Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Intolerant Pope

So I am on my way to lodge and I run into the pope here. He is wearing an upside cross on his hat, a swastika that you can’t see on the flip side of the cross and, of course, the naked boy mannequin on his shoulders. He was selling holy water shots for five cents and “god bread” for ten cents.

He had signs that read, “If you are a little boy, I’m a priest,” along with the one he was holding.

I stopped and spoke with him and learned that he is an anti-Catholic protestor who believes that the Catholic Church is Satanic. He indicated that Martin Luther “got a little closer….but still missed the mark.” He is a member of the “True Christian Church” which, according to our friend can be found to a strict adherence to the Bible unlike most supposedly Christian churches.

He lectured me on the demons and devils of navigating the “supposedly Christian” church system and warned me of the many dangers that might befall me.

I thanked him and he asked me, “Who is the story for.” I told him that I write for a number of Masonic groups which met with a long…and I do mean long….pause. “Aren’t you in line with the Catholic Church?” he asked. I said, “Nope, not ‘in line’ with any church at all per se.” I went on to explain that we are not a religion as dictated by standard definition, in that we do not have a dogma, a savior mythos, or anything of the like. I went onto say that the Fraternity generally encourages men to return to that sanctuary that best increases his faith in the Creator.

His eyes grew wide as he said, “Well that sounds like it might be from the Devil.” I smiled….knowing that for him a devil was around every corner.

Our deranged pope friend illustrates how intolerance, hate, anger, and other destructive behaviors are born from fears of the unknown. When we lack information on any particular subject, when we remain ignorant of its inner teachings or workings for lack of study, we opt to fear it in many cases. The truly ignorant write about it or rail against it, whatever it is. “It” always has its heroes and detractors does it not?

The destruction of whole countries and societies at the hand of man doing G-d’s work is well documented. To further illustrate the ignorance of many orthodoxies is not my point here as anyone can grab a history book off the shelve and randomly point to a page and find man, on behalf of G-d, showing the hateful wrath of ignorance bringing no joy, no glory, no decency to a G-d whose example is likely that of love, mercy, and kindness.

Likely, the saying, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” has kissed the ears of everyone reading this. If not in the aforementioned form above, in one of its near relatives such as yin and yang, karma, pick up your cross and follow me, turn the other cheek, the meek shall inherit the earth, etc. So, what if, keeping this universal principle in mind, we ask ourselves what great effect Masons practicing Masonry might be on society as a whole. If a singular organized church can kill a billion people in its 2000 year history, what might a small group of men honoring and tolerating one another’s belief do for the same world in the same span of time? Many are quick to condemn the wrongs of religion as wrongs. The Muslim would be quick to point to the Crusades as an irreligious act, the Christian quick to point to the terrorist Jihadist as evidence of the same. The Jew might be quick to shame those who would call them the murderers of Christ. We are quick to point out the ills of another path and equally as quick to point to the righteousness of the path that our very feet fall upon.

So really, in crying foul, we do nothing to heal, to mend, and to unify the people of our blue sphere to join hands as singular beings occupying a small orb in the presence of a mighty universe. We preach forgiveness more as something others should keep in mind for us than as something we should do ourselves. Tolerance only applies when the idea we are tolerant of is not too disagreeable.

So how powerful, how astronomically phenomenal is a group of men from every race, color, and religious creed gathered around a single altar with their hands claps and smiles on their faces as their souls bask in the presence of tolerance and brotherly love? If ignorance is destructive, how constructive and perfect is tolerance and knowledge. If these same men use reason, logic, and free thought to achieve and arrive at their faith, how much many lives might be saved and made whole? A billion in 2000 years maybe?

It might seem the lessons of Masonry are simple. To do good even when no one is watching, to tolerate men of other faiths, to truly support and uplift those who might differ completely from you both politically and philosophically. But as simply as declaring one man a tool of the devil, declaring him a creation of God loved by his Creator regardless of his beliefs is equally as powerful. The lessons of Masonry have the ability to heal the world, to save lives, and stave off religious bigotry and slavery. But, the philosophies of Masonry do little good hidden as well as one of our secret treasures. This is one secret we should be willing to share in our daily decisions and actions towards one another.