Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boise Masonic Trial in Freemasonry for Dummies Blog

The Masonic trial of Praxis Lodge Venerable Master has made it to the Blog for Freemasonry for Dummies, which coincidentally, and perhaps comically, was one of the references cited in the charges against Bro. and V.M. Hartung, among the Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry. So much for scholarly works.

The Blog is viewable here, and includes comments from Chris Hodapp (author)and Bro. Hartung himself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Results of Masonic Trial Against Praxis Lodge Venerable Master

Today, August 13 at 10am, a history-making Masonic Trial was held in Boise, Idaho with charges against Freemason, Krispen Hartung. Brother Hartung was charged with "unmasonic conduct", and in particular for establishing and being a member of a "irregular" lodge of Freemasonry (Praxis Lodge, a Modern Lodge of Freemasonry, under the Grand Orient of the United States, and in amity with the Grand Orient of France) that does not require its members to believe in God or gods, does not use the Bible in lodge rituals and meetings, and allows discussion of politics and religion in the lodge setting.

During the trial, Brother Hartung pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charges and read a formal response and explanation to his plea. That response can be downloaded or viewed here.

Brother Hartung's argument was multifaceted, but the most powerful points made were in his closing paragraphs:

"In closing, I will admit that I have built and am currently a member of a Modern lodge of Freemasonry, but I cannot sincerely and with any rational basis admit to this trial committee that this lodge is "irregular", let alone an indication of any unmasonic behavior, based on the charges and explanations presented to me. I reject your misguided definition and concept of irregularity. I reject it for the same reasons that I reject the uncivilized and dogmatic beliefs that black people cannot run for office, that women can't vote, or that human beings do not have the right to free speech and expression. I reject it because it is inherently flawed and out of date, and the ever-changing history of Freemasonry does not justify the notion of regularity as a principle of Universal Freemasonry and brotherhood. I furthermore reject your notion of irregularity because I regard it as morally suspect, and the charges made against me, rather than providing a moral argument for my alleged unmasonic conduct, rely solely on definitions, semantics, and out of date principles.

Any fraternity that judges the worth of a member or potential candidate based on his private theological beliefs and not his character, or forces him to compromise his freedom of conscience, is not a fraternity that I want to be associated with in any way or form. I regard such behavior as myopic, uncivilized, and absurd. This is based solely on territorial politics and on drawing superficial and arbitrary boundaries of class membership, not the principles of universal brotherhood."

I therefore request that you do whatever you deem appropriate. If that means that you have to put me on trial for so-called unmasonic conduct, then so be it; but I will state for the record that this is not an act of justice, an act of morality, or one of a fraternity that embraces brotherhood, but an act of ignorance and stubbornness, and a refusal to evolve to a higher standard of humanity and Freemasonry."

The trial committee discussed the charges and Brother Hartung's response for over an hour. They voted and the verdict was that Brother Hartung was guilty of the above mentioned charges, and will be expulsed from Boise Lodge #2 and the Grand Lodge of Idaho. Note, this is actually what Brother Hartung wanted last November, but they did not acknowledge his request, but instead decided to charge him.

The outcome of the trial was as expected. Based on the rules, regulations, and definitions of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, Brother Hartung is indeed a member of an irregular lodge of Freemasonry, which is a sufficient basis to warrant unmasonic conduct. However, Brother Hartung's response to the charges raised several philosophical issues around the moral implications of Anglo-American or "mainstream" Freemasonry's requirement for members to believe in God, among other religiously rooted requirements and principles that render them a non-secular Fraternity.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Background Behind the Masonic Trial of Praxis Lodge Venerable Master

Below is a detailed background behind the upcoming trial of Praxis Lodge Venerable Master, Krispen Hartung.

In August, 2009, Brother Krispen Hartung submitted a simple request to the officers of Boise Lodge #2 of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, wherein he stated that he wanted to demit because the Lodge was no longer meeting his needs and he was potentially interested in joining the Idaho Research Lodge. He was sent a confirmation of his demit within days with no questions asked; however, before the demit documentation was sent to the Grand Lodge of Idaho, he was informed that in order to remain a member of the Shriners (of which we was currently a member), he had to maintain membership in a standard lodge under the Grand Lodge of Idaho, and a research lodge could not serve this purpose. Consequently, Brother Hartung decided to hold off on his demit until he was certain of what he wanted to do. He did not at this time, however, let Boise Lodge #2 know that he was building a new Modern Lodge of Freemasonry in Boise, Praxis Lodge, as this work was too premature to announce.

