- Religion and Philosophy
FREEMASONRY:DEBUNKING THE LIES & MYTHS
Having been a Mason for almost a decade and a half, most days i'm truly honored to have been initiated into the oldest fraternal organization in the world. On the other hand, there are days when i'm saddened and disheartened. Those are the days that I come across some vicious diatribe written by some disgruntled "ex brother" or one who claims to know the ends and outs of the craft. Usually an enlightened "brother" like myself easily can discern which category one falls into after reading a few lines of these nonsensical writings. Most of these extraordinary tales begin and end with the theory that Freemasons are an organization composed of satanists, luciferians, and the Illuminati, all of whom are committed to world domination.
Although most enlightened brothers like myself view these unfounded lies to be offensive, and in a sense comical, the truth is that this is no laughing matter. Many segments of the population believe these atrocious lies wholeheartedly. I've personally had a falling out with my own son on the subject of freemasonry. Instead of coming to the source, his father, my son in a conversation one day proceeded to tell me that he learned from the internet that "masons are keepers of the truth who believe in and worship the devil."
To say that I was flabbergasted would be a major understatement. I was appalled and floored to think that my own flesh and blood would think that I would be a willing participant to such an organization. I then proceeded to try to shed some "light" onto the fraternity and the work in which we engage in. After I'd finished talking, my son conveyed to me that he was still skeptical and as far as he was concerned "all these conspiracy theorists had to be on to something."
On that day I learned two valuable lessons, one, that a lot of the population are misguided , and feel the same way as my son, and two, that John Q. Public needs to know the truth about what it means to be a Mason, and what is taught in the degrees. Hence this article. But what I will not do is give any credence to the conspiracy theorist, for that you will have to search elsewhere. For those who wish for a truthful first hand account of what is freemasonry, how to become a mason, and a lesson on the first three degrees of freemasonry, continue reading, and enter into the "light."
WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?
Throughout the years I've read and heard many different variations to the question of what is freemasonry. Some delegate the craft simply as a secret society, others consider us to be a charitable organization, and then there are those who think of us as a cult or religious organization. All of these definitions share a kernel of truth, but they are not the truth. Yes, freemasonry is a secret society, but so are the many other fraternities and sororities that are spread over college campuses, and around the world, but no one harasses them when they don't share their "signs", "grips", and "tokens." Freemasonry is world-renowned for it's charitable contributions to society, but these alms are not mandatory nor are they dictated by any masonic law or edict, rather it is given to emphasize the love masons have for their fellow man. And finally, freemasonry is not a cult or religion. It is true that one must profess a belief in God before he is even considered for membership, but " beyond the fact of the reality of God, it does not go. Rather, it allows every man to think of God according to his own experiences in life, coupled with his own vision of truth."
So the question remains, what is freemasonry? Along with being a way of life, masonry is a "system of morality veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols." Now what the heck does that mean? Well the meaning is quite simple, masonry is an established orderly way of teaching principles or standards with respect to right and wrong in conduct, and this is accomplished by telling a parable or fable in which people, things, and events have a symbolic meaning which is often instructive. Hence the phrase "there's more to it than meets the eye."
The definition of what constitutes a Freemason is a male who is a free man, free born, and one in possession of a free mind. It has been said that a mason builds any and everything but most importantly he builds moral character and human consciousness. As every true mason knows, freemasonry begins with God, and it ends with God. Therefore it would be accurate to say that freemasonry is a free masons spiritual profession. Take notice, that I did not say his religious profession. As we learned earlier, a free mason can be a member of any religion he chooses, so long as he has a firm belief in God. For those who wish for a more detailed, historical definition know that:
"freemasonry is an offshoot from the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, who in turn sprang from the Colleges of Artificers of Ancient Rome. The decay of cathedral building in England was the death blow to the old guilder's guilds, but thanks to the scholars and gentlemen of leisure who were accepted as honorary members by the operative lodges in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, because of their interest in architecture and it's symbolism, we have speculative masonry." (see Little Masonic Library, Volume III, page 4.)
