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Arcane Masonry!

Look, I’m not just a Mason, I was Master of my Lodge which means I know all the silly walks.

Now some people are quick to accuse us of being Illuminati and I frequently claim that myself, but as a joke. To the extent we have any “hidden” knowledge it’s the radical revolutionary doctrines of the early Enlightenment and the Scientific Method. At the time these were a huge threat to “Divine Right” as inflicted on a population of Serfs and endorsed by the superstitious propaganda of the Authoritarian Roman Catholic Church.

Not that the Reformation was sweetness and light, in some ways it simply sublimated those same authoritarian impulses into sexual repression, austerity, and Capitalism. Kind of damned if you do.

You may wonder how an atheist like me got accepted into an organization that pays at least lip service to a divine being and the answer is twofold. Firstly they were desperate and dying, anxious for any kind of new members to extend their ranks. Secondly they were willing to “relax” their standards, as my sponsor put it, “We don’t care if you worship the hub caps on a ’57 Cadillac.”

Well, they are pretty hub caps.

Which brings me to my main point (I have others, it makes me all prickly but you already know that) which is that Freemasons have always been kind of inclusive.

Kind of. We still don’t accept Women and I guess that makes me sexist by association. We have African-American members but not many because most of them get steered to a separate but better organization called Prince Hall Masons.

Better? These guys had their ritual (also called floor work) cold. My Lodge could barely stumble to an “acceptable” rating based only on wishful thinking and political pull after multiple inspections (do overs). I blame myself entirely, I am a horrible Mason.

I’m much better at agitating and I’m proud that I advocated for and succeeded in getting full cross recognition between the “White” Lodges and the almost exclusively African-American ones. I was one of the representatives on the committee that negotiated this and it may surprise you that the primary difficulty was the Prince Hall Masons’ suspicions (probably justified) that we were looking to cherry pick their members.

Anyway, outside of women (and let me tell you, were I active anymore I’d be pounding the point that nothing attracts young men like young women and vice versa) main line Masonry is fairly tolerant. Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, whatever. This is what gives us our reputation for Bible desecration and drinking the blood of Christian babies (tastes about how you would think it does, delicious as a Mother’s tears).

Our eclectic attitude and rationality has always been anathema to the Catholic Church which has gone as far as to declare us heretics and excommunicate anyone who joins (as if membership in the Church is desirable, what about atheist are you not getting?). Because of the historical popularity of the Masonic Movement (really, not so much any more) the Church felt compelled to create counter-organizations to combat our Illuminati influence. They ape some of the most ludicrous practices and bizarre costumes, the one best known in the United States is the Knights of Columbus.

But there is a thousand year history of Crusader Warrior Monks to draw on and a fairly popular one outside the U.S. is the Knights of Malta.

Ten Centuries Later, a Pope and Knights Do Battle
By JASON HOROWITZ, The New York Times
JAN. 28, 2017

It began as a fight over staffing. Then came a dispute about condoms, followed by papal concerns about Freemasons. Now it has become a full-scale proxy war between Pope Francis and the Vatican traditionalists who oppose him, with the battleground being a Renaissance palace flanked by Jimmy Choo and Hermès storefronts on Via dei Condotti, Rome’s most exclusive street.

The palace is the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, the medieval Roman Catholic order. For months, an ugly, if quiet, spat over staffing simmered behind the order’s walls before spilling across the Tiber River to the Vatican, setting off a back-and-forth between the two camps. Francis and his lieutenants sent angry letters. The Knights ignored them, claiming sovereignty.

This past week, the dispute finally blew up. Fed up, Francis took the extraordinary steps of demanding the resignation of the order’s leader — a decision the Knights officially accepted Saturday — and announcing that a papal delegate would step in.

Conservatives promptly denounced what they called an illegal annexation and ideological purging by a power-obsessed pontiff, while liberal observers saw the whole episode as resulting from an act of subterfuge by the pope’s most public critic within the Vatican hierarchy, the American cardinal Raymond Burke.

Francis remains one of the world’s most popular figures, but the spat with the Knights is a small indicator of how the political tensions rippling across the globe are alive in the Vatican, too. Only a year ago, Francis’ calls to fight climate change and help migrants seemed to place him in the lead of a progressive global vanguard, in keeping with his push for a more welcoming church.

