The Old Past Master by Carl Claudy- 1924

Masonic Libraries

"I can't just see the idea in founding this new Masonic library," objected a comparatively newly made Master Mason, talking to a group in the anteroom during refreshment. "Books are all right, of course, and libraries are necessary, but why insist on such a complete library for the new Temple?"

"Well, why not?" asked someone.

"If you follow out the idea to its logical conclusion," answered the new
Master Mason, "the Elks ought to have a library and the Knights of Pythias
ought to have one. The I.O.O.F. should support a library and the Red Men
should have one, too. All the hundred and one fraternities should have
libraries and the curious spectacle would be presented of a hundred groups
of a few hundred men each, each supporting its own little collection of
books. Wouldn't it be much more sensible if they all supported one big

There was a moment's silence. The group turned questioning eyes to the Old
Past Master.

"We already support one big collection of books," the Old Past Master
began. "All of us here present contribute our quota towards the support of
the city library. In practically every town of any size in the nation is a
local library, which all support by their proportion of taxes.

"But the general library for the general run of people is naturally general
in character. It will have books on science and history and travel and
adventure and mathematics and botany and business and poetry and art....a
great many books on a great many subjects, but no authoritative collection
on any one subject. The doctor may use the library for general purposes,
but when he wants the last word, he goes to his medical library. The lawyer
may use the general library for one purpose or another, but it is either
his personal law library or that of his Bar Association which he depends
upon for accurate information in regard to a knotty point of law. 

"A Masonic library may partake of the character of a general library, in
that it may have a lot of fiction and current literature. It serves Masons
in that way, just as the coffee and sandwich at refreshment serves him. The
Lodge isn't and doesn't pretend to be, a restaurant, but it gives him
something to eat to make his visit pleasant. The Masonic library isn't, and
doesn't pretend to be, a competitor of the city library, but it gives him
some fiction and some current literature to serve him at his pleasure."

"But the main purpose of a rightly conducted Masonic library is to convey
knowledge to its owners and users. Masonry makes much of the liberal arts
and sciences; not to provide the means by which Masons may learn of these
is for Masonry to fail in practicing what she teaches.

"The Masonic library is poorly conceived and ill furnished which contains
only books upon Masonry. A doctor's library which had books only upon
office practice and business systems would be of little help to the
physician. The Masonic library which has only Masonic history and
philosophy, offers but little to the true seeker of light. A Masonic
library should be a library of all knowledge, including a great deal on
Masonry, but as much on philosophy, science, religion, art, history, that
its users have the opportunity to learn.

"In the capital of this nation is America's largest and finest collection
of books; the Congressional Library, second only to the library of the
British Museum in size, and with its volumes far more accessible to readers
than that of the English library. But that doesn't prevent the Ancient and
Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction from maintaining one
of the very finest Masonic libraries in the world. In the great House of
the Temple are a hundred thousand books. They are not all books on Masonry,
though the Masonic collection is world famous. It is a general library, of
general knowledge. Incidentally it contains a wonderful Burnsiana
collection, the largest collection of English translations of Goethe's
Faust in the world, as well as the priceless Pike manuscripts, some of them
not yet in print.

"Yet in spite of this there is a Grand Lodge library in the capital of the
nation, for the use of Master Masons, and the local Scottish rite bodies
got up a library of their own, by asking members for unwanted books.

"I think every Order should have its own library. I see no reason why Elks
and Red Men, Pythians and Odd Fellows, should not find equal benefits from
libraries of their own. But there is this distinction; Masonry is old, old.
It is worldwide. Its history is the history of the world. Its philosophy is
the philosophy of all ages. With not the slightest disrespect for the
various other fraternal orders, it may truthfully be said that none of them
has the lineage, the extent, the spread, the history or the intimate
connection with knowledge that is Masonic pride. Therefore, Masonry has,
perhaps, an especial need for books, and books, of course, mean a library.