On November 10, 2009, after careful deliberation on the matter, Brother Hartung sent a second an final demit request to Boise Lodge #2, wherein he revealed exactly what he was doing with Praxis Lodge and his detailed reasons for wanting to demit. A digital copy of that request can be viewed or downloaded here. Brother Hartung's reasons for demit are summarized as follows:
  • Lack of personal needs being met
  • Irreconcilable philosophical differences with Blue Lodge or “Antient” Freemasonry
  • Membership of Masonic obediences and orders deemed “irregular” by Blue Lodge Masonry
  • Leadership of two Modern Lodges
  • Acceptance and establishment of co-gender Masonry
After approximately one month, and having not received a confirmation of his demit, Brother Hartung sent a letter to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, wherein he stated that he was still waiting for a confirmation and that once he received the confirmation, he would request that he be taken off the books of the Grand Lodge of Idaho (in other words, removed from the order completely). Additionally, Brother Hartung stated that in order to dispel rumors about his intent and motivations in building a Modern Lodge of Freemasonry, he was open to having coffee with any of the brothers of the lodge, to explain his objectives and the nature of Modern Freemasonry. A copy of this letter can be viewed or downloaded here. Attached to this letter, Brother Hartung also included key documents, including a history of the Grand Orient of France and the Grand Orient of the United States, as well as an address to the 2002 California Masonic Symposium, presented by Alain Bauer, past Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France. Brother response received no response from the Grand Master.

Praxis Lodge Venerable Master put on Masonic Trial by Boise Lodge #2 of the Grand Lodge of Idaho

On August 2, 2010, Boise Lodge #2, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, summoned Krispen K Hartung to appear at a Masonic Trial on Friday, August 13 at 10am. The summons included an explanation of charges made against him, which had been submitted to the Worshipful Master of the Lodge on December 29, 2009.

The summons and explanation of charges are viewable or downloadable here and also below, but in summary, Brother Hartung was charged for "unmasonic conduct", specifically that he had built and was a member of an "irregular" lodge, namely Praxis Lodge, a "Modern" lodge of the Grand Orient of the United States, who is in amity and regular communication with the Grand Orient of France.

The charges further state that Praxis Lodge is "irregular" because a) it does not require members to belief in God, b) it does not require the "Volume of the Sacred Law" (normally a Holy Bible) as an "indispensable part of the Furniture of the Lodge", and c) that it allows discussion of religion and politics in the Lodge. These three practices are described as in violation of the "Ancient Landmarks" of Freemasonry and of the Masonic Idaho Code and Digest.

In short, Praxis Lodge was deemed "irregular" because of its secular nature. This irregularity is based on the standards of the Grand Lodge of Idaho in opposition to the to the principle of Freedom of Conscience, which is a key principle of the Grand Orient of the United States and the Grand Orient of France, allowing freedom of speech, expression, and thought by all Freemasons.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, by Kris Hartung

[This article is based on the Praxis Lodge Public Dialogues Series discussion on December, 7, 2009]

In modern physics, quantum entanglement, put in an oversimplified way, is a phenomenon whereby two sub-atomic particles are split and go separate directions, yet maintain a bizarre form of communication and behavior, such that if the state of one sibling particle is "tweaked," the state of the other sibling particle exhibits a reactionary change of its state. This phenomenon is instantaneous, that is, faster than the speed of light. It does not matter if the particles are three feet apart or three thousand light years apart. This is not just theoretical physics; rather, this phenomenon has been reproduced and measured many times in an experimental context. The book, "Entanglement," by Amir Aczel is an excellent reference to understand this phenomenon and its history.

No one knows exactly how quantum entanglement can occur or what underlying causes or factors allow it to happen. But one thing is for certain, which was perhaps best stated by physicist Feynman, "I think it is safe to say that no one understands Quantum Mechanics." Moreover, are phenomena like quantum entanglement so mysterious and counter-intuitive to us because they are this way inherently, or because we have unscientifically and unconsciously assumed a metaphysical worldview (e.g., that space is real, extended, and objective, and exists independent of our minds)? This is the crux of a problem that very few thinkers introduce in the context of modern physics and science.

