Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Freemasonry and America

Here are my comments in regards to the post and comments of Christopher over at The Church and The Liberal Tradition.

You state "I'm resistant to what I think is a reckless characterization of America as some kind of 'Masonic experiment.'" Well, regardless if you admit it or not, it's still a "fact," which you must sooner or latter admit to. Do some reading of both Catholic and non-Catholic sources my friend, which were provided to you in the comments on one of your earlier posts.

Brother, I beg you, the next time you visit D.C, open your eyes, OPEN your eyes. The entire city was designed by Masons (layout of the streets, all the significant buildings, memorials, White House, Capital Bldg, etc.). If the founders were so intent in making the physical structure of our nation's capital Masonic, is it not reasonable to assume that Freemasonry also influenced their beliefs & therefore their writings? Read any number of a dozen plus books I referenced to you and then let's chat.

To compare Muslims to Freemasons is not proper. In short, study what the Church teaches about Freemasonry. For example (one of hundreds), Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical letter Humanum Genus (1884) equated Freemasonry with the Kingdom of Satan. Study what any number of saints had to say about Freemasonry, i.e. St. Maximilian Kolbe, etc. Refer to what the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (B16 himself) had to say about Freemasonry in 1983. The list goes on and on...

In regards to prayer, I recommend the following books.

Prayer: The Mission of the Church by Jean Danielou

Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar

World of Prayer by Adrienne Von Speyr

With God and With Men: Prayers by Adrienne Von Speyr

In regards to religious freedom, John Courtney Murray, and the Second Vatican Council, I recommend anything by Dr. David L. Schindler on this topic. The ROP articles (not on-line, but being snail-mailed to you) written by Baxter, Novak & Schindler are excellent, in addition to one of Schindler's Communio articles, which is on-line.

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A few additional points...

Whalen's book is a good start, but it should not be the end. Another book that you might consider reading is directly below.

Behind the Lodge Door

My recommendation would be to study both Catholic and non-Catholic (even Masonic) books. There is no one perfect book on this topic. Study everything you can get your hands on, either at the library or buying used books, etc.

To my knowledge (and I could be wrong here b/c I'm not a historical theologian) the Church has never condemned the deity of Muslims. Muslims worship God the Father (excluding the Son and Holy Spirit). The Church has taught very clearly about the deity of Masonry and it's none of the above.... It's the devil.

Which leads to the following point and I'm not the first to make it. It is this - Errors in the understanding of who and what God (or more appropriately god) is for our Masonic Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc.) led to errors in many other areas of their thought, including their understanding of religious freedom, which are spelled out in our governing documents. The logic of the Founding Fathers is a mixed-bag of Masonic, Enlightenment, and classical principles. I refer you to Kraynak's and Craycraft's books on this topic.

Schindler in his various pieces (as mentioned above - the Fall 1998 issue of The Review of Politics & the on-line article from the EWTN library plus Chapter One of his book.) gives a strong critique (very nuanced) of Murray's thought on religious freedom and that of our Founding Fathers.

In regards to your last paragraph... What exactly do you mean by the "God of America"? There is only One God for all of mankind regardless of what individuals may choose to believe... Some have a more fuller understanding than others, i.e. Catholics. The "God of America" is the Lord Jesus Christ, but that doesn't mean the founding documents of our country are not full of erroneous principles derived from Masonic and Enlightenment thought.

8 comments:

Chris Burgwald said...

I've commented at Christopher's post...

David said...

Thanks Chris. Your position is my position. We stand together.

Stephen Hand over at TCRnews Musings was kind enough to post an excerpt of the above post on his website with a deeply symbolic Masonic graphic. Thank you my friend.

Christopher said...

In regards to your last paragraph... What exactly do you mean by the "God of America"? There is only One God for all of mankind regardless of what individuals may choose to believe

David, this was in response to your initial comment (responding to Congress' declaration of December 11, 1776 as a "Day of Fasting and Repentance," imploring Almighty God to guide them in the days ahead) -- to which you had said (quote): But is the god of Freemasons the same God of Catholics? What does the Church teach us?

Pardon (because it now appears I had misinterpreted you and we're talking past each other), but I took that initial comment as a dismissal that the God of Congress and America is "the god of Freemasons".

