From the Venerable Master (May, 2012)

posted May 23, 2015, 5:08 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 5:09 PM ]

Chuck Cowden

On May the 4th and May 8th we will be conclude what has been a very successful Spring Reunion.  On the 4th, our 11 candidates will receive the 31st Degree (communication) and the 32nd Degree by exemplification. The capping ceremony will be a part of the Stated Meeting Dinner program on the 8th. I hope you can join us for these last two days of the reunion and lend your support to our new Scottish Rite Brothers.
On May 29th, the Personal Representative and the Lodge of Perfection will host the first Scottish Rite Night of Instruction and Festive Agape for 2012. I encourage you to attend and bring a guest/s from your Blue Lodge. You will have a great evening of Masonic Light, brotherly love and good food and refreshments. More details on this event can be found elsewhere in this issue.
During this reunion I had the honor of being one of the Frank Judges in the 30th Degree. The idea of tolerance is a central theme in the interaction between the aspirant and the judges in the Third Apartment of the Degree. Intolerance of religious belief and tolerance of “old abuses” are a concern of the judges. This reminded me of a Master’s article I wrote for the Confidence Lodge Trestle board several years ago relying on an article by Worshipful Brother Clive Herron of Marine Lodge 626 of Durbin, South Africa. I thank Worshipful Brother Scott Mitchell of Santa Cruz San Lorenzo Valley Lodge No. 38 for first bringing Brother Clive’s writing to my attention.
In this article, it is concluded that tolerance is one of the fundamentals of Freemasonry – that it is inherent in the operation of our Lodges. We teach prudence, justice and temperance and advocate brotherly love. But tolerance is not mentioned as a virtue or a tenet.
True brotherly love is when a brother can show tolerance to another in spite of the others conflicting opinions and even failings. So, tolerance is an unwritten law of Masonry. There can be no brotherly love without tolerance.
A Mason should be one who tolerates opinions and practices differing from his own. He should also be prepared to defend another’s right to have a differing opinion. Tolerance can be said to be a Mason’s recognition of the right of private judgment including his own. Remember the lyrics of the rock ballad – “HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER”.
This is not easy to do! We see instances all the time in our Blue Lodges and in our beloved Scottish Rite when brothers become agitated and sometimes almost furious when things do not align with our beliefs, opinions and view of the “world”. Simple things like a difference in ritual interpretation, budget decisions, expenditures or what kind of fish we want to go after during the lodge fishing trip can spur discord which strains our tolerance and brotherly love.
In a more global view, tolerance is constantly stressed in a world where what was once forbidden is now encouraged by some or seen as a norm by many. Divorce as become “normal”. Profanity is commonplace – visit almost any school ground or turn on your TV. This is to name just two of many practices that are prevalent today that were once taboo or “old abuses” in the language of the 30th Degree.
Where do we as Masons stand?  We must ask ourselves. Is it possible in a changing world to establish a relationship and tolerance with another whose views are 180 degrees out of phase with our own?  I think the answer is yes. Whether it be in the Lodge, our community or beyond it will take an effort. It is relatively easy to be tolerant when all he going your way. When the opposite is the case we need to be alert and strive to reason where the other party is coming from.  In so doing, it does not mean we have to necessarily change our own fundamental beliefs and values. It is all right to believe that there is right and wrong and good and bad in the framework of your own faith and spirituality.
Masonry is not about one person winning over another; it’s about whom best can work and best agree. God Bless.

Chuck Cowden - Venerable Master