Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Grab the Kids' Ma...Its the End of the World

You know, you go through life believing there are just certain things you can depend on. Even the science junkies I talked about in my last rambling depend on certain constant physical laws. Without them the universe falls apart and Republican Anti-Abortionist Missouri Synod Lutherans sitting in the center pews who have never prayed with a Baptist go to heaven and the rest of us head to Hades….kidding everyone know Baptist go to heaven.

Santa is fat, mom’s are loving, and the ol’ guy from the Price is Right has had more women than your average rock star; these are the constants that hold together the fabric of space and time.

So I am on my way to work the other day when I hear a debate on the radio about a movie set to premier called, “The Golden Compass”. It is based on a book trilogy (this struck me as funny and you will understand why in a minute) called Dark Material. The author is Philip Pullman. Mr. Pullman is a devote atheist. See, that’s why the trilogy cracks me up…an atheist trilogy! Okay, I guess I am the only one laughing.

Anyway, the radio commentator, a hardcore religious fundamentalist was claiming that Pullman is the right hand of the devil, blah, blah, blah. He based this in part on an interview with Pullman where he admits that his characters are on sort of an atheist quest in which the goal is to kill G-d and be freed by the truth of your own actions.

Later that evening while pretending I had serious business to attend to so that I could abscond with the wife’s laptop, I researched Pullman for myself and I was confronted with an absolute oxymoron (and a bit of emphasis on the latter part of the word please). This guy is violating one of the rules of the universe; there are no fundamentalist atheist. Well, until there were a bunch. I am amazed to find that atheism has become as dogmatized as orthodox religion and has, in turn, been completely infiltrated by fundamentalism. And, it is as dangerous, as toxic, as poisonous, as hate filled, and as terrible as it ever was to community and society.

This man and others like him are specifically targeting children with a zealot mentality in hopes of creating a league of “free thinkers” so Mr. Pullman says that are indoctrinated with his atheist credo and belief systems. In other words, instruct subconsciously the youth of a nation so that they believe they have made a choice to believe or not believe and then claim them free thinkers so long as they agree with your version of the truth. Hey, I wonder if he learned that at Al Qaeda University. It seems to me the same system used by fundamentalist in inculcating the terrorist mindset in the unsuspecting youth of Arab nations when what they should be doing is educating them in reason and logic so that they can make their own conclusions.

Pullman says himself, “I'm kind of relying on Harry Potter to deflect all that [attention being brought to his atheist message, his two gay male angels, etc.], actually. I was quite happy for Harry Potter to get all the attention so I could creep in underneath all of it.”

Creeping in underneath it all is what truth and reason need to do right? I mean, hell, if you have no agenda, creeping in is the best way?!?

I have no beef with atheism. I do have a beef with fundamentalism, the virus of ignorance, and I amazed to find it as part of the atheist agenda now as well.

So we live in a country where every aspect of a child’s life is filled the Christian, Islamic, scientific, and now atheist fundamentalist competing to influence them before they are mature enough to think for themselves! It is sickening folks!

I thought atheist weren’t supposed to care, weren’t supposed to have an agenda! Well they do, and with Mr. Pullman’s and others like him, they are creeping in and silently competing for the free thought and free will of your child. They want him young, so that free conscious is never born and, therefore, harder to defeat.

For those of you in the Masonic community that have ever wondered why we support so vehemently public education and a strong education in the liberal arts and sciences, it is because Freemasonry recognizes the relevance a good education and exercise of the intellect as the only vaccine against fundamentalism. As with any vaccine, it is not 100%. It is a good start and apathy never is. Educate your children and teach them to think for themselves.

--The Relevant Mason

Monday, October 29, 2007

Soup is for Suckas

Okay this is my last food analogy until some other one pops up and I digress to the sundries to influence the typed word…I promise the last one for awhile. Let’s talk soup and stew, because quite frankly I think soup is for sucka’s.

Science is rooted in fact, not truth. Fact is an empirically proven circumstance based on a physical law. Truth is a philosophical premise and is not fixed such as a fact. Two plus two is four is a fact and remains constant. It is wrong to eat pork is a truth for a man of one faith and quite the opposite for the man of another. Science has little room for the philosophical.

Reductionism is the scientific belief system held as a fact by most scientists. It can be defined as: Everything in the universe, to include the universe, can be explained by understanding the sum of its parts and how they work. All these molecules, atoms, stings, or whatever, bouncing to and fro are not conscious or sentient, they simply are. The idea of a soul, of collective conscious, etc. is just mystical bologna and is not fact and is never truth. Even thought is an illusion of sorts, as the mind is nothing more than just a set of parts banging out electrical impulses misunderstood as consciousness and thought. Reductionism is, in the end, completely and utterly materialistic.