"Something has been said about including books in lighter vein in Masonic
libraries. I think they should be included. One gives candy to a child to
make the taking of medicine easy. We supply entertainment and refreshment
to make attendance at specially vital meetings, easy. Why not the inclusion
of books of purely entertainment character to make the use of the library
easy to those who know little of libraries? As those who once came to scoff
remained to pray, so it is often the case that the man who starts browsing
in a library after light fiction remains to examine, and be interested by,
works of real information.

"So, my brethren, I believe we should support our Masonic library to the
limit; I believe we should make sacrifices for it, help it, use it.

"Masonry has only gentle methods at her hand for the working out of her
great purposes. We wield no battle-axe and carry no sword. But....the pen
is mightier than the sword, and the book is but the printed thought which
some man penned. Education is Masonry's greatest tool; and books are at
once the foundation and the superstructure of education."

"I wish I could learn to think first and talk afterwards' said the newly
made Master Mason. "I am for all the help we can give."

"You see," smiled the Old Past Master, "even talking about a library has
help our brother's education."

Carl Johnson, 32
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington
AASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


"What's troubling you?" asked the Old Past Master of a serious-faced
brother who sat down next to him.

"So much I hardly know where to begin to tell it," came the response. "I
try to be an optimist, but I can't help feeling that, practically
speaking, Masonry is a failure, and it depresses me horribly, because I
love it."

"Now that's too bad," said the Old Past Master soberly. "Masonry is a
failure, practically speaking! That would depress me, too, because I also
love it. In fact, I should think it would depress a great many men."

"Yes it would.... a lot of men love it," said the troubled brother.

"Suppose you explain why it is practically speaking a failure," said the
Old Past Master. "If I ought to be depressed because of such a condition
I think I ought to know it."

The troubled brother looked up suspiciously, but the grave face in front
of him wore no smile. If the old eyes twinkled they were hidden by solemn
lids from the penetrating glance of the troubled brother.

"Well, it's this way," he began. "Masonry teaches brotherhood. Naturally,
your brother is a man on whom you can depend; he is worthy of trust. One
believes in one's brother. One backs his note and expects to be paid; one
is willing to trust one's wife, one's life, one's good name, to a real

"But there are a good many men who are Masons that I know are not worthy
of my trust, merely because they are Masons. They are my brethren because
I have sworn with them the same obligations and professed the same faith.
But I do not think I could trust them with that which is of value to me,
and I know they wouldn't trust me with what is of value to them. I don't
mean they are not good men, but I don't feel that my Masonic bond is
strong enough to give me the complete trust which a real brotherhood
should provide and I don't think they feel it either.

"If I were in a strange city and a man came up to me and wanted to borrow
two dollars and pointed to a Masonic pin as the reason, I wouldn't lend
it to him. And if I walked into a strange bank and tried to cash a check
for twenty dollars on the strength of my Masonic pin, I wouldn't get

"A pin, you know," put in the Old Past Master, "is not real evidence of
being a Mason!"

"No, but even if I could convince the banker I really was a Mason he
wouldn't cash my check without identification. And I wouldn't give money
to a stranger even if I knew he was a Mason, because....well, because my
brotherhood hasn't struck deep enough, I guess. And so it seems to me
that practically speaking, Masonry is a failure."

"And yet you say you love it!" sorrowed the Old Past Master. My brother,
you have, in the language of the street, got hold of the wrong dog.

"Now let me talk a minute. Your blood brother is a man you love. You were
children together, you fought with him and for him. You shared his joys
and sorrows. You learned him, through and through. If you love him and
trust him, it is not because of your mutual parentage, but because of
your association. Two boys are not blood brothers, but raised as
brothers, may have the same tender love and trust. It isn't the
brotherhood of the flesh, but the brotherhood of spirit, that makes for
love and trust.

"You complain because you don't have that feeling for a stranger. Had you
been parted from your blood brother at birth, and never seen nor heard of
him until he met you on the street and demanded money while offering
proof of his blood relationship, would you trust him without knowing the
manner of man he had come to be? Merely because he was a blood relative
wouldn't mean he was the type of man you are. He might have become
anything during these years of separation. 

