View Full Version : Masonic Lodges today
03-08-2000, 04:21 PM
Just a short response to your answer about Masonic Lodges. While much of what you have said is factual it is important to note that Masonry today is very different than in the past. Masonry supports many different orginazations like the Scottish Rite Childrens Hospital, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and all the Shrine Hospitals across the country. Masonry is alive today because of dedicated men who would like to help in the community in which they live. I really believe that masonry has taken a bad rap for many years because we have never stood up to say anything different. I must be understood that sometimes it is better to say nothing rather then making an issue out of a non-issue.
David M. Baskin
03-08-2000, 05:53 PM
Sir DMB, are you referring to a "mailbag" item answered by the "Straight Dope" staff, or are you referring to the Cecil Adams-penned column What's the story on Freemasonry? (11-Mar-1988) (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_138.html)
I have read an article recently in the Los Angeles Times that stated that the decline in membership in fraternal organizations has been accompanied by a fall in local charity causes in many cities. Most fraternal organizations support charities, one example being the Shriners' Hospitals for children.
C K Dexter Haven
03-09-2000, 07:13 AM
Under the assumption that this is, indeed, a response to Cecil's column, as ref'd by Arnold, I am moving it to the appropriate forum.
03-09-2000, 08:50 AM
So what was the story with the Anti-Mason political movements in 19th century America?
I saw the "Anti-Masons" lumped in with the Whigs and the Know-Nothings. Was it an actual party, or just part of the Republican platform?
03-09-2000, 09:03 AM
The Anti-masonic party was started back in the late 18 hundreds. To be quite honest I am not an expert on them but I have a friend who is. In a nutshell they believed that the Masons were tring to take over the government and wanted to stop them by any means possible. The history of the Masonic Lodge is debated frequently both within and without of the body of the lodge. My point to writing my reply was to inform people about what the Masonic lodges do for the community at large and quite often take no credit for. Thanks for your reply.
03-09-2000, 10:38 AM
I was glad to see this topic on the message board - I was going to start my own thread on this. I read a book for History class in college which gives a good account of the origins of the Anti-Mason's party. It is called "A Shopkeeper's Millennium : Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837." It's an excellent local history. It also gives clues as to the origins of the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, the reconciling of traditional Protestant beliefs with the entreprenuerial spirit of Americans and the formation of the Republican party. I highly recommend it. :)
03-09-2000, 08:11 PM
I've been curious about the Masons since my father joined after I went away to college. He was telling me once what a fine organization it was and how I might one day want to belong. Because I didn't know much about it (and because my father was always a substantial bigot), I was pretty doubtful and started asking him questions. I asked if Jews and blacks could be Masons, and he said, "Yes, but not many are." Then, after recalling that there was a Catholic organization called the Knights of Columbus, I asked him if Catholics could be Masons. His answer was a curt, "No". When I asked why, he said, "You know what Catholics have to do, don't you?" The only thing I could think of was Confession. So I said, "They have (or are supposed, I guess) to go to Confession, but they're supposed to confess their sins, aren't they?" The conversation came to a halt at that point as my father refused to elaborate further.
Years later I read "Foucault's Pendulum", a novel by Umberto Eco (a writer of historical fiction that is rich in actual history). The book (I highly recommend it) is about some guys who fabricate a hoax about an elaborate plan supposedly involving the Masons, Druids, Templar Knights, Rosicrucians, Brazilian voodoo, and some source of fabulous mystical power. Suddenly, the hoax creators start mysteriously disappearing, the implication being that hit periously close to some truth and are now being eliminated because they know too much.
Anyhow, the book talks a lot about the Masons and the origins of FreeMasonry. Eco makes a big deal about the Templar Knights, who during the time of the Crusades had become the original bankers in Europe. They rose to such a level of power that the King of France and Pope cracked down on them, forcibly disbanding the order and putting their leader to the stake (torched him). The leader's name was Jacques DeMolay. (All of this about the Templars and Demolay is well established history.)
