Saturday, November 26, 2005

THE WIDOWS OF THE HOLY BIBLE

The Jewish people is a patriarchal society; so for readers who are too lazy to get a dictionary and get the precise meaning of the word patriarchal (this word is not found in the dictionary available in the Internet) it means that if the male rules the house, then it is patriarchal; on the other hand, if a lion tamer exists with a menacing whip on her hand- then it is matriarchal. But let us get back to the topic before the snoring lady in bed awakens and find out what this article is all about..

Readers of the Holy Writings will attest that only the masculine gender are given prominence in the Holy Bible; Adam Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, even Jesus Christ. Of course the female counterparts are also mentioned, like Eve, Mary, and Mary Magdalene. But these names were recognized mainly to exhort male chauvinistic traits, or to chronicle unpleasant events that the matriarchal society never wants.

. Take the case of Eve, for instance. She was mentioned because she goaded Adam to eat the apple, an act that would later be held responsible for the original sin of mankind.. Mary was important only because she is the mother of Jesus Christ. And Mary Magdalene?! She became prominent because she anointed Jesus with the spikenard and even on this aspect, she was made to appear as a prostitute although contemporary biblical scholars claim her role in the Bible was marginalized and that really, the hint of her being made a harlot is mainly to lessen her importance in the life of Jesus Christ. Ever heard that Jesus and Mary Magdalene living as conjugal partners that were bannered by the books “Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Templar Revelations,” etc., books that claims the Magdalene was the human vessel that carried the blood of Jesus Christ and that they have procreated descendants that live to this day? Heretical and preposterous, to say the least, some would say.

But the role of women in procreation can never be ignored and they are presented in several categories. They either are shown as (1) barren women (in local parlance, “walang ng katas”), (2) harlots (the real putang inas) (3) virgins (yong di pa nagagalaw) and (4) widows (at biyudas ano pa!). And this brief (no, not the one used as underwears!) article is about the last-mentioned category.

Widows abound in the Holy Bible and this writer has tallied no less than eight, five of whom have Masonic relevance. Let’s take them up one by one, citing them in the reverse order of their appearance. Lifo- the accountants would brag.

I. THE WIDOW MENTIONED BY ELISAH

As backgrounder, Elisah, son of Elijah, is mentioned in 2 Kings 4:1-7 the gist of which are as follows:

“The woman, whose husband is already dead approached Elisha saying that her creditors came to take her two sons as bondsmen (in local lingo, alila or longkatuts). Whereupon Elisha asked her what she has in the house and she replied, ”nothing except the pot of oil”. Elisha then ordered her to borrow similar vessels (or pots) from her neighbors, all she could gather, he said, and after which, Elisha, in the name of God, filled all the vessels with oil. He later ordered the widow: “Go sell the oil, pay your debts, and live thou and thy children with the rest.”

This biblical passage has no Masonic import, but just as wishful thinking: “Wouldn’t it be nice, if Elisha were around to help GMA fill the drained tubs of Petron, Caltex and Shell, sell these, pay the nation’s debts, and live normally ever after with Virgilio Garcillano and Jock-Joke Bolante no longer at her heels?!

II. ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW OF ZAREPATH

Elijah is mentioned in 1 Kings 18: 1-16, and is particularly relevant to members of the Craft. The gist of this biblical passage was already detailed in a previous article titled “Elijah and the Widow of Zarepath” and therefore will no longer be discussed lengthily. Suffice it to say however, that the equivalent of the mariners’ signal of distress that is eloquently expressed by the acronym SOS for “Save Our Souls”, is emphatically depicted, but this writer no longer feels obligated to relate. Readers who would want further explanation are therefore advised to get back at that article and browse over it again.

III. HIRAM ABIF, THE WIDOW’S SON

Undoubtedly the most popular to Freemasons (and understandably so since all have represented Hiram Abif), this widow is neither named nor clearly identified in the Bible. To confound matters, the writer of 1 Kings says she is from the tribe of Napthali while the author of 1 Chronicles claim he is the son of a Danite woman. However, since Naptahali and Dan are sons of Jacob by the same mother named Bilhah, then it should follow that if Hiram Abif was a descendant of Napthali, then he could not be a descendant of Dan, and vice versa!!

