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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
"AM I MY BROTHERS
Genesis 4:9 96 "And the LORD
said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my
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
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
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
MASONRY IS SUPPOSED TO BE
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.
- Is what you are about to say sincere?
- Is what you are about to say compassionate?
- 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
From ev'ry swelling tide of
There is a calm, a sure
'Tis found beneath the
From every stormy wind that
From every swelling tide of
There is a calm, a sure
'Tis found where brother
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
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
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.
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."?
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,
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
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
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."