by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Scott Dueball
When I was taking new member classes for my current congregation, we were provided a handout titled, A Lutheran Approach to Interpreting Scripture. This guide concisely describes the unique, scholarly approach that the Lutheran sect of the Christian church takes in reading the bible (ok, if you are a serious Lutheran you know there are nuances, but let’s not get caught up in the minutia). I am not suggesting that anyone else read the Bible this way; it works for me while I continue to admire the sundry of religious ideology within our Gentle Craft. However, as I look back at my Masonic writing, I notice that I take this same approach in regards to our ritual and philosophy. It is ingrained into how I experience the world. What I want to address here is how we might use this in the examination of our Masonic teachings. There are four points to this approach:
- Contextual Examination-both literary and historical
- Principle of Analogy
- ‘Scripture in light of Scripture’- remaining faithful to the broader message of the text rather than picking a choosing the parts that support our position
- Assigning value-Some elements of the text are given more value than others
Some of these points are supremely important to our present understanding of the ritual and others open up some of the deepest questions I have ever pondered. When we are examining the ritual do we give consideration to the language, world understanding, and political climate that each section was written in? To that end, do we (the larger fraternity) understand when and how the ritual was composed? It seems obvious that analogy and allegory play a role in our ritual but do we explore new ways to apply the ritual to our modern lives? Do we zoom out and examine the entire body of ritual text(s) to better understand the broader themes or do we piecemeal the parts that specifically fit within our current worldview? Lastly, how do we assign value to the various elements of our ritual? Over a series of posts, I will expand on these techniques for use in our reading of the ritual and hope to incite some deeper reflections within each of you. Each piece in this series will address new ways to use this approach to develop our understanding of the ritual.
~SSDWB Scott S. Dueball
is the Worshipful Master of D.C. Cregier Lodge No. 81 in Wheeling, IL and holds a dual membership in Denver Lodge No. 5 in Denver, CO. He currently serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as the State Education Officer. Scott is also a member of the Palatine York Rite bodies and the Valley of Chicago A.A.S.R.-N.M.J. He is passionate about the development of young masons, strategy and visioning for Lodges. He can be reached at SEO@ilmason.org
I often try to explain to new initiates that there will most likely be some difficulty in their understanding of the language and syntax used in most , if not all of our degree work and rituals. Especially those in the EA (3rd section), the stair lecture and the legend. Even portions of each obligation uses an older form of the English language that is seldom used in these modern times. We advise them throughout the degrees to never hesitate to ask questions during the ceremonies of initiation, passing & raising. The brothers performing the various lectures should be proficient not only in the WORDS, but in the MEANING of those same lectures and therefore should be able to pick right up if stopped for clarification by the new brother(s).ReplyDelete
I hope that in the near future the ritual can be re-composed in modern-day, Americanized English to make it more relevant to younger Masons along their way East in search of more light. I don't mean to rewrite it and remove/add anything, but to make it easier to understand and there by improving the chances of illuminating our brothers in a manner that the can relate to.
As an active Master within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky (as well as a P.M.), I notice much more from the Oriental Chair than one sees from the floor. One of those things is the looks of confusion on new initiate's faces at some of the wording. I usually stop and rephrase it in modern day language any how so what would be wrong with recomposing it in advance?
Just my 2¢ worth.