On a parallel case, this writer also noticed that even the genealogy of Jesus Christ also suffers the same inconsistency when the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are compared. Matthew traced the genealogy that David’s son from whom Jesus Christ came from was Solomon, while Luke said that it was from his elder brother Nathan..

Talk about the infallibility of the Holy Bible and these two classic examples will easily stir a hornet’s nest. But oh, well!!.

IV. BATHSHEBA, THE MOTHER OF SOLOMON

How a very beautiful woman named Bathsheba became a widow is a unique story in itself.

The Holy Writings (1 Samuel 11: 1-27) says that one evening David walked on the roof of his house and saw a very beautiful woman washing herself. Learning later that she is the wife of Uriah the Hittite who is one of his generals, and secretly coveting her for himself, he ordered that Uriah be sent to the most dangerous part of the battlefield, there to do battle and consequently died. After the required mourning, David took Bathsheba as one of his many wives and on the second pregnancy, Solomon was born.

Bathsheba thus was recorded as a woman who was made widow and wife by imperial might.

V. NAOMI, ORPAH AND RUTH (See Book of Ruth in its entirety)

The widowed life of Naomi, Orpah and Ruth were not as tantalizing as that of Bathsheba. The three became widows as follows: Naomi by her husband Elime-elech; Orpah by Mahlon and Ruth by Chil-on, with the last two mentioned males being sons of Naomi.

After the death of their respective husbands, the three returned to Judah, no! not the name but the place. Since the two daughters-in-law were Moabites, Naomi persuaded them to return to their respective places so that they can return to their own normal lives before they got married. But while Orpah heeded her mother-in-law, Ruth decided to stay. It is while living with Naomi that Boaz, a wealthy land-owner and relative of Elim-elech took notice of Ruth, and in accordance with ancient Israelitish custom claimed her for his wife.

Boaz and Ruth would later sire Obed who is the father of Jesse and Jesse producing a son named David who became the second king of Israel.

The Masonic relevance of this biblical passage traces the part of the lecture in the EAM degree that says:

“You are neither barefoot nor shod, in allusion to an ancient Israelitish custom adopted among Masons. Concerning redeeming, we read in the Book of Ruth. . .”

There you are. You should now pick the continuation of the lecture from there!!

VI. TAMAR, THE WIDOW OF ER (Genesis 38: 1-30)

Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, had three sons named Er, Onan and Shelah. In fine Judah had Er married to Tamar. But Er died without producing a son and so in accordance with tradition, Judah required his second son Onan to cohabit with Tamar. Onan however, knowing that any offspring would not be credited to him but to his elder brother, spills his semen on the ground whenever the make contact and thereafter died likewise without a descendant. Again, in accordance with tradition, Judah convinced Tamar to stay in his house so that he can give Shelah to her for a husband when he fully grows up.

Shelah finally matured without the promise being fulfilled and so Tamar tricked Judah, who by that time had already become a widower, by covering her face with a veil and wrapped herself up so that she will not be recognized. She thereafter disguised herself as a harlot and to whom Judah promised a kid or young goat as payment for carnal relations, and thereafter the sexual act was consummated.

After the event, Judah bid leave but since payment was not yet effected, he was required to leave behind his signet, bracelet and staff as guarantee for payment. Too late did he learn three months later that Tamar was pregnant and that the seed came from his own loins on that epic misadventure at the wayside...

The underlying message of it all is that by tricking Judah to that sexual act, she consigned herself to the role of a lioness who became the matriarchal ascendant of the tribe from whom David, Solomon, Jesus Christ and even Emperor Hail Selassie of Ethiopia lay claim on that immortal phrase “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”

Thursday, November 17, 2005

ELIJAH AND THE WIDOW OF ZAREPATH

Spoon-feeding is oftentimes not nice. And so for this transmission, what the reader will get is a quotation from the King James Version of the Holy Bible (1 Kings 17: 17-23) but will not tell them what the lion is hinting at as it is being sent in the form of a teaser to arouse your curiousity.

