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Monday, December 18, 2017

"Knock, Knock. We're Not In."


Sometimes you find inspiration and clarity in the darnedest places.

Brother Greg Starr posted an incredibly powerful message tonight, buried deep in a Facebook thread. The first man in Greg's family joined the Craft in 1754. The fraternity is honored by his family, he believes, because the good practitioners outnumber the bad. But then came the thunderbolts. 

Before I reveal its original source (he admittedly paraphrased the bulk of it to adapt it to suit Freemasonry, but its real origin will surprise most of you), please read it and consider the ideas and philosophy it contains. But here's the $64,000 Question: Would you have the strength to stand up in lodge and speak these words? 

If you are a Grand Master, would you say them at your annual communication, print them in your magazine, repeat them in every lodge you visit? 

If not, why not? If not you, who will?:
"Knock knock!" "Knock knock!"
 We're not in. Brother Masons, from this day forward, we're not in for just anyone knocking on our door. We're in, but only for the worthy. 
From this day forward, everything that was wide open is going be closed.
Opening lodges to public viewing?. We've already done it.
Kowtowing to stylish trends?. Been there, done that.
Tolerance having been replaced with Acceptance? Doesn't live here anymore. It's been evicted. It vacated the Lodge for the new tenant, who has diametrically opposite tastes in decorating.
We've been reaching out to others for years now. It's time to stop!
We are not going anywhere. We are here. Because, what are we? We are cement. And cement doesn't move. We are cement without windows. So, we don't look to the outside world. 
"To be true, and to seek to find and learn the Truth, are the great objects of every good Mason", said Bro. Albert Pike. And he was right. We have no reason to look out and seek the approval of the mundane.

Instead, look over there. What do you see? That's the West Gate. The only way in. Small and extremely uncomfortable. And anyone who wants to know us has to find out how to get through that door. Brothers, we need to go back to being prohibitive.
Inaccessible and mysterious.
That's the only way we can once again become desirable. That is the only way great love stories are born. We don't want any more part-time Masons. We want great love stories. We want passion for the Craft and its teachings. Because the fire in passion is love. Everything else is strictly a surrogate, and it stays outside the Order.
With the attitudes of recent leadership around the globe, the Craft won for itself great expressions of fondness from the masses. It became popular. Isn't that wonderful, you might be thinking! We received plenty of esteem and lots of friendship.

We really have no idea what to do with the friendship of the whole wide world.

What we want is absolute love and total devotion to the Craft.
 
Could that mean Masonry only for the few? That's a hypothesis, and a hypothesis isn't the same as reality. But even this hypothesis isn't so scandalous. I say: better to have a few that are reliable than to have a great many that are distractible and indifferent.

The public squares have been jam-packed, but the hearts have been emptied of our teachings.
You can't measure love with numbers, you can only measure it in terms of intensity. In terms of blind loyalty to the imperative. Fix that word firmly in your souls: Imperative.
From this day forth, that's what the Brethren want, that's what the Craft wants, that's what Humanity wants. And so the ritual will no longer be blind recitation, it must be understood, internalized, and will become hard work. And misdeeds and scandal will no longer be forgiven at will.
 We don't expect any applause; there will be no expressions of thanks. None from me and none from you. Feigned courtesy and good manners are not the business of Sons of Light.
What is expected is that you will do what is correct. There is nothing outside your obedience to the Landmarks and Teachings. Nothing except Darkness. A Darkness you may not recall, but should. Because it stands right behind that gate: the Abyss.

We can't be afraid to lose Brothers if they are faithless, corrupt, recidivist, or stain the Craft, and that means we do not negotiate. On anything or with anyone. We cannot be enticed, blackmailed, threatened, lured, or cajoled.
From this day forth, with regard to membership, the word "compromise", has been banished from the vocabulary.
When our Grand Master Hiram willingly suffered, he was not making compromises. 
And neither will we.

I said I'd reveal the source at the end. I suspect it will surprise most of you.

