Monthly Archives: December 2004

An incipient anti-Semitism?

From Orthodoxy Today

Israel received over one-third of human rights criticism from mainline Protestant denominations and over one-half when criticisms toward the United States are factored out. Yet Freedom House (and every other human rights group) blames Israel for a “very small proportion of world human rights abuses – and hardly the worst of those.” Does this suggest some kind of animus against the Jewish people?

While careful to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from the charge of anti-Semitism, the report notes that the political rhetoric between historically anti-Semitic groups and the Protestant mainstream is converging.

In Europe, there are concrete alliances between leftist Christians and anti-Semitic organizations. The World Council of Churches (a European counterpart to the NCC) is led by leftist European elites who support antiwar and anti-globalization movements where “anti-Semitism is often the key subtext.” These movements serve as “an incubator for rising anti-Semitism,” according to scholar Gabriel Schoenfeld (The Return of Anti-Semitism, p.86).

Such alliances don’t formally exist in America – yet – but the evidence of sympathy between “mainstream” Protestants and anti-Semites is growing. In a February 2004 speech on the war in Iraq, Jim Winkler, the general secretary of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, said:

The only possible way [Operation Iraqi Freedom] could be sold to the American people was to allege that Saddam’s regime represented an imminent threat to the United States. We now know that plans to invade Iraq were afoot more than a decade ago by a far-right band of Washington insiders known as neoconservatives. Their plans were not to remake the Middle East into a bunch of democracies – they really have no objection to several of the royal autocracies and dictatorships in the region – but to ensure Israel could continue to act with impunity against the Palestinian people.

The report concludes that while this statement is not overtly anti-Semitic, the use of term “neoconservative” as a code word for “Jews,” the charges of secrecy and loyalty to Israel, and the one sided criticism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, fits popular anti-Semitic rhetoric. Winkler made no effort to distinguish his ideas from that rhetoric.

In August 2004, the website of the Witherspoon Society, an association of Presbyterian liberals, posted a letter describing Israeli Jews as “a colonial implant of religious zealots – the guests from Hell who have remained on as the sole owners of Hell.” Despite protests, the letter remained on the site.

{Read the whole thing}

One person’s grave stone. . .

A stone carving that was used as a cat’s headstone has sold for £200,000 at auction – five times its estimate.
The medieval limestone relief of St Peter was discovered at a quarry by a stonemason Johnny Beeston, from Dowlish Wake, Somerset.

He took it home and used it as a grave marker when stray tabby cat Winkle died. But when he himself passed away the stone was examined by a historian.

The carving was sold at Sothebys in London on Friday.

The importance of the piece was only realised when potter and amateur historian Chris Brewchorne spotted it lying in the couple’s garden.

Alexander Cader, of Sotheby’s, said: “The relief is made from Oolithic limestone and is incredibly rare, as few reliefs of this period have survived, time normally having worn the surface detail away.

Correspondence between Rowan Williams and the Grand Lodge of England:

New Archbishop of Canterbury

(Dr Rowan Williams)

The Independent on 15 November carried a report of the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s views on Freemasonry. Dr Williams has doubts as to the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity, stated that he refused to promote Freemasons to “sensitive” posts within the Church in Wales and suggested that part of the ritual was rooted in Satanism. His views have greatly upset Freemasons. The Grand Secretary has written to the Archbishop challenging his views and inviting him to meet senior Freemasons to discuss his concerns.

An unsatisfactory reply was received, dated 18 December 2002, from his Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs. The Grand Secretary then wrote another letter to the Archbishop on 14 January 2003, which prompted a reply from the Archbishop himself, dated 23 January.

Click here to see the letters.

Also From the Grand Lodge of England

Freemasonry and Religion

Introduction

The following information is intended to deal with a topic mentioned in the leaflet ‘What is Freemasonry’.

It explains the United Grand Lodge of England’s view of the relationship between Freemasonry and religion.

Basic Statement

Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It demands of its members a belief in a Supreme Being but provides no system of faith of its own.

Freemasonry is open to men of all religious faiths. The discussion of religion at its meetings is forbidden.

The Supreme Being

The names used for the Supreme Being enable men of different faiths to join in prayer (to God as each sees Him) without the terms of the prayer causing dissention among them.

There is no separate Masonic God; a Freemason’s God remains the God of the religion he professes.

Freemasons meet in common respect for the Supreme Being, but He remains Supreme in their individual religions, and it is no part of Freemasonry to attempt to join religions together. There is therefore no composite Masonic God.

Volume of the Sacred Law

The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open at every Masonic meeting.

The Obligation of Freemasonry

The Obligations taken by Freemasons are sworn on or involve the Volume of the Sacred Law, or the book held sacred by those concerned. They are undertakings to help keep secret a Freemason’s means of recognition, and to follow the principles of Freemasonry.

The physical penalties, which are purely symbolic, do not form part of an Obligation. The commitment to follow the principles of Freemasonry is, however, deep.

