Monday, October 26, 2009

Los Angeles Freemasonry

I have started a new blog, one that specifically relates to the Liberal, non-dogmatic Freemasonry available in Los Angeles. It is deplorable that European Freemasonry has such a limited presence in the United States.

With over 300 million citizens in this country, there are only several hundred members of our jurisdictions here. This is unacceptable.

While we, as Masons, are not to openly solicit members, we can certainly make our presence known.

It is inconceivable that out of a nation with over 300 million people Adogmatic Freemasonry only has a few hundred members.

This must change. And the only way to do this is to make Americans aware of our existence. There are around one and a half million Anglo-American masons in the United States.

Do we really believe in the Jurisdictions that we belong to? If we are willing to sacrifice our time and money to belong to a Liberal jurisdiction do we not think that it has something to offer?

If every American knew of the existence of our obediences, then we could say, "they prefer not to be Freemasons, or they they want to join the Anglo-American Grand Lodges and wear funny hats, and dress up as medieval knights.

It is time that people became aware of our existence. That is why I am starting the Los Angeles Freemasonry blog. It is not the solution to the problem, but at least it is a start.

I will be writing about the Liberal lodges in Los Angeles, and providing their contact information.

Things need to change. If one tenth of one percent of the nation were involved with European Freemasonry we would have 300,000 brothers and sisters working to make a difference in our society.

It is imperative that we, as Freemasons of the European, Liberal, tradition, make the public aware that we exist. Otherwise, why do we bother to meet at all?

I have linked the blog on this site. San Diego Freemason blog will continue, of course.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Masonic Martyr No.2

Brother Dr. Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile in 1970. A founding member of the Socialist Party of Chile, Dr. Allende labored to maintain civil liberties, while at the same time attempting to restructure Chilean society in the interests of the oppressed majority.

Though under pressure from more radical elements among his supporters, and at times flirting with the Soviet bloc, he worked within the system to bring meaningful change to his nation. In 1973 Brother Allende was overthrown in a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Rather than face torture and death at the hands of Pinochet's troops, brother Allende committed suicide.

Under General Pinochet, thousands were tortured and murdered, and DINA, Pinochet's secret police tracked down opponents around the world and killed them. The head of DINA, it was later revealed, was on the payroll of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. In 1976, Orlando Letelier, who was a member of Allende's administration and was tortured after the coup, was murdered by DINA agents in Washington D.C. , along with his assistant.

Since 1998, after Chile was finally rid of Pinochet, the dictator was charged with kidnapping, torture, and murder, and the U.S. government revealed that Pinochet had millions of dollars stashed in U.S. banks and other countries.

While Brother Allende was not the victim of violence specifically because of his Masonic membership, the contrast between him and Pinochet speaks volumes about Masonic values, and principles. On the one hand, a brother that tried his best to alleviate suffering among his people. On the other hand, a vicious murderer, liar, and thief, that was responsible for the sufferings of millions.

Brother Allende was chosen, in a poll conducted in Chile in 2008, from a sample of 1.5 million people, as the Greatest Chilean in history.

Brother Allende exemplifies the true spirit of Freemasony and it's never ending struggle to improve the lot of others and fight tyranny.

Here is a link to an excellent interview with Brother Allende while he was alive and discussing Freemasonry.

Brother Allende
was the Grandson of Past Grand Master Ramon Allende Padin.

Rest in Peace Brother.

Masonic Holocaust in Spain in the 20th Century

The following is the law passed by the Fascist dictator of Spain, Francisco Franco in 1940, directed primarily at Freemasons. Note that holding "Higher Degrees" aggravated the offense. This usually meant the death penalty. Since so many of our Spanish brothers died under the Franco regime I decided not to mention only one. This is an excerpt from an article on Wikipedia that quotes from the book, "Freemasonry and the Spanish Civil War", by Matthew Scanlan:

"the lodge building in Cordoba was burnt, the masonic temple in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, was confiscated and transformed into the headquarters of the Falange, and another was shelled by artillery. In Salamanca thirty members of one lodge were shot, including a priest. Similar atrocities occurred across the country: fifteen masons were shot in Logrono, seventeen in Ceuta, thirty-three in Algeciras, and thirty in Valladolid, among them the Civil Governor. Few towns escaped the carnage as Freemasons in Lugo, Zamora, Cadiz and Granada were brutally rounded up and shot, and in Seville, the entire membership of several lodges were butchered. The slightest suspicion of being a mason was often enough to earn a place in a firing squad, and the blood-letting was so fierce that, reportedly, some masons were even hurled into working engines of steam trains. By 16 December 1937, according to the annual masonic assembly held in Madrid, all masons that had not escaped from the areas under nationalist control had been murdered."

The Law of 2 March 1940

Article No 1: Constitutes a felony to be a communist, or to belong to a masonic lodge or any other secret society.

Article No 2: As these organizations are now banned by the effects of this decree, all monies and properties are to be confiscated immediately.

Article No 3: Any advertisement to exhort the principles or pretended benefits of masonry or communism, or anything against the Religion or the Motherland, will be penalised according to this law.

Article No 4: To be considered a mason, will be those who had been initiated into masonry and had not been expelled from the Order, or not broken altogether their relationship with the organisation. It would also be considered a mason those expelled from the Order with the apparent reason to protect the member from the objects of this law.

Article No 5: From the date of this publication, masons and communists, as defined in article No 4 above, will be liable to be imprisoned with a "minor jail offense", a minimum of 12 years and one day, but this situation could be aggravated by the "Aggravated Circumstances" as explained in Article No 6.

