Saturday, June 16, 2007

Good Old Days That Never Were

In his two-part X-Oriente podcast about fundamentalism in Freemasonry, Eric Diamond mentions A Laudable Pursuit, which I just mentioned as containing some of the ideas that led me to petition a lodge.

He agrees with a lot of the things said in that pamphlet, but he does raise an eyebrow at this passage:
"A few decades after Smith, Nelson King, former president of the Philalethes
Society, editor of that organization’s magazine, and a respected Masonic
scholar, announced that after years of having a liberal view of change within
the Craft, he had become a “Born Again Fundamentalist Freemason,” or
B.A.F.F. He defined it as having a conservative, traditional view as set down
by Dwight Smith. Since King’s coining of the term B.A.F.F., a movement
has started to grow within Freemasonry, suggesting that a Fundamentalist
approach may be the answer to the perceived ills that face us on a national
and international level. "

Not sure how I skimmed over that part on my first read-through - consider my own eyebrow raised as well. I don't think it's a serious call for a fundie movement (as Mr. Diamond points out, fundamentalist thinking is completely at odds with my understanding of Freemasonry,) but it's a strong statement nevertheless.

Considering I have not even met with an investigative committee yet, it does me little good to speculate on what Freemasonry is like these days versus what it was like 100 or 200 years ago, but I can't help it. The best I can do is remind myself that the "good old days" were rarely as good as peoples' collective, selective memory make them out to be.

For example: when I was a kid, we would often hit the small flea market held every Saturday in the town where my family has a summer cottage... it was the high point of many a summer weekend, and I have this idealized childhood memory of there always being lots of cool stuff to peruse.

Contrast that with the last 10 years or so, where flea markets have become increasingly disappointing: nothing but 20-30 year old household appliances with rusty metal and yellowing plastic as far as the eye can see, with a few microwave cookbooks thrown in for good measure. I encountered one such flea market this morning, and as I drove home I pondered why they have become such a let-down.

I know that idealized childhood memory has to be part of it... but it occurred to me that the other part of it is that the flea markets of yore had the same selection of 20-30 year old household crap from the 50's and 60's, which was (and and still is) a lot more interesting to me than looking at junk I grew up with in the 70's and 80's. Collectability being what it is, most of that cool stuff from the 50's and 60's is harder to come by these days.

Give it another 30 years, and I'll probably love pawing through crap I grew up with in the 70's and 80's.

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