The Great Architect, marriage, temptation, great books, fealty, "violent agreement", Silverwings Laws
Wrote about this in a previous post, q.v. The notion of the Supreme Architect is a reflection of the times in which modern Grand Lodge Freemasonry began. It comes out of the idea of the Newtonian "Clockwork Universe", with a benevolent overseeing divine presence with a Plan, a Design, for his entire Creation, of which Man is the highest emanation and the caretaker. We can debate determinism until we turn blue, but there's a beautiful point to be taken from this in any case. Brethren will recognize this as being from the Middle Chamber lecture of the Second Degree, and the symbolism of the Beehive in the Third. We have been given a divine gift, intellect. If we then squander this gift, or put it on a shelf and ignore it, saying we'll let someone else exercise *their* intellect and make all the decisions, draw all the conclusions *for* us...what an insult to the Giver! No, the Blueprints have been spread before us, "in the great books of Nature and Revelation" -- which I take to represent science *and* faith -- and we're obliged to examine them and proceed with the Work. ...And that's where we get into trouble with religions characterized by a strict top-down doctrine. That's why popes and Southern Baptist Conventions have traditionally, er...not liked us very much. What Masonry is *fundamentally* about is this: freedom of thought. Masonry was invented by Protestants, but it suits folks like me, steeped in Jewish thinking, really well. It's really about "God-Wrestling" (which is what "Israel" means). Using what God has given you, to *question*, analyze, and conclude: to come to moral Truths through logical processes. That's it, in a nutshell.
I recommend the institution. Beth and I were impulsive kids: we only had a 17-year engagement %^). During that time, we went through most of the nonsense that married couples go through, and by the time we tied the knot, we'd Been There and Done That. I don't know what our secret has been, really. I marvel that this Jewish kid from Boston with a thing for leggy brunettes wound up in Rhode Island -- I mean, why would anyone go to *Rhode Island*? (says 1970-me) -- with a short blonde lapsed Congregationalist. Fate is weird. But we have a marriage written in the stars, we were created for each other, and there's *part* of that secret that I *do* know. *Silliness*. Our capacity for *silliness* is a huge part of what holds us together. We make each other laugh, a lot, every day, all the time.
And on another track, a word about the *nature* of marriage. We use that word for two (maybe more?) different institutions, and that causes problems. If you're concerned about the religious upbringing of your children and the disposition of your (and their) souls, you should be able to go to your church and get *matrimoned*. If you're concerned about the disposition of your estate, and the legal rights of your cohabitant, and hospital visiting rights, you should be able to go to your city hall and get *marriaged*. Your church should be able to say that redheads can't get matrimoned to people who are left-handed. That should be their right, and if you've got a problem, fight your church or find a new one. Your city hall should have their *own* regulations on marriaging people, and those should be completely different considerations having *only* to do with the public good, not their individual souls. Matrimony (as here defined) has as much to do with marriage (as here defined) as my Subaru's registration has to do with my bar-Mitzvah.
I don't have much to say about this. I suppose one aspect of it is this: as I've gotten older I've learned to choose my battles. I'm not *tempted* to enter every dogfight I see; I've learned to resist that temptation and walk away. Oh, I still get passionate about things, but not about *everything*. Is that maturity, or senescence?
I haven't read a lot of them, to tell the truth. Oh, I've read a lot of books that *I* thought were great. But I haven't read a great deal of the Great Works of Literature (Harumph!). In public school, of course, there were those that I *had* to read, but I've written previously about the gutting of humanities in those days, so I suspect I didn't get as much as previous generations. And the English Lit that I *did* get was presented in ways designed to put any kid off literature forever. They wrung any possibility of joy, of pleasure, out of the assignments. There *were* a few works I did enjoy. I devoured David Copperfield. I enjoyed the Prisoner of Zenda so much that I went to the library and checked out the sequel, Rupert of Hentzau, on my own. But by and large, what I was reading for *pleasure* were the books *I* considered Great, and those were by folks named Heinlein and Clarke. And then when I got to college, I went to a technically-oriented, very focused school (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy) that didn't provide much in the way of Lit courses. I've tried over the years, haphazardly, to correct some of those gaps, but truth be told I'm not as well-read as I feel I ought to be.
As with every other institution in the SCA, we never defined it. It just happened. The result is that everyone thinks they know what it is and no one really does. You swear what you *think* is an affirmation of adherence to the mission of the club, and the king hears you become his slave. Maybe you use words that *do* say that, but you think you're play-acting and he doesn't. Or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, there's enormous cognitive shear going on, always has been, always will be. And of course, our attempts to solve that problem have taken the shape of elephant guns, from the very beginning. "Global solutions for local problems since 1966". I've always understood that MSCAs came about because an early knighthood candidate (Richard the Short, back during the first mass knightings?) adhered to a faith that forbade swearing oaths, even if "play-acting". Now, if King William had whispered "Oh, okay, so just don't swear, Rich. We'll just skip that bit)" and dubbed him, and said "Arise, Sir Richard"...life would have gone on, no harm, no foul. But no. He had to create an *entire new institution* to solve that local problem. And we're stuck with it, 45 years later.
I don't recall who named the phenomenon "Silverwinging", but it came out of the early business meetings of House Silverwing, my SCA household. Just a couple of years ago, I unexpectedly found the best-ever explanation of it, in Neal Stephenson's novel "Anathem". No, he doesn't call it "silverwinging". But he does have two characters known in their circle as "the Beast with Two Backs": not with the sexual connotation, but because they're always facing each other, in hot debate. And, usually, they're *agreeing*. But the debate proceeds because it's vitally important to their personalities that they not only share the same *conclusion*, they must arrive at that conclusion by the exact same logical paths, the precisely identical analytical methods. That's silverwinging.
From my earliest days in the SCA, I'd been throwing out aphorisms I'd heard, and sometimes invented myself, about life in the SCA, and often life in general. When the internet came along, I finally started recording them. They're not all meant to be serious monographs on philosophy; some of them are pretty silly . But at the time I recorded them, each one struck me as insightful, and I have a rule that once recorded, I don't delete them. They're there to provide jumping-off points for Scadian philosophizing, one of my favorite pastimes and the official sport of House Silverwing. I'm actually rather proud that they've been favorably quoted by many prominent SCA philosophers, including several Presidents of the SCA and Society Seneschals, as keys into the group-mind of the SCA and the dynamics of the SCA as an organization. The laws are available at several sites, but the most appropriate one here is: http://www.schuldy.org/laws.html.