( I originally wanted to post this on the Euclid post where you talked about the GOdF )
I sent you several emails about it, and you never replied to me ( on T3P, on your Blog, on the KoN forum ....),
I know you through the" freemasonry for dummies", both in English and French.
When you visited Paris I had the opportunities to talk to you and I felt that you were an open minded person. So I am surprise to read not for the first but for several time now your disdain or contempt about the GOdF.
First of all I am not a member of the GOdF but a lot of my brethren are. The GOdF is one of the oldest masonic institution in the masonic world with a rich history linked to many historical important events or personage. But what surprise me the most it's that you seem not to know the GO history or the French history where the GOdF have its roots, but anyway you have a very bad opinion about it. An opinion that I am used to read under the pen of anti masons.
You mention a protest, ( in a reply on your blog), it was the celebration of the separation of state and church in 2005, you must understand that this law passed 100 years was the symbol of freedom not only for French Freemasons but also for Jews, Protestant and Freethinkers.
But I don't see why it is ashaming to celebrate freedom ? Do I judge decades of American freemasonry just looking at a Shriners parade ?
I can believe that an intelligent person as you look may think that your masonry is the real thing, but I am sure that you know that each country, each culture, maybe each historical period, have is own masonry.
I don't know exactly where is the origin of your problem with the GOdF, but I think it's maybe because you don't have all the information to make yourself a... fair and balanced opinion.
If you need a "GOdF for dummies" I can ask the competent brothers all the information that you need.
Fred ( ParisFred)
My Brother Fred,
Surely my comments about the GOdF haven't approached anti-masonic levels. Perhaps my abominable fluency in French leaves me with a misunderstanding about what I have read, along with what friends in the Grande Loge de France. and Grand Lodge National Français have said on the subject of the Grand Orient de France. But I don't think so.
I happen to disagree with the concept of making atheists into Freemasons, as does my own Grand Lodge, all mainstream and Prince Hall US Grand Lodges, the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge National Français and the Grande Loge de France. The overwhelming majority of the Masonic world regards the basic concept of Anderson's phrase, "that religion in which all men agree" as requiring a personal belief in a Great Architect, regardless of some of the intellectual acrobatics some have tried to use to argue against it. When Anderson warned against being a "stupid atheist," I don't believe he was intending to give "smart atheists" a pass.
The Grand Orient de France has a long history of taking official positions on laws and social topics, including protesting against private schools – principally because Catholics ran the majority of them. I do understand the social forces that resulted in the antagonism between the Catholic Church and continental Freemasonry, and the Grand Orient de France has been at the center of that controversy since before the Revolution. Society has been very different in France than nearly anywhere else in the world, so Masonry developed differently there. It took an alternate developmental path than its Anglo-Saxon brethren, and became so different that it caused the schism in 1894 that resulted in the formation of the Grande Loge de France.
The Grand Orient de France and the other "CLIPSAS" grand orients and grand lodges have a more easygoing attitude about regularity and recognition questions. They call themselves "liberal," and that is very true. Some readily admit atheists, under the explanation that they espouse intellectual and spiritual freedom. They charter or allow visitation with "adoptive" (female) or mixte lodges. That's their prerogative to do so. But it is the policy of the rest of the mainstream Masonic universe to regard them as irregular, and not to recognize them. Modern Freemasonry is largely wrapped around Anderson's writings, and on principal landmarks that we share in common — two of them are a monotheistic belief and no initiation of women. The most ancient landmarks of Freemasonry, from before Pike or Mackey or Anderson, descend from the Old Charges from the 1390s, and those Charges required a belief in God, and that the candidate be free, male and of a mature age. When those are thrown aside, the organization that is left sounds like Freemasonry, but is in fact something quite different — regardless of how satisfying it may be to its members.
Personally, I greet all Masons as brethren, male or female, believer or atheist, regular, irregular and everyone in between, because all of us took an obligation that is essentially the same. As Masons, we all have similar values and are united in the concept of making the world a better place, one person at a time. I don't ask to see a dues card first. And to leak a family secret, my wife would join a female masonic lodge in a heartbeat if there was one close to us — I'd even encourage her to do it. But I won't violate my obligation when it comes to sitting in an unrecognized lodge (unless my Grand Master grants me dispensation), because that's what I gave my word not to do. And I disagree strongly with some of the practices of the Grand Orient of France. Their concept of "laicite" is an admirable concept that individuals should strive to achieve, but not an institution that was founded on faith in a supreme being. Reading the GOdF's material makes it very clear that the official antagonism specifically with the Catholic Church is still an important part of their official position. I realize anti-Catholicism in France is often a big crowd pleaser, and the Grand Orient is the largest, most popular Masonic body in France. I just don't want my Grand Lodge in some kind of officially sanctioned battle with any church — and especially not the church I grew up in. Belief in complete tolerance of faiths is one thing, but declaring philosophical war on individual faiths is something else. If you want to fight the Catholics about their past influence in France, more power to you. Go join some anti-Catholic reform brigade and protest your hearts out. It's just not the role of Freemasonry.
Now, that's not judging them based on one parade. That's assessing them based on their own published information.
However, I do hear ya' about those Shrine parades.