Article No 6: "Aggravated Circumstances" is to have obtained any of the Degrees from the 18th to the 33rd inclusive, having taken part in any Annual Communications or being part of any Committee or Board of the Grand Orient of Spain, which would indicate the great confidence of the Order entrusted upon the member.

Article No 7: Any mason or communist, who belongs to either organisation, must notify the Government of his affiliation within two months of the date of this law.

Article No 8: Without prejudice to other penalties as per article No 5, and those who have not a reasonable excuse to be absolved, will be separated immediately and indefinitely from Government jobs, Public or Official Corporations, managerial and advisory positions in private enterprise companies, as well as any other job in which any kind of confidence is entrusted upon them. This law will cover this employment situation in perpetuity. It will be considered a attenuating circumstances providing information to the authorities about the persons who had performed the initiation into masonry, their superiors, or any other person involved in masonry or any other item of information that will be of benefit in the carrying of this law.

General Francisco Franco
March, 1940.

A letter from Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei to Franco written in 1958, regarding the union of church and state existing in Spain under the Franco regime:

Your Excellency:

I wish to add my sincerest personal congratulation to the many you have received on the occasion of the promulgation of the Fundamental Principles.

My forced absence from our homeland in service of God and souls, far from weakening my love for Spain, has, if it were possible, increased it. From the perspective of the eternal city of Rome, I have been able to see better than ever the beauty of that especially beloved daughter of the church which is my homeland, which the Lord has so often used as an instrument for the defense and propagation of the holy, Catholic faith in the world.

Although alien to any political activity, I cannot help but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s authoritative voice should proclaim that, “The Spanish nation considers it a badge of honor to accept the law of God according to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire its legislation.” It is in fidelity to our people’s Catholic tradition that the best guarantee of success in acts of government, the certainty of a just and lasting peace within the national community, as well as the divine blessing for those holding positions of authority, will always be found.

I ask God our Lord to bestow upon your Excellency with every sort felicity and impart abundant grace to carry out the grave mission entrusted to you.

Please accept, Excellency, the expression of my deepest personal esteem and be assured of my prayers for all your family.

Most devotedly yours in the Lord,
Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer
Rome, May 23, 1958

The photo is of Franco at church with Frederico Cardinal Tedeschini in Barcelona.

Masonic Martyrs No. 1

I felt that it would be appropriate to take the time to remember those men who were persecuted for being our brother Masons.

Brother Tommaso Crudeli, 1703-1745, was arrested in Florence by the Holy Inquisition in 1739. At this time he was tortured and asked to reveal the secrets of Masonry and his lodge. Two years later he was released to house arrest, where he passed away in 1745. His literary works were burned in Florence, and his writings were prohibited by the church.

I will continue this series in the following days. So many of our brothers had their lives, and liberty taken from them for being members of the Order.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Innovations in American Freemasonry

It is very interesting to see how Freemasonry has evolved in the United States compared to other parts of the world. While no Grand Lodge seems to agree with how many landmarks there are, or what they are, the U.S. Grand Lodges are responsible for many innovations in Freemasonry. These include:
1. Opening of the lodge in the 3rd Degree. At the Baltimore Convention of 1842 it was decided that "Entered Apprentices and Fellow Crafts are not members of Lodges, nor are they entitled to the franchises of members." Not done that way prior to the convention, and never in Europe. This had the effect of rushing men through the degrees so that they could participate as full members.
2. Use of the Pledge of Allegiance when opening lodge. While there is nothing wrong with being patriotic, nationalism is inappropriate in a Masonic Temple.
3. Use of Sectarian prayers in lodge. Freemasonry is non-sectarian.
4. The doctrine of Territorial Exclusivity. As more Grand Lodges recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodges in their states, (as well they should), this doctrine becomes moot.
5. The creation of numerous bodies that, while not Masonic, require members be masons, or related to masons to join. These bodies are accepted by the Grand Lodges and are viewed by the general public as being Masonic, which they are not.
6. One day classes, whereby a man can become a Master Mason in a single day.
7. Encouraging attempts at recruitment in many jurisdictions, such as advertising for members.
8. The prohibition of alcohol at Masonic functions. Compare this policy to the practices of the Grand Lodge of London, the lodges in the American colonies, etc.

All in all, it is my opinion that while there are many good Masons in the U.S. jurisdictions, and many Grand Lodges are making positive changes, Mainstream American Masonry has traveled well off the path of historic Freemasonry. The Masonic Restoration Foundation is a wonderful step in the right direction, as is the "European Concept" lodge movement.

Sadly, much of what is called Masonry today in many parts of the country cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered authentic Freemasonry. Most American Masonry would be defined as "Irregular" when compared to the Freemasonry of the Grand Lodge of London in 1717 and European Freemasonry in general as practiced for the past 300 years. That's just the way it is.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Gandhi

Today is Mahatma Gandhi's 140th birthday. While Gandhi was not a Freemason, (despite rumors to the contrary), he embodied many of the tenets that we, as Masons believe in.

Gandhi preached tolerance of others, especially in religious matters, the equality of all people, regardless of race, and most importantly, he preached Truth.

Gandhi is also remembered for the simplicity of his life, and his teachings of non-violence. While we do not need to agree with everything he said, or taught, I feel that we can all acknowledge him as one of the great figures of the 20th century.

Happy Birthday Gandhi. You left the world a better place than you found it.