Curiously, the young mens version of the Masonic Lodge today is called "DeMolay". Hmmmmmmm. This would certainly explain some of the animosity that persists today between the Masons and the Catholic church. Or, maybe, the Masons just chose Demolay's name for their young men's group to tweak the nose of the Catholic church. I don't know.
Finally, what in God's name is the deal with the Shriners? What little I know about them is that they are an organization of 32nd or 33rd (whatever the highest order is) Masons that was formed in the early 1900s in NYC, NY. I do not get what the deal is with the Fezs, scimitars and sashes that they wear or, for that matter, why these grown men drive Harleys or weird funky little cars around in tight formation in parades. Man, that stuff is WEIRD! I think there's good cause for being seriously afraid, here.
(But they do good work funding/operating hospitals for needy kids, especially burn victims!)
03-09-2000, 09:59 PM
The "Freemasons," huh? As in "free from actually doing any stonework"? Next time you see one of these poseurs, ask--no, tell--him to build you a nice stone wall. (Offer to pay him fairly, natch.) If he can't, HE AIN'T A MASON!!! (So quoth literalist Phil....)
Seriously, though, there's a lot of pretension in the organization. The medieval stonemason guilds served a practical purpose (y'know, masonry?). The modern (since the 1700's) "Masons" latched onto the ritual & built it into their own private club/mystic order; I think it's what somebody (Robert Anton Wilson?) called "worshiping the finger that points to the moon." You might as well build a mystic order that ascribes religious meaning to the tools of the watchmaker.
It's crap. I recommend you join my own (much superior) secret society. Of course, the lower levels don't always get to know the society's true name, and you'll start out as a "Misinformed Underling," but we make no demands on your heart, soul, or true beliefs. :D :cool: :D
I'm a member of the Monarchist political party.
The Anti-Masonic Party is credited with holding the first presidential nominating convention in the US. I believe it was in 1831 when William Wirt was the nominee for the 1832 convention, prior to that presidential candidates were nominated by congressional party caucuses or state legislatures.
I believe in 1836, the Democrats and the Whigs switched to the convention method.
03-10-2000, 03:30 AM
straight dope on several points about Maonsry in a nutshell:
Purpose: To bring diverse good men together who would otherwise not have an opportunity to meet (there are other equally good purposes--Masonry offers a lot to the serious member)
It is not religious. But it does advocate various high moral principles of living--e.g. one should live by the Golden Rule.
Requirements: good character, belief in a supreme being, you must request membership (you will not be invited). Any male can be a member. In 1970, 1 out of every 15 men in the U.S. was a member (I haven't checked the current statistics).
Where to apply: Any lodge...ask for the secretary of the lodge. The lodges are all listed in the phone books (look under Fraternal Organizations in the Yellow Pages phone book).
It is not a secret organization, though many Masons have a misconception about that. It is a private organization (receives no government funding). It does have members-only meetings, and the meetings are open to any Mason, whether or not he is a member of a particular lodge.
Masonry traces its history back to the real (operating) masons who formed guilds (unions) to protect their trade. Later they found it advantageous (good for getting jobs) to grant honorary memberships to important people. The concept was so well accepted that eventually the esoteric Masons took over and the tools of masonry (trowel, square, compasses, etc) became largely symbolic and associated with philosophical ideas (e.g. Level with me! Square up your accounts!)
There were no Masonic lodges in any dictatorial or Communist countries (lately, with the collapse of Communism, that's been changeing).
Membership is not prohibited to Catholics, but various popes have prohibited Catholics from joining (other popes have permitted it). However, if the pope of the day prohibits Masonic membership, then he probably would not be admitted into a lodge because membership would mean hypocritical violation of one's promise to his own religion (to obey the pope)--and that would be a violation of a Masonic creed that one should first follow the dictates of one's own religion.
Catholics are encouraged by the Church to join the Knights of Columbus (the Catholic equivalent of secular Masonry). Some popes have been Masons, and many of the Masonic lodges in Latin America were started by Catholic Jesuits who happened to also be Masons.
