Saturday, February 27, 2016

UMNO Protesters on Video!

It seems like even the local press are slightly amused by the UMNO Youth protest of the recent International Scottish Masonic Conference in Penang, Malaysia these past few days.

The "rowdy crowd" of 20 red shirted protesters posed for cameras and gave pat responses.  Several men shouted "They are Jews and anti-Islam, they must respect us and stop this conference."  They said, disrespecting an organization that is not-anti-Islam, but rather promotes greater understanding between men of different races, cultures and beliefs.

The protesters eventually were allowed to enter the hotel, see an empty ballroom and declare victory.  Meanwhile conference attendees report that everything is fine and most didn't even know the protests were happening.

You can check out the video for yourself.  Of course, it's in Malay with no subtitles...but you'll catch on.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Happy Protesters. Happy Masons.

Looks like the UMNO protesters and the DGLME got the best of both worlds.

The protesters got to to protest, wear matching red shirts and toss wild accusations.  According to one report, they actually summoned the hotel manager like you would with any noisy guest.  At any rate, they protested and left happy.

On the other side, the DGLME continued their conference without interruption and will conclude tomorrow as planned.

So far, so good!  Let's hope the conference ends peacefully.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Friday, February 19, 2016

NGOs Protest Penang Conference

More fury and frustration in Malaysia ahead of the International Scottish Masonic Conference in Penang.

Protesters shown in a photo on the Malay Mail Online article (see left) appear to be holding up sheets of paper with "Why Penang" on them.  Their budget appears not to be able to afford poster board, markers with multiple colors or even glitter.

But the question of "Why Penang" is strange to me.  After all, Penang is home to the oldest Scottish lodge in all Southeast Asia.  Lodge Scotia, No. 1003 SC was formed in 1903.  It has been part of the Malaysian experience through two World Wars and a variety of economic and social upheavals.

Freemasonry in Malaysia is just as colorful, diverse and interesting as it is in Thailand.  It's members come from every religion represented in the country...including Islam.  Surely in times such as these, we need organizations like Freemasonry to offer a place for men from very diverse backgrounds to come together and get to know one another better.  We need fewer angry voices waving sheets of paper and more strong voices singing the Opening Ode.

Our prayers continue to go to the brethren and their families attending this conference.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Response to the Malay Mail Online Article

I had never, ever read the Malay Mail Online until they published that interesting article on the UMNO protest of the DGLME conference in Penang.

Now comes a timely and very well written response to the article from a Muslim Freemason.  Take a moment and check it out.  It's worth your while.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Freemasonry Universal

Sometimes I forget how lucky we are in Thailand.  We live in a a beautiful, sun-drenched country that is nominally stable; provides a variety of recreational opportunities; and that has some of the world's best beaches.  Not only that, but we host Masonic lodges from six different countries.

All this means that the average Mason in Thailand can see the Craft rituals in a multitude of ways beyond what is "normal" to them.  I was reminded of this after reading a Reddit thread on the differences between ritual between the various US Grand Lodges.

I can personally attest that there are significant differences in the workings of the various US Grand Lodges.  Just like in Thailand, some are minor and some significant.  But all usually end up in the same place.  That is, they all teach the great moral lessons of Freemasonry.  Despite the differences trappings, regalia, wording, language, or even where the officers are seated, that is the important thing.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oh No! UMNO!

The Malay Mail Online, references a brewing protest by fundamentalist Muslims against the upcoming Scottish District Grand Lodge of the Middle East conference in Penang, Malaysia.

Malaysians have always kept a respectful distance from the Freemasons who used to meet in what was called the "Ghost House" in Kuala Lumpur.  Apparently, spurred by hatred and Internet conspiracies, the youngsters are getting bolder.

We pray for the safety of the brethren there and hope no harm comes from these elevated antics.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What Did Secret Societies Achieve in History?

We found this today on the Grand Lodge of Scotland's Facebook page.  Interesting read.