"Now, my brother, when you became a Mason you assumed a tie of
brotherhood with all the other Masons of the world. But you did not
assume any obligation to make that tie of brotherhood take the place of
all the virtues which are in the Masons of the world, or the virtues
possessed by the profane. If you are a true Mason you will extend Masonic
brotherhood, practically, to those Masons who hold out the brotherly hand
to you; which means those men who are able and willing to prove
themselves brothers and Masons, not merely those who belong to lodges and
wear pins.

"The world is one big compromise, my brother, between things as they are
and things as we would like to have them. You would like to be rich, and
you compromise by getting what you can. You would like to be famous, and
you compromise by being as well known as you can and doing the best you
can to deserve fame. You would like to be the most highly skilled man in
your profession, but you have to compromise with perfection on the one
hand, and the need of earning a living on the other. As a Mason, you
would like to trust on sight every Mason in the world, but you have to
compromise with this fact that all Masons are human beings first and
Masons afterwards, and human beings are frail and imperfect.

"Masonry makes no man perfect. It merely holds out one road by which a
man may travel towards the goal of spiritual perfection more easily and
with more help than by other roads. It had no motive power to drive men
over that road; but it smooths the way and points the path. The travel is
strictly up to the individual brother. 

"If you trust those whom you <italic>know </italic>travel that path, they
will trust you....and Masonry will be, practically speaking, for you both
a success. If you travel with your eyes open, you will see many who fall
by the wayside, not because the way is plain and smooth, but because they
are too weak to travel it. That is the fault, not of the road, but of the

"And so, my brother, Masonry cannot be a failure, because men fail as
Masons. As well say the church is a failure because an evil man goes to
it; as well call Christ a failure because all men are not Christians. The
failure is in the <italic>man</italic>, not in the beautiful philosophy
which is Masonry."

"And I," said the troubled brother, "Am a failure now because I have
failed to understand. But not in the future, thanks to you."


Carl Johnson, 32'

Burlington Masonic Lodge #254

GL of Washington

AASR, Valley of Bellingham

Orient of Washington

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudey- 1924

"Silk Stockings"

"Well, what do you know about <italic>that</italic>!" exclaimed the Young
Mason, as a dress-suited figure with a jewel on his coat stepped in front
of the Altar. "That's Jamison, Past Master of Joppa-Henderson Lodge."

"I see it is," answered the Old Past Master. "But what is it that
surprises you?"

"Why, that anyone from Joppa-Henderson should leave the sacred confines
of his own lodge and come to a simple, democratic, every-day lodge like
this one, let alone a Past Master. I never could get this 'silk-stocking'
Masonic idea, anyhow. Of course, you know, they have two hundred dollar
fees and forty dollar dues and you can't get in unless you have a bank
account, an automobile, a wife with diamonds and a box at the opera."

"Is it as bad as all that?" asked the Old Past Master, smiling. "You
didn't, by any chance, make application to Joppa-Henderson and get
refused, did you?"

"I certainly did not. And I would not, under any circumstances. Why, you
<italic>know</italic> it isn't Masonic. Here in this lodge- look along
those benches. There is Branch, who lays bricks for a living, and
Taggert, who is a bookkeeper, and sitting next to him is Wilson, who is a
bank president, and there is Colton, street car conductor, and Dr. Baird,
the X-ray specialist, and Hillyard, who sells ribbons down in the
department store, and Ellsworth, who is a Senator-democratic, this lodge
is! Here you find real Masonry. We really do not regard any man for his
worldly distinctions here- but in Joppa-Henderson Lodge---"

"Have you ever heard of a man being refused in Joppa-Henderson because he
isn't wealthy?" asked the Old Past Master.

"Certainly not! They never apply there," was the scornful answer.

