Brother Jack Patterson
Shakespeare Lodge No.750
June 27, 2003
Our religious backgrounds and upbringingings have provided us with many pictures and clues of what God is like and what His nature is. I, being brought up in Catholic tradition, may conceive of God in both a triune and unitary manner, while our past master, being Muslim, may conceive Him in a strictly unitary way. While our contemporary culture and inclinations may urge us, quite rightly, to overlook differences, I believe Masonry may have a more satisfying approach. After all, Masonry seemed to have its modern origins in the bloody English Civil War, fought in large part over religious differences between Catholics and Protestants. The right to rule England was at stake and therefore, it was believed, the very souls of those to whom the Crown or Parliament was responsible. Toleration was indeed a worthy ideal, but on what grounds could there be true toleration when at root was an irreconcilable difference of opinion on the nature of God Himself? Let's exercise the rational part of our souls in a brotherly spirit as to how we may reconcile seemingly contradictory starting points.
Masonry refers to the Deity as the Grand Architect of the Universe, and in doing that asks us to conceive of Him as a Geometer. The three lesser lights form a triangle around the alter where as an Entered Apprentice, we knelt and took our first of three solemn obligations. Triangles are formed on the postulate that they have, by definition, three angles; two of which not less than 90 degrees. Euclidean geometry forbids any variation, and for you geometry folks out there, you can check Postulate five which lays out the rule of parallels:
"That if a straight line falling on two straight lines make the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, the two straight lines, if produced indefinitely, meet on that side on which are the angles less than the two right angles."
I for one am NOT a "Geometry Guy," so bear with me. The above spells out that triangles are created when two lines leaning toward each other eventually meet after crossing a straight line. If they were parallel to each other, they wouldn't meet. Our inherited conceptions of God are like those parallel lines- alas, never to meet. We could tolerate each other's beliefs, and even produce harmony, but never will they coincide. This is sufficient for Masonic lodges to meet and work together, but I believe there is a deeper foundation at work.
If we visualize an orb or the Earth and begin at the top, say the North Pole, and draw down a straight line to the Equator, make the first 90 degree angle there, and go west a bit, then make a second 90 degree angle to the north, and draw a second line up to the starting point perpendicular to the first line, ending in and forming another 90 degree angle at the top. Presto! A triangle with three 90-degree angles.
By changing from two dimensions of flat space to the three dimensions of real (experienced) space, the incommensurable becomes rational. The Catholic, Protestant and Moslem brothers can hold seemingly contradictory beliefs as to the nature of the GAU, and be closer than ever through Masonry, which is anything but a two-dimensional forum for living.
Masonic geometry asks of us not to change our beliefs, not to change what is written upon our hearts, but to consider wisely the surfaces on which we use our chalk, charcoal and clay. Are they flat and two-dimensional? Or are they akin to "living stones," three dimensional, without rough surfaces? Use the working tools you were given, and your house not made with hands will indeed be "eternal in the heavens."