Thursday, June 19, 2008

'round the Fountain

I had a Masonic speaking engagement that I attended the other day. Following my presentation, several of the men retired near an outdoor water fountain and garden area to imbibe some fine spirits and draw in on a few well rolled cigars.

The conversation drifted between current events, philosophy, esoterica, and the like. We were having quite a time of it when a man strolled up to the group and decided to take part in the conversation. He declared himself a Christian and began to speak about his spiritual journey in the Christian faith.

I was smiling and enjoying the conversation and thinking how Masonry had enriched my faith and was happy to hear the comments. Then, he went onto say that some “idiot’s” tried to convince him that the world was older that 6,000 years old and he recognized the Satanic or irreligiousness as pure scientific mumbo jumbo. He lamented that he was uncertain how people could be so stupid.

Now, mind you, the men present were men of different faiths and followings and not one person chose to engage this person in argument or negative comment. I asked question, “If the Universe is 14 billion years old, how would that change your faith?” The man responded that it would not because it is impossible for such a thing to be true because it ran counter to the Bible.

I, for one, disagree. But, that aside, I informed the man that even if scientific data proved the Universe 14 billion years old, it was likely that he could and should attend the same sanctuary, worship the same Jesus, and continue feel fulfilled by his faith. I asked him if science and religion needed to be at odds.

The conversation ended as the man left. I looked around at the men sitting near the fountain and enjoying their cigars. All of them had little smiles on their face that communicated compassion for the man.

I realized that no man at that table believed the same as the man espousing his narrow view of faith and Christ. It was likely that their beliefs, and certainly mine, would have been heretical to the man who chose to preach that day. But every man there gave him wide birth, treated him with compassion, and extended to him tolerance and a friendly ear.

While churches divide, while nations war, while people go about their day hating and searching for battles….Masons around the world and around a little fountain practice the one kind of charity…charity in spirit, that can truly save the world. That is relevance. That is Masonry.


Magus Masonica said...

Do you believe that the same tolerance should b exhibited to other Masons who do not belong to the same Obedience as you do?

Anonymous said...

Ah magus, that is a loaded question.

Presuming to answer for the RM, I think that on a personal level, he would. Tolerating someone is not the same as embracing their rituals.

Without starting a conversation that could become, well, heated, let's admit that we are all dancing around the same issue here. We, as Masons, swear strict oaths that we literally can not believe or agree with.

Anonymous said...

I have only this which I stole from Aristotle: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."