"Ah! Now we are getting at the meat of the matter. My brother, you could
travel about a bit to your advantage. You will find, if you look, there
are many different kinds of lodges. For instance, in the metropolis is a
French lodge; that is, almost entirely composed of Frenchmen, who are
Americans, not French Masons. You wouldn't want to join that lodge, and
perhaps they would rather you wouldn't. Yet it is a fine lodge of fine
men. There is a Daylight Lodge in the city which meets in the afternoon.
Its membership is almost wholly among theatrical and newspaper men who
cannot meet at night. you wouldn't feel at home among them, perhaps, and
yet they are good Masons. There are several lodges in this country
composed almost wholly of Masonic students; you wouldn't feel at home
with them, but that doesn't mean they are not good men and good Masons.
And while it is true that the members of Joppa-Henderson Lodge are almost
wholly well-to-do business and professional men, it happens so because
the lodge was founded by fifty such, who naturally attracted to each
other their own kind.=20

"If, indeed, what I may call a class lodge refuses an application because
he doesn't belong to that class, that lodge is unMasonic. But I don't
think it works that way. I think the class lodge attracts its own kind of
people. I would call this a class lodge. It is a very democratic
organization, with an intense pride in what you have just noted; that is,
mixes all kinds of men in the Masonic cauldron and thus cooks a truly
Masonic brew. You are attracted to this lodge for that reason, and so
were the men you named. But men who are essentially aristocrats may not
feel as much at home among the democrats as among their own kind; for
such there is Joppa-Henderson Lodge.

"The ideal system of Masonry considers all men are alike and all lodges
are alike, just as an ideal democracy is founded on the theory that all
men are free and equal. This country is a republic, with democratic
ideals, yet we all know that we are not all equal, and no words will make
us so. The bricklayer isn't the financial equal of the banker, and the
banker isn't the labor equal of the bricklayer. But don't get the idea
that because two things are unequal, therefore one is better than the
other. A circle and a triangle are not equal, but is one better than the

"Joppa-Henderson, and all so-called 'silk-stocking' lodges, newspaper
lodges, class lodges of any kind, are not equal to each other; they are
quite different. But that does not mean that one is any better or any
worse than the other. And each attracts its own kind of men, to whom it
gives a precious Masonic light, they all do their work. Without some of
these class lodges, good men might not be attracted who now are; without
Joppa-Henderson, for instance, we might not have visiting us tonight one
of the finest Masons, most earnest Masonic workers and most brilliant
Masonic officers this jurisdiction ever saw. So I say to you, my=20
brother, beware how you judge the other fellow and his lodge, lest he, in
turn misjudge you.

"I have known Joppa-Henderson Masons for years. I have visited their
lodge many times. The way they do their work is an inspiration. And I
have never known of a man rejected in that lodge that I couldn't guess
<italic>why</italic> he was rejected; and it was never for anything else
than his character. Money plays no part. They are as willing to take the
hod-carrier or the chimney sweep as we, if he can live up to their
schedule of finances. But the poor man isn't attracted to that lodge; he
goes to a lodge where he finds the simple democracy we have here.

"All lodges who do honest and sincere work, my brother, have their places
in the great system we call Masonry. There is room for all kinds; the
high, the low, the rich, the poor, the democratic, the aristocratic. This
lodge, with an income from dues of twenty-five hundred dollars last year,
spend a few dollars more than a thousand for charity. Joppa-Henderson
with an income from dues of sixteen thousand, spent ten thousand in
charity. Charity is but one measuring stick, but by it, they measure

"Yet you," countered the Young Brother, "stick to this lodge, and don't
demit to Joppa-Henderson."

"Perhaps I can do more real Masonic work here," smiled the Old Past
Master, looking the younger brother full in the face.

The younger brother had the grace to blush.


Carl Johnson, 32'

Burlington Masonic Lodge #254

GL of Washington F&AM

AASR, Valley of Bellingham

Orient of Washington

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


I'm afraid we are not going to have the pleasure of hearing Professor
Filson," said the Yearling Mason to the Old Past Master, sitting beside him
in the ante-room.

"That's too bad," was the prompt response. "I don't know him. but I
understand he's worth hearing. What's the trouble?"

"Oh, it's money, of course. Filson always gets a hundred dollars a lecture,
and the lodge can't afford to pay it. And of course Filson can't afford to
lower his price, and there you are."