“And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick: and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, o thou man of God, art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him up on his own bed. And he cried unto the Lord and said, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn by slaying her son? And he stretch himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord and said; O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came to him again.”

The aging lion bets no uninitiated will ever comprehend the meaning of this send-out; and any brother who is in the dark is advised that he better get back into the lodge and again attend a third-degree conferral. He surely will need a refresher on what Freemasonry is all about!

Or is it possible, recipients don’t really bother to read the messages that the aging lion periodically send out? And those who would bother to react, please do so, it will make the lion aware you are still alive!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

FREEMASONRY AND RELIGION

Who says religion cannot be discussed within the confines of the Craft? Then why is it being asked in the petition form to what religion the petitioner belongs? Now, don’t answer that. The aging lion will answer it for you.

The reason is because atheists are barred from joining and therefore it is a mandatory requirement that a prospective brother should have a particular religion; but what it is, is no longer the concern of the Fraternity.

The implied prohibition therefore, is that discussion of a particular religion is taboo, like the ones always hotly being debated upon by Eli Soriano of “Ang Dating Daan” and Pete Buluran (probably of the Iglesia ni Cristo) at the airwaves. But religion, per se, is not at all prohibited. If you doubt it, then take a refresher of the 18th degree lecture assuming you are already a Scottish Rite Mason, or if not better enlist at Quezon City Bodies (how’s that for advertisement?!) or the other Bodies in the Philippine jurisdiction and there you will learn that Right, Truth, and Religion, are one and the same. But a word of warning: Don’t doze off into slumber while the lecture is going on.

So now, let the lion take the bull by the horns.

Are you aware that no less than ninety percent of the world’s population trace their religious roots to two ancient civilizations, namely the Semites of ancient Mesopotamia and the Hindus of the Indian continent? How’s that again? Does it mean that about 5.4 billion of the world’s population trace their religious roots to the Hebrews and the Indians? Oh, no! not the American Indians, but the Hindus of India!

Let us take both one after the other.

The Semitic religion of the patriarch Abraham (remember the Christmas song Father Abraham?!) spawned three of the world’s great religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Judaism had its roots from Abraham then to Moses, filtering down to David, then to Solomon and down the line to the time Jesus Christ. But after the death of the world’s greatest teacher, a tender branch sprouted and in less than three centuries grew to a size that relegated the adherents of Judaism to mediocrity. Until finally, during the council of Nicea in AD 325, the congregation voted on the divinity of Jesus Christ. Thus would Christianity blossom mightier than an oak in the woodlands and from there it spread all through Europe and the entire world, namely, the Americas and up to the Far East in the eastern hemisphere that include the Philippines.

In AD 570 Mohammed was born and during his lifetime propagated Islam, the religion that claims to have started its roots also from Abraham. Curiously, its prophets include Ismael- Abraham’s first-born son, Moses, Jesus Christ, and finally Mohammed at the end of the line. These three religions, meaning Judaism, Christianity and Islam when combined, easily accounts for about 45 percent of the world’s population that now is estimated at about 6.1 billion.

For the moment, let the lion digress from the Semites or the Hebrews and let him focus his sight on the Hindus or the real Indians.

Said to be once ruled by the Aryans, ancient India, which previously include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Ceylon to the south and up to the Himalayas and Afghanistan in the north, accounts for about the same percentage as that of the combined religions of the Semites. Initially it comprise the Vedas or Brahmmins and the Jain religions at the forefront. In 563 BC however, Siddarta Gautama was born and to him was credited the birth of Buddhism. This religion leapt later to China, Korea, Japan, Ceylon, Burma and Thailand to the extent that it is now said to comprise about 40 percent of the total world population. In addition, the Sikhs also trace their roots to the Indian sub-continent although they have a distinct Volume of the Sacred Law of their own..

There are of course other religions that planted their roots somewhere else; like those of the American Indians and the aborigins of Australia, the voodoo religions of the South Americas; and for those who would not want to be excluded, even Apo Kahoy of the Malakas and Maganda mythology if there indeed is any. But these religions no longer account for a sizable percentage of the total religions of the world.

