Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma, Freemasonic canon or apocrypha?

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by 88DAM88, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    So many Masons I've encountered have never read Morals and Dogma, let alone understand, accept or promote the knowledge, philosophies, ethics and fraternal values or understanding presented within it. I am wondering if there is an official or general consensus of it being either canon or apocrypha. Is it representative of the proper understanding of the craft, the work and the "why" of the wording and ritual, or not?
     
  2. goomba

    goomba Neo-Antient Site Benefactor

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    Most Masons you are not member of the Scottish Rite, especially the AASR Southern Jurisdiction. The AASR SJ only covers 35 states in the USA. Not only that Pike's work was and is just his thoughts on the matter. It is neither canon or apocrypha. It is just one mans thoughts on the information covered.

    I for one am not a member of the Scottish Rite (as of this posting). I am a Master Mason, York Rite, and a few invitational bodies. While I am sure I would enjoy M&D especially if I were to join the SR, it is not currently even on my top 100 reading list.
     
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  3. LK600

    LK600 Premium Member

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    I own Morals and Dogma, and had begun reading it, though it did not take me long to realize it was a work that would and should wait until I was in a better position with my masonic activities (cart before horse so to speak).
     
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  4. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    There is NO SUCH THING as Masonic canon. The end.
     
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  5. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    I wanted to respond that the first three degrees of Masonry are the first three degrees of the Scottish Rite (usually considered the 4th through 32nd degrees, not the 1st through 28th degrees of the Scottish Rite), but in researching and learning and increasing in knowledge, I found this:

    " To say there is a first degree of Scottish Rite masonry may come as a surprise. As most commonly practiced, the Scottish Rite is a system of degrees that begins following from the traditional Masonic system in most prevalent practice today of blue, or craft, lodge masonry. Specifically the Scottish rite craft lodge degrees parallel the first three degrees of the Webb Preston York Rite System which is the dominant system of lodge ritual adopted in American Masonry in the early 1800’s. In an earlier era, and along a parallel development, there existed a similar series of degrees that lead seamlessly into what we know of today as the 4th through 32nd Scottish Rite system. Sadly, only a few lodges today still practice the Rite’s precursor degrees, most notably the blue lodge in Louisiana, as the degrees are said to retain much of their earlier European and French roots[1]. Much of what is contained in those degrees mirror what is common practice in the York degrees, but there are differences and it is in those aspects of divergence that these earlier rituals hold some parlance for the Scottish Rite. To see this we must look to the earlier rituals so that we can find in them the fundamentals of the esoteric scholarship and taught in the Rite as applied by Brother Pike in the present day system. These differences become especially obvious in his degree analysis in Morals and Dogma giving us the opportunity to find out why."
    ~ Gregory B. Stewart, from his book The Apprentice

    [1] No known catalog of ritual practice comparisons is believed to exist.

    Thank you, Brother.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  6. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    As well, I read each of the degree chapters only AFTER having that degree conferred to me. I found it very informative and to hold much of the inspiration and detail I seek in Masonry and it's education. There are so many "levels" and aspects of Masonry which make us better as individuals and as men working together, I am enjoying finding value in all of them. Thank you, Brother.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  7. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Pike had a lot of opinions. I'm not fond of a lot of them.
    Wouldn't the digest of each jurisdiction apply?

    can·on1 ˈkanən/ noun
    noun: canon; plural noun: canons; noun:
    1. a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.
      "the appointment violated the canons of fair play and equal opportunity"
      synonyms: principle, rule, law, tenet, precept; More
      standard, convention, criterion, measure
      "the canons of fair play and equal opportunity"
    2. a : an accepted principle or rule
      b : a criterion or standard of judgment
      • the canons of good taste
      c : a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  8. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    Would you say, perhaps, only the Landmarks and Charges . . . all else is tradition and subject to change according to the consensus of the men who make up the organizations of Masonry. Even The Work differs from Lodge to Lodge. So might the intent and purposes? I find Freemasonry fascinating in its history, evolution and future possibility. Thank you, Brother.
     
  9. LK600

    LK600 Premium Member

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    The landmarks seem to change as well from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
     
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  10. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Sorry to ask, are you a Freemason ?

    The whole premise of this thread and framing of your replies suggests no. Not meaning to offend, it puts a different spin on how you might understand the question "canon or apocrypha".

    Putting aside Coaches interesting point, the use of "canon or apocrypha" is normally applied in relation to religion and if you're asking as a non-freemason and in that context, see Doug's answer above. If you are a Freemason asking in the context of religion, see Doug's answer above, and get a new mentor.
     