"Why doesn't Filson give the Lodge the lecture then for nothing?" asked the
Old Past Master.

"Why, why should he? That isn't business. The electric light company
doesn't give us light, the printer charges us for printed matter, the
furniture store charges us for carpets; why should Filson present us with
his ware?"

"Seems to me there is a difference," suggested the Old Past Master.
"Brother Filson, I suppose, comes to the lodge to spend an evening at
times. When he does, he spends as much time here without paying, sitting on
the bench, as if he were standing up talking. The electric light company
could not give us current without spending money to produce it, the printer
must pay his printers, the furniture man must buy his carpet. But Brother
Filson would not have to spend any money to give his lecture; all he would
have to spend would be a small part of what we have spent on him."

"I don't think I understand that last- what we have spent on him?"

"Thousands of years, millions of thoughts, untold effort, careful
planning," was the prompt response.

"Listen, my son," went on the Old Past Master; "have you ever stopped to
think just what Masonry is and does? Masonry is the product of the most
unselfish thinking, the most whole-hearted and selfless effort, the world
has ever known. Through it a universal brotherhood of millions of men has
been brought into being, to any one of which you and I and Brother Filson
have the right to turn, sure of sympathy, understanding and some help in
time of need.

"Through Masonry, a system of philosophy has been evolved, and through its
lodges that philosophy is taught to all brethren of the third degree,
without money and without price. Through it we learn charity, toleration,
courage, fortitude, justice, truth, brother love, relief. Through it we
learn, decency, patriotism, high-thinking, honor, honesty and helpfulness.
Through it, and all of these, we are made into better men, better citizens,
better husbands, better fathers, better lovers, better legislators, better
followers of our several vocations.

"Masonry may penetrate only a fraction of an inch beneath the skin of her
followers, but by that fraction of an inch the man who takes even a little
of her blessings to himself is a better man, and so the world is a better
place for the rest of us. In some of us it strikes in deep, deep. We become
soaked through and through with Masonic ideas, and strive, in our feeble,
human way, to show forth to the world whatever measure we may accomplish of
the perfection for which Masonry strives. Those of us who take it seriously
and who love it much also make the world a better place for the rest of us.

"The lodge provides a spiritual home for brethren who may have no other. If
one has another in his church, the lodge gives him a second spiritual home
to which he may go once in a while and feel even more strongly, perhaps,
than in his church the close touch of his brother's hand, the sweet smile
of a brother's love, the supporting arm of a brother's strength. To me, my
lodge is a rest, a haven, a harbor for a tired mind. When I come to this
lodge, whose destinies I guided so long ago, and which I have watched grow
from a fledgling little body to a mature organization, I find myself
uplifted, strengthened, made whole again. I may come tired, worn, weary
with the day; I leave refreshed, invigorated, helped with the reviving of
old truths, the remaking of old vows, the renewing of old ties. 

"Our ancient brethren had 'cities of refuge,' to which the fleeing man,
criminal or oppressed, might run for safety. Masonry is our modern 'city of
refuge,' to which we, criminal in intent if we are such, or oppressed with
injustice and cruelty, may fly for spiritual comfort and safety, knowing
that within the four walls of a lodge is rest and peace and comfort.

"All this has the lodge in particular and Masonry in general, offered since
the beginning, to all upon whom Masonry lays her gentle hands. You are the
recipient of her bounty, as am I. And so is Brother Filson. We three- and
all within these walls- take generously and without stint from Masonry's
store house of loveliness, of beauty, of rest, and comfort and love.

"Often I ask myself 'what have I done for Masonry, which does so much for
me?' Never do I feel that I have done enough. And Brother Filson, whom I do
not know, might well ask himself that, before he thinks of what he might do
for the lodge in terms of dollars, and prices and business. If, indeed, he
has done one-tenth for Masonry and the lodge, what lodge and Masonry has
done for him, he may hesitate. But if he is like the great, great majority
of Masons, content to take much and to give little, willing to receive all
and give nothing, careless of the structure which millions have raised in
the past that he might benefit, unable to understand that to his hands,
too, is committed the torch that those who come after may see clearly, he
has need of open eyes, and an understanding heart, which alone may show him
that for Masonry, which does so much for men, no man may do enough."

