will sap all of the love out of you.

I posted to your blog, under an image of the symbol of my obedience: Le Droit Humain. Once I saw that, I figured I just had to put my two cents in, even though the conversation was quite old.

So keep that Taper burning. Again, love your blog. I'll keep checking back.

Most fraternally,

Sis:. Kel:. Coy:.
Unification Lodge #1712
Orient of Los Angeles
I wrote her back, and asked permission to publish her email. Here is her amusing and kind response:
You are most welcome to post my letter. If you don't mind the repercussions of communicating with one of my dangerous ilk, I certainly don't mind if the grumpy ol' bastards flap and squawk about it.

If they don't think I'm a Mason, that's okay, you know, because I have the same doubts about them! LOL. A real Mason recognizes another — regardless of nationality, color, religion, obedience or gender. You're a Mason, that's quite clear to me. So I hope you will allow me to call you Brother.

Most fraternally,

Sis:. Kel:. Coy:.
Unification Lodge #1712
Orient of Los Angeles
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  1. When I was investigating Masonry, I ended up on a bunch of web groups chatting with members from various jurisdictions. I have had some email contact from several juris that allow women, and was even invited to an installation - which I had to decline because of scheduling.

    The surprising thing is how many of these unrecognized juris there really are out there.

    A friend of mine knows someone from his regular GL who demitted in order to take his degrees with his daughter. He stayed there for a few years, demitted, then rejoined his regular GL.

    One of my own lodge brothers just married a woman who is a Mason with a different organization entirely. Unfortunately, they have some of the same issues that we do - lack of interested members. Her chapter may end up closing or merging.

    Thanks for introducing us to Bro. Coy.

  2. Tom makes an interesting point. There are a lot of us unrecognized types of various stripes out here. And officially or not, we form a compliment to GL Masonry, because there is intermingling, as in the examples he gives.

    I have always wondered why GL Masons, men who really believe that Masonry has improved their lives and their communities, would not want their beloved wives and daughters to have access to the same Light. How are we going to build a better humanity if half of humanity is not allowed to participate in the process?

    Tradition is important, I don't dispute that, so I'm not asking the 51 GLs to swing open their doors to the fair sex. But they could recognize one or two women-only or mixed obediences, and thus help their brethren point their wives, daughters and sisters in the right direction.

    Are you all laughing? The only reason I can think of for the GLs to not do this is because they are afraid of their own members defecting. If so, that is a problem to be solved from the inside. It is not solved at all by denying Light to half the species.

    By the way, in some Co-Masonic lodges the women do in fact go by "Brother", but not all. In my tradition men are Brothers and women are Sisters. I think that kind of makes sense, personally.

    So I'll say, pleased to meet you too, Bro. Acc.

    Sis. Coy.

  3. Tradition is important, [...] But they could recognize one or two women-only or mixed obediences, and thus help their brethren point their wives, daughters and sisters in the right direction.

    Sis. Coy -
    A year or two ago, the UGLE finally "admitted" that there are branches of women-only lodges (Co-Masonry) that are regular in their practice, with the exception, of course, that they are women. That's a pretty big step for us ;-)

    Fortunately, a lot of younger-minded Masons are already aware that there are unrecognized jurisdictions that are in all other respects just as regular as the mainstream.

    Unfortunately, there's that "tradition" thing that gets in the way. You may be aware that for the last few centuries, we have a line in our obligations that disallows us from making women Masons, and communicating "Masonically" with jurisdictions not recognized by our own GL.

    A few years ago, the daughter of a member (a former Rainbow girl), seeing the great fun that we were having said that she wanted to be a Mason. Right way, some of the guys started telling her about OES. "No, but I want to be a Mason, like you guys," she insisted. So I told her about several of the Droite Humane options around Conn. The room got very quiet for a few seconds, and then the guys got right back into telling her about OES.

    Some people take those obligations very seriously, which actually is a good thing. We just have to work on changing their mindset to be a little more accepting.

    The women Masons that I've met have usually gone by the term "Brother" (which I think is strange), which is why I used the term with you. I'm happy to make your acquaintance. If you are looking for further online discussion where jurisdictions don't matter, may I suggest that you look at the web forums at The Three Pillars? I've been hanging out there for a while and have been impressed by the attitudes of most of the members.

    Tom Accuosti
    The Tao of Masonry


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