Reversal of roles in modern Freemasonry
by Athos A. Altomonte
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Q : In all honesty I haven't found satisfactory answers, if the goal is real initiation, which for me means ‘rebirth', new man, loss of metals, at least partially. On the other hand, if the aim is more culture, the Masonic journey is fine, but it is not my main goal. Now I see in the various Masonic associations an almost generalized tendency to pure speculation and I wonder: will Freemasonry be able to give the necessary instruments to build the new man? GPB
A : «The problem of modern Freemasonry is the reversal of roles.»
Dear Friend, I have been observing Freemasonry as a participant in the Grand Mastership and as a member of the Supreme Council of Italy for a very long time and I have realized the distinction between Men and Institution. On the former I am moderately skeptical, perhaps because of their marked politicization, which is not very promising, not even on a speculative level. Indeed, they are too busy in their eternal maneuvers for the ‘chairs' (many and of several sizes). I have always been very critical towards the continuous electoral race that even involves a big number of venerable masters. But nothing seems able to move the common opinion.
At the top of the two main branches of Freemasonry, beyond public masks, I can't see great hopes for acting for what I consider to be the ‘essential rail track' of the initiatory Institution: Masonic culture (the mysteries of the Architects) and initiatory culture (the mysteries of Man).
The most common attitude is to remain in the minimal terms of Masonic chronicle , because it helps the advancement of ‘careers'. Nevertheless, little commitment equals little substance. It can be seen and felt, although covered by pompous titles full of superlatives and many ‘ …issimo ' ( note: In Italian ‘-issimo' is a suffix added to obtain the absolute superlative of an adjective ) . I must confess that I am embarrassed by the many ‘ …issimo ' in my titles; I prefer to be considered for what I know and for what I can express.
The excess of self-celebration reaches the roots causing disaffection. This happens especially with people who haven't developed yet the intellectual strength to distinguish the political Mason from the initiated Mason, which is not as such thanks to the touch of a saber or to the illumination of a light bulb. Let's be serious! I understand why Nietzsche said ‘ human, too human!' but I am not ready to resign myself.
Paraphrasing President J. F. Kennedy, the right attitude could be ‘ ask not what the Institution can do for you, ask what you can do for It '. I find this attitude absolutely shareable, but it is not an answer.
The solution of all issues is in finding the cause of the problem. In my opinion, the problem of Freemasonry is the reversal of roles .
Thinking of the Corpus Massonicum , the problem is that for a long time the ‘head' has been replaced by the ‘stomach'. And (also) in Freemasonry the political-administrative aspect has become the dominating one.
Nowadays in Freemasonry there is only legislation and too much of it. Bureaucracy obstructs the connections among levels. Everybody is worried about public relations, self-gratifying and self-reverent celebrations for the usual known.
I am saying this without animosity because my Masonic position doesn't need any compromises. I am like old generals who can say what they like. I've seen the ‘promotions' of some men stopped, because they were not considered ‘reliable and manageable'.
I asked those very powerful gentlemen what did this argument mean. Reliable perhaps, because manageable can be said of a trained dog! I asked if they were building a future of ‘free moral men' or a circus of trained dog. The answer, as usual, was only administrative.
Many increases in pay and light correspond to as many pennies. Obediences spend a lot and GG.MM. do as well. Therefore they must run around distributing titles and rights. In other words, making cash. A few wise men, then, and too many accountants, bookkeepers and businessmen guide the Masonic life.
What to do? First of all we must acknowledge the problem and don't do as they do. Then, fight for what we believe in, even risking to be left with a very few people. After all, isn't this the meaning of elite and the even more selected initiatory elite ?
Following logic, elite is the antithesis of multitude; the latter is a synonym of conformism. And, again by logic, isn't conformism the keystone of the profane being?
Therefore, as Dante said, ‘do not worry about them, but look and pass (beyond)'.