Masonry does not include the Shriners, DeMolay, Scottish Rite, and other organizations. However, those independent organizations do require that all adult members must be Masons in good standing before being allowed to join.
The first elected leader of the Anti-Masonic party (yes it was a political party) was a moderate Mason who actually was in favor of Masonry--and the folks who elected him knew that at the time of the voting. It wasn't a wile plot....they just liked him better than the other candidates. This is one of the many strange facts about the history of Masonry. More trivia: The centerline painted on a highway was invented by a Mason.
The Shriners formed when a group of Masons decided that although they loved the Masonic concept, it was too boring for them. So, they decided to start a fun organization which required members to be Masons. It is sometimes called "The Playground of Masonry." That's why all the clowning around at Shriner's events (Shrine parades, Shrine football, etc). Later, some Shriners decided they were having TOOOO MUCH fun, so they started the Shriner's Hospitals (22 of them) for Crippled Children. The hospitals are citadels of advanced medicine. Adults will be treated if the specialized equipment and skills are not available anywhere else. No patient is ever charged anything for treatment at a Shriner's hospital--it's always free. If a child cannot afford treatment, just contact any Shriner and he will start the administrative admission procedures. It is the hospital of last resort (and an excellent one at that).
Masonry only has 3 degrees. A 32nd degree Mason is a Mason who joined the Scottish Rite, an independent organization requiring Masonic membership before accepting a new member.
By the way, my own investigation of anti-masonic leaders has shown that most of them were rejected for masonic membership before they went on the anti-masonic campaign trail. Hmmmmmm.
Recently the Southern Baptists in two separate attempts spent several tens of thousands of dollars trying to dig up dirt about Masonry. In the end, they voted that they could find no conflict between Masonry (a non-religious secular organization) and Christianity.
The Masonic organization is not an organization that does anything. It is more accurate to say that it simply encourages each member to unselfishly put first his duties owed to his God, his country, his neighbor, his family, his self, and lastly, the Masonic lodge...in that order. That point is made to every new member right at the beginning before he is actually accepted into membership. Masonry brings good men together. That's it.
Further questions? contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll try to answer them.
03-10-2000, 09:28 AM
The last gentleman's comment was perfect. He decribes what masonry is and how to become a member.
As for the Order of DeMolay, it was started in by a group of nine boys in Kansas City, MO in 1919. The way I like to describe DeMolay is that where Boy Scouts stops, DeMolay starts. Boy Scouts (an very good orginazation) teaches survival skills and the beginning of leadership. DeMolay hones those skills to a finer point. When you really think about it how many youth orginazations allow its members to sit in their state capital as a Senator or Rep and see how the poticial process works.
DeMolay as two sister orders, although they are seperate from one another. The Order of Rainbow for Girls and Jobs Daughters. I am not really sure about the ages of these groups but to be a member of the Order of DeMolay you must be between the ages of 13 - 21. The Order of DeMolay promotes the love of God, Love of Country and Love of Family. All in all it really is a great Order for young men.
03-10-2000, 01:26 PM
chrononhotonthologos and Sir DWM,
I can't help but feel that you're being evasive or, at the least, disingenuous. I certainly don't think the Masons are evil and I don't ascribe any grand conspiracy to them, but I do think they shroud themselves in secrecy and mysticism and that naturally creates suspicion. I mean look at Masonic Temple Halls. They are typically rather monolithic structures that either have no windows on the bottom floor or have them permanently covered, painted over, shuttered or whatever.
To argue that the Masons are simply descended from Medieval stone mason guilds is clearly a gross over simplification. How do the Templar Knights (which are a segment/phase of at least some Masonic organizations) relate to stone masons? There's clearly been bad blood between the Masons and the Catholic Church for centuries (I'm not Catholic, by the way) and to try to dispel that by saying that, "Why, even some Catholic priests have ben Masons" doesn't address the long standing antagonism between the Mason Temple and the Catholic Church hierarchy.