As I responded:

But is the god of Freemasons the same God of Catholics? -- In a word, no. Of course not. But since we're talking about the founding years of our nation, we might as well ask is the God of Anglicans and Presbyterians and Quakers and Mennonites and Protestants of every stripe not to mention the God of Jews and deists and unitarians the same God of Catholics? -- A modern rendering of the same question: Do Christians pray to the same God as Muslims?

My point is that we live in a pluralistic nation made up of adherents to many religious traditions. On those occasions when Congress formally requests American citizens to pray to God for the spiritual welfare of the country, they are not "praying to the God of the Freemasons" (as your statement implied), but rather to the God of their respective traditions, be it Catholic or of varying denominations of Protestantism, Judaism or otherwise.

Masonism

That Masonism is condemned by the Catholic Church is not in dispute here.

You contend that "the logic of the Founding Fathers is a mixed-bag of Masonic, Enlightenment, and classical principles" -- that's precisely the issue that I'd like to investigate: to what degree the philosophical foundations of the American experiment was tainted by Enlightenment [and/or Masonic] presuppositions?

This of course calls for a serious investigation, as well as weighing the research of those like Novak (On Two Wings), John Courtney Murray, Jacques Maritain, and precursors like Alexis de Tocqueville who contend that the founding father's openness to religion and religious freedom -- in some cases in spite of their deism and membership as Masons -- doesn't necessarily render political democracy as embodied in the "American experiment" antagonistic to the Catholic faith.

Chris Burgwald's qualification is very helpful here:

. . . one can be a Freemason (in the sense of visible membership) without subscribing in full to the Enlightenment worldview, just as one can be a Catholic (in the sense of visible membership) without subscribing in full to the Catholic worldview.

My point here is that determining the worldview of our nation's founding fathers is not as simple as seeing which organizations they belonged to.

NB: I do believe that many or most of our Founders had the Enlightenment worldview; I am only saying that this is not determined by noting that they were Masons and saying nothing more.
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David said...

I also greatly appreciated and agree with Chris' comments on your blog in regards to this topic.

Christopher - Yes of course, you should study Michael Novak, John Courtney Murray, Jacques Maritain, & Alexis de Tocqueville. I would also highly recommend Russell Kirk. He does the best job that I have seen in regards to establishing the "classical roots" of our country. I specifically refer you to the following two excellent books of Russell Kirk's of which I am sure you will immensely enjoy.

The Roots of American Order

The American Cause

Russell Kirk will direct you to the thought of Edmund Burke, but also to Orestes Brownson. The later being very important to this discussion.

If I could make one strong recommendation to you it would be this - Study very carefully the thought of Dr. David L. Schindler. He has really thought through these topics and teaches no less than two graduate level courses on them. Refer to his required books for these courses.

Anonymous said...

David:

Your observations are very interesting here. In the Church of the Nazarene, part of our "rule" is that we are prohibited from joining "secret, oath bearing societies". While the theological rationale is not developed, the practical results are the same.

Your observations need to be transmitted to members of the Church of the Nazarene who have become very deeply committed to the Founding Fathers of the United States, rather than emulate the saints through the ages. Thank you very much.

Peace,
John Wright

Christopher said...

I elaborated on the above comment along with some personal reservations about researching this topic here.

Q: David, from what I understand he defends the Christian heritage of our nation and our founding fathers (I've yet to read the book, my initial impressions are based on this review). How does his defense stand up against the criticisms you have previously offered of their Masonic / Enlightenment origins?

David said...

Christopher,

Thanks for your post on your blog. I don't pretend to have all the answers in this dialog. I'm open and willing to learn as you are. Like you, these topics greatly interest and concern me. Like you, it's a passion to dive into all of this stuff, and there is a lot of it! These topics provide a life-long journey or pursuit of truth down many roads of the thinking of many, many great men. God save me, I love it!

I am not an expert on the thought of Russell Kirk, but many people that I read highly regard him therefore over the last year in particular I truly discovered and began reading him. I recently purchased The American Cause, but have not completely read through it to be honest. I'm terrible about reading through any book… I normally ready anywhere from 10-20 books at a time. Maybe I shall read it on my plane ride to Italy here in a few days. It's a short book. The history of why he wrote the book is fascinating. His Roots of American Order is more substantial (significantly thicker) and really develops the classical influences from Greece. Rome, Jerusalem, and London on our country's founding. I think for sure to get his position of the various Enlightenment thinkers, one would have to read this book and others of his.

kodiak said...

Yall might find this interesting:

http://www.claremont.org/writings/961201west.html