In sum therefore, religion is like a tree that sprouts a stem that subsequently turns into a trunk and rising upwards grows new branches. Take the case of the religion of Abraham. Judaism was its main trunk and after several centuries, a new twig grew in the form of Christianity. This branch thereafter produced several twigs of its own, like Eastern Orthodoxy, Pauline Christianity from where the Roman Church later stood, and even Nestorian Christianity that is obviously unknown to the outside world. Eastern Orthodoxy thrived in the Baltic states of Europe that include Russia, while Pauline Christianity whose base was in Rome propagated the faith simultaneous with the conquests of the Southern Americas and ultimately to the Philippines.

But the growth of Christianity was not without misgivings. The German Martin Luther established Protestantism in Europe and the monarchs of England and Scotland as heads of state (and religion) formed their own so that when at last they made the conquest of North America and Canada, they brought with them their Protestant faith which is, in many respects, different from the faith nurtured by Saint Paul and the Roman Church. In the Philippines, Isabelo de los Reyes formed Iglesia Filipina Independiente and cajoled Gregorio Aglipay to be its first Obispo Maximo. Felix Manalo organized his Iglesia ni Cristo and lately even Eli Soriano joined the fray by establishing his “Dating Daan Movement”, such that nowadays, religious analysts remark that Christianity, with about a third of the world’s total population, is the most fragmented religion on the face of the earth

Other religions experience the same fate. Buddhists have Shinto, Zen and other similar variants that undoubtedly were influenced by their respective philosophies, customs and traditions. The same holds true to Islam, what with the Sunnis, the Shiites and even the Zufis, it would be irrational to say these religions strictly adhere to exactly the same beliefs.

And what have these divergent religions of the world have in common with Freemasonry?! (Now, the lion got you there!!!)

Well, all religions (almost all, anyway because the lion’s readings say that there are variants of religions in India that do not believe in a particular God, like the Jains who do not have the concept of a creator, or the Hindus who believe in the multiplicity of deities the most prominent of whom are Brahma, Visnu and Ziva), believe in the Almighty, in the immortality of the soul, and in the brotherhood of man. These three are among the principal tenets of Freemasonry that are shared commonly by almost all religions. But how these are practiced, is an entirely different story. Freemasonry, it should be remembered, offers no definite name nor form of God and offers no avenue for salvation. Conversely then, how do these three tenets agree or disagree, with both religion and Freemasonry? Let’s take the three one by one.

I.. BELIEF IN GOD

The respective names of God, even in a particular religion, vary. In Christianity for example, the names Adonai, El Shaddai, Yahweh, Jehovah, Lord, and what have you are recorded. They have Allah in Islam, Brahma and his cohorts in Hindu and Buddha in Buddhism, although strictly speaking, Buddha is not literally considered a God, but one who has achieved that status. It goes to show therefore that if there are modifications in calling the Almighty as God, how much more variable is attuning ones’ belief to Him?! And Freemasonry also would not want to meddle into the details of a brother’s particular manner of belief in his own God!

II. THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL

The basic deviation of an atheist over a religious devotee is not only non-belief in the Almighty but also in the non-belief in a soul and that when one dies, only his memory remains.. Agnostics wonder if there is a God and a soul, while atheists believe there is none. But let’s leave the atheists and agnostics to their respective thinking.

Sometimes called “kruwah” by the religious, it is also alternately called spirit or soul of man. Belief in the soul is also divergent- Christians, Catholics especially believe that a soul either goes to heaven or hell after death. Buddhists and Hindus think of reincarnation, that is, getting back to another body after a series of deaths and rebirths until it is fully cleansed of imperfections. Somewhere in the 18th degree conferral, it talks of the soul as a unit and that like all matter, it experience breaking up into components only to regroup again with another matter at a later time but is never extinguished on the face of the universe unless willed by the Almighty.

