Degree XVI — Questions

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Degree XVI Lecture

1. "It shall not be lawful to impose tax, toll, tribute or custom on the Priests, Levites, Minstrels, Porters, Nethinims or Ministers of the Temple. And thou, Ezra, to enforce the Law of God, whereof thou hast a copy, appoint magistrates and judges for all the people beyond the River that know that law, and teach it to them who know it not. And if any one disobey that law or the law of the King, let him without delay be condemned to death or to exile, confiscation of property or imprisonment."

a. What is your initial reaction to the system of "justice" suggested by the above paragraph?
b. How might you obtain knowledge of the "Law of God"?
c. By what criteria might you be able to judge the merits and demerits of the "law of the King", whether enacted by a monarch or by elected professional politicians?
d. What suggestions do you have for improving the government of your country for the long-term benefit of the present population and their future generations?
e. How should your country deal with "exiles" or "refugees" who have disobeyed the laws of their own country?
f. What crimes, if any, do you consider justify a sentence of death?

2. What lessons taught in this Degree help to account for the survival of Freemasonry through so many turbulent centuries?

3. What do you learn from this lecture about the origins of Orders of Knighthood? Why should Orders devoted to charitable purposes have taken up arms? Does what you know of their subsequent history suggest that they were right to do so?

4. What do you think is implied by the reference to "symbolism of a speculative architecture"? To what practical developments did it give rise? Comment on the value of symbols as aids to personal understanding and responsible conduct.

5. What do you understand by "The New Jerusalem"? Do you have any criticisms of the "Divine law" of "The New Jerusalem" to which Masons of high degree are expected to adhere? Would its wider adoption be generally beneficial at the present time? Whether or not you are a Freemason, could you adopt it as your personal practice?

6. "The serene and bright morning, when we recover our conscious existence from the embraces of sleep; when, from that image of Death, God calls us to a new life and again gives us existence, and His mercies visit us in every bright ray and glad thought, and call for gratitude and content..." — Albert Pike

a. Meditate on cycles within cycles as experienced in daily, seasonal, and perennial life.
b. What does your experience of "deep sleep" teach you about the meaning of "eternity"?
c. Contemplate the suggestion that our cyclic experiences between birth and death are only a subset of a wider cycle marked by birth and rebirth.
d. What light does the doctrine of reincarnation cast on the so-called "problem of pain" and the apparent injustice of God as commonly represented?

7. "This Masonry teaches as a great Truth: a great moral landmark that ought to guide the course of all mankind:..." — Albert Pike

a. Comment on the potential value of this lecture as setting forth a basic moral strategy whereby a small minority of enlightened benevolent individuals might successfully combat social and political evils.
b. Why could any form of terrorism never have a place in such a strategy?
c. Why and how does the philosophy of Free-Masonry contradict that of a "Welfare State"?