To the reductionist, everything is a soup of small particles and can be broken down to its ingredients and understood as such. Well my friends and fellow seekers of relevance, soup is for sucka's.

What the reductionist has failed to understand and taken into account for is the stew. Stew is similar to soup for sure, but to simply combine the ingredients, as you would with soup, misses the key to a good stew. It is the time that the stew simmers and slowly cooks. As the flavors leech out and mix and congeal to a new and wonderful mixture. The stew is much more than the some of its parts. It is the long slow intermingling of inner juices that flow out slowly and mix with one another that create the stew. The stew is your spiritual side my friends. The stew is the mystical part of man that science can not explain and the reductionist claim relies on midguided faith…using faith as a dirty word.

Here is the kicker, they require that you have faith that physical laws sprang from nowhere, that multiple universes exist, that consciousness is an illusion. All these things the reductionist dogma passes off as hard (albeit improvable science) with little in the way of being any more probable than any other unproved theory. That my friend is faith and it is a heck of lot more than is required for a faith in the mystical. The idea of my consciousness being an illusion is down right foolishness.

Besides reeking of the same flavor of fundamentalism held true by the religious groups, this system is intellectual cowardice of the worst kind. It covets falsehood if the truth or fact of the matter fall outside of currently accepted rules and syllogisms. Because something challenges the current DOGMA of academia, it is heretical. Sound familiar?

Dogma, be it scientific or religious, combined with fundamentalism, creates poverty of the material and the spiritual in a populace. There is not a division between science and spirituality. It is perceived at odds with one another only because fundamentalist zealots on both sides can’t see the foolishness of their single sided approach. The religious zealot sees only religion and the scientific zealot is equally as guilty.

It is the ancient wisdom of systems within the Craft and other Hermetic traditions that have ensured that throughout history, some small group recognizes the singular source of all things to include that of science and religion. Equilibrium occurs whether we choose to recognize it or not. When we live out of balance, we begin to convince ourselves that the side we see is the only side.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Necessity of Consequence

We learn from the time of our youth that we must turn the other cheek, we must do unto others as we would like done unto us, respect your elders, forgiveness is divine. These are all laudable pursuits and ideals and I mean in no way here to demean their importance, but I wonder if we have balance in our lives sometimes as we approach these principles.

In the local paper I read that a man was arrested for beating up a suspected burglar breaking into his vehicle

The report with the Associated Press states:

Twenty-six-year-old Shane Kramer is in fair condition at Medical Center of the Rockies, four days after he was beaten.

Authorities say 28-year-old Gerald Oliveri of Loveland was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault. He is being held in the Larimer County jail on $250,000 bond.

Oliveri has no listed home phone number, and it's not immediately known if he has an attorney.

Police say Oliveri suspected Kramer of breaking into a car early Saturday. There were conflicting reports on whether the car belonged to Oliveri or his girlfriend.

Police spokesman Benjamin Hurr says Kramer was bleeding and had severe injuries when officers arrived.

No charges have been filed against Kramer.

Colorado's "Make My Day" law gives property owners the right to use deadly force in their homes to protect themselves or their property from crime.

Hurr says the law does not apply in this case because the incident was not in a home.

Have we lost all sight of Justice and Consequence? It appears that we only have the right to pursue happiness if some hopped up methamphetamine user doesn’t decide to try and take it first and then if does, don’t get in his way.

Some Grand Lodges in Masonry have gone the route of removing the ancient penalties from the rituals and obligations and I believe this follows the same line of foolishness and illogical behavior.

Look, (if you have been reading the blog you understand I need to use a food analogy or two or I just don’t feel right), arresting the company that prints the nutritional information on the outside of a candy bar for making people fat does nothing to make people skinny and it targets the wrong person. It is kind of like arresting a man who beats up a burglar in hopes to decrease violence.

There is a certain kind of violence of spirit and assault on the psyche as well, and if you have ever had to sleep in a home the night after it was burglarized, then you understand this is no victimless crime. It robs you of security and piece of mind and these wounds can take much longer to heal than a good butt kicking.

When did forgiveness come to mean apathy? When did freewill become equal to a lack of consequence? Freewill can not exist in the absence of consequence. When it does we have anarchy and the mentally or physically weak are no longer free to act under the oppression of mob rule (think Hiramic Legend here Brothers).

We do a disservice to ourselves when a cowardice of spirit allows us to convince ourselves that because the business of justice and consequence is difficult and lacks fun, that it is wrong, cruel, or unnecessary.