The Old Past Master ceased and sat silent. From a chair across the
ante-room a brother rose and came slowly forward.

"I do thank you, my brother," he said, "from the bottom of my heart. The
Lodge will certainly hear that lecture as soon as the Master wishes it. My
name is Filson."


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

[ERS] East Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


"I am much troubled. A very good friend of mine asked me for a petition
to this lodge, but when I took him one to sign he refused to do so, on
the ground that he couldn't answer the question as to his belief in

"Well, I don't see that that's anything to be troubled about," answered
the Old Past Master. "What he believes is his business, isn't it?"

"Yes, but-"

"But you want him in the Order," smiled the Old Past Master. "Well, it's
not hopeless, my son. A lot of men say they don't believe in God, and
mean something else entirely."

"How can a man say he doesn't believe in God and mean something else?"
asked the Young Mason.

"What they usually mean is that they don't believe in the particular kind
of God some one else believes in!" chuckled the Old Past Master. "I
sometimes think such men are born just to give the angels something to
smile about. Personally, I never found any necessity of defining God. But
there are people who think they must measure Him with an idea, and fix a
definite concept of Him in their mind before they dare say they believe
in Him."

"But <italic>my </italic>friend," interrupted the Young Mason, "says he
doesn't believe in any God, or Great First Cause, or Cosmic Urge, or Life
Principle, or anything. He discusses it very well and seems unalterably
fixed in his ideas. Yet he is a good man."

"Oh, yes, that's very possible," answered the Old Past Master. "Lot's of
very good men are very egotistical and conceited and-"

"But he isn't egotistical- why, he is very modest."

"There I differ with you. Any man who attempts to argue God out of the
universe is certainly an egotist."

"But he doesn't argue Him out of existence; he just denies He exists."

"My friend," said the Old Past Master, "my little grandson tries to argue
with me that the end of the rainbow is over on Park Avenue, and won't
understand why daddy don't let him go and find it. He often explains to
me how near the moon is, and I dare say he'd laugh if I told him the
earth was round. He'd be perfectly sure we'd fall off the underside. He
is only five, you know. Well, your friend is mentally only five.

"Have you ever read any thoughts of the great men on atheism? They are
rather hard to controvert, some of them. Coleridge said 'How did the
atheist get his idea of that God whom he denies?' A clever Frenchman
said, 'The very impossibility in which I find myself to prove that God is
not, discloses to me His existence.' Bacon said, 'They that deny God
destroy a man's nobility; for certainly man is like the beasts in his
body, and if he not like God in his spirit, he is an ignoble creature.'

"No, my friend I very much doubt that your friend's atheism is real. It
is a pose. He doesn't know it; doubtless he thinks to himself as very
courageous, standing up and denying Him out loud. The very fact that it
takes courage shows that the 'brave man' believes his statement outrages
Something, Somewhere, Which may call him to account. What your friend
probably means is that he doesn't believe in a God who sits on a cloud
surrounded by a lot of angels playing harps, or that he doesn't believe
in a God with a book in front of Him, saying to souls as they arrive,
'You go over there with the angels, but <italic>you </italic>get out of
here and go to hell.'

"Yet both of these are perfectly good ideas of Deity, which satisfy a lot
of people. There are millions and millions of people alive today who
believe that God is called Allah. There are others who worship their
Deity under the name of Buddha. To some God is a God of wrath, a stern
God, a just God, but a God who may be appeased by sacrifice, pleased by
song, distressed by sin. Man sees God in his mind according to his
lights. The God one man believes in does not fit in with another man's
ideas. And when he hears too many other ideas and likes none of them, he
often says 'I do not believe in God.' What he really means is 'I cannot
think clearly enough to visualize any conception of God which will do
with what I know. I can't stand for the visions others have; therefore, I
can't believe in any God,' never realizing that the very fact that he
reasons about God, thinks about God, denies God, is very good proof of
what he, nor no other man can get away from- the existence of God.
Voltaire says, "If God did not exist it would be necessary to invent
Him." Man can no more get along without God in his mind and heart than he
can without air."

