The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
This issue leads with an article on Rob Morris and suggests he may have rewritten history to suit a political and commercial purpose and that the Masons may not have been so innocent after all. It does bring home the fact, however, that we all carry our passions and prejudices with us – but are not always aware of what these are. One of the great things about the internet and particularly about YouTube is the way we can see so much that would otherwise never have been known. I understand that YouTube is, in fact, the most preferred method of getting information for the under-thirties. A few Masonic research groups have switched to internet access but most are still locked into the nineteenth century of paper and books. Well, I do still like to read this magazine on paper – but don’t forget that your subscription entitles you to free digital access of all issues since 2009; details inside.
We have a report from the QC Cambridge Conference but this is only one of many tercentenary events planned for 2017; many of these are listed for you. Remarkably, tickets for the Grand Ball at Freemasons’ Hall in September 2017 sold out in less than a day – a year ahead. I’m on the waiting list but might have to content myself with attending other events. To this end, the European Masonic meeting for 2017 will be held for the first time in England, specifically Middlesex. This is very appropriate as we were told that three of the four founding lodges in 1717 were in the county of Middlesex, which then encompassed most of modern day London. Andrew Prescott, who was the last speaker at the Cambridge Conference, left us amused and confused by showing us that 1717 is all wrong; that nothing happened until 1721 and that we are all celebrating the tercentenary four years too soon. Of course, this is English Freemasonry that is being celebrated; the Irish and Scots have to wait a bit longer. I will shortly be visiting and presenting several times in Edinburgh and am looking forward to visiting those marvellous lodges where, for example, Robbie Burns was a member. Also to visit Rosslyn Chapel and search for the secret passages that we are assured do not exist (despite Dan Brown’s ideas to the contrary). Again, a case of making up history, which the gullible then believe is true. Thus, we read that the original temple and Ark of the Covenant were rather mundane structures, that the much-lauded Traditional Observance movement is not without flaws and that the mentoring scheme is not quite achieving what some had hoped. Well, should we be surprised? All plans depend on people to make them work – and if these are not supportive or not capable or just don’t have time, then success is less assured.
We have several articles that bounce off the religious issues in Freemasonry. There’s no plot afoot here – it’s just what authors have sent me. Strangely, things do seem to come in waves. I actually had four articles this time, all of which involved Rob Morris, and will hold back some for later. We had an article on his trip to the Holy Land some time ago.
I’ve had a few books come in for review and these are included. One of these presents in-depth research into the attitudes of some Freemasons in Canada. A number of readers wrote in after the last issue, when we presented the views of members who had left the Craft supporting the notion that if you want to know what is not appealing to members you are better to talk with those who have left rather than those who are still in. In this case, those who are still in have some interesting things to say as well.
Now, we had a reaction to the last issue when one of our authors saw another paper, which was taken almost entirely from a paper he had written for that organisation some time before leaving it. It is so difficult when one author after another, copies parts of someone else’s work and the acknowledgments (if there ever was one) get lost in the process. I did a search on myself once and found I had papers (which I had forgotten I’d written) which had been translated into several languages - all without me knowing it - and that I had been wrongly quoted in other papers. Unless you take meticulous notes, it is very easy to forget where you got something from or ascribe it to the wrong source. Sometimes it is the wrong source being reported in the first place! So, apologies to all.
We had some interesting responses to the request for practical ideas to improve the Craft. However, it is clear that maths is not a strong point with our readers who failed miserably to write around 200 words and gave me either 20 or 2000. Still, some of the ideas are challenging.
I’ve also included an article about a new Grand Lodge in co-Masonry (men and women together) because in some parts of the Masonic world it is far more popular than in the UK. In Italy, for example it is the second largest Grand Lodge after the Grand Orient. Again, it’s one of those issues that just won’t go away no matter what other Grand Lodges decree. I will be talking about regularity at the 2017 Paris conference – and there are many conferences that are being promoted for next year throughout the world. If members were to step back from their own local lodge, they would appreciate the large, varied, interesting and welcoming world of international Freemasonry. I always recommend visiting other constitutions - but it is always wise to check what you are going to first.