In the history of science, and even present in the world of science today, there is, metaphorically speaking, another form of entanglement at play. This is the interplay of metaphysics and scientific enquiry, including but not limited to constructing hypotheses, collecting data, formulating general laws, and building theories. In his book, "The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science," E. A. Burtt provides a historical account of what many people might regard as surprising in the world of science.

Burtt fundamentally reveals that the inspiration or basis for many theories and new ideas during the scientific revolution was not based on empirical data and experimentation; rather, they were driven by the metaphysical and aesthetically charged geometrical atomism of pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Pythagoras. According to this worldview, the underlying essence of the universe is mathematical, and in the case of Pythagoras, the mind-independent world was literally comprised by physical, geometrical atoms or structures. This was not a worldview that was supported by facts and empirical testing at the time, but was introduced on a priori (before experience) grounds and reasoning.

Burtt begins with Copernicus and his heliocentric view of the solar system, which stated that the Sun was the center of the solar system, not the earth. Contrary to our intuitions or education on how hypotheses originate, Copernicus was not swayed by any empirical data to suggest this new worldview (which was conceptually not new, but posited by Greek philosopher Aristarchus of Samos in 4th century B.C.), rather he was infatuated with the re-birth of the Pythagorean metaphysic via Neoplatonism.

At the time of Copernicus (1473 – 1543), there were no empirical issues with Ptolemy's Christian inspired and anthropocentric geocentric theory, and in fact Copernicus' heliocentric theory was up against several problems, such as the inability at the time to observe and validate parallax (the shifting of the observable position of the stars based on the assumption that the earth shifts its position as it revolves around the Sun). And of course, Copernicus was up against the religious powers at the time, which used Biblical text to support the geocentric view of the universe.

In addition, both Copernicus and Ptolemy’s systems were able to predict the same celestial phenomena, so from a practical standpoint, Copernicus offered no advantage with his theory. The primary difference was that Copernicus' heliocentric theory exhibited or implied more harmony, simplicity, and beauty with its application of less epicycles (small circular deviations that planets had to take as they rotated around the Sun or Earth, to account for their real elliptical pathways, which were unknown until Kepler). Accepting the heliocentric theory based on the preconceived notions of harmony, simplicity, and beauty was not based on empirical testing, but was derived from the Pythagorean metaphysic, and indeed much of the Greek worldview that the universe was fundamentally orderly, harmonious, and beautiful at its core. This aesthetic and metaphysic was accepted by reason alone, a priori, not on something remotely close to the scientific method. Put another way, this metaphysic described the way thinkers wanted the essence of the universe to be, not the way it was validated to be via observation.

In short, Copernicus essentially embraced the Pythagorean mathematical interpretation of the universe and became convinced that the whole universe is made up of numbers. And since mathematicians at the time were attracted to the notion of simplicity, beauty, and harmony, this provided an a priori basis for accepting his heliocentric theory.

Burtt moves on to make a similar case in light of the theories and work of Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Gilbert, Newton, and others. All these great thinkers were inspired and influenced by the same Pythagorean metaphysic of numbers and the a priori, untestable assumption that the underlying (not observable) essence of the universe as mathematical.

Kepler worshiped the Sun metaphorically as "God"; introduced a mysterious, aesthetic, and untestable view of causation; and asserted that the real world existed independent of the mind and was entirely mathematical in nature.

Following the lead of Copernicus and his attention to celestial phenomena, Galileo applied the Pythagorean metaphysic to the world of terrestrial dynamics; stated that nature acts according to immutable mathematical laws (the language of the universe); asserted that matter is comprised of infinitely small indivisible atoms, which only possess mathematical properties (number, figure, magnitude, position, motion, etc); and introduced the notion of "occult" indestructible forces that governed the movement of matter behind the scenes (since matter by itself floating around in absolute space cannot govern its own orderly behavior without the aid of an exterior agent).

Descartes viewed the universe as a geometrical machine; denied the existence of a void or vacuum in space (as did many during that time to deal with the problem of "Action at a Distance); and constructed a radical mind-body dualism that would plague Western world thinkers for the rest of history, as well as introduce a number of philosophical absurdities and challenges (such as Descartes’ ludicrous idea that the pineal gland in the brain was the connection point or “dysfunctional conjunction” between the material body/brain and the soul).

