men don't know what good they hold in their hands until they've flung it away."
The following was posted to the an e-mail list that is
open only to members of the Masonic research society,
the Philalethes Society.
It seemed so germane to the issues surrounding the so-called Grand Lodge of the
United States that I requested Bro. Gaertner's permission to post it here as
well. The message might make you really think about what YOU have been looking
for in Freemasonry!
I have been following the endeavors of Mr. Peace with some interest.
I was once a 21-year-old Master Mason. I was an idealist, looking for wisdom and
enlightenment from the purported guardians of the Invisible College.
I swallowed whole every book I could find -- Mackey, Waite, Hall, Wilmshurst --
I explored the ritual, comparing Preston & Webb with Emulation & Scottish, and
even the rites of the O.T.O. and Golden Dawn. As I became an officer in the
Lodge and started participating in the degrees and the
education of new members, I became disheartened with the
apparent disconnect between what I found in the library and what I found
in the Lodge.
I was discouraged. The old men in the Lodge seemed more interested in talking
about the declining quality of the collation than the hermetic
mysteries of the ancient Egyptians. I attended Lodge less and less often.
Finally, I stopped paying my dues.
I never gave up on my personal quest. I studied Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, as
well as Judaism and various flavors of Christianity. I practiced Taoist
meditation and attended Indian sweat lodges. I
explored the different branches of thought in the Enlightenment and the esoteric
revivals of the 19th century. As my life got busier, I found it hard to spend as
much time on my search. I started a family and found myself spending every
leisure moment with my daughter instead of in a book.
Real life took over from speculation.
One morning many years later I woke up thinking about my family. I
walked to my window and looked down on the people going about their
business and I saw their complicated dance. But for once, I thought not
only about them, but their families. And I saw order emerge from the
I thought about our duty to our children and theirs after. And I realized what
all of these people were doing. I saw with my own eyes
what they were building. And I saw my own place in the world, for once perfectly
Then it came crashing down upon me. In all of my searching for the "secrets" of
the universe, I had been looking right past them. While I
was studying the typeface and binding of the book, I had missed the book
And I realized at once that I had missed something else. The Brothers of my
Lodge were men who lived these principles every day, without
fanfare. There was nothing esoteric in their ways because there is
nothing mystical about the work itself.
I went back to my Lodge, where I was welcomed back by the men who have spent
every day since I had left devoted to the principles of the Fraternity, humbly
and quietly. And since my realization I am incredibly
proud of the work of my Brothers every time I walk into the
Is the state of Masonry perfect? Of course not. I would love to see more true
education in our Lodge rooms, and to that end I joined the line, and as I will
be Senior Warden as of Tuesday, I am working with the
Past Masters of our Lodge to bring a true education program to our meetings. Our
Master-Elect has vowed to bring compelling and
informative material to every single meeting in his year, in a way that everyone
will benefit. And I am already compiling my lessons for 2007. We also have
declining membership to deal with, and our Temples are facing financial problems
every day. But I can't think of a better organization to be affiliated with.
Perhaps those who are so quick to criticize a Fraternity that has been bringing
light to the men of the world for centuries should look to themselves and
consider what they can do to help Masonry, instead of the
other way around. The secrets of Masonry are found in what Masons do, not
in imagined interpretations of the ritual.
And perhaps those who were so disappointed with what they have found in
Masonry to go so far as to leave should join another organization or
start a new one, instead of co-opting ours and using the noble name of
Masonry for their own suspect purposes.
To call Freemasonry a Fraternity of "intolerance, corruption and mediocrity" is
an unwarranted attack against the most caring and moral
men that I have ever been privileged to meet. To call my Brothers "a
good ol' boy network peppered with petty squabbles, power struggles, and
title-seeking" in fact shows me the character of the kind of men we are
I only feel saddened for the innocent seekers who are fooled into
joining a cheap imitation of such a distinguished institution... men who
are sold empty promises of hidden knowledge instead of truth, morality,
and brotherly love.
Anchor-Astoria Lodge No. 729
Grand Lodge of New York