As a historian, I am constantly reminded of the term “Postmodernism,” which can be defined as “a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism. Postmodernism includes skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism.” Better yet, “it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning.” Did you catch that? In short, Postmodernism “can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices… to destabilize concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress.” This destructive thought process is all part of an academic effort to destroy “Traditionalism,” which can be defined as, “Adherence to tradition, especially in cultural or religious practice,” or “A system holding that all knowledge is derived from original divine revelation and is transmitted by tradition,” like that of Freemasonry; but more on that a little later.
The term Postmodernism has been around for well over a hundred years, but it was mostly used in the arts during this period; however, little by little it worked its way into literature. Nevertheless, starting in the 1960s, Postmodern thinking became the new prize of academia. Did you ever wonder why our public schools have gone through so many changes in the past five decades? Well, it is all a part of this Postmodern movement. As well, ever wonder why we are programmed to think new is better. Again, Postmodern programming by our teachers and leaders, who were also trained to think new is better. Brother Cameron MacKay perhaps said it best when he wrote,
At the very roots of this post-industrial society – as part of its base genetic make up – is an urge for development – a need for progress – a need for growth. To generate this growth change becomes the critical essential characteristic of postmodernism. Every year the design of an automobile is changed,. Every year the fashion in cloths is redefined. Perfectly good buildings are imploded so that new buildings can be put in their stead. Economic models are constantly being revisited and revised. The economic chain from manufacturer to wholesaler to distributor to retailer is completely dismantled and replaced by amorphous constantly shifting relationships in which, at times, the manufacturer competes directly with his own retailer for the same customer. Everyone’s trade or profession becomes relegated to the status of a product for sale. Hence teachers are somehow to be rated not on their ability to teach , inspire, or motivate children but on how many BA’s they can generate. Lawyers are no longer measured on the wisdom of their legal advice but are measured and evaluated on the number of dollars they generate.
All we have to do is again look at the above definition for “Traditionalism” to see why old is bad and new is good. In short, Traditionalism is the adherence to tradition, which is derived from Divinity. Little by little, this Postmodern thinking has further separated us from seeking Divinity. It should also be mentioned that the word Divinity can be defined as “spirituality” or “mysticism.”
I am not alone in my criticism of Postmodernism! Many academics have asserted that Postmodernism is “meaningless and promotes obscurantism.” Obscurantism means “the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known.” Sound familiar? It should; this is what happened to Albert Pike. Seriously, I am told repeatedly from other Freemasons, why were we not told the truth about Pike; and why does the Craft continue to lie or bury the truth about this Masonic legend? Honestly though, it really is no one person’s fault. No, rather it is a part of this cultural phenomenon known as Postmodernism.
Case in point, Noam Chomsky contended that postmodernism was meaningless because it added nothing to “analytical or empirical knowledge.” Furthermore, William Lane Craig stated that “The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unliveable. People are not relativistic when it comes to matters of science, engineering, and technology; rather, they are relativistic and pluralistic in matters of religion and ethics. But, of course, that’s not postmodernism; that’s modernism!” As well, several academic critiques of postmodernism have found that many Postmodern works are nothing more than “Fashionable Nonsense.” Sadly, Postmodernism believes that there are no truths; i.e. nobody is wrong and everybody is right.
Moreover, as a Freemason, I have witnessed this activity play itself out. As I wrote in my book, Masonry and the Three Little Pigs (2015), the wolf uses the benevolence of the Craft to destroy the character of other men. I should have, however, added that the wolf uses the benevolence, under the banner of Postmodernism, to destroy long standing traditions for his own benefit. You see, Postmodern idealism is used within the Craft to destroy long standing traditions of moral development. Our foundations are based on long standing religious principles of moral behavior, something Postmodernism is attempting to destroy. I might also add that we use religious principles from all of the great religions of the world, many of which no longer exist.
