Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spirituality vs. Religion in Masonry

"Without the slightest opposition to the Christian religion, as such, it can readily be shown that a sectarian bias of any kind is an innovation, wholly unwarranted, and entirely contrary to the genius of Masonry.  Masonry, on the broad principle of toleration and brotherhood, can exclude neither Jew nor Gentile, Parsee nor Buddhist from its ample fold. [There is] a universal character which recognizes the fraternity of all religions, and finds fellowship with all men, as brothers of one common humanity.  No genuine Mason, imbued with the spirit of liberality, will treat any religion with derision or contempt, or exclude from fellowship any Brother who believes in the existence of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Immortality of the Soul." 
-- Bro:. J. D. Buck, "Mystic Masonry"
I have grown accustomed to the notion that Masons do not comprise a majority of men in the world, and as a Jewish Mason, I have become comfortable with the fact that I represent a minority of a minority.  In many ways, this presents an advantage, chief among them being able to correctly pronounce "Yehu-Aber" and "Naphtali", among other biblical names.

In my Masonic career, there have been a few times where I was unintentionally embarrassed by Brethren who do not realize that my faith is different from theirs.  I have been carelessly and harshly reminded of my ineligibility for eternal life in heaven because I do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, even though I believe I understand what Jesus said and meant in a much more visceral and practical way than some of the more narrow-minded Masons who claim the mantle of 'Christian'.

In my mind, Masonry is in no way a religious institution, despite the claims of its detractors, but a deeply and profoundly spiritual one.  I consider spirituality, not religion, to be a landmark of Masonry because it represents the connection to the universality of true light.  We do not tolerate religious disputes in the lodge for the same reason we do not in our public secular lives - we cannot presume that a plurality of religion within a Masonic body represents a consensus of belief.  Masonic prayers are not directed to Christ, or the God of Abraham, or Allah, or the Great Spirit because these characterizations detract from the ubiquity of the spiritual nature of the Craft.  We ask for blessings from the G:.A:.O:.T:.U:., not the specific deity of any religion.

In the work of the Masonic Craft, we are collaborating on a spiritual, not a religious temple.  It is a temple of contemplation, not of doctrine. It is a temple made without stones, without mortar, without columns, without pilasters, without jewels, without fine linen - erected to celebrate our discovery of the spiritual light that binds all of mankind in general, and all Brother Masons in particular. 


  1. I had the exact same experience regarding Biblical pronunciations, as well as a complete inability to grasp that my "Bible" was codified during the Persian Empire. Here in Iowa, it actually OFFENDED some guys that I knew the proper Arabic for the greetings! If I knew Arabic, there must be something "wrong" with me. The idea that I actually LIVED in Jerusalem for a long time & had no inherent animosity towards Arabs was something that too many here just cannot fathom.... Nor, for that matter, can they distinguish between "Arab" & "Muslim"; when I tried to tell them about my Palestinian Christian friends, they outright told me I was mistaken.... The same is true when I told them that Jews fared much better under Islamic than Christian rule during the time of the Crusades..... You just can't get through to some people; the problem in Masonry tends to be that those guys are in positions of authority in too many places.

    1. In reference to Arabic, I'm speaking of local Shriners, who were a bit shocked when I got my Cold Sands.

    2. It is extremely disappointing when I hear Brethren say stupid bigoted things - like that they would not sit in a lodge with a Koran or a Bhaghavad Gita on the altar. I will say this - if you can't bring yourself to go into a lodge with a Koran, you should just resign and go join the Moose Lodge. The Holy Bible is holy indeed, but God speaks to us all differently, and His word is found in many, many places. No man can judge for another what is Truth.

  2. A man should be judged by his actions not by how he worships. I have heard the voice of ignorance as well, but we need to speak against it, and embrace with brotherly love. True Masons will find true light at some point. Maybe when they reach that spiritual house not made with stone eternal......