I know that the Order of the DeMolay and the Shriners are not part of the Masons, but they are clearly related to the Masons. It can't be purely circumstance that the Order is named after the head of the Templar Knights who was brutally executed by the Catholic Church and the King of France. Be real. Why is it called Order of the DEMOLAY?
I also understand that the Shriners were created as kind of a recreational outlet for the highest order Masons. But where do all of the Arabic trappings and symbology come from?
03-10-2000, 01:26 PM
Sir D: There is also an adjunct organization to DeMolay; that of the Order of the Knighthood. That order is for DeMolays between the ages of 18 and 21. I was initiated into the Old Dominion Priory in Alexandria, Virginia; that being the closest priory to George Washington Chapter of DeMolya in Arlington.
03-10-2000, 01:35 PM
Sorry, I wasn't meaning to be insulting or disrespectful when I spelled your UserName incorrectly. Just made a mistake.
03-10-2000, 03:43 PM
Let me first address Monty's reply. Monty, like you I am also a Senior Sir Knight and PIKC-MSA of Auvergne Priory in Dallas, Texas. I also served the State Knighthood Association as State IKC back in 85 - 86. I was around in the era of our Past International Master, Brother Jay Aldis. And I hope you are still working in the Order.
The history of Masonry is very deep and involved. I have studied the history of both the Masonic lodge and the Knights Templar and still believe to have very little knowledge of either. First of all let me tell you a little about the degrees of masonry in a general since. The degrees or ceremonies are just allusions to teach simple lessons about the meanings of masonry. I do not know about the Shrine because I am not a member. I do know that the shrine degrees are set in Eqypt which would explain many of the symbols they use. Please understand that all of the degrees are all just small plays teaching lessons. As for membership into the Shrine, the only requirement is that you be a Scottish Rite Mason. In order to become a Scottish Rite Mason you have to be a Master Mason in a regular lodge. I really believe that your Dad made a mistake by not telling you about the lodge. I have formed some of the best friends in the lodge. This is not to say that I don't have non-masonic friends, I do. Masonry is really not as big a secret as everyone would like it to be. I am 34 years old and have been a member of my lodge for thirteen years. Masonry is not for everyone, but then again, not everyone wants to be a member of the Elks, the Oddfellows, or other orginazations. I enjoy talking about masonry and listening to others opinions on the subject. I can't help by feel that you have a strong interest in the Fraternty which you might want to explore. The only real advice I will give you is to find a Lodge that you feel comfortable in. I personally don't think I would be comfortable in a lodge with an average age of 82. But I am very comfortable in my lodge where the average age is 43. Feel free to ask any questions you might have and I will answer them to the best of my ability. Thanks for your response.
03-11-2000, 07:02 PM
I really believe that your Dad made a mistake by not telling you about the lodge. I have formed some of the best friends in the lodge. This is not to say that I don't have non-masonic friends, I do.What gets me is the implication that a Mason might be expected only to have friends in the lodge. :rolleyes: yeesh! Methinks he doth protest too much!
03-14-2000, 09:29 AM
Couldn't be that the Simpson's got it right, could it?
I mean, it isn't really possible that the Masons is about guys getting out of the house, drinking beer, shooting pool and dressing up in some neato costumes, is it? Naaaaaah, that couldn't be it.
Who keeps the metric system down?
Who controls the British Crown?
Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Gutenburg a star?
I was wondering if anyone else had remembered the "Stonecutters" episode of The Simpsons. Way to go, man!
When all else fails, ask Cecil.
03-14-2000, 09:47 PM
(stonecutters is one of my fave all-time simpsons episodes!)
off and on i've had friends who were quasi-obesssed w/the masons, but the only really interesting tidbit (due to the source and plausibility) i've come across is the story that shriners are wife-swappers; for balance, i should say that a former landlord of mine is a shriner and a very nice person, but the young woman who told me the swapping story was speaking of her uncle and aunt's activities...
--and the scene she described reminded me of a sort of swinging-sixties cocktail napkin hookers at a shriner's convention atmosphere straight out of a love american style episode-- so is it part of the past, or did it ever happen?
the hog squeal of the universe is coming from my modem!
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