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  11. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

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    I find Pike to be a mixture of both useful propositions and of speculative propositions where he has extrapolated his beliefs far beyond his inner experience.

    To be fair, I find the same with most esoteric writers.
     
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  12. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    There is no general acceptance of the landmarks, other than the standards of recognition.
     
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  13. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    I fully understand that Freemasonry is not a religion, but it is a beautiful, or rather, "a peculiar system of. morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols" which may be said for many religions. I am merely using words which are the closest to the meaning I am needing in asking. Yes, I am a Mason, and in my work to cooperate, learn and contribute to my Lodge and the Brotherhood as a whole, I am seeking to determine what behavior and philosophy is Masonic and what what behavior and philosophy is unmasonic . . . I find some Masons to be universalist, welcoming of multi-faith paths and open definitions of God, open and accepting of all, looking at only the internal qualities of men, and others who are bigots, fundamentalists, homophobes, mysoginists, uneducated and promotive of tyranny and fanaticism . . . there seem to be difficult schisms to bridge and maintain harmony when there seems to be no guiding official determination. I have asked questions using the word liturgy and was reprimanded and told that it is a religious-only term and that the proper words were "The Work" . . . no offense has been taken at cannon and apocrypha, when I am trying to se one easy term all might know instead of writing out the first definition of the term in the dictionary;"a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged", or the second "a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine." The third definition in the dictionary refers to religion, and the fourth to music. By apocrypha, I mean "a book of doubtful authenticity, or spurious, or not considered to be within a particular canon (a general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged.) Seeking a mentor is a good idea, and in my queries on Myfreemasonry.com, I am doing exactly that.
     
  14. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    So the modes of recognition would be the ONLY thing that Masonry is based on? The institution, it's organization, Lodge bodies and men may be bent to ANY will, used for ANY purpose?
     
  15. 88DAM88

    88DAM88 Registered User

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    That is what I am asking. Is Freemasonry free to become whatever the men of a Grand Lodge might deem it to be, or is there ANY overarching philosophy or rules or purpose? I am assuming that the Digest is the Book of laws of a Grand Lodge in the U.S.; sometimes called The Code. Is this what many call their Lodges Constitution?
     
  16. LK600

    LK600 Premium Member

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    Each GL in the US (same as everywhere else) has their own version of the Digest.
     
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  17. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    You get all that from from my comment that there is no general acceptance of the landmarks?

    But to answer your questions, No, No, and No.
     
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  18. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    As to overarching rules, see http://www.recognitioncommission.org/publish/2004/06/10/the-standards-of-recognition/index.html
     
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  19. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    Use of the words canon and apocrypha mean something specific.

    The landmarks are unwritten, no matter that various jurisdictions write down what some early member thought they were. Being unwritten they don't resemble canon. Having assorted written versions also doesn't resemble canon.

    As coachn points out the digest is authoritative in each jurisdiction, though not all that many jurisdictions use that term for the current version of their constitution and bylaws plus edicts plus annual proceedings. But that too does not much resemble what the word canon means.

    Pike was a respected Mason in his day. But the guy was a nut case in an assortment of ways and his material has not aged well. Taking him in the context of his era I still figure he was a nut case who was also highly expert. Taking him in the context of today's era I wouldn't want to be in lodge with such a man. It's not just his material that didn't age well; neither have his attitudes.

    Morals and Dogmas is an interesting work, but please view it for what it is. The rantings of a nut who also happened in his era to be highly expert. A book with little authority even within one of our optional orders. And a book that needs the context of its era to even understand its terminology not to mention the long obsolete attitudes of its author.

    More importantly, the book serves as a litmus test for a lot of us. Antis love to misquote from it and that makes antis easy to identify.

    Only after taking all that into context is the book of use. In a way that bears zero resemblance to either canon or apocrypha.
     
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  20. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    Thanks

    It's always hard, but make no mistake, you will observe Freemasons in history and today are "unmasonic" - however always remember Freemasonry is of time and place, especially reflecting the society in which it operates, That's exactly how Prince Hall Freemasonry was born, but that birth from my time and place seems unmasonic - barring a good man who is not an atheist and who can afford to be a member based on the colour of his skin, his religious beliefs seems unmasonic to me.

    I've only read Pike's first four chapters, but in that, I don't think he will help much in answering your question.

    If you wanted a code of conduct for Freemasonry, it could simply read, "I promise to try to improve myself, those around me. To listen and examine my own conscience, practice charity in accordance to my own time and means, act as a gentlemen, be compassionate and forgiving, and act as a force for benevolence yet shed a tear of sympathy on the failings of others while resisting bad behavior"... it's probably a good test of what is and is not "masonic".
     
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