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Article # 89
The Value of Caution

Author: W. Bro. Rt. Rev. Aaron R. Orr     Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2004
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[ W. Bro. Rt. Rev. Aaron R. Orr, the erudite scholar and the author  stresses  the  value of caution and  examines  the reasonable responsibilities of Freemasons for the protection and happiness of  one another with reference to the unfortunate incident in the Masonic Lodge in Athogue, New York, in which a brother was accidentally shot dead in an un authorized ceremony in the basement of the Lodge building. The details of the incident were already posted in Article 85. The learned author refers to little bit of the history of such unmasonic practices and analyses the duties of freemasons to avoid such practices which sport with the feelings of the brethren and have the tendency to humiliate the inductees. Please read on ÖÖ.]

Part 1.

"AM I MY BROTHERS KEEPER?"

Genesis 4:9 96 "And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?"

Incident in  ATHOGUE, NEW YORK, A WARNING AND A CHALLENGE

A secretive initiation ceremony in the basement of a Long Island Masonic lodge in Athogue, New York, went "tragically wrong" when a member mistakenly pulled out a loaded weapon and fatally shot an inductee in the face. William James, 47, of Medford, N.Y, the  inductee was pronounced dead at the scene of Monday nights shooting inside the Southside Masonic Lodge. James was participating in an induction around 8:40 p.m. at the Southside Masonic Lodge when Albert Eid, 76, of Patchogue, pulled out a gun from his pants pocket with real bullets instead of blanks and shot him. A second weapon, a .22 caliber pistol with blanks, was in Eidís other pocket. The detective said both weapons are approximately the same size.  Police believe the shooting "was completely accidental." Police believe the Masons sat James in a chair and placed cans on a small platform around his head. Eid was standingapproximately 20 feet away holding a gun, Fitzpatrick the detective said. A third member out of James view held a stick, and when the gun was fired the man with the stick was supposed to knock the cans off the platform to make the inductee think that real bullets were fired.

Fitzpatrick said the ceremony was designed to create "a state of anxiety" for the inductees. Police also found a guillotine, rat traps, and a wooden board that Fitzpatrick surmised was used in some type of "walking the plank" routinein the basement of the one-story building.

Eid pleaded innocent to a second-degree manslaughter charge at his arraignment before Suffolk County District Court Judge Paul Hensley. He was released on $2,500 bail and ordered to return to court on April27. Eids lawyer did not immediately return calls for comment. Fitzpatrick described Eid as "quite stunned and ... distraught."

The shooting shone a spotlight on the Masons, a highly secretive society that traces its roots to medieval craft associations. While officials of the lodge denied that guns play a role in ceremonies, Fitzpatrick said members told police the rite involving a gun with blanks goes back at least 70 years.

Carl Fitje, grand master of the New York State Freemasons, released a statement early Tuesday in which he said guns do not play a role in any officially sanctioned lodge ceremonies..

A member of the Long Island lodge, who was told of the shooting by reporters Tuesday morning outside the brick building in downtown Patchogue, also denied that guns were used in Masonic rituals. "We donít use pistols," said Steve Mayo, a senior deacon of the lodge who said he was not present at the ceremony. "Nobody ever took out a gun with me. I donít know why he did that."

Mayo said James had been a member of the lodge for a few months and Eid had been a member for many years.

Mondays ceremony was an initiation into the Fellow Craft, which is the second degree within the Masonic system. Masonic officials described Fellow Craft as a social organization within the club, involving active members who participate in fund-raising and other charitable activities.

James worked as a map drafter and had worked for the Town of Brookhaven since1988, said town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia. "He was a nice guy," she said. "Everybody around here knew him and I cant say Iíve ever heard a bad word about him."

The death of this young man in New York State has produced in me a fellow feeling for his family. When I read of it I was quickly to the Book of Job Chapter 3: 25 "The worst of my fears has come true, what I've dreaded most has happened. 26 My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed. No rest for me, ever--death has invaded life."