Many people believe they [so called Secret Societies] influence almost everything. Why?
[Three questions were posed to three leading American academics the questions and their answers follow:]
1. Many so called secret societies figure in conspiracy theories as bodies, secretly ruling the world. But do you think some of these societies accomplished something really significant in reality? Or are they only ordinary groups of people with common interests who maybe sometimes delight in being seen in a mysterious way?
2. Probably the most popular (if we can use the word popular) are Freemasons? Why?
3. Why do the people tend to believe that there is someone who is secretly ruling the world? Why is the idea of secret societies, comprised of rich / powerful / educated / religious people so popular?
Michael Barkun, Professor of Political Science, Syracuse University, Author of the book Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America
1. The power of so-called "secret societies" is vastly exaggerated. As the question suggests, they are generally groups brought together by common interests or, in some cases, by common religious beliefs. They certainly don't rule the world. Indeed, the often-cited Illuminati ceased to exist in the late eighteenth-century, when European states suppressed them. What lives on are myths that events are manipulated by unseen powers.
2. I suppose the frequency with which the Masons are mentioned is a function of the large area of the West over which the movement spread, and the substantial membership it had when at its height. The irony is that Masonic conspiracy theories continue to thrive even as Masonry itself goes into decline.
3. Conspiracy theories are psychologically comforting, since they claim to explain the complexities of modern life by reference to a single cause -- some invisible group or organization that "pulls the strings." We all want the world to be understandable. Conspiracy theories provide the appearance of understanding that sometimes tempts even people who are affluent, educated, and worldly.
Ian McNeely, Associate Professor at Department of History, University of Oregon
1. The short answer is that they are indeed ordinary groups of people who simply share an interest in improving their morality and character. Secret rituals and mysterious, esoteric forms of knowledge aid them in that quest for collective self-improvement; such rituals and knowledge are attractive not because they make society members look mysterious to outsiders, but primarily because they are useful within society meetings, as means for members to develop a common bond through their ritual activities.
As groups, secret societies have had very little direct impact on the outside world. At the most, members of secret societies form business and professional networks within their organizations that sometimes help them in their outside occupations. But even then, the influence of these networks and connections has been vastly overstated. (The Illuminati, featured in Angels & Demons, did manage to recruit members from, or place members in, prominent positions in government, publishing, universities, and masonic lodges but did not manage to carry out any of the large-scale reforms that are mentioned in their statutes and other writings. The Illuminati numbered perhaps 2,000 members were only active for about a decade, from 1776-1786, mainly in Germany.)
2. The Freemasons are the oldest continuously existing "secret society" in the Western world, though their existence has not been a secret since 1717. Even their rituals, myths, and symbols have been widely exposed in print since the 1720s. (Many of these exposés were written by masons themselves, whether to attack the fraternity or, more positively, to promote understanding of its rituals and symbols among other Masons elsewhere in the world.) There are still a few million Masons today, mainly in the English-speaking world, and their activities are secret only in that they are carried on behind closed doors, in meetings limited to those who are members. Their popularity derives, I think, not only from their age but from their flexibility. Originally, English [sic] Freemasonry was a fairly straightforward organization, with three basic levels or grades of members. Other, later organizations copied or extended Masonic ritual by adding higher degrees and incorporating bits and pieces of other esoteric traditions (such as speculation about ancient Egypt) into their rituals. So, Freemasonry has been able to change and adapt as it has grown; it is very flexible in its structure and in being open to new forms of ritual and mythology.
Above all, Freemasonry appeals to people who, in addition to being attracted by the mystery and the secrecy, are seeking an ethical system and social connections outside of established religions and based on Enlightenment ideals of tolerance and rationality (though masons are not hostile to established religions and many remain sincerely devout).
3. Two reasons come to mind. First, people are fascinated, yet also confused, by power. If professional historians are still arguing about the causes of the French Revolution, or any number of revolutions, wars, financial crises, and the like, then non-historians are certainly likely to gravitate to "short-cut" explanations that rely upon secret societies to account for complex, large-scale historical events that are otherwise hard to explain.
A second, deeper reason is that secret societies do often blur the lines between science and religion. Many have adopted rituals, symbols, and mythology that allegedly go back to a time, far in antiquity, when the truths of religion and the truths of science coincide. Whether or not one believes any of this, the suggestions that religion and science do ultimately unite at some distant point in the past and that their shared truths have been preserved in secrecy ever since is a very powerful one.
Dan Edelstein, Assistant Professor of French, Stanford University
1. I'm not an expert on secret societies, but have studied a number of them in the 18th and 19th centuries. The only instance I can think of where a secret society contributed to accomplish real historical change would be with the Italian Carbonari (roughly 1810-1830). Modeled on the Freemasons, the Carbonari fought, first to expel Napoleonic forces, then the Austrian army. They were not directly successful, but they're credited with constituting a first step toward the Risorgimento. One could also look at the role certain German "Volk" societies (usually not secret, though) played in the genesis of the Nazi party. The "Thule Society" in particular played a very influential role in the development of the N.S.D.A.P.
Otherwise, for the vast majority of secret societies, you're entirely right: there is a real "delight" in mystification. This goes back as far as the "Rosicrucian society," which apart from a series of published texts, probably never even existed! Freemasonry started (in England) as more of a "club," but when it migrated to the Continent (in the 1730's and 1740's), it developed many more mysterious trappings. The best example of this are the infamous Bavarian Illuminati, founded by Adam Weishaupt: in order to challenge the Jesuits, in the name of Enlightenment philosophy, Weishaupt invented a whole collection of initiation rituals, symbols, etc. The power of the Illuminati ultimately rested on their power of mystification, no more.
2. I think the popularity of the Freemasons comes from the fact that Freemasonry is the blueprint on which most every subsequent secret society has modeled itself.
3. As to why this model is so popular... I think secret societies play a similar function as "the devil" did in earlier times: they're a useful scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in the world.
(Matišák 18 Máj, 2009 00:04)
[The above article was found in the archive of Freemasons' Hall under 'miscellaneous'. So far as we can tell it came from a blog: Matišák - Ed.]
Although this piece appears to be from the USA it is interesting that it is applicable to most countries. This suggests that non-Masons assume that Freemasonry is a cohesive entity that 'works' on an international scale.
We think that the above article is helpful in understanding why Freemasonry in modern society is perceived in the way that it is. Given the above, insightful, comments by non-Masons we wonder if it will ever be possible to change that perception?

