Dissonance and Freemasonry

Does chaos lead to harmony in our Craft? The answer will surprise you. Guest edited by Michael Jarzabek, Past Junior Grand Warden from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts featuring exclusive works by Angel Millar, Greg Kaminsky, Erik Marks and Baruti KMT-Sisouvong.


A Freemason to understand harmony must understand discord. This paraphrase of Plutarch’s quote, “Medicine to produce health must examine disease; and music, to create harmony must investigate discord” is the theme of this issue.

This issue may make you uncomfortable. It’s supposed to. It’s supposed to make you feel.

My hope is that this feeling of discomfort will inspire you to create harmony from dissonance, to “make crooked paths straight,” and to adorn the world with beauty.

Like all great and important undertakings, this one begins with an existential crisis. Hamlet questions his very existence. Consider, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”. In each moment, we must choose between fortitude and cowardice. Sometimes bravery is fear disguised. This paradox is cognitive dissonance.

I needed to complement the most influential writer in history with the work of voices equally as prominent in my personal journey. The writers in this issue have each challenged me to think. They each transcend a mere academic approach to Masonic education. They are each brutally honesty and a rabidly authentic, not only to the craft but to themselves. To a man, they surprised me with what they submitted. They made me question my own dissonance. They made me think.

Erik Marks provides insights for us to use to deconstruct and reconstruct this issue and, more importantly, our lives. Masonic growth does not consist of rainbows and unicorns, quite the opposite, it’s made of darkness and monsters. Erik gives us a flicker of light, a glimmer of hope, and a sword.

I was as surprised when I received Greg Kaminsky’s article as he was when he found the book on the desk. My gut reaction was to disagree with his premise. Freemasonry not esoteric… what means this blasphemy? I sat with it. I let his words sink in. He’s right.

Initially, the idea for this issue was for it to be a punk zine. With that in mind, I reached out to a friend. Rev. Hank Peirce is a former straight edge roadie that became a Universalist Unitarian minister. I’m glad I did. This issue has some serious emotional weight to it. Hank surprised me by taking a lighter tone by recommended an old-school “scene report.” To that, he added the idea of using show posters with familiar themes as their subject. I think it provides balance to the issue. Not all punk is dark and foreboding. Bands like NOFX brilliantly used harmony and humor to deal with difficult issues. Rev. Hank’s Scene Report stays true to this style by doing the same.

Baruti KMT-Sisouvong is a Brother I’ve come to know recently through a different project. We had a discussion that spanned topics as diverse as David Lynch, the Wu-Tang Clan, meditation, and the tomb of Amenemhet. When I pulled a random book meant as decoration off the shelf five minutes later and opened to a page describing that very tomb, I knew we were meant to work together. When I had a late cancellation for an article and knew exactly who I wanted to fill the void. His choice of “Groundhog Day” as the theme combined with the feeling of deja vu I get every time we speak convinced me that I chose the right man.

Angel Millar always brings Freemasonry to places you’d never expect. This article is no exception. He invites the craft to transform itself through the same method that its candidates do, by contemplating its death. In the shadow of death, we will find true meaning and purpose.

I wanted to close with as strong a cultural reference as I opened with. What modern writer could bookend the great bard? Few men have examined the darkness of society as honestly as George Orwell. Reading 1984, when I was a teenager, was one of the most eye-opening experiences in my life.

Reading it now through the lens of Freemasonry, it has a different allusion. I am Big Brother. It’s not society that I’m fighting but myself. I have the freedom that I seek within me if I choose to exercise it.

At the end of the day, what do we do with all of this? I didn’t want this issue to be imagery devoid of meaning. My respect for this publication and the Brothers who publish it demanded depth and piety. I didn’t want to create Masonic pornography. I didn’t want it to consist of pretty pictures and hollow fetishes. The Final Word needed to provide a takeaway. It needed to give the reader tools to work on their angst, sadness, and anger. As Billy Corgan sang, “despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.” In 1775, WL Wilmshurst, in his book, “The Meaning of Masonry,” explained how to open the sacred space or Lodge within each of us. This simple act is essential to transformation and healing.

In closing, I’d like to thank the Doug, Dago, and the entire SCRL for the opportunity to realize my vision for this issue. I couldn’t have done this anywhere else. They continually take chances and push boundaries like no one else, and they do it with style. It’s what makes this the premier Masonic Education magazine in the world.

Fraternally and Sincerely,
Michael Jarzabek

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