Brethren, an incident of the sort  referred to above leaves not one of us ever the same. It does not matter if it happened in our own lodge, or in some far-flung temple in another land...we can never be the same! The unthinkable has happened. A younger Brother is dead and his families both natural and fraternal are shattered. An old Brother, who in youth served his country with honour in time of war; whose aged years should be tranquil and fulfilling, is destroyed with inconsolable grief, loss and irreparable loss of certitude about the future.

It was one of those "fun" groups that have sprung up over the past several years in Lodges across the world for this Fellow Craft Club is not part of the Lodge as recognized and approved by the Masonic District or by The Grand Lodge of New York.

These clubs seem to "form" as the dew forms overnight on a window. The Lodge Officers may say, "It seemed innocent enough - and everyone knew someone that was in it. The Club has been there so long that I guess no one can tell you when it started. Inspect it did you say? Oh! We didnít  bother, we felt that they are a bunch of old guys with some young guys thrown in just doing their own thing. Most of us donít know anything about their ritual...never been to one of their shindigs...but they meet when we were not there and we get some revenue from the little bit of rent they pay. "

During my almost forty years in the Craft I have been run across by some of the type of forward founding Fellows, each of whom are most impassioned promulgators of their particular little coterie. In as many cases they are, demonstrably, those who tend to act precipitously, and not always very nicely, towards their  Brethren. These are also some churls who have no consciousness of what is appropriate comportment towards their brethren. They almost invariably take delight in traducing the Brother who is trying his best to make sense of the inanities of their actions.

It appears, to the serious mind, that their only aspiration seems to be to live like a naughty child in a  mans body and to act as unthinkingly as possible towards those to whom they have taken a peculiar offense. (They do not need a reason.) Their peculiar exuberance comes before anything else. However, if they are crossed in their maneuverings they can become as antagonistic as a wild beast in transportation.

The truth is that there are hundreds of these types of clubs inside lodges, mostly in North America. Most of these circles are drawn from a wider group of associations within a district. While their silly degrees are not as resonant as those conspired by Blavatsky and Crowley, they are none-the-less jeopardous to those who frequent their unsanctioned portals. Their invalid ceremonies do not serve to educate their minds, elevate their thoughts or emancipate the souls. Their banal raison dEAtre is to form a group who, while hiding from the light of Masonic scrutiny, attempt to be, as it were, the "Naughty Boys" who do what ever they wish and then thumb their noses at anyone who challenges their inappropriate proceedings.

Groups like these seem to have been very active in the 1920s in the USA. They seemed to propagate better in the "New World" than in the older civilizations. The New York Police said they discovered, " a guillotine, rat traps, and a wooden board that Lt. Fitzpatrick surmised was used in some type of 91walking the plank routine in the basement of the one-story building." That sounds pretty extreme but also is characteristic of these clubs.

How far did the early promoters of this disagreeable lot go to make sure that they had the necessary tools for their trade? In fact, by the year 1930, an Illinois Company  DeMoulin Bros. & Co. Published Fraternal Supply Catalog No.439 in which they provided every gewgaw, every demeaning and defamatory activity and every rotten rouse to be pulled on innocent and usually decent men who wanted to join some order or other. You may examine this catalog at http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/demoulin/index.htm.

" Of  this load of junk, some unctuous modern scribe has written, "In the end you'll see that the wholesome fun... "Light hazing," endured by the candidates made them feel more apart of the Lodge and fostered Brotherly Love and Affection. The key thing to remember is the information from the Masonic Museum site (and the DeMoulin catalogue) that these paddles were used in the early part of the 20th Century in 'side degrees'" Well, Brethren I can remember but that does not make the practice right. I can remember, but no hint of pride in this behavior ever invades my heart.

"Light Hazing" does not exist! Hazing is hazing and the practice dangerous. Here are a few instances of hazing at the American High school and College/University levels. Please see http://hazing.hanknuwer.com/chronology.html after viewing such disgusting information I am forced to ask if this incident in New York is not an offspring of that societal affliction

Please be most careful offers to join the like, and also  please remember, "Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion." - Jean de LaFontaine

.PART II

MASONRY IS SUPPOSED TO BE A REFUGE

Brethren let me again state that whenever I try to comment on anything so painful and for some so personal as the accidental shooting in ATHOGUE, NEWYORK, there are three questions that I must answer to my own satisfaction,  before I comment.