So we see that masonry evolved from the using of tools to build edifices (operative masonry) to (speculative masonry) where the same tools hold a deeper spiritual meaning and the edifices one hopes to erect is "that spiritual building that is not made with hands, eternal in heaven."
HOW TO BECOME A FREEMASON
As a rule Freemasons do not campaign for members. Although I do know of a few lodges in my jurisdiction who encourage their members to solicit new candidates, this is the exception and not the rule. Matthew 22:14 tells us that "Many are called but few are chosen." This biblical verse serves as a perfect example of what every investigating committee in every lodge knows to be true. Membership in a lodge is not, and should not ever be automatic. The first degree of masonry informs us that candidate must come "of his own free will and accord." The reasons for this should be obvious. When a man entertains the thought of becoming a mason he should do so with the understanding that masonry is not a social club where one's primary duty is to attend dances, and march in processions, rather he should know that he is committing himself to the worlds oldest and largest fraternity whose members are dedicated to enhancing their moral and spiritual growth.
This is why every well governed lodge should always have an investigation committee to ascertain the motives of every new candidate. If one 's motive to become a free mason are contrary to the above stated reasons or a desire for more knowledge than truly one should consider enrollment in a fraternity where dances and marches in processions are the primary functions. As the first degree instructs us; "It is the internal, rather than the external, qualifications that recommend a man to freemasonry. He must first be prepared in his heart." Now, with that important facet out of the way, the basic qualifications for becoming a Freemason are:
- he must be a man
- worthy and well qualified
- duly and truly prepared
- of lawful age
- well recommended
- profess a belief in a supreme being
- born free, meaning that a slave and/or bondsman would not have been eligible to become a mason
THE FIRST THREE DEGREES OF MASONRY
1st Degree or ENTERED APPRENTICE-This degree is symbolic of youth. "The degree instructs us that the first degree of masonry is intended symbolically to represent the birth of man into the world...coming from the ignorance and darkness of the outer world, his first cravings for light . Hence the great and primary object of the first degree is to symbolize the birth of intellectual light into the mind. The working tools of an ENTERED APPRENTICE are the twenty four inch gauge, the common gavel, and the chisel.
2nd Degree of FELLOWCRAFT- This degree is symbolic of manhood,. The degree instruct us that if the object of the first degree is to symbolize the struggles of a candidate groping in darkness for intellectual light, that of the second degree represents the same candidate laboring amid all the difficulties that encumber the young beginner in the attainment of learning and science. The ENTERED APPRENTICE is to emerge from darkness to light; the FELLOWCRAFT is to come out of ignorance into knowledge. This degree, therefore, by fitting emblems is intended to typify those ardent struggles for the attainment of truth...moral and intellectual truth. The working tools of a FELLOWCRAFT are the square, the level, and the plumb.
3rd Degree of MASTER MASON- The MASTER MASON represents the highest state of Ancient Craft Masonry. Every lodge in the United States must open in the third degree for the transaction of business. No man is eligible to hold office in the lodge unless he is a MASTER MASON, nor is he entitled to masonic burial or relief, to walk in public procession, or visit a lodge of MASTER MASONS. The degree s symbolic of old age, by the wisdom of which we may enjoy the happy reflections consequent on a well-spent life., and die in the hope of a glorious immortality. The working tools of a MASTER MASON are all the previous mentioned tools along with the trowel.
It is my sincere prayer that this article will provide the necessary guidance and "light" to prospective candidates seeking entry into the craft., and I also hope that it will serve as a beacon of light to dispel the darkness cast on the fraternity by disgruntled "ex members" and the conspiracy theorists. I would also like to point out to the reader that although at this present time I am not an active member of the craft, as a MASTER MASON one of my charges is to preserve unsullied the reputation of the fraternity, a duty which I swore too, and a duty that I will uphold until i'm united with my brethren in the New Jerusalem. PEACE BE UPON YOU.
SUGGESTED READING FOR THE BEGINNER
THE CRAFT AND ITS SYMBOLS BY ALLEN E. ROBERTS
THE BUILDERS: A STORY AND STUDY OF FREEMASONRY BY JOSEPH FORT NEWTON