"Well, you don't think I should persuade my friend, do you?"

"Oh, certainly not. Masonry wants only those who know their belief well
enough to state their faith in a Supreme Architect. Those other
unfortunates who haven't struggled up through their own conceit and
ignorance enough to understand their own belief in Some One, Somewhere-
call Him what Name you will- must wait for the blessings of Masonry, even
as my little grandson must wait until he is older before he can chase and
capture the end of the rainbow.

"I do not argue that you should persuade your friend. I only tell you not
to be distressed."

"But I am distressed as to what will happen to him. Won't God punish him
for his atheism?"

"It is not for me to say what He will do," was the reverent answer. "But
I do not think I should want to punish my little grandson for not
believing me when I told him the end of the rainbow was not on earth, or
for believing that the moon is near and can be reached with a ladder. I
know he is but a little child and will learn better as his eyes grow
clearer and his brain develops. Perhaps He thinks of us as just little
children, and understands even when some deny Him."

"Where did you learn all this? Is there a book?" asked the Young Mason.

"I learned it from Masonry, my friend; what I have said <italic>is
</italic>Masonry. Yes, there is a book."

"Can I get it?" asked the Young Mason eagerly.

"You can find a copy on the Altar," was the smiling reply.


Carl Johnson, 32'

Burlington Masonic Lodge #254

GL of Washington F&AM

A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham

Orient of Washington

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


"Oh, it's going to be rich. The poor fish is scared to death. And you
know when Abbot does the work in the third degree how, er... well, let's
call it impressive, he is."

The Young Mason chuckled at the thought.

"That's not going to be the only funny thing happen Wednesday night,"
answered another newly-raised brother. "I happen to know my friend Ted is
going to do the Senior Deacon's part. And Ted gets stage fright. He
doesn't lose his memory or anything, but his voice goes up about an
octave and a half; Oh, it's funny. I laughed, last time I heard him..."

"I had a good laugh at one of the members of my class when I went in,"
chimed a third voice. "He couldn't understand what was going on and
objected to every move and generally reminded me of a bucking billy goat.
I laughed until I cried. I shall look forward to Wednesday night..."

"I wonder," broke in a quiet voice, "if you young gentlemen realize what
it is you are saying?"

"Why... why... why of course, we do. We haven't said anything wrong, have
we?" inquired the first speaker of the Old Past Master sitting quietly in
the corner of the ante-room, listening.

"I am an old, old man," countered the Old Past Master, gently. "I have
lived a long, long time, and the longer I live the less able I am to
classify anything as wholly right or wholly wrong. I wouldn't sat that in
what you said is wrong in the sense that it is intentional evil. It is
wholly wrong from my point of view, to bite the hand that feeds you, to
abuse hospitality, to belittle the agency that helps you, to deride and
make sport of holy things, to injure that which is valuable to others
even though valueless to yourself."

"But, good heavens, man. We haven't done any of those things. Why, I only
said that Abbot is so impressive he'd make a good laugh come out on
Wednesday's degree..."

"That was enough, my brother. Is there a church into which you would go
with the idea of laughing at a penitent at the Altar? Is there a church
in which you would think it right to laugh at a communicant partaking of
the bread and wine? Is there a church where the spectacle of a man on his
knees would make you laugh, no matter how odd or peculiar he was or how
he was dressed?"

"Of course not. I don't laugh in church..."

"Then why laugh in the lodge? In all the third degree, is there humor? Do
you not know that it is a tragedy which the third degree portrays, a
tragedy no less that it teaches an inspiring lesson, and has the
inspiration of all that is good and noblest in a good man's character?

