Origins of Freemasonry

Like no one has ever written on this topic before. But, as it happens, I’m re-reading Freemasonry and Its Ancient Mystic Rites, by C. W. Leadbeater (1986, 1998). The Old Perv. So now I’m thinking about a familiar subject.

Freemasonry has its colorful origin myths. Those are fun, but the modern sensibility is pretty tame. The Illinois Grand Lodge is typical:

Since the middle of the 19th century, Masonic historians have sought the origins of the movement in a series of similar documents known as the Old Charges, dating from the Regius Poem in about 1425 to the beginning of the 18th century. Alluding to the membership of a lodge of operative masons, they relate a mythologized history of the craft, the duties of its grades, and the manner in which oaths of fidelity are to be taken on joining. The 15th century also sees the first evidence of ceremonial regalia.

There is no clear mechanism by which these local trade organizations became today’s Masonic Lodges, but the earliest rituals and passwords known, from operative lodges around the turn of the 17th–18th centuries, show continuity with the rituals developed in the later 18th century by accepted or speculative Masons, as those members who did not practice the physical craft came to be known. The minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No. 1 in Scotland show a continuity from an operative lodge in 1598 to a modern speculative Lodge. It is reputed to be the oldest Masonic Lodge in the world.” (Freemasonry Origins, The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of A.F & A.M of the State of Illinois, visited Feb. 11, 2019. One of the reasons I chose this one is because my dad was a Freemason from Illinois.)

Somewhere in the froth, everyone seems to forget that medieval craft guilds were like this. The guilds were organized in a typically medieval way around corporate identity. They had patron saints, feast days, processions, craft myths and secrets, and of course elected officers and elaborate ceremonial.

With very little effort, you could sit in a modern Masonic lodge and picture what it would look like if Western esotericism had been poured into a guild of, say candlemakers.

The patron would be St. Ambrose. The major feast would be on December 7. There would be a story about Adam making the first candle, no doubt shown by bees. And another about King Solomon and candles as a metaphor for his wisdom. And no doubt some others built around various Bible verses with themes of light and enlightenment. Scholars would find intriguing parallels to authentic medieval usages, and it would all seem very mysterious.

Certainly, as they say, “There is no clear mechanism by which these local trade organizations became today’s Masonic Lodges”, but I think that misses the larger mystery—How did we end up in a modern world where masons were the only craft guild to make the transition from “operative” to “speculative”? There should be dozens.

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St. Mark’s Lutheran

I was sad to hear St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Provo has closed. Or, not exactly closed but the property is sold, there are houses where the church used to be, and the congregation is now meeting at some event center up north.

A casualty of being a religious minority in Utah Valley.

This was the church where my sisters Evonne and Linda got married, where their children and grandchildren were baptized, the church Evonne attended her whole adult life, where she belonged to Altar Guild, and where she taught Vacation Bible School.

The pastor I remember is Bruce Jeske. I’m godfather to my two nephews, so I had to meet with him before their baptisms. My sisters liked him but he came across to me as adversarial. Maybe because by then I was Episcopalian rather than Lutheran. When you’re a minority you probably don’t like defections.

Then too, St. Mark’s was Missouri Synod. We had a whole history of not being Missouri Synod. Too conservative.

We were Augustana Synod in Brigham City, Utah. They were the Swedish church. Then they joined with other churches to form the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) in 1962. In Las Vegas we had to drive across town to an LCA church even though an American Lutheran Church (ALC) church was closer. But in Grand Junction we had to go to an ALC church because that was the only choice. That’s where I was confirmed.

The particular flavor of Lutheran mattered because my (step) dad was a Freemason. The more conservative kinds of Lutheran didn’t allow that.

Back in Utah, in Orem-Provo the only choice was Missouri Synod. Even more conservative. They went their own way even after the 1988 merger of the ALC and LCA into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

I hope this comes back to shred them on the butt:

Originally shared by Cindy Brown

I hope this comes back to shred them on the butt:

When the Catholic conservatives on the High Court ruled that Hobby Lobby Incorporated and the Green family are one in the same due to “its” religion, they effectively tore away the corporate veil making owner(s), shareholders, employees and CEOs personably liable for anything the corporation does. In fact, the Hobby Lobby ruling contradicted a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that said, “Linguistically speaking, the employee and the corporation are different “persons,” even where the employee is the corporation’s sole owner. After all, incorporation’s basic purpose is to create a distinct legal entity, with legal rights, obligations, powers, and privileges different from those of the natural individuals who created it, who own it, or whom it employs.” That fundamental principle of different entities, or “corporate veil,” according to legal and business scholars, and affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2001, vanished when the Supreme Court allowed Hobby Lobby’s owners to assert their religious rights over the entire corporation. The ruling said a company is not truly separate from its owners, and because the conservatives ruled that all closely-held corporations are recipients of their religious largesse, it means that over 90% of all businesses in America lost the delineation between corporation and owner(s).

Scientific Illiteracy—Sad

Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don’t know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.