Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Tape in a Blue Lodge

There is value in tradition. Rituals carry the legacies of the past. Symbols preserve the unspoken wisdom of the ages. Men continue the path well worn, beginning their journey as all have and following the countless footsteps laid before them. The traditions, rituals, and everyday practices of the lodge fasten today to yesterday and remain the umbilical cord of modern Freemasonry to its ancient and storied history.

And yet the world must change. Every generation supplants and surpasses the one before it. Is this not the secret dynamic of the art? Equilibrium? So must not the Order change as well?

In mere decades, the computer has revolutionized every facet of the human span. Microchips and the wizardry of science, sure to hang us all in a not so distant age, allow us now to govern our lives from the palm of our hand, to reach across the shores and time itself. Who could have foreseen this?

Is there yet a place for secret grips and tokens now that the Brethren carry printed dues cards and join lodge groups on facebook?

I say yes. I hold that the age old traditions of Masonry are the backbone and nervous center of the Order. The rites and rituals memorized through the succession of worthy and well qualified men are in themselves a Constitution, a Law and an Act of will. They are the foundation. Still, though we rest our homes, our cities and even our civilization upon such foundations, each generation expands its understanding, enhances its tools and reaches to greater heights of architecture and the sublime arts of the humanities.

The circle will always be a circle and the square always a square. The balance and the measure will never falter. The line will be drawn and the compass will make its arc. The laws of the universe, so like the laws and traditions of the lodge, will and must remain. But we have all lost our vision if we cannot renew the lodge...if we cannot build the lodge for the Modern Mason.

Young Masons must not be afraid to take up their rightful place as Architects in the New Order. Yet any new Mason must be readily and rightfully forged. Is it enough to give the man his third degree and brand him a brother Master Mason when he holds no knowledge, value or even understanding of the title he then carries? No. We should all be exhausted by the procession of the who are not so much seekers as joiners. Yet what do they know to seek? Do they even comprehend the foundation they stand upon by that right and the Work that they themselves embody...each Mason a Lodge?

Too many lodges are perishing because they refuse to understand the very reason or benefit of the traditions and rituals they hold so dear. They march men mindlessly through the degrees chafing and guffawing when a line is crossed as though they are the masters. And fools they are. Hiram's secret has become a myth of idealism and demagoguery.

The Master would not laugh, but embrace. The Master would teach. For every true lodge is built within the hearts and the minds of the men that occupy it. They are the lodge. Each brother Master Mason becomes the embodiment of the Order itself. No one is greater than any other. This is a Truth evident in the Foundation for those who would sincerely Seek It.

And so that Foundation must be strong. Each Apprentice and Fellow Craft must proceed by the Guidance and the Knowledge of his Brothers. Each man must be the Pillar of his Brother for the Lodge to rise so it may too wait upon the coming centuries. What then might rise above the Foundation so well fashioned for the ages?

Where now is the vision of Leonardo? Who now holds the craft of Michaelangelo? Freemasonry must embrace its Arts...its Vision. It must remind its young Masters that they are born of men of pedigree and promise. Virtue is their birthright by the blood of knowledge and wisdom past. So noble a venture might yet again transcend the vicissitudes and tyrannies of Time and State.

What has Freemasonry accomplished? Nothing, if it is stripped to the uselessness of cargoes lost ashore from a once proud wrecked and forgotten because its stewards lost their way. We have the tools but we must artfully apply them. Stone walls become glass cathedrals. Signs and symbols soar the silicon arrays.

Masons remember why they so carefully follow the steps of their forebears. And yet they make their own way.


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