[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: October 1999

Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 23:25:23 -0700
From: Carson Tipper <LESG@bc.sympatico.ca>
Organization: Link Environmental Services Group
To: masonry-ask@MIT.EDU
Subject: Need some advice.

Hi there...

Dear Sir:

I'm sending this request to a number of people in hopes of someone being able to answer my question or directing me towards someone that can answer my question.

I have had a couple of meetings with Masonic members and I have been given pamphlets on joining etc. I really feel it is a goof fraternity and would like to join but I have a problem that I think will prevent me from joining.

1) Although I believe in a "Supreme Being" it is more of a supreme power then a "being". I don't believe in the "body of Christ" or another image of man that represents God. I believe in the God as a soul and that my god is not the same as others that preach God to be. It is more a Buddhist understanding of God. How can I become a master craftsman with this understanding? Can I?

2) I also do not believe in the "After Life". This seems to be an important believe before one can become a mason. This is too bad. I really do believe that although there may well be an afterlife I could not honestly proclaim that there is and would not want to dishonor any members by saying so, or not saying so. I don't want to be dishonest about it. I would like to truly believe that an after life exists but my faith in my god does not depend on the concept for the god will that I must and should have towards other people I meet day to day.

I feel that it would be a shame to deny myself this opportunity but I really would like to think that I have as much to offer the fraternity, in my faith and fellowship towards my fellow man, that is equal to any other. But, if is not possible then I don't want to send in my application under any false pretenses. I could use your advice if you have any.

Sincerely,
Carson Tipper

To: Carson Tipper <LESG@bc.sympatico.ca>
Subject: Re: Need some advice. 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Sun, 17 Oct 1999 23:25:23 PDT."
             <380ABD53.4875@bc.sympatico.ca> 
--------

Dear Mr. Tipper,

I can answer your questions more easily, I think, than you were expecting.

} 1) Although I believe in a "Supreme Being" it is more of a supreme
} power then a "being". I don't believe in the "body of Christ" or
} another image of man that represents God. I believe in the God as
} a soul and that my god is not the same as others that preach God
} to be. It is more a Buddhist understanding of God. How can I
} become a master craftsman with this understanding? Can I?

1) Masonry asks ONE question: "Does the Candidate believe in a Supreme Being?" There is no follow-up question about type of belief or view of the Supreme Being. Freedom of conscience is key in Masonry: we don't make any member adopt any other member's ideas about something when none of us can really claim have Absolute Truth anyway.

Although Masonry uses lessons and allegories from the Bible -- mostly from the time of the building of Solomon's temple -- that does not mean that Masons all share some particular biblical view of Diety. Masons refer to God as "The Supreme Architect" or as "The Grand Geometer" -- using these as METAPHORS to express the Intelligence and Skill that pervades Creation. So unless you would be uncomfortable with the general idea behind those metaphors, your view of things would not disqualify you from joining a lodge.

} 2) I also do not believe in the "After Life". This seems to be
} an important believe before one can become a mason. This is too
} bad. I really do believe that although there may well be an
} afterlife I could not honestly proclaim that there is and would
} not want to dishonor any members by saying so, or not saying so. I
} don't want to be dishonest about it. I would like to truly believe
} that an after life exists but my faith in my god does not depend
} on the concept for the god will that I must and should have
} towards other people I meet day to day.

2) Masonry has no requirement of belief in an afterlife. No one will require you to state your belief about it one way or the other.

Our teachings do refer to a HOPE of an afterlife, often referred to in the ritual as "the Grand Lodge Above" -- but we don't really think (at least most of us don't I suppose) that after we die, we'll put on an apron and go to a lodge meeting with a dinner afterwards. But we do share a HOPE in some kind of benevolent afterlife, whatever it might be, based each on our own personal beliefs. So if you have a hope that there might be an afterlife, you would not feel alienated by Masonry's outlook on the subject.

In general, I think your careful concern for what Masonry is about, and the fact that these spiritual matters are important to you, both reflect quite well on you, and indicate that you would be able to get quite a bit from Masonry if you decided to join.

From what you have told me, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't continue your interest in the Craft.

Best wishes,


+---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus GL Mass.
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