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Masonic Bios

Masonic Jurisprudence

By W. Bro. Dan Ellnor

Many Mason's of the past have written much about this subject:

"We may not call in question the propriety of this organization; we would be Masons we must yield private judgment. 'To the law and to the testimony-if any man walk not by this rule it is because there is no light in him."'-Pierson's Traditions of Freemasonry, p. 30. "That this surrender of free-will to Masonic authority is absolute (within the scope of the landmarks of the order) and perpetual, may be inferred from an examination of the emblem (the shoe or sandal) which is used to enforce this lesson of resignation. The esotery of the Masonic rituals gives the fullest assurance of this: "once a Mason always a Mason" is an aphorism in our literature conveying an undeniable truth."

-Morris' Dictionary of Freemasonry, p. 29.

"A Mason should know how to obey those who are set over him, however inferior they may be in worldly rank; or condition."

-Macoy's Masonic Monitor, p. 14.

"Disobedience and want of respect to Masonic superiors is an offense for which the transgressor subjects himself to punishment."

-Mackey's Masonic Jurisprudence, p. 511.

"Under the head of Discipline is given a catalogue of fifteen prime classes of un-Masonic acts, of which this is one. It is so subversive of the groundwork of Masonry, in which obedience is most strongly inculcated, that the Mason who disobeys subjects himself to severe penalties."

- Morris' Dictionary, pp. 91,92

"The powers and privileges of the Master of a lodge are by no means limited in extent."

-Chase's Digest of Masonic Law,
page 380.

Yet, with all this no other subject is so misunderstood by today's Masons than that of jurisprudence.

Jurisprudence may be defined as:

The scientific study of law through a philosophical lens. The aim of jurisprudence is to critically analyze the purpose and application of the law. It is a historical, social, and cultural movement with the inherent contradiction that analysis of the law and understanding of its politics will unravel and reveal the 'truth' behind legal reasoning and the exercise of legal power, even while at the same time admitting there is no such thing. It is hoped through legal scholarship that a deeper understanding of the law and the relationships of power it constructs can better society by enabling jurists to predict what the law is and what it ought to be given its unpredictable and uncertain nature.

Masonic Jurisprudence can be limited to that of written law i.e. the Blue Book and The Ancient landmarks; The Moral law; Masonic Usages and Custom; Grand Master's Prerogatives; and Powers of the Worshipful Master.

In my opinion, the misunderstanding of these concepts and their application has done more to eviscerate the heart of Masonry today than any other.

The epitome and crown of this degradation has been the federalizing of the Grand lodge system. No longer are lodges "free and subordinate". No longer can Masons express their opinions without fear of retribution from the Grand Line. How many times have you heard from a grizzled old Past Master " you better check with Grand Lodge or they will pull our charter."

In many jurisdictions the "standardizing" of ritual has been misunderstood that a Master Mason could not even discuss in lodge other rituals.

The Masonic regulations have grown from a guide consisting of ancient landmarks to a tome of immense complicity regulating all things from the mundane to the ridiculous.

Indiana Masonic Law example:

"Reg 39.100-1 Bowlling team made up of members of lodge should not be any part of lodge affairs, neither should it bear name of lodge."

Nor may a lodge sponsor any other sort of organization regardless of affiliation.

This is considered High Masonic law? These types of affronts to Masonic conduct are regularly enforced and yet atrocities such as theft, embezzlement, marital adultery by the membership go un-prosecuted in many jurisdictions. I would wager that Masonic trials have dropped one thousand fold in the last eighty years.

My own grandfather was expelled from the fraternity seventy years ago for divorcing his wife. Yet today in one jurisdiction, a Grand Lodge officer had stolen funds and has never seen justice.

This is all a fine rant you might say. What is your solution? I suggest a role back in Masonic regulation coupled with an increase in stringency of Masonic Prosecution. There is a reason there are only Ten Commandments. These are fundamental and punishable by loss of your soul. The Masonic equivalent should be the same. Simplification of the rules. Let lodges govern themselves. Yet, enforce them to the letter. Suspensions and trials should be as much of the common lodge landscape as the preverbal fish fry and degree work. We cannot be a society of greatness until we raise the bar and put it back up where it belongs.

- Source: Knights of the North Masonic Dictionary

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