Page 19 - MFM July 2014
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Montana Freemason  July 2014	                               Volume 90 Number 2

which somehow eludes all professional Egyptologists         Would you accept his views because of his nice suit, his
worldwide. To date, 20 years after their book was           eloquence, or his ability to recite ritual?
written, not a single trained Egyptologist has embraced     Yes, Brethren, there is room for improvement in
their theory. There’s absolutely zero evidence it is        Masonry. There remains MUCH for us all to do. But
correct, and a mountain of evidence that it is wrong.       our ancient and venerable institution preserves much
What can we learn from this? If you read something          wisdom which need not be discarded or set aside on the
that offers the novel or sensational, it must fall to       whims of flim-flam. No, Brethren, I make no apology
the Sagan standard: “Extraordinary claims require           for sounding the alarm. If I perceive approaching
extraordinary evidence.”                                    danger, it is my duty to say something. I will not join
                                                            hands with it and sing Kumbaya. How you respond is
The “hoity-toity huckster”                                  up to you. The only Masonry you will pass down is
I’ve been taken to task for using this term. Perhaps it     what you preserve.
is unkind that I chose it, but is it a fit and appropriate
appellation?                                                What is Freemasonry?
Hoity-toity: to be pretentiously self-important or          I’m not talking about the classical definitions of
pompous.                                                    Freemasonry, but rather the recent attempts to redefine
Is this not an apt word for someone who said privately      Freemasonry within the limits of personal prejudice.
to me that (as close as I can recall) “the average man      That’s hucksterism.
who joins Masonry is impressed with a nice suit, a fine     There are writers churching out books (mostly from
meal, and gifted oratory. I am also a Past Master of        vanity-presses) which claim that they are capable of
______ Lodge, which is old and distinguished. They          defining “traditional” or “best practices” in Masonry
want to be what I am, and for that reason will believe      (which conformed to their own prejudices); or that
what I tell them.”                                          pure Masonry omits the high degrees, or that it consists
Huckster: a certain type of peddler or hawker, who          of the three Craft Degrees (and sometimes the Royal
sells items of questionable value.                          Arch). This outdated notion is being abandoned by the
Certainly, I cannot profess to know everything about        UGLE.
Masonry (alas! No one can). There are indeed other          Interestingly, the Master Mason Degree was but the
Brethren who outshine me in scholarship, including          first of the High Degrees, since it appeared in 1725, eight
my dear friend Alain Bernheim. Yet, having applied          years after the formation of the Premiere Grand Lodge
comparative ritualism to literally hundreds of rituals      in 1717. Within another eight years “Scots Masters”
from around the world, for some 25 years, I have noted      were being made in London. And what of the Mark
the similarities of form and philosophy which comprise      Master Degree, which includes practices which are 100
the commonalities of our practices, as well as our          years older than the Master Masons Degree? What fool
philosophies. This is our true “traditional Masonry.”       will argue that isn’t Masonic? (No names, please).
                                                            Buyer beware: Neither working at a Masonic institution,
                                                            nor being a Past Master of a prestigious lodge qualify
So, when I encounter ideas, both innovative and             someone as a Masonic expert, even if they have a
pretentious—not found within the body of historical         couple of self-published books. True historians and
Masonry—though masquerading as “traditional                 experts must be willing to sacrifice their prejudices on
Masonry,” what can I do, but sound the alarm at the         the altar of truth.
West Gate, and alert the Craft that a stranger is at the    I’ve been informed that some of these hucksters
door? Isn’t this the definition of hucksterism? Is not      represent themselves as a light to the lodges, when,
our first duty to see that the lodge is properly tiled?     in my humble opinion, they merely have well-worded
And what of my obligation as a Past Master? Is it not       sophism: cleverly-packaged nonsense, which is not
to dispense true Masonic light and knowledge to less-       traditional Masonry is any real or meaningful sense of
informed Brethren? Well, THAT is precisely what I am        the word.
trying to do.

Let us propose a mock scenario: suppose that a              Brethren, study, reflect, and repeat. Take due notice
prominent Masonic author, a PM of a respected lodge,        thereof and govern yourselves according.
begins to teach that Communism is the true “Masonic
political philosophy,” because we all “meet upon                                                                               Page 19
the level” and it “unites us into one common mass.”
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