The Quill and The Sword
Friday, May 23, 2014
The Three Ruffians: A Prophetic View of the Grand Master’s Annual Address of 1924
Written by Rev. John L. Hairston, Editor
The Quill and The Sword
The Quill and The Sword
What is “Prophetic”?
The term, “Prophetic”, commonly alludes to the FORE-TELLING of future events; there is an added dimension of the interpretation of the past to provide solutions for the present circumstances. The Great Light of the Volume of Sacred Law provides the framework to explain this “gift” of interpreting history to expose the ailments of the present circumstances, and place the present in its real context that will initiate the process of healing. According to 1 Corinthians 12:8, this prophetic gift is called the Word of Wisdom and Knowledge and differs from the gift of prophecy in that it doesn’t entail the foretelling of the future, but rather, interpreting the past and present to derive healing and CHANGE. As a Commissioned and Ordained Minister, a prophetic vessel for the Great Architect of the Universe, a historian and a disciple of the Philosophy of Freemasonry, I offer a Prophetic view of an excerpt from The Grand Master’s Annual Address of 1924; in hopes that those who have eyes to see will see, and those who have ears to hear will hear.
Grand Master’s Annual Address 1924 (M.W. C. W. Davis, GM)
“…But it is not given to every man to be eloquent in speech or rhetorical in rendition, and with full knowledge of my own shortcomings, I shall confine myself to at least two of those liberal arts: Grammar, because I intend to speak correctly and logicly, because that is a direct inquiry into Truth. I shall make no allusions to the mistakes of the head as being contrary to the intentions of the heart. I appreciate too well the God-given attribute which I possess, in common with all mankind, to express myself according to the dictates of my own conscience
“Should I fail to make mention of all the working tools of our profession, I shall endeavor to apply them. I shall not make use of the Tyler’s implement however, only as a symbol of Truth, which cuts like a two-edged sword. I bring you the truth and the “truth shall make you free.
“One year ago I was elected as your Grand Master, under circumstances rather peculiar, in a Grand Lodge of Masons. Had I aspired for the honor of that great and dignified office, and the brethren seemed willing to accord me that honor in return for long and meritorious service, I would have been happy in the thought that our Masonry was responsive to its sublime teachings in that everything must come by merit. But in this instance I had done the Grand Lodge little or no service, and I had no aspiration for office. I was selected to serve because a dire emergency existed. As one brother expressed it, I was used to “let the bars down.” How this inelegant figure of speech found its way into Masonry, I cannot say, but its application seems plain.
“These so-called “bars” represent the sum total of achievement of this Grand Lodge from the time when its founders allowed themselves to be tempted by the lure of ambition for power and place. These Masons of an earlier day, inspired by all the lofty ideals of which masonry boasts, and being desirous of propagating our Art on the Pacific Coast, and, like Prince Hall, “chaffing under the fetters” of distant Sovereign Grand Lodges, which placed certain limitations upon their endeavors, made a determined stride for freedom and sovereign rights by organizing and perfecting their own vineyard, whereby they might sow the seeds of masonry and reap the harvest of their Masonic labor unhindered by any restriction save that imposed by the Constitutions and Landmarks of the Fraternity.
“All went well until the question of leadership came up for consideration. It was there that the first ruffian “Ambition”, appeared to block the way of honest endeavor, followed closely by a second “Competition”, and by the union of these two, one more deadly and dangerous than the rest was born, “Politics”, and then and there a blow was struck at our embryo organization from which it has never recovered.
“Torn and divided by this evil thing which had crept among them, it was five years before there was any hope of union. In the meantime this lusty child Politics had assumed enormous proportions, guided and controlled by ambitious men who had acquired considerable skill in its manipulations. It was not long before a machine was built up for the purpose of holding and maintaining power and place and control; and Masonry was divided into two classes: a ruling class and a suffering class; and Aristocracy and a Democracy.
“Thus were the “Bars” raised up against every moral progress, and we find ourselves after 20 years of existence, and at the close of 6 years of successive elections to office, made possible only by the power of this political machine, on the brink of disruption, the Craft divided, hate taking the place of love; confusion and disorder; the very traditional tragedy of the Temple being enacted in our midst.
“The crucial time had arrived, the long-suffering masses had at last awakened to the fact that Masonry knows no rulers; that Masonry is ruled by Law alone. It is recorded that Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he did not drive them out. The ruler keeps his subjects in ignorance lest they discover their freedom. He demands loyalty, a thing which can only be bought with love. The stupid devotion of a few followers is his only dependence for safety. Masonry has no time for such wasted devotion.
