PS Review of Freemasonry

Make this site your Home Page Print this page Send Masonic E-card recommend PS Review of Freemasonry Masonic Book Reviews Alerts Masonic News Alerts RSS News Feed
Serving Freemasons first
Search PS Review of Freemasonry

voltaire writing
"If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others?"
- Voltaire, Candide, Chapter 6
Bro. Gerald Reilly
Autumn 2007

by Bro. Gerald Reilly & Dr. Judith Rasoletti

Gerald Reilly was initiated in 1995 into St Osyth's Priory Lodge 2063 UGLE. Within a year he met Brother Sam Allen, a gentleman, scholar and teacher. A handful of masons met with him and he guided critical reading of Margaret Jacob, Frances Yates et al. He inspired an appreciation of scholarship seeing Masonic progress as a potential force for good in general.
In 1999 He joined the Rosslyn Chapel e-group and was a founder member of Josh Heller's Allthingsmasonic and Masonic Light. With Josh In 2005, he wrote The Temple That Never Sleeps. This was:- a radical interpretation of Freemasonry as a cultural phenomenon; an empirical examination of the impact that e-communications might be having; and, suggesting positive ways forward. They think that that the readership is emerging from an initial state of shock.
Gerald Reilly has recently passed through chairs in HRA and Secret Monitor and whilst hoping to continue support for these additional degrees is very committed to the development of e-masonry and exploring a supra-grand lodge masonic universality.


dr. Judith Rasoletti
Judith Rasoletti, Ph.D. was initiated in 1988 and is Past-Master of the mixed Lodge Elizabeth St. Leger No.5 in Miami, Florida which works in the A&ASR. She is a member of the Mixed Supreme Council for Germany, The Netherlands, Austria and United Kingdom. She received her degree in International Relations from Florida International University. Now a resident of Park City, Utah she offers workshops, seminars and retreats on topics of wellness and ancient mystery traditions.

Given the world as it is, and its direction of travel, literally and figuratively, into global spaces, it is not unreasonable to enquire about the ways that Freemasonry might be involved. 


“It is to ‘civil society’ that we must turn to find Freemasonry.”


We would offer as a starting point a commonly held view that the arrangements with major impact on human existence are those of the state, family and market with a fourth “civil society” being the totality of other institutions.  These groupings are not fixed. Rather, they should be understood as tectonic plates vitalised by human energy, continuously shaping and forming themselves, and similarly reshaping and re-forming each other.   It is to “civil society” that we must turn to find Freemasonry.


It is there as a bedfellow with golf clubs, trade unions, Rotary, amateur dramatic societies, religions, political parties, the Women’s Institute and the rest.  Perhaps these groupings can largely be understood as being voluntary, with an individual “constitution” and maintained by various levels of cooperative activity for some self and mutual benefit.  Where there is a state religion, religions may be less than “voluntary” and perhaps therefore no longer in civil society.  When members of a political party form a government, they too have shifted space. Sometimes, trade union membership is a prerequisite for employment; and, joining “the masons” may be considered to be more than an expedient in order to make progress in the marketplace. 


Many of the groups composed within civil society are formed in order to influence the state; political parties alone are formed with the intention of taking over and controlling the state (terrorist groups aside).  Perhaps underpinning each organisation within civil society is a separate and distinct metaphysic; some are small and local, others are worldwide and others even purport to extend beyond space and time.  However, as long as belief in the metaphysic remains, it is a foundation sufficient to support an edifice.   Given that freemasonry is an organisation within civil society we are leading to the question: what is the metaphysic of Freemasonry and what linkage, if any, is there with the state, the market, the family and the rest of civil society?


“….what is the state?”


In this article we can only provide ideas that possibly might point towards a more considered explanation.  However, before any progress can be made, it is necessary to ask: what is the state?  The model with which we are most familiar is that of the nation-state. This is something that emerged in the early modern period, perhaps as an outcome of industry and empire.  There was a need for an entity that was identifiable from the rest of the world and which provided the means of deriving benefit from the opportunities of industry and empire.


For a nation-state to be possible it is necessary to meet the four requirements of:- territory, people, governance and recognition. Hmmm, does this not sound something like a Masonic Grand Lodge?  But by whom was the first one recognised?  Similarly, how does a nation-state achieve recognition? Perhaps, internally by people in a social contract with the powers that be and its hierarchy and externally by those who do not have the power to do otherwise?  We must remember that it was the then radical notion of sovereignty that made it possible for recognition to emerge as the principle of territorial exclusivity and thus autonomy between equal nation-states. 


Did Freemasonry in general or individual Freemasons in particular contribute to the establishment and continuous development of this theoretical concept of nation-states?  If so, was it a practical application of the Masonic metaphysic?  How would it be possible to demonstrate such a connection? 