The original version was, ironically, spoken by Pius XIII, the fictional, American, 47 year old Roman Catholic Pope in the international HBO series, The Young Pope, played by Jude Law. The show's Italian creators boldly threw down their own gauntlets over the problems caused within their Church when the obsession to become loved by the outside world and drag in every warm body possible by lowering all standards to make faith "easier," "hipper," "trendier." Sound familiar? After fifty years, these policies have not had the sort of results envisioned post-Vatican II after 1964. In fact, in this scene in the series, Pius' speech is delivered to the College of Cardinals while very deliberately donning the medieval golden, multi-tiered papal tiara and golden robes abandoned in 1964 to show more solidarity with the poor and destitute, and because they seemed anachronistic and ostentatious to the outside world. It was deemed embarrassing, so the Church gave in to public pressure. To answer critics. And kept changing and changing. And shrinking and shrinking. 

That's the point.

Read the original speech HERE.

Or better yet, watch the clip for yourself. (Ignore the spooky music—he's only malevolent to the Cardinals who believed him to be a naive puppet.)

Then think for a moment that Freemasonry has done exactly the same thing and gotten exactly the same results. 

Then reread Greg Starr's version again.


Is a drama about Catholicism a bizarre place to find inspiration for Freemasonry? Sure. Does that blunt the message? Not one bit.




5 comments:

  1. What a powerful message. It already has me dreaming of a Masonic educational system that contains the MPAT (Masonic Philosophy Aptitude Test) for potential Masons, a 2 yr undergrad program (EA), a 2 year internship (FC), a 2 yr grad program (MM). The MM study includes the research and presentation of a doctoral thesis. After successful completion of this course of study, the man would be considered a Master Mason with the continual obligation to "publish or perish." However, in the case of the fraternity, one can only dream.

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  2. I agree that we need to be careful who we accept into the fraternity. But I do think that by proper examination of a candidate we can find out if they truly are worthy. I know several Grand Lodges (Michigan included) have initiated a six step program prior to the petition being submitted. However, it still comes down to the individual lodges to make sure that the man will make a good Mason.

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  3. Excellent points and for me it all comes down in failing to observe our Craft seriously in both form and fucntion. Some don't want Masonic education in their lodges and if they do, no more than 3 to 5 minutes as the Brethren can only take brief sound bites. So a fraternity that is based on ancient mystery school and guild initiation and ritual gets reduced to mundane meetings with men sitting around checking their phones. Out of hundreds of members, 20 or 30 show up for the meetings. Why? Because it's not that special and it only gets special when the Craft is observed as it should be and it all starts with each of us to include holding the West Gate. On a side note, the Young Pope was an excellent mini-series and reportedly the most lavish and expensive series to come out of Italy.

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  4. We definitely need to consider this seriously. We are not a Lions club or a VFW post or Little League boosters club, good as all that may be for the community. There is very little in the present fraternity of the Enlightenment, knowledge of metaphors and symbolism, and intellectual dialogue. We have largely lost the members who could contribute to that serious side. A major problem are the present grand masters, who is general use their meetings together to avoid the major challenges we face and the serious disagreements between jurisdictions.

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  5. Interesting, I watched that episode and the series. To take the speech out of the context of the full story is dangerous. We have often quoted text and scripture and neglected the context in which it is prescribed. I agree we need to more properly apply the tools of the Craft upon the members of the craft in order to craft better men. That being said, we must become wary of turning Freemasonry into Elitist Craftsmen. Humility is to be a part of us always, and if we use tools of humiliation to obtain such we have sorely missed our target and harmed the Craft more than we have aided in its edification.

    Membership was always going to decline, because we only ever believed we were being accepting or tolerant. The actions within the lodges have over time proven this to simply not be the case. We are a reflection of society not a Lightbearer to help guide or stabilize the same. Old men and old foibles cling to authority and power instead of instilling the same in their following generations. We give the trappings of Leadership to our members, but we do not fully empower our developing Caftsmen into Leaders to further enrich us.

    We must not ever close the West Gate, but we must remember to ever guard the same as well remind others that like Hiram before us, we too should pass out the East Gate sometimes and allowing the ones whom have earned the right to enter by it as well.

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