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Outing Masonry

A Welsh TV station whose name I can't pronounce (Y Byd ar Bedwar) "found there are vast differences in the rules (whether Masons should self identify) within councils and police forces across the country."

Though it doesn't say much in this article (really, it's just a teaser for the upcoming show), it highlights a problem constantly discussed online.  Does being a Freemason impact a man's ability to legitimately function as a police officer, politician or civil servant?

The allegations are ages old and go back nearly to the formation of the first Grand Lodge in 1717.  Allegations of a Masonic murder and cover-up nearly destroyed the Craft in America in the early 19th century. While there have been instances of Masons behaving badly, that's generally due to the fact that Masons are men.  Men sometimes behave badly.  They break laws and betray trusts, just like anyone else.  We all fall short of the glory of God.

The difference is that Masons should know better.  Our rituals and ceremonies highlight 'good' behavior.  We value faith, hope and charity. We learn lessons on the value of serving our fellow man and stand in slack-jawed wonder at the beauty of this world.

So the question stands, should Freemasons be forced to self-identify before taking a public office?  I say no.  Masons should not be forced to self-identify anymore than someone belonging to the Rotary Club or Boy Scouts.  I have made the choice not to hide my membership, but not everyone is comfortable doing that.  It should be their choice, not some city council.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lodge St John Social Evening

Lodge St John, No. 1072 SC will be holding a social evening on February 16th at 8:00 pm at Bistro 33 on Sukhumvit Soi 33.  This meeting is open to "all gentlemen interested in learning more about Freemasonry and members of any Lodge in Amity with the Grand Lodge of Scotland."

Prior to the meeting, a Mason's-only meeting will be held at 6:45pm featuring a guest lecturer.  Please contact the Lodge St John secretary for further details.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Men Only

Just found an interesting article in the Dublin Inquirer.  Titled, Is It Time the Dublin Freemasons Let In Women, it raised the uncomfortable question of whether Freemasonry needs to move into the 21st century and allow women as full members.

The author, Conal Thomas raised several examples of social and golf clubs who've dropped their "phalliocentric atmoshphere."  While he glanced off the typical imagery used in articles on Freemasonry (you know, white, middle aged men donning collars and aprons in a musty old, darkened room), he quickly moves on.

But Thomas raised a good point.  Why do we segregate?  I have previously stated my reasons and they're on the FAQ of our site.  But just as I was starting to shrug my shoulders and mumble, Thomas brings it home with a comparison of gender-specific gyms and health classes.  He finishes with "is that substantially different?"

That's the point I try to make on our site.  Men (and women) need a space free of sexual tension or as he.might put it, the freedom to fart without embarrassing yourself in front of the ladies.  Having attended numerous ladies' nights, I can tell you that men behave differently in front of their wives.  Lodge gives men the freedom to relax and speak their minds more freely.

While we can nitpick with Thomas' understanding of what Freemasons are, I think it was a very interesting article and a question that we need to answer more forcefully than the Masons polled in this article.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dutch Decade

The brethren of the kingdom's first and only Dutch constitution lodge, Loge Erasmus will celebrate their ten year anniversary with a Masonic Weekend in Pattaya.  Festivities will include a Ladies' Night followed by a cruise on Sunday.  This should be a great time for all.

The Thai Freemason is the independent voice of Freemasonry in Thailand.