  1. Is what you are about to say sincere?
  2. Is what you are about to say compassionate?
  3. Will what you are about so say do any good?

The Volume of the Sacred Law Declares that the love that we are "supposed" to have for one another (indeed for all mankind) was meant to be  UNCONDITIONAL. Most of us either have never learned that lesson, or we conveniently forget that lesson when we want to. I donít see much unconditional love going on in the world today. Do you?

The English language can offer nuances of meaning and word slants beyond the wildest dreams of any other language. This is especially true regarding the  common  New Testament word for love, "agape." Contrary to what you may have heard, the word "agape" is not unique to the New Testament at all. It was used in common Greek language much as we would use our English "love." The other  Greek word for love, "phileo," is truly a special word, but "phileo" is used sparingly in the New Testament and its meaning, "brotherly love," is self-explanatory. "Agape" can mean anything from "niceness" (as in 1 Cor. 4:21) to the self-sacrificing love of God (John 3:16) and the whole spectrum in between.

David and Jonathan were unique in this regard they exemplified an intense form of the LOVE OF COMRADERY. (1 Samuel 18:1 "After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.") Soldiers sometimes experience this love as they risk life and limb for a buddy. "Heís not heavy, heís my brother."  A  good motto for all Masons to follow.

This is sufficient to illustrate that we humans have a real need for friendship, for comradeship and for a place where we can feel truly sheltered from the chances and changes of life. We need a place where we feel OK. For many, that feeling and that place have been discovered in our local Masonic lodge.

In the Initiation Ceremony of our Order there is music, and a form of hymnody usually done by taking existent hymns and ornamenting them with a Masonic  flavour.  Thus:

ďFrom every stormy wind that blows

From ev'ry swelling tide of woes

There is  a calm, a sure retreat--

'Tis found beneath the mercy-seat

becomes

From every stormy wind that blow

From every swelling tide of woes

There is a  calm, a sure retreat--

'Tis found where brother Masons meet.Ē

The United Grand Lodge of England states that, "Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest fraternal societies. The lessons Freemasonry teaches in its ceremonies are to do with moral values (governing relations between people) and its acknowledgment, without in any way crossing the boundaries of religion, that  everything depends on the providence of God. Freemasons feel that these lessons apply just as much today as they did when it took its modern form at the turn of the 17th century. In a modern sense Freemasonry teaches moral lessons and self-knowledge through participation in a progression of allegorical two-part plays,  which are learnt by heart and performed within each lodge.

Freemasonry offers its members an approach to life that seeks to reinforce thoughtfulness for others, kindness in the community, honesty in business, courtesy in society and fairness in all things. Members are urged to regard the interests of the family as paramount but importantly  Freemasonry also teaches and practices concern for people, care for the less fortunate and help for those in need." (See UGLE WEB PAGES)

Freemasonry has declared itself to be committed to "making good men better men." Although it is not a religion, yet, to the trained eye, it can be seen as a society that is indeed a handmaiden to religion, whether that religion is Oriental or Occidental in origin.

Freemasonry is a beautiful system of Morality in which principles of moral conduct are constantly imparted to its members. These teachings are veiled in Allegory and are imparted by the use of a metaphor or moralizing story. These moralizing reminiscences are often expressed as a short lecture or drama in which other members of the fraternity emphasize the lesson in the various parts to the initiate. These presentations, or, moralizations are referred to as Degrees and each degree has its Symbols, some that are immovable, and others that are quite movable, to illustrate and confirm the significance of the explanations given.

We, as Masons, should be aware of the parable of the wheat and the tares in the V.S.L.

In Matthew 13:24, Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "(21) The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25"But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat,  and went away. 26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' 28"And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' 29 "But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but (22) gather the wheat into my barn."

