Thursday 15 August 2019

Freemasonry - Good, bad or what?

A few days ago I read this analysis of the history of Freemasonry by the always interesting, often wise, Rudolf Steiner expert Terry Boardman.

I don't have any very strong views on the subject. When I was a young man, I had a generally benign view of Masons on the basis that I regard Mozart's The Magic Flute as the greatest opera ever written - and that was all about Masonry. eg. from 41 minutes:

I think some of my more remote relatives in Northern Ireland were Masons (and were very decent people), and I had liked the reconstructed Masonic Lodge at nearby Beamish Museum. The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was a Mason, and introduced elements of it into the LDS Temple design and practices.

Broadly, I regarded Masonry as a charitable organisation where respectable men could meet and do men's things, and perhaps also get something of the spirituality, ritual and symbolism that they were so starved of by mainstream secular-materialism. 

Masonic Hall at Beamish, County Durham

On the other hand, I was aware that people said Masons favoured each other, in local cabals of middle class men; and then from the 1980s, that there were also elaborate deep-historical theories about Masonic influence at a very high level - these are the subject of Terry Boardman's essay linked above.

My current view is that probably all of the above is true; and that the meaning of Masonry depends very much on local and temporal factors which may be net-good or net-evil; but I also believe that that there is an esoteric and occult aspect to high level Masonry that is purposively malign (from a Christian perspective).

Masonry is about Enlightenment - especially its 18th century manifestation - which is deistic (rather than theistic); and opinions about Masonry often divide according to whether Enlightenment is seen as a good or bad thing. A litmus test is the French Revolution - and was it well, or wickedly, motivated - for the Western intellectual class, the French Revolution was well-motivated but unfortunately went off the rails: too far too fast. The same people think much the same about the Russian and Chinese communists revolutions.

For mainstream secular intellectuals, Enlightenment was all about 'reason'; and reason was to be defined and implemented by an elite of wise and educated rulers. Masonry seems to fit with that world view. Apparently, the ritual and symbolism, the secretiveness, the oaths etc. seem to add something that is still needed, even among those who profess to live by reason - and apparently the same sort of thing continues today among the Global Establishment - albeit with a much more explicitly evil aspect to the procedures.

(In a nutshell; the trajectory of the Enlightenment project seems to have been from 'Magic Flute' to 'friends of Epstein...')

In essence, I suspect that Masonry may have long included a core strand that was intentionally anti-Christian, and pro-totalitarian. What I am unsure about is whether this badness comes from the Masonry, or whether the rich and powerful corrupted Masonry with their agenda, in the way that they corrupt everything thing else.

All major modern institutions have, by now, been thus corrupted: the legal system, civil service, universities, science, mainstream 'Christian' churches... all began as having much good about them; all nowadays are top-down net-evil in intention and in effect.

Presumably Masonry is similar; although it may have been one of the first institutions to be thus corrupted - leading to its mixed reputation.

Note: I draw potential commenters attention to the rule in the sidebar: "If my post avoids being specific, I generally will not post comments that are specific."


S.K. Orr said...

Very interesting observations. When I was in my twenties and living near Washington DC, I was approached by an older man whom I had met at work and asked if I would be interested in attending a Masonic dinner with him. His wife was a member of the Eastern Star and the ladies prepared the dinner in their local lodge. He went on to say that he thought I had the makings of a good Mason, etc. I was flattered and somewhat awed that a man of his professional stature would take an interest in me, and I accepted the invitation. After the dinner, he took me on a tour of one of the Scottish Rite temples in DC, which if I recall correctly, was on 16th St NW. Talk about awe...I've been to Scottish castles and the Biltmore Estate in NC, but the Masonic temple I toured that evening was in a league all by itself. My host also played me a bit of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" on the enormous pipe organ tucked away in one of many ornate rooms. I eventually declined to pursue membership in the Masons, mostly because I felt that I would be way over my head in terms of social standing, but I will never forget the grandeur of that temple.

And now I think I'll put on "The Magic Flute." I share your high regard of Mozart's beautiful opera.

dearieme said...

My father had a simple rule: if a salesman visited his business and gave him a masonic handshake Dad would throw him out.

dearieme said...

Magic Flute: my wife watched the Glyndebourne Magic Flute that was available via the Telegraph website recently. Stinker; absolute stinker.

I hadn't joined her because the previous Glyndebourne production we'd watched together had been a dud.

The best MF we've seen was a student production in Cambridge, where the lads and lassies had had the sense to bring in a couple of pros as reinforcements. Lovely stuff.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - Tha Magic Flute is such a strong show, that you have to try very hard - and employ very expensive designers and directors - to mess it up.

Apart from the Queen of the Night*; it can be sung by a decent amateur cast without much trouble.


dearieme said...

@BC: the designers/directors were French Canadian, I'm told.