Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ninth & Tenth Degrees - Elus of the Nine & Fifteen

Towards the end of the Lodge of Perfection, the Master Mason that has been raised in a York Rite Blue Lodge starts to see the stark differences between the story told in their lodge and the story told by the Scottish Rite.  The Ninth & Tenth degrees hammer that home as the assassins were not killed, but rather survived after the third degree.  This change can be overly focused on while being communicated the degrees and the lessons kept within the two degrees can be lost as you are trying to figure out the back story vice listening to the lessons and the wonderful instructions that Pike gives.  Simply the duties that are taught in these two degrees are considered by most Masonic Scholars to be the most important, and need to be reminded daily.  They are, education, enlightenment and patriotism.  In the Scottish Rite is explained something that was curious when the Man is being raised to the third degree, and is a lesson that I find wonderful in the explanation.  The murder of Hiram Abiff is well known to all Master Masons, still the symbolism is hardly touched after a man is raised.  Here is a greater explanation, and the core teachings of these two degrees.

Hiram is first attacked and accosted at the south gate of the Temple, and is attacked by a rule.  Also, remember that Hiram was attacked and his throat was cut.  Albert Pike explains that this cutting of the throat is symbolic of the use of law to punish free speech, and to silence "a vocal minority".  We see this all the time across the world, as the use of religious laws can be perverted and made into a weapon to beat people into submission.  Pakistan has enacted "Blasphemy Laws" a couple of years ago, which is little more than  veiled attempt for the countries majority to continue to oppress and drive out the Christian minority within the country.  Being found guilty of "Blasphemy" against Islam in their country results in death (most of the time).  This isn't the brazen fronts, but simple ones, like not reading an instruction guide on Islam.  These are the type of laws that Pike warned us about, and feared the most happening in America.

Second attack Hiram was struck with a square a metal object that is formed by two rigid pieces of metal at right angles to each other; this is to represent to us the merger of religious and civil power intending to control every facet of our life, in a single word despotism.  A corner stone of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is the separation of church and state, and here again all one has to do is look across Southwest Asia where the people are victims of Ulema councils that threaten politicians and coerce them into despotism.

Lastly and the death of Hiram happens because of being hit with the Setting Maul, a blunt instrument of brute force.  This is eludes to the use of brute force to squash all intellectual thought, through intimidation and fear.  Going back to Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti was viciously gunned down in early May of 2011.  He was the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet and was killed by two Taliban thugs who wanted to silence his movement. The Taliban left pamphlets that read "With the blessing of Allah, the mujahideen will send each of you to hell," This act was decried by Human Rights groups and activists everywhere.  A small stabilizing force was removed from a country that is slowly falling into religious chaos.

     We have to be brave enough as men and Masons to call a spade a spade, but we have to be respectful of all peoples religious choices.  The inverse of all of this of course is the tyranny of a state that dictates how a church will run itself if it wishes to keep their tax exempt status, must allow communion or perform ceremonies contrary to the churches canons.

    With all of this written, the biggest theme for the degrees goes to toleration, something as a man and as a brother I struggle with daily.  I have lived in countries where the rule of law was oppressive  and that freedom of religion was swiftly answered by death.  So my judgments of other religions and cultures in my mind are harsh, and I try all I can not to repeat them.  I am not some uneducated redneck trying to cause a reaction, I am someone that has experienced the direct actions of these repressive regimes, and am grateful that I no longer have to endure them, while at the same time sad that they are continuing around the world.

I pray often for God to give me grace and forgiveness.  I also pray for toleration, the principle theme of these two degrees.

-Bro Vick

1 comment:

Scott S said...

Excellent post, as usual, Brother Vick!