Whatever the Great Architect does, or allows to be done by mankind, is ever prone to invasion by the Evil One.  Freemasonry, in this regard, is no exception.

The Egyptian Rite of Mizraim [or Misraim] was founded in Milan, Italy in 1805 and transferred to France in 1814. In short, there were, at the end of  the  Nineteenth Century and in the early to mid- Twentieth century eight hundred degrees of one kind and another had been invented. Thus Infidelity, Hermeticism, Jesuitry, were taught under the mask of Masonry by such as Madam Helena Petrovna  Blavatsky,  Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Comte de Cagliostro, Paul Foster Case, Aleister Crowley, Frederick Leigh Gardner, Manly P. Hall, Eliphas LE9vi, Samuel MacGregor  Mathers, Kar  l Theodor Reuss, Arthur E. Waite, William Westcott,  JohnYarker and others.

These quasi-philosophers engaged in the work of fabricating degrees and falsely denominating them "Masonic." As one reviews the creation of the degrees it is evident that however convinced of their puissance their creators may have been, the results were little more than false promises delivered through the medium of smoke and mirrors. Metaphysical  machinations  and false wisdom endeavoured  to drag Antient  Freemasonry into the realm of the Occult. Thusbagatelles, and Balderdash, and  purported mysteries, each more ludicrous or outrageous than its precursor, tried to usurp the place of  Masonic precision. Could Plato have been right when he said, "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."?

 PART III

LET BROTHERLY LOVE PREVAIL

Edwin Markham speaks to us today as he did many years past.

Ē There is a destiny that makes us brothers, No one goes his way alone;  

All that we send into the lives of others, Comes back into our own.Ē

 

Within the context of the Twentieth Degree of the Scottish Rite we read these words "As Master of a Lodge, you will be exceedingly careful that no candidate, in any degree, be required to submit to any degradation whatever, as has been too much the custom in some of  the degrees; and take it as a certain and inflexible rule, to which there is no exception, that Masonry requires of no man anything to which a knight and gentleman cannot  honourably, and without feeling outraged or humiliated,  submit."

This puissant advice should be passed on to every WM of every constituent lodge and to every Top Man or Chief of every concordant body. It is a pity that one has to wait until the "Higher" degrees have been accessed before such information is available. Furthermore, it should be promoted in every body of Freemasons so that it might be groundwork for the indoctrination of young Brethren (and a few older brethren as well).

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German Poet and Freemason, writes to his Brethren "Ein edler Mensch zieht edle Menschen an, Und weiss sie fest zu halten,wie ihr thut." (A noble soul alone can noble souls attract; And  knows alone, as ye, to hold them.)

Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenal) asserts that Virtue is the root of all true nobility. "Fond man! Though all the heroes of your line  Bedeck  your halls, and round your galleries shine In proud display; yet take this truth from me--Virtue alone is true nobility!"

Virtue brings with it a connotation of responsibility to others. A virtue that is cloaked and inactive is of no value to anyone. Elie Wiesel describes Virtue like this, "It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others."

The times  they are a changing as the folk song goes. Society will not allow us to be anything else than committed to the well being of our families and friends. This means that we shall not be able to deal flippantly with the feelings,  or the personal safety of our Brethren.

The FPOF will no longer be mere ritual. Nor can it remain so, Masonry must  heed the words of its own ritual and start really building the house, not made  with human hands, eternal in the Heavens.

Change does not come easily. Emerson, the American philosopher, knew that, and he appraises us thusly. "Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you  you  are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage which a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men to win them."

 

 

The erudite author W. Bro. Rt. Rev. Aaron R. Orr is P.M of Composite Lodge(No.667) in Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA. and Ex. Companion, the Past Grand Chaplain, The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario and R. Ill. Companion The Past Grand Chaplain Of The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Ontario.. He is Past Preeminent Governor, Sir William College No. 57, York Rite Sovereign College of North America. He is also the Past President, The Masters and Wardens Association for HamiltonDistricts "A", "B" and "C". We are very thankful to him for this scholarly article and the advice he has given us.


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