My Masonic Education: 6/23/15

What am I reading, listening to, and working on right now?

Masonic Education

So, I had every intention of beginning the second module for MCIII and then moving on to MCI as soon as I finished, but I got distracted (as I often do). After reading a few posts on Freemasonry and Kabbalah, I decided to re-read a book I had read over 15 years ago, God and the Big Bang by Daniel C. Matt. This was a book that changed my outlook on life and religion. I’ll write on that later in a new section called My Spiritual Evolution to supplement My Masonic Journey when I get up-to-date and have nothing much to write about it. Re-reading Matt’s book now through a Masonic lens has really opened my eyes to what I had not necessarily processed before. There are so many allusions to Freemasonry in Kabbalah. Here is an excerpt from Moses Cordovero that I found compelling:

When powerful light is concealed and clothed in a garment, it is revealed. Though concealed, the light is actually revealed, for were it not concealed, it could not be revealed. This is like wishing to gaze at the dazzling sun. Its dazzle conceals it, for you cannot look at its overwhelming brilliance. Yet when you conceal it–looking at it through screens–you can see and not be harmed. So it is with emanation: by concealing and clothing itself, it reveals itself.

Those who are Masons will see the connection. I also found this description from the Zohar, which made me think of the circumpunct.

From the Zohar:

A blinding spark flashed. within the concealed of the concealed,
from the mystery of the Infinite,
a cluster of vapor in formlessness….
Under the impact of breaking through,
one high and hidden point shone.
Beyond the point nothing is known.
So it is called Beginning.

Daniel C. Matt writes, “As emanation proceeds, as God begins to unfold, the point expands into a circle.”

I picked up a few more books on the subject to read along with this one: P.S. Berg‘s Kabbalah for Layman I-III and The Essential Zohar, Y. Berg’s Power of Kabbalah, and Matt’s The Essential Kabbalah. I also signed up to take a course on Kabbalah, which I found while watching Kabbalah Revealed on Youtube.

Last Friday, I attended the St. John’s Feast Day and Play at Culver City-Foshay Lodge #467, and I will be presenting a write-up on that tomorrow for A Topic of Masonic Interest. So, please come back tomorrow to check that out.

Finally, I wanted to share that I listened to the very first episode of the Masonic Radio Theatre: The Craftsman. I enjoyed the presentation very much. It definitely had that feel of an old radio show. The story was compelling and I liked the presentation of commercials interspersed throughout the story. I wish there was some kind of music or something that differentiated the commercial from the story, as I got lost the first time it happened. There were also some sound issues that I hope they will fix in subsequent episodes. The lead’s mic sounded tinny and not at all like it was being recorded in the same radio studio as the other performers. However, my nit-picking that issue should not take away at all from the story or the performances which were fun and educational.

[SPOILER ALERT]

If you have not listened to the episode yet, you may not want to read the last part of this blog post!

After listening to the first episode, I found myself wanting to research the Morgan Affair. I really don’t know much about it. I had previously heard about it when the Philosophical Discussion Group I go to for Scottish Rite made mention of it at the last meeting. Also, I even uncovered a little bit about it when I was doing research on the origin concerning the connection between Freemasonry and Satanism.

After the [Morgan Affair, 1826] incident became a major public issue, however, a guilt-ridden [Hiram] Hopkins turned against the fraternity. He decided that his previous high opinion of Masonry resulted from the “hold Satan had over me.” In the words of the relative who passed on Hopkins’ account, Freemasonry was a “hydra-headed monster, which . . . has struck at the root of Christianity and Republicanism” (Bullock, 1989).

This was the oldest reference I could find showing any real association being made between Freemasonry and Satanism, but who knows how much Hiram Hopkins influenced the people, as we know the connection wasn’t written by the Catholic church for nearly 50 more years, but when it was… man, was it vicious.

The encyclical of Leo XIII, “Humanum genus,” of April 20, 1884, was directed against the Freemasons, which it designated as “creatures who belong to the realm of Satan and the powers of hell …. a god-forsaken sect inspired by insolent spirits of the devil. Partisans of evil . . . . a foul contagion,” etc (Frazer, 1909).

My research aside, I had not really known much about the specifics of the incident. As far as I knew, William Morgan made an exposé of Freemasonry, upsetting many Masons in his area and he went missing, presumed to be murdered by a handful of Masons. However, this story is turned on its head when I listened to the Masonic Radio Theatre. They describe how William Morgan was whisked away to Canada and told never to return. They even claimed to know the assumed name he had taken while living out the rest of his life. On a side note, his “widow” may have married Joseph Smith, who used/stole some Masonic rituals in the creation of his Mormon religion. I’ll have to research that at another time.

I found this paper by Allison D. Bryant, P.M. of Gladwin Lodge No. 397, F. & A. M. presented to the Michigan Lodge or Research #1 on June 20, 1992, which seemed to support some of what the MRT podcast was saying. You should read the whole paper as it provides some interesting primary sources, but here is the author’s conclusion:

1) there was a man named William Morgan who appeared in the Cayman Islands in the right time period, circa 1826; 2) he acted mysteriously when strange ships and outsiders appeared; 3) he sent one of his daughters to school in Philadelphia under mysterious circumstances; 4) he is supposed to have told family that he had left a wife and children in the States, served in the War of 1812 and was in Virginia at one time; 5) he was reported to avoid the outsiders because he undivulged Masonic secrets; and 6) he now lies in an unmarked grave in Utilla. Does this suggest that he is the same William Morgan of Masonic history, who vanished from Upstate New York in 1826, leaving a wife and several children, (who he married in Virginia in 1819, after having served in the War of 1812) – it certainly does. Does it strongly suggest these two gentlemen are the same man, someone who would have much reason to not to be at peace with himself for so many reasons? Absolutely. But does it prove this “conclusively” as James Carter states? OF COURSE NOT! It is conjecture and will probably always be so. If you were to ask my opinion, I would say yes, they are the same man. I am quite sure they are. But that is my opinion. The facts may support my opinion, but they don’t prove conclusively that this is what happened.

Well, that’s all for now. I learned something this week and I hope that you have too.

If you are interested in contributing, please send me an email. I welcome any contributions from brothers fresh from the quarry.

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