Emsed1, first let me thank you for the reasonable and informative tone you have struck.
I've only been a member of ATS for a few months, and I must admit, before coming here I had hardly heard the term 'anti-mason' before. If you'd
asked me, I would perhaps have dredged up something about an American political party, sometime in the late 1800s.
So I was a little surprised by the vitriol and ferocity that I saw 'masons' and 'anti-masons' battling it out with in the forums here. I learned
some interesting things, one of which is that some people take things very
seriously and very
A calm tone is refreshing; I shall try to continue in the same vein.
The Dangers of Vague Purpose
When I first heard the masonic saying "Making good men better", I thought: 'why, that's a fine thing!'. And, indeed, who would disagree? About
as many people as would agree that 'helping evil men spread corruption' is a laudable goal.
But, perhaps, as a citizen of modern times and an ATS member, I am just a little
cynical. When I hear what I consider 'vague' ideological
terminology, it raises a red flag, and I wonder why
that terminology is vague.
I'd like to illustrate this, with an example from politics. If what I say doesn't line up with your particular political opinions, please
understand that's not the point I'm trying to make here.
The example is this: I have heard political rhetoric that calls for 'Spreading Freedom and Democracy Throughout the World'.
That, too, sounds like a laudable purpose. Who would disagree with spreading freedom? And democracy, with its promise of egalitarian participation
in the power of the state, certainly sounds better than authoritarianism, or dictatorship.
But, as a lover of freedom and human rights, there are times when I have been aghast
at the specific actions undertaken in the name of such a
'goal'. It seems that, when it comes to translating lofty rhetoric into specific action, the results are often directly contradictory to what
would have thought was implied.
So, alas, I've learned the need to be a little suspicious, and not trust such vague statements, without specifically analyzing what happens when
they're put into practice. Thus, my focus, in the questions of my opening statement, on the specific
measures and definitions that masonry
uses to determine the requirements of being a 'good man'.
My opponents answer was not reassuring. While he cited laudable ideals of fellowship and fraternity, the specifics of how masonry as an
would measure the 'goodness' it purports to instill in men, when those ideals translate into action, were sadly lacking.
masonry is purposefully vague in this requirement... lodges exist worldwide in a variety of cultures with substantially different mores and
Whether or not you agree with my personal political opinion of the dangers of vague rhetoric such as 'spreading freedom' and 'fighting the axis of
evil', the analogy is valid (not radical enough? try this
) : is it clear
that masonry's contention that it 'improves good men' is the same kind of subjective rhetoric -- not an objectively definable 'goal' at all.
Et en Caritas ego...
Masonry has many advocates; it clearly can offer many benefits to its members. As a social organization, with innocuous charitable works and various
goals, members can perhaps find the experience
rewarding to their sense of altruism. My opponent has obviously found, in his consideration of masonry, opportunity for considerable introspection --
for that I applaud him.
Are those introspections false? Are the charitable works of well-intentioned members subversively provided? I understand that masons can cook up a
mean pancake breakfast -- are their pancakes filled with evil? I contend: no.
But is that the whole picture of masonry? Are those public acts a complete representation of its true goals, or are they merely a 'public face' for
masonry, honestly and validly
portrayed by the lower degrees?
Question 1 - If 'making good men better' is simply propaganda, what is the true primary purpose of masonry?
Question 2 - If masonry is a cult designed only to perpetuate itself to serve the 'elites', who are the elites?
The answer to both these questions: I don't know. I can offer no first-hand evidence thereof. And, I assume, neither can you, from your opening
statement that the whole of your experience is within blue lodge masonry in the state of Illinois. But we can speculate!
It is at this point in the debate, I believe, that I'm expected to quote Albert Pike. I think it's tradition or something
The Blue Degrees are but the outer court or portico of the Temple. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the Initiate, but he is
intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them; but it is intended that he shall imagine he
understands them. Their true explication is reserved for the Adepts, the Princes of Masonry.
Question 1: Is Albert Pike a reliable source regarding the true nature of masonry?
Question 2: Why should we believe that charitable works and other 'good acts', however honest, are not also merely part of the 'outer court' of
masonry, concealing its true goals?
Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the slogan "making good men better", despite the emotionally-positive connotations it evokes, is, in fact,
not a true 'goal' at all -- it is tasty frosting on the blue-lodge cake, covering the secret layers beneath.
Masonry: The One True Religion?
Masonry has a long history of opposing both secular and religious authority that might interfere with its 'traditions':
In the various versions of the rituals, it was explained to the Candidate that the crown does not represent legitimate political authority, but
political tyranny; and that the tiara does not represent legitimate religious authority, but religious tyranny. While the Candidate smashed the Crown,
he was required to utter the words "May tyranny perish from the earth!" When he destroyed the tiara, he recited "May intolerance cease to curse
Question 3: Does this evidence that masonry has historically opposed political and religious authorities that it considers 'illegitimate' indicate
that masonry's goals, as an organization, may extend beyond the 'betterment' of individual men?
Indeed, the Catholic Church, to this day, takes a dim view of masonry:
"The Church's negative position on Masonic association ... remain unaltered, since their principles have always been regarded as irreconcilable
with the Church's doctrine. Hence, joining them remains prohibited by the Church. Catholics enrolled in Masonic associations are involved in serious
sin and may not approach holy Communion." - Pope John Paul II, Nov. 26, 1983
Question 4: If the Pope, and the over one billion Roman Catholics whose spiritual beliefs he represents, do not believe that the sole goal of masonry
is to "make good men better", what makes their opinion more or less valid than that of the Illinois Grand Lodge?
Question 3 - Why would masonry resort to such an elaborate and tedious method of teaching and learning if the end result was not personal
One reasonable speculation is for purposes of successive indoctrination
. In this approach, the 'initiate' is offered a tantalizing glimpse
of 'truths' to be learned, with a vision of goals and altruistic ideals 'deliberately vague' enough so as to offer no grounds for moral objection.
Through a series of 'lessons', embracing the 'symbolic significance' of masonry, the initiate's own
sense of what is good and correct is
replaced, or as it is called "refined" by masonic teachings. The mason learns to identify masonry itself
as a pure source of 'good
This iterative process, benchmarked though the achievement of increasing 'degrees', serves a dual purpose: first, those who might object to any
'secret goals' of masonry are weeded out, they do not make it beyond the 'portico' Pike describes. Second, layers of indoctrination mould the
applicant's world-view, via lessons and rituals, to such a point that the inherent 'goodness and truth' of masonic teachings becomes unquestioned,
and the applicant serves, not only as a loyal proponent of the 'public facade' of masonic intention, but as an unquestionably reliable supporter of
the inner organization itself.
We can thus see the effect of hierarchically-concealed masonic secrets: the organization adapts individuals to its ideology, makes them reliable to
serve any covert goals or agendas, and ensures the overriding goal of its historic perpetuation.
Back over to you, my esteemed opponent! I hope I didn't throw you too