Henry More envisioned forces as the "Spirit of Nature", where gravity, cohesion, magnetism, etc are not mechanical (like the geometrical motion of bodies), but “spiritual” or indicative of a divine presence.

Gilbert, the father of the study of magnetism, posited that magnetism was the "soul" of the universe, and that this soul, though spiritual, is extended in space (not immaterial) and explains action at a distance.

Newton truly turned over a new leaf and suggested that we can never know the essences or causes of these "occult" forces in nature, but can only mathematically reduce and formulate their observable effects (such as his inverse square law of gravity). Yet in the end he ironically embraces, as did many of his predecessors, the “God of the Gaps” and affirms that the material world is fundamentally mathematical (return of the Pythagorean metaphysic) and is composed of hard, indestructible particles that were created by God and have only mathematical attributes; that the human soul is locked up inside the body with absolutely no contact with the real, external physical world (dualism of Descartes); and that based on the metaphysic of primary-secondary qualities, secondary qualities (color, taste, etc) are all phantasms created by the mind, not properties of the physical, external universe.

Newton and those before him ultimately sold out to metaphysics, as their “fudge factor” and way of coping with the unknown. Or, as an alternative and perhaps more likely explanation, shall we speculate that maintaining a small and virtually harmless component of theological mysticism was their way of staying out of trouble with the Church, lest they be burnt as the stake as Bruno was in 1600 for his heretical ideas?

We can summarize the extent of metaphysical foundations of modern science as follows:

  • The Pythagorean-Neo-Platonist view that the underlying nature of the universe is mathematical, assumed a priori and based on the aesthetic principles of harmony, simplicity, and beauty (Copernicus et al)
  • Deification of the Sun and assumption that harmonious mathematical structures cause observable phenomenon (Kepler)
  • Atomism: physical universe is comprised of indestructible particles that have only mathematical properties (Galileo et al)
  • A priori assumption that all empirical phenomenon can be reduced to mathematical relationships (all)
  • Universe viewed as “geometrical machine” (Descartes)
  • Concept of primary/secondary qualities: only mathematical qualities of physical objects are real; secondary qualities (smell, taste, color, etc) are figments of the mind (all)
  • Radical mind-body dualism: minds/souls completely detached and separate from the real, physical world (Descartes et al)
  • A priori knowledge of the universe is mathematical and of divine origin
  • Introduction of ether and occult or spiritual/divine forces to avoid the problem of “action at a distance” (spirit of nature, magnetic soul, God as incorporeal or extended plenum, etc)

The metaphysical foundations of science pose some interesting questions for discussion and further thought:

  • Does it matter what scientific enquiry starts with or is influenced by (metaphysical models or systems, a priori assumptions, etc), provided that it yields predictable, practical, and consistent results?
  • What is the function of a model in science?
  • Are models just metaphors as platforms for scientific prediction, or are we justified in their reification (assuming they literal descriptions of the world?
  • Do any theories of science today exhibit the same influence of Pythagoreanism? (e.g., String Theory)

Download a PowerPoint and graphical presentation of this article here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Introduction and Summary of Co-Gender Freemasonry: Broadening Masonic Horizons in Idaho

Introduction and Summary of Co-Gender Freemasonry by Praxis Lodge Broadening Masonic Horizons in Idaho

Monday, November 307 - 8 pm MST (9 - 10 pm Eastern)
Thomas Hammer Coffee, 298 N 8th St, Boise, ID
or conference in via Skype and call Praxis_Lodge

In the coming months Praxis Lodge (Grand Orient of the United States), Boise, Idaho, will be
assisting in the formation of a new Lodge of co-gender Freemasonry. This new co-gender
Masonic Lodge, just as Praxis Lodge, will be in amity with the Grand Orient of France and
will be devoted to the principles and values of Modern Freemasonry, bringing together both
men and women of all nationalities, races, ethnicities, and creeds, who are willing to embrace
total freedom of conscience and secular based Freemasonry.

At this session, which is open to the public, Praxis Lodge will provide a brief history of co-gender
Freemasonry, share plans for a collaboration with Praxis Lodge, and discuss next steps.

Please join us in continuing to broaden Masonic horizons in Idaho. You will have the opportunity
to take part and have a voice in a history-making event in this state.

More info at