Despite the variants however, it is evident the soul as created by his Maker, is immortal and will remain so to the ends of the earth.. The 18th degree also mentioned the acronym INRI which stands not for the acronym that was placed atop the cross where Jesus was crucified which meant IESUS NAZARENUS, REX IUDAREUM but as INFINITY (of God), NATURE, REASON and IMMORTALITY (of the soul). But you have to attend the Scottish Rite conferral of degrees as the explanation of that acronym will not be made in this short, albeit perplexing article.

III. THE BROTHERHOOD OF MEN

The 30· conferral of the Scottish Rite degree eloquently expounded the doctrine on “love of neighbor” when it said: “Love God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; and thy Neighbor as thyself. This do and thou shalt live.” And added: “Humanity is our Neighbor. We are all one kindred, as God breathed unto man the breath of life”.

The question now is: “From where did this creed came from?”

The answer, fortunately, is not hard to find for in Matthew 22: 37-40 it says:

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Not only that; in Mark 12: 28-31, it also said the same message although with a slight variation in phraseology.

The question now that is at hand is: “Is this creed peculiar to, or the teaching attributable solely to the world’s Greatest Teacher? If not, who are the other sages who did?, Fortunately, Albert Pike in his “Morals and Dogma” narrated the following complementary verses and sentences on the subject:

CONFUCIOUS- the Chinese

“The doctrine consist solely in being upright of heart and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves”

SOCRATES- the Grecian

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

ZOROASTER- the Persian

“Hold it not meet to do unto others what thou wouldst not desire unto thyself; do that unto the people, which, when done to thyself, is not disagreeable unto thee.

HILEL- the Pharisee

“That which thou liketh not done to thyself, do it not unto thy neighbor.

Which all but sums up that believers of the faiths where these immortal sages belong, and not knowing that the others have said it may be constrained to think that the doctrine is peculiarly theirs. But Masonry, a patient recorder of dogmas and doctrines enunciated by these ancient philosophers simply adapted the lesson as its own and propagated the unwritten thoughts of God through several mediums.

SYNOPSIS

With but a single example on “love of neighbor” this short article can now be ended with the following closing words:

“Religion can be compared to a tree whose seed germinated and grew into a trunk, and thereafter creating branches as it rises upwards, and then twigs and leaves, becoming different both in appearance and substance as it soars above. Freemasonry, on the other hand, is like a brook, initially solitary, and in fine attracting the waters of other brooks along the way, until it becomes a mighty river and its waters finally merging with the crystal-clear pristine sea.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

LAMBSKIN APRON POTPOURRI

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One of the most enduring lessons taught in Freemasonry is the elocution on the lambskin apron where it says and the lion quotes “it is an emblem of innocence and the peculiar badge of a mason, more ancient than the Golden Fleece, or the Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter, etc., etc.” But what does this phrase really mean?

Golden Fleece, as most literary buffs will readily say, is easily identified with Greek mythology, specifically with Jason and the Argonauts. The Roman Eagle, on the other hand, can be rewound to the glorious days of the Roman Empire where its centurions proudly emblazon their soldier’s armors with the eagle, the symbol of power. Which but confirm their roots to antiquity as these emblems were already in use even before the time of Jesus Christ..

But what about the Star and Garter? How did these originate? On this question, here is what Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh on their book “The Temple and the Lodge” on page 92 had to say which is being copied verbatim:

“Within a quarter of a century of the Temple’s (meaning, the Knights Templar:) , a spate of neo-Templar orders began to appear- and would continue to do so for centuries afterwards. Thus, for example, in 1348 Edward III of England created the Order of the Garter, consisting of twenty six knights divided into two groups of thirteen each. The Garter, of course continue to the present day, and is the world’s premier order of chivalry. In France in 1352, Jean II created an almost identical institution, the Order of the Star. It was rather more short-lived than the Garter, however, its entire membership being annihilated in 1356 at the Battle of Pointers. In 1430, Philip, Duke of Burgundy, created the Order of the Golden Fleece (but this has no relation to the Golden Fleece of Jason and his Argonauts that was explained earlier- GVG).

So there you are! Next time you hear the lecturer delivers the lambskin apron lecture, you know the definitive relevance of this peculiar Masonic badge. And thanks to the authors of “The Temple and the Lodge!”


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