“Our bounden duty lies only in one direction, and that is fidelity to the Order and its sublime principles and not to any man’s personal ambitions.
“In sailing in the Corrupt Sea of Politics, the shoals, reefs, and storms which are ever prevalent in these dangerous waters, has left its tell-tale marks on the ship of Masonry of this jurisdiction.”
The Prophetic Perspective
Traditionally, the “three ruffians” have alluded to intolerance, ignorance and tyranny, but Grand Master C. W. Davis alluded them to Ambition, Competition and Politics. There is nothing wrong with Ambition, Competition or Politics if they are applied in their MORAL and PROPER context; when these harmless principles fall into the hearts and minds of those who have not been truly reformed by the sublime principles of Freemasonry, we find them used as weapons of disharmony and discord; a cancer to any Order or organization.
As previously defined in the opening paragraph of this article, the Prophetic is the gift or ability to divine from the past and present Wisdom and Knowledge vital to the healing and change of something or someone. As we have witnessed time again in the annals of history and scripture that when a God-ordained entity falls from the purpose for which it was intended, signs and words of prophetic warning comes as a landmark by which we may return to the path and course of destiny. There is no matter the level of justification of the culprits of the disharmony, no matter in whether the general audience approves or believes the message provided; the message is placed in the hearing of the people and the word is full of purpose that will not be denied or hindered. There is only acceptance and change/reform, or disregard and consequence.
The three “ruffians” of Ambition, Competition and Politics have never truly been apprehended in the Jurisdictions, they have only been cloaked in the hearts for a time until they deem it most profitable for their reappearance. They hide in the hearts of so-called masons who carry the burning embers of past feuds and old “customs” that have never truly been extinguished in them; they then ignite the same in other Brethren, and whisper the wind of corruption that the flames may catch fire and spread in hopes of accomplishing their personal agendas.
How can we identify the “three ruffians” of Ambition, Competition and Politics? By guide of the Volume of Sacred Law, the book of Proverbs, chapter 6, verses 16-19:
“These six things doth the LORD HATE: yea, seven are an ABOMINATION unto him: A PROUD LOOK, A LYING TONGUE, AND HANDS THAT SHED THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT, A HEART THAT DEVISETH WICKED IMAGINATIONS, FEET THAT BE SWIFT IN RUNNING TO MISCHIEF, A FALSE WITNESS THAT SPEAKETH LIES, AND HE THAT SOWETH DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN.”
The three ruffians of Ambition, Competition and Politics operate and function most effectively in the environment created by the 7 abominations. These 7 abominations are the instruments that murder and maim the conduct and character of brothers in pursuit of vain ambitions, fueled by competition and politics. These ruffians attempt to find rest in the hearing and hearts of the unsuspecting, cloaked as whispered “words of counsel” and “wisdom of instruction”; they desire dark corners, inner circles and any means of communication to work their witchcraft; the sources of this discord never seeks direct confrontation with the object of their works, but choose to operate in the darkness, out of sight of those who carry the light of good judgment; if the substance of their actions are placed in the scale of the Master’s charge and other obligations of Freemasonry, such as, “reminding their brother of his faults in friendliest of manner” or “to defend his character”, we will find a blatant violation of these instructions; which when questioned as to the gross violation and disregard for our tenet principles for more suitable Masonic conduct, you then become the object of their works as well.
In the Legend, the three culprits are apprehended at the command of the representation of DIVINE WISDOM. It is divine wisdom that comes from the Supreme Architect of the Universe, who has stated that we operate in decency and IN ORDER. Where we find the flagrant operation of the three ruffians, we can find an organization that has become disconnected from its DIVINE SOURCE, abandoning its true purpose to become more infested with the cancer of vain AMBITIONS, trivial COMPETITIONS, and dirty POLITICS.
As we make way into another Annual Grand Communication, let us reassess whether we operate in the spirit of the three ruffians of vain ambitions, trivial competitions and dirty politics, or are we moving in the godly course of Brotherly love, Relief and TRUTH. We are accountable for decisions and conduct, even if the consequence is not immediate; think not that the arm of the Supreme Judge of all Souls has weakened. The futile whispers of Ambition, Competition and Politics cannot hinder or obstruct the course of Prophetic destiny, those whispers and subsequent operations serve only to fall upon the heads of the sources of such works.