As many readers of my blogs already know, I am a student of Albert Pike’s great work, Morals and Dogma (1871). With that said, I have found that there is a disconnect between most Freemasons and Pike’s book. As I wrote on my Facebook page recently, “When the Craft turned its back on Pike, membership turned down significantly. It all started in the mid 1960’s and has steadily decreased ever since. Just check out these numbers, from a high of over 4 million to almost 1 million today.” I supported this statement with this research from Masonic Service Association of North America; here is a graph demonstrating these declining numbers:
1924 3,077,161 1955 4,009,925 1986 2,839,962
1925 3,157,566 1956 4,053,323 1987 2,763,828
1926 3,218,375 1957 4,085,676 1988 2,682,537
1927 3,267,241 1958 4,099,928 1989 2,608,935
1928 3,295,872 1959 4,103,161 1990 2,531,643
1929 3,295,125 1960 4,099,219 1991 2,452,676
1930 3,279,778 1961 4,086,499 1992 2,371,863
1931 3,216,307 1962 4,063,563 1993 2,293,949
1932 3,069,645 1963 4,034,020 1994 2,225,611
1933 2,901,758 1964 4,005,605 1995 2,153,316
1934 2,760,451 1965 3,987,690 1996 2,089,578
1935 2,659,218 1966 3,948,193 1997 2,021,909
1936 2,591,309 1967 3,910,509 1998 1,967,208
1937 2,549,772 1968 3,868,854 1999 1,902,588
1938 2,514,595 1969 3,817,846 2000 1,841,169
1939 2,482,291 1970 3,763,213 2001 1,774,200
1940 2,457,263 1971 3,718,718 2002 1,727,505
1941 2,451,301 1972 3,661,507 2003 1,671,255
1942 2,478,892 1973 3,611,448 2004 1,617,032
1943 2,561,844 1974 3,561,767 2005 1,569,812
1944 2,719,607 1975 3,512,628 2006 1,525,131
1945 2,896,343 1976 3,470,980 2007 1,483,449
1946 3,097,713 1977 3,418,844 2008 1,444,823
1947 3,281,371 1978 3,360,409 2009 1,404,059
1948 3,426,155 1979 3,304,334 2010 1,373,453
1949 3,545,757 1980 3,251,528 2011 1,336,503
1950 3,644,634 1981 3,188,175 2012 1,306,539
1951 3,726,744 1982 3,121,746 2013 1,246,241
1952 3,808,364 1983 3,060,242 2014 1,211,183
1953 3,893,530 1984 2,992,389
1954 3,964,118 1985 2,914,421
With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can see a parallel between the rise of Postmodernism, the decline of Modernism, and declining Masonic membership in the United States. In essence, without knowing it, collectively and subconsciousness, Freemasonry has succumbed to Postmodern thinking. Freemasonry is a collective organism, made up of millions of men (and women); this could not have happened unless our collective consciousness allowed it to happen. And the only way of overcome this problem is for our collective consciousness to will it, followed by collective action and the reestablishment of our ancient traditions. Nevertheless, this will never happen unless we are first willing to dismiss Postmodernism, an issue that has become a part of our popular culture. But the first step in addressing any problem is first admitting we have one.
Therefore, the next time you instinctively criticize a traditional institution, like perhaps a religion, etc. and so forth, don’t. For you see, when we do this, we are only demonstrating our preconditioned Postmodern programming. Believe it or not, Freemasonry needs traditional religions, because they are the breeding grounds for future Freemasons. As well, nothing can be gained by attacking anyone or any institution, traditional or not; it does nothing but taint your soul. Please, just remember one thing, new is not always better; especially when it comes to religion, faith and even Freemasonry. And like I wrote in my previous article, The Ancients Vs. The Moderns; An Unwinnable Civil War,
The battle between the Ancients and the Moderns (or Postmoderns as they are often called today) is about 300 years old, if not longer. Basically, the Ancients formed a Grand Lodge in England in 1751 because they believed the Moderns had taken control of the Grand Lodge that was formed in 1717, and were progressively attempting to change the history of Freemasonry. Sound familiar? It should! You see, for the most part this battle is no longer being played out by Grand Lodges; rather it is being played out in our literature by well meaning pundits like myself. I have referred to this battle as a civil war. Seriously, this battle has gone on for some 300 years, with no end in sight. How sad.
In conclusion, we need, more than ever, to return to our traditional roots and teachings. This path of Postmodernism is a destructive force that continues to divide the Craft, and will result in our own demise; that is unless we can stop our declining numbers.
So Mote It Be!
Next Month’s Article