Now, suddenly, he is more politically isolated. The election of President Trump and the rise of far-right populists in Europe have ushered in an angrier era — and emboldened traditionalists inside the Vatican who sense that the once-impregnable pope could be vulnerable.

The Knights of Malta is a bastion of Catholic tradition. Founded in the 11th century by Amalfian merchants to help Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land, it later became a military force, defending the faith during the Crusades and eventually holding off the armies of the Ottoman Empire from its fortress in Malta. The group, now with a wealthy and aristocratic membership of elite Catholics who parade in ornate raiment, has more recently specialized in aiding refugees and the poor in more than 100 countries.

In 2014, Francis had demoted Cardinal Burke, a leader of the church’s traditionalist movement, from his position on the Vatican’s Supreme Court. The cardinal’s supporters say Francis did this because of Cardinal Burke’s opposition to the pope’s tentative opening to the possibility of allowing divorced Catholics to receive communion.

Cardinal Burke’s exile was at least a cushy one, as the pope named him as the Knights’ patron and liaison to the Vatican, where he would be out of the way.

But the soft-spoken cardinal has made his presence felt.

During the summer, as tensions mounted inside the order, Michael Hichborn, the president of the Lepanto Institute, a conservative Catholic organization in Virginia, conducted what he called a “short investigation” into the order’s international aid arm, which Mr. Boeselager oversaw.

Mr. Hichborn said he had discovered that the aid organization was promoting the use of condoms and other contraceptives in Africa and Myanmar, a violation of church rules.

“As I was digging around I thought, ‘Well, Cardinal Burke ought to know about this,’” Mr. Hichborn said in an interview.

A few days later, Cardinal Burke relayed his concerns about Mr. Boeselager to Francis. According to supporters of the cardinal, the pope then instructed him to root out from the order elements of Freemasonry, Vatican shorthand for adherents of a secular moral view. But other people familiar with the events inside the order said the pope had also urged Cardinal Burke and the order’s leadership to settle the dispute through dialogue.

Instead, Mr. Festing and Cardinal Burke met Mr. Boeselager on Dec. 6 and requested his resignation, claiming, Mr. Boeselager said in a statement, “that this was in accordance with the wishes of the Holy See.”

Mr. Boeselager denied knowing about the condom distribution program and considered the move a coup and an attempt to tarnish him as a “liberal Catholic.” He argued that once he had discovered the program, he had informed the Vatican and it ended.

The pope was already critical of the ornate dress favored by the Knights (red military jacket and gold epaulets) and by Cardinal Burke (a long train of billowing red silk known as a cappa magna). Francis also had a history of run-ins with the Knights during his time as a cardinal in Argentina.

Mr. Festing hardly needed to be egged on by Cardinal Burke, and note(d) that despite having no territory, the order is, in fact, sovereign, issuing its own passports and stamps and conducting diplomatic missions.

Either way, the Vatican was not thrilled. On Jan. 17, it issued an unusually tough statement supporting the commission and rejecting “any attempt to discredit these members of the group and their work.” The commission ultimately ruled that the pope did have authority over the Knights of Malta.

On Tuesday, he exercised it. He called Mr. Festing to the Vatican and asked for him to step down, a move the Vatican announced the next day. The order followed with its own statement, saying Mr. Festing’s resignation would become official once the order’s counselors met on Via dei Condotti to formally accept it. On Saturday, they did just that, immediately reinstating Mr. Boeselager and promising to collaborate with the pope’s delegate.

This delighted the pope’s supporters, who said it showed that conniving conservatives would not push him around.

But supporters of Mr. Festing were horrified by the Vatican’s de facto takeover. Supporters of Cardinal Burke complained that the pope, for all his talk of fostering debate, was intolerant of opposing views, especially more orthodox ones.

“It sends a message to the rest of the Catholic world that if you try to stand for orthodoxy in the church, you are going to be sent away,” Mr. Hichborn said. “And the people pushing for heterodoxy will be put in power.”

In short, poor persecuted Conservatives being picked on by Politically Correct Liberals so that they no longer feel admired and respected for their bigoted misogynous ignorance. Boo who? Crawl back under your rock you miserable excuses for human beings.

I’ll note the only connection to Freemasonry is utter disgust at our devil worshiping blasphemy and sacrilege. Almost makes me proud to be a member.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

    Vent Hole

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