Freemasonry Compared with Religion

Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion.

a) it has no theological doctrine, and by forbidding religious discussion at its meetings will not allow a Masonic theological doctrine to develop.

b) It offers no sacraments.

c) It does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge or by any other means. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition and not with salvation.

Freemasonry Supports Religion

Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion. Without interfering in religious practice it expects each member to follow his own faith, and to place above all other duties his duty to God, by whatever name He is known. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.

Freemasonry is thus a supporter of religion.

From the Grand Lodge of England

Freemasonry: Your Questions Answered
Q Aren’t you a religion or a rival to religion?
A Emphatically not. Freemasonry requires a belief in God and its principles are common to many of the world’s great religions. Freemasonry does not try to replace religion or substitute for it. Every candidate is exhorted to practise his religion and to regard its holy book as the unerring standard of truth. Freemasonry does not instruct its members in what their religious beliefs should be, nor does it offer sacrements. Freemasonry deals in relations between men; religion deals in a man’s relationship with his God.
Q Why do you call it the VSL and not the Bible?
A To the majority of Freemasons the Volume of the sacred Law is the Bible. There are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible will always be present in an English lodge but as the organisation welcomes men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion and to a Christian it will be the Bible.
Q
Why do you call God the Great Architect?
A Freemasonry embraces all men who believe in God. Its membership includes Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Parsees and others. The use of descriptions such as the Great Architect prevents disharmony. The Great Architect is not a specific Masonic god or an attempt to combine all gods into one. Thus, men of differing religions pray together without offense being given to any of them.
Q Why don’t some churches like Freemasonry?
A There are elements within certain churches who misunderstand Freemasonry and confuse secular rituals with religious liturgy. Although the Methodist Conference and the General Synod of the Anglican Church have occasionally criticised Freemasonry, in both Churches there are many Masons and indeed others who are dismayed that the Churches should attack Freemasonry, an organisation which has always encouraged its members to be active in their own religion.
Q Why will Freemasonry not accept Roman Catholics as members?
A It does. The prime qualification for admission into Freemasonry has always been a belief in God. How that belief is expressed is entirely up to the individual. Four Grand Masters of English Freemasonry have been Roman Catholics. There are many Roman Catholic Freemasons.

Might be a good time to post this. . .

ANGLICAN MEDIADIOCESE OF CANBERRA AND GOULBURN
JAMIESON HOUSE43 CONSTITUTION AVENUEREID, ACT 2601
Tuesday 25 November 2003
MEDIA RELEASE
FREEMASONS AND THE ANGLICAN CHURCH
The recent resolution adopted by the Sydney Synod was based on the concept that Freemasonry and Christianity are incompatible.The resolution was tabled by Reverend Bill Winthrop of Lithgow and is based on his own perception of what Freemasonry represents.My only gauge of Freemasonry and of Freemasons is my observation of the quality of their lives. In my 37 years of ministry I have generally found Freemasons to be people with integrity and with a heightened sense of commitment to the community.The Anglican Church is a community in which there is scope for office holders to hold a range of opinions on a number of issues. The debates and resolutions in our synods are indicative of the tolerance and strength of the Church. Although differences in opinion may exist, our community is bound together by a commitment to the over-riding love of God in Christ, and compassion and tolerance that Christ taught us.Personally, I have been more distressed by incidents where the compassion of the church has been withheld on the simple grounds that family members were Freemasons. It is very difficult to understand how these incidents portray the true Christian spirit.The resolution is not binding on folk in the Diocese of Sydney and of little relevance to those outside. Therefore this issue is essentially a matter between a rector and members of his/her congregation.I call on all clergy and lay people within the Church to meet Freemasons with respect and a listening ear, and for Anglican Freemasons to be alert to possible issues that may be a cause of conflict for them in living out their Christian faith.
Bishop George BrowningBishop of Canberra & Goulburn
Contact: Alan Wilson on (02) 6248 0666 or alan.wilson@anglican.org.au

African Anglicans, Presbyterians and Freemasonry

Youth, Manhood, Old Age

Youth, Manhood, Old Age

[ad#ad-3]Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi yesterday waded into the dispute over so-called Satanic symbols in Protestant churches with an appeal for caution in judging Freemasons.

The primate sent an indirect appeal to reformists in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa – who have smashed church windows and gates bearing masonic symbols – saying that while Freemasonry was incompatible with Christianity, worshippers should not be emotional about it.
[ad#freemasonry]

Not a big surprise

But anything less than discipline will only further the intervention by other provinces.

Eams and the Griz

One of Anglicanisms most senior leaders has signalled that the American Church is never likely to face discipline for its decision to consecrate the Anglican Communions first practising gay bishop. The Irish Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, warned that the Communions conservative provinces should not expect calls to be answered for the American Church and diocese of New Westminster, which authorised same-sex blessing rites, to be punished.

Someone Else’s SongWilcoBeing There (Disc 2)3:21