“….the Masonic metaphysic”


Addressing such a question would require a serious consideration of 18th century history and legal tradition.  Yet the matter of recognition may be one of contingency and may not lend itself easily to show such a linkage.  Depending on one’s point of view, there are upwards of two hundred extant “Masonic” grand lodges on this planet but with a maze of recognition pathways between and around them.  Whilst there may be contentious divisions on grounds of gender, race and religious belief (or lack of it), it would appear that there is a metaphysical unanimity in terms of brotherly love, relief and truth – how ever perversely these sometimes may be understood and applied!


Brotherly love may be a reasonably straightforward sentiment and the giving of relief to those worthy in need is a matter of allocating disposable wealth or time.  But like Pilate before us, we are not overly clear on what truth might be.  Hopefully, it is simply not the VSL on which Freemasons choose to take their oaths but pertains to personal honour and integrity.  What may be a unique feature of Freemasonry is that the source of its system of morality is found in the places of work and labour and from there applied to life rather than the other way around.  That is to say, the virtues of integrity, cooperation, accuracy (honesty) and assiduity that combine to produce quality outcomes arise from the workplace, the Masonic Lodge, and are then applied to the rest of life.  What is good for the workplace in particular, is good for the rest of life in general.  This work ethic just has to be a defining characteristic of Freemasonry!  Therefore, it can be concluded that the metaphysic of Freemasonry leads to self and mutual improvement along the lines of brotherly love, relief and truth.


“…connected to the state and the market?”


Given this understanding, is Freemasonry just another organisation in the polyarchy of civil society that is competing for members, their time, mind and money, in return for which, there is offered:- conviviality, participation in something like the mystery plays of medieval artisans, an honours’ system of recognition and organised charitable giving?  Other than through local or non-Masonic charitable giving, Freemasonry and its lodges may seem to be largely inward looking with this being reinforced by a ban on political or religious discussion within the space of the temple. However, the view could be taken that by virtue of its metaphysic, Freemasonry is connected to the state and the market with implications for both the family and the rest of civil society.   


It may well be the case that the nation-state has largely served its generation and that for business leaders the map of the world is divided into markets, materials, labour and profitability - all transcending political boundaries.  It has already become apparent that individual nation-states can no longer effectively support their people except in cooperation with other states. This is leading to a blurring of the political map “locally” and the rise of regional and even global governance.  In some Masonic rituals there is a charge to the initiate with appeals to him or her as “a Freemason” being “a citizen of the world” and “an individual”. 


Does Masonic Initiation make one a citizen of the world?  Does it instil a sense of loyalty to the global good first, leaving individual interests secondary?  A Mason, citizen of the world, is charged “to pay due obedience to the laws of any State which may for a time be the place of his or her residence.”  This perhaps is picking up on the lines of St. Paul in the New Testament where he twice refers to Christians as ambassadors and says that their citizenship is in heaven – the recipe for otherworldliness.  The charge also advises that nature has implanted in the breast a sacred and indissoluble attachment towards that country from whence derived birth and infant nurture.  Well of course, nature has done no such thing - nurture might have.


People work in states other than that of their birth for myriad reasons. Therefore, there has to be a relative perception of loyalty; yet, the underlying loyalty to the human condition remains since it is part of the metaphysic, the work ethic of Lodge rooms. As such, would this tend to make masons more tolerant and accepting of the differences, frailties and outright aggressions experienced while living in a place other than that of birth and early nurture?  Further, do post-modern business practices, in a globalising marketplace, reflect the ideals espoused by brotherly love, relief and truth?  There are many Freemasons who have built astoundingly successful business enterprises; for instance, consider the founders of the Wal-Mart or J.C. Penney stores. The jury is perhaps still deliberating: ideals rarely translate into action.  Reflections of Masonry’s metaphysic are perhaps more readily identifiable in the political arena of statecraft and diplomacy,.  


This topic deserves an expanded consideration that we hope to publish in 2008.  Among political landmarks identified with Masonic involvement, we will be looking for evidence of the “ancient landmarks.”  Perhaps Brother President FD Roosevelt’s 1941 Annual Message to Congress (Four Freedoms) will be one of them.

Home Page | Alphabetical Index | What is New | Freemasons World News
Research Papers | Books online | Freemasons History | Symbolism & Rituals
Saggi in Italiano | Essais en Langue Française | Monografias em Português | Planchas Masonicas en Español

| Sitemap | Privacy Policy | How to Contribute a Paper |

RSS Feed News Feed | News Alerts Subscribe News by Email

visitor/s currently on the page.