The lamb distrust and dislikes the sheep dog, they are big, they bark, they are scary and they remind him that the wolf is ever present. Pretending that the wolf will only steal one lamb and you are most likely not the lamb as a reason to dismiss or punish the sheep dog has the same logic of the tales of old when the city sacrificed a virgin to the town monster. The true sustenance of the monster is fear.

Right and good does not always equate to happy and fun. They are all exclusive and there are more than a few things that fall into the fun category that have never even scene the library that lends the book called “good.”

Masonry provides the penalties of the obligation for a reason. With freewill there needs and should be consequence…good and bad. Remember reward is not a guarantee or an entitlement. The minute we convince ourselves that negative consequences are not necessary, the rule and guide of our conduct is out of balance.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Box Makers Unite...We are at War!

The conundrum of the Freethinker is a difficult one. They run around with ideas and opinions, with logic and reason, and often cause the box makers and label makers a problem. A real problem and I am tired of it.

In order to make the world an easier place the box makers of the world have created a nice little series of boxes that everyone is supposed to fit into. Right now on the world stage the political collection of boxes are on display. We have the liberal box, the conservative box, and in America, we have two smaller boxes we throw into them to help us out labeled Democrat and Republic. It makes the whole political process nice and tidy without a lot of real choices…nice and easy, Ranch or Italian. (You know, I have been throwing out a lot of food allegories lately, that dang low carb diet must be getting to me).

There are other popular box collections, all fitting within one another. The Christian box, which was not nearly small enough for most, so a bunch of other boxes need to be made to into the Christian box. For instances, we have the Catholic box, the Protestant box, the Latter Day Saints box, etc. Then the Protestants found the title of Protestant far too broad and we went ahead and developed some other boxes and labeled them Denominations. It is at this point boys and girls you will want to stop reading and purchase yourselves some stock in the box company because they are doing well. The denominations were simply not limited and tidy enough, so….in come the box makers to help us define ourselves because, apparently, we can’t be trusted to do this, and the evangelical, fundamentalist, and literalist boxes were created. Take a breath folks, boxing up the average day conservative, Republican, Lutheran, Missouri Synod, literalist, fundamentalist will take some time, but its worth it. Once your done with all your boxing, no room for free thought or thinking outside of such a nice tidy little box. And, holy cow, if some outside the box thinking really happens, it is captured by one of the several outer boxes and is pretty safe inside the box thinking anyway. Oh, and don’t let the aforementioned box know that his box is right next to the Southern, Democrat, Baptist, Evangelical, literalist box or we are going to end up with another dang box!

The nice thing about boxes is they are small, they limit the content by their size, and they come with labels. We don’t have to think for ourselves and the CEO of Narrow Minds, Inc., the leader in box manufacturing in the entire world, prefers in that way.

Enter the FREETHINKER and boom, the whole system comes crashing in. He would like to stand with his left foot in one box, right in the other, dabble and pick out of some other boxes with his left and right had. Some of those crazy b*s**ds like Newton, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Bacon, and others didn’t think we needed boxes! Of all the cheese in Wisconsin (another food blurb), what would the world come to if we defined ourselves. What if we used reason and logic to govern our own actions and concerned ourselves primarily with this activity instead of worrying about how to define and control others? I don’t even want to think about it.

Another irritating thing about these guys is there distaste for labels. Just when the label makers, working in close conjunction with the box makers, have printed off a nicely defined label and adhere it to a box, these guys promote ideas and espouse logic. This is something that doesn’t fit within the narrow margins of the box or label. What gives?

Let’s discuss Freemasonry, the current number one enemy on the FBI’s most wanted list. Oh, and let me clarify, the FBI is not the same one that jumped into your thoughts right away. I am referring to Fundamentalism, Bureaucracy, and Ignorance (FBI), the World’s watch dogs on free expression and free conscious. On a side note, they dropped their guard once and a group of these runaway thinkers tore up a bunch of boxes and started this completely insane experiment called the United States of America. Don’t worry though, the FBI have been working diligently ever since behind the scenes to makes sure this doesn’t happen again and to change America to a nicely dogmatic society of uniformed folks that are “too busy” and to ignorant really, to have a valuable voice in their government. This way, the vocal minority, made up of intelligently planted box makers, can dictate the sway of the government and speak for all the boxes…err um, I mean people.

Freemasonry with its heretical anti-box tendencies has the audacity, in a modernized and nicely stacked system of boxes, to claim that society should be free to govern itself, that we can put aside religious differences and come together in conscious decision making and rational thought. If that were not off its rocker enough for ya, sit down in your box because this one is going to knock for a loop, they teach that you can learn to respect one another’s religions because, and this is really why they are dangerous, get this, they claim “GOD DOESN’T FIT IN ONE OF OUR BOXES!” Yep, can you even fathom the thought of a G-d that isn’t easily defined by human thought. A God that has room for everyone under his canopy of creation and love. A God that loves all his children and promotes the idea that all of God’s children should and could love one another. A God that does not divide, argue, and dictate petty divisions among his people. For some of the Christian fundamentalist box collection, this idea of a truly universal Deity this is hard to stomach, because the Masons even let a group of men in who worship a god that prayed with prostitutes and recruited tax collectors. Clearly not a universal god.

---The Relevant Mason

Friday, October 19, 2007

God is a Twinkie and I Need a Tan

Twinkies, lushes sweet Twinkies. Faith, Deity, G-d, all tend to be a lot like a Twinkie in our lives. We learn of the Twinkie when we are young. It brings a smile to our faces and they are bountiful. We eat them as they come in large quantity. They are golden on the outside and filled with a precious mystical substance on the inside. Most importantly, however, is the shelf life of the Twinkie. We can buy into the Twinkie when we are six years old. At 21 when we go to the closet to grab another Twinkie, it looks, feels, and taste the same as when we left it. The older we get, the less and less of the Twinkie we see. But, on Christmas or the holidays, when we are ready, there is the lushes golden cake waiting for us, constant and without change.

Faith, spirituality, G-d is treated much the same way. We embrace Deity as children. What’s not to love? Then age, demands, life, job, family, all get in the way of Deity. They all come between the altar and Master of the Lodge. Deity waits, unchanged, ready to be the G-d of our youth and childhood, filled with love and patience. We, of course, see the Twinkie a little differently now as well. It is fattening, doesn’t always fill you up, taste good for minute and then comes with guilt. The Twinkie hasn’t changed folks. The part that changed was that as you grew in height, you shrank in wisdom. The adult in you has traded faith for Dogma and the Twinkie doesn’t taste the same.

This got me thinking about Freemasonry and role it plays in my life and the role it could or should play. Let me be the first to say that I think a relationship with Deity is instrumental in approaching the philosophies of Masonry. This is why we must ascertain that a person has faith in Deity before entering the lodge. This is major psychological work and must not be down without the wisdom and communication of inner awareness that faith provide.

So the first step to having a fulfilling experience in the Craft is to eat your Twinkies.

I have found word pictures are valuable in my journey so I will share another with you here. You can’t get a tan by lying out in the sun for one hour in a month. Nor can you can’t get a tan by lying out in the sun 20 hours a month with your clothes on! We seem to approach the Craft in two ways hoping or expecting fulfillment. First, we go to lodge once or twice a month, do not do much beyond that, and forget about it when we leave. We recognize that reading the minutes and doing little in the way of study is not improving us, but do nothing to improve the situation. Or, we over extend and join so many appendant bodies and groups we are always in the sun, but never take our clothes off to get the tan. We miss the point running round over worked and under appreciated and frustrated with Masonry.

In comes the membership committee to give us the one hour tan! Let us spray you with this goo and in one hour you look tan. Not really. You look orange and everyone knows the minute they see you that it is not a real tan. You have not felt the warmth of the sun sinking down to your bones and warming you from the inside out, the cool breeze of the beach on your brow, and the meditation of simply lying under symbol of the Wisdom. That’s the sun for you non esoteric types.
Either way, you were doomed from the start because you showed up devoid of Twinkies in your life. So, with your Twinkies lingering in the closet you show up for your one hour tan, and then wonder why you are stressed and unfulfilled.

Brothers, practice Masonry in your life, eat your Twinkies, lay out in the sun, and you will find that time management, education, philosophy, and fulfillment are yours. The gentle science has a solution for the post Modern hyperactive schedule. It teaches that a helicopter ride to the top of the mountain is no good for teaching someone how to climb.

Masonry is relevant.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Relevance of Brotherhood

I will call them Rob, Mike, Karl, and Pat as for most this will simply prove average American names. Let’s say the names have been changed for their privacy as all of these men are very private men and their charity equally as private. I have had the pleasure of knowing these men. The kind of men who simply pick up the tab, offer an ear, lend their expertise without question. They give little thought that these services or to these extensions of their time or intellectual exercise.

Each of these men go about their daily lives without much of thought to the changes they have made and continue to make in the lives of their freinds, the poeple they interact with or their community. Hell, it is part of their charm. They make no claim upon the men that they affect. They take no notice the liberalness of their spirit and the fact that they touch everyone around them.

They do not wear giant badges declaring themselves as Masons. They do not claim titles or significance for the Fraternity that they represent. They simply are who they are. They are good. They are an action in action. They do not contemplate doing good. Good is simply apart of who they are, like a heart beat, a breath, or a thought.

They practice brotherhood, the relevance of Brotherhood.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ban the Letter F Before Its Too Late

The symbol and its language are powerful. Far more powerful than words. This is why Masonry and the world should unite against the letter “F”. It has become a symbol of failure. It destroys the self esteem of young academics and causes a desire for unhealthy competition and improvement for its own sake. The federal government needs to protect us from us and me before it is too late.

Yes, if you have not noticed from the first blog, humor and sarcasm are the preferred weapons of this self proclaimed soldier against ignorance. When I am really fired up I like to break out the nuclear equivalent of plutonium on these intellectual front lines of the war…Logic!

I listened to CNN this morning and the words “moral responsibility” popped out of someone’s mouth (I couldn’t see as I was combing the golden mane) and what scared me is that it had been proceeded by the words “Federal Government.” Holy honey bear I thought. Take cover Brothers. Whenever the government inflicts a moral responsibility upon you, you can bet your bottom dollar that it has little to do with morality, responsibility, or common sense.

This particular story was in regards to the Jenna Six story and the noose as a symbol of hate. For sure, the noose can be a symbol of hate. The problem with this logic (note sarcasm here as it will help in your understanding) is that there is a presupposition that is completely false. That is the belief that banning the symbol of something will ban the belief behind it.

Don’t waste time banning a symbol. Utilize the philosophies of the Craft…educate and inform people so that they can form their own opinions without relying on the opinions of others. Combat ignorance with logic. The government is an entity. It does not posses a conscience and does not have a “moral” anything. Anytime the government inflicts its morality, I find myself at the wrong end of some special interest group who drive an idea that started out fine and mutate it to a shadow of its normal self. The government won’t need to inflict its moral responsibility upon me if we learn to take responsibility for ourselves. Control yourself and change your community.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sugar and Fundamentalism

In a world of immediate gratification, war, famine, and refined sugar...Masonry has never been more relevant. We all have our battles, some large and some small, but for the soldier the battlefield is what it is. I was watching a popular news show espousing the danger of refined sugar and the immediately visible and immensely dangerous effects of over indulgence. The finger was pointed squarely at that precious ointment upon the beard after eating a nice round jelly doughnut, refined sugar. The evils of it, the dangers of it, the flocks of obese Americans destined for cancer, cavities, and other terrible ailments. We all have a battles and I guess sugar is a good one. The sweet crystalline substance becoming from every kind of food source, going by more names than an undercover operative during the cold war. She is a sly one, she is.

We all pick are battles and I am announcing mine for today, as one never knows what tomorrow might hold. I pick fundamentalism. The terrible plague of the zealot that permeates Christianity, Islam, and every religion and religious system that closes minds and hardens hearts.

Don't misunderstand me. I can respect the path of any man and I am not here to proselytize my personal path. I am hear to declare fundamentalism incompatible with religion, although it appears that the two have become inseparable.

When one takes the time to pick up the Christian Bible he finds tales of goodness and wisdom through the whole work. It tells of forgiving hearts and cheeks turned and turned again. The central figure of the Gospels, the Nazarene, seeks out, recruits, eats, sits, sleeps, loves, and prays with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and other less desirables. Yet in today's churches we find condemnation and division. Everyone seems more concerned with who holds the keys to heaven and just who is going on the fast track to warmer temps on the final days that we speak little of reason, logic, forgiveness, open minds and open hearts.

Fundamentalism is viral. It convinces us that truth, reason, science and logic are the boogyman and that an uninformed or ill informed faith is the strong and biblical faith of our Creator.

Fundamentalism is its own creature. It leads to brutal wars as evidenced by every news channel everyday.

It is not religious, it is not good, it is not welcome in the mind of the thinking man and it is an enemy of free will, free thought, and free conscience.

I have never known the gentle science to curb sugar except to recommend that all things (to include our diets I guess) should be balanced. I do believe that its philosophies have a cure for fundamentalism. They promote freedom and free exercise of thought and reason. It cultivates logic and wisdom.

Fundamentalist groups like Hammas share with many fundamentalist Christian movements, a declaration that Masonry is incompatible with their faith. I say bologna. It is fundamentalism that is incompatible with freedom, the foundation of the free thinker and the Craft.