"What do you think a candidate thinks when the most solemn, the most
sacred, the most secret of a Master Mason's lessons is being given to
him, if from you, and you, and you on the benches, comes smothered
laughter? Will it add anything to the impressiveness of the degree in his
eyes? Will he feel that what he is being given is sacred, valuable,
precious to his heart? Or will he say to himself, 'Evidently there is a
catch in this somewhere... I guess it's a joke, and I am it!'

"You have spoken of Filby, who has stage fright and whose voice raises an
octave because of it. Filby wasn't blessed by nature with a beautiful
voice, but God gave him something precious to Masonry, and that is
earnest, sincere, genuine enthusiasm. I have been in this lodge for more
years than you have been on earth, and I have never known a Senior Deacon
to put more into his work than Filby does, though he has a poor voice.
The words Filby uses are inspired words; the degree he puts on is a noble
degree. And Filby does it as if inspired by its nobility. Would you laugh
at a hero saving a life because he was dressed in caps and bells? Can't
you hear, beyond poor Filby's cracked vocal chords, the chimes pealing in
his heart as he tries to make his words impressive and beautiful?

"Another of you has found it funny when a candidate for the third degree
has not understood his part and made it difficult for the team to put him
through the ceremony. At Receiving Hospital last week they brought in a
young man suffering from a broken arm. He was very ignorant; one of those
foreigners who understands little or nothing of American ideas and
ideals. And to him a hospital was a torture place, a house where doctors
cut people to pieces for their pleasure. He was frightened almost to
death and struggled and fought, while the surgeons tried to control him
that they might set his arm. Was it funny? Or was it sad, that ignorant
people had so destroyed his faith in his kind that he couldn't recognize
kindness and help when he saw it?

"The man who was too frightened to understand and so made his third
degree difficult was a victim of those who had tormented an imaginative
mind with the idea of goats and pain and indignity in a Masonic lodge. I
find nothing funny in it; only sadness.

"Don't think of me as an old kill-joy. A good laugh at some wit in a
business meeting, a good laugh at a good story after lodge; these are all
well and good; wholesome and natural. Whether they are located in a
lodge, a church or a home, they are good.

"But not in a church during service, not in a lodge during a degree.
There is no laugh in the lodge during any degree which is not an insult
to the officers, and a badge of ignorance and ill-manners for him who
laughs. Charity we can preach; charity we should practice towards those
who do not do so well in the degrees as we think <italic>we
</italic>might; the fraternity is not to be laughed at because there are
some who make one part of the third degree less real than strenuous.

"Look, my brother, for what lies beneath; regard not so much the outward
form as the inward meaning and you will not again be tempted to consider
a degree as a substitute for a vaudeville performance, a lodge as a
temple of laughter."

The Old Past Master ceased and sat quiet, waiting.

"But I say!" cried the Young Mason, "Don't you think you are a little
rough with us?"

"You are all much too good material to allow to spoil for the sake of
your feelings," answered the Old Past Master with a smile.

"But you sure take a chance we'll dislike you for plain speaking."

"What do I matter? You may dislike me... but I don't believe you will
laugh in lodge again!"

"I'll say I won't either!" answered the Young Mason. It's a promise...and
I'd like to shake hands!"


Carl Johnson, 32'

Burlington Masonic Lodge #254

GL of Washington F&AM

A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham

Orient of Washington

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


"I am puzzled" began the new Master Mason, "over a matter on which I have
vainly sought light among my brethren. None gives me a satisfactory
answer. We are taught that Masonry teaches through symbols; I want to
know why. Why do we not put our truths into plain words? Why do we employ
one thing to stand for another thing? Wouldn't Masonry be stronger and
better if it was plain instead of 'veiling in allegory' its principles
and ethics?"

"Like so many questions which can be answered regarding Masonry,'
answered the Old Past Master,' this one may have several answers, all

"Well, what is your answer?" demanded the new Master Mason.

"You will surely admit without argument," answered the Old Past Master,
"that man is a triple nature; he is physical, mental and spiritual. He
has a body, and senses which bring him into contact with, and translate
the meanings of, the physical world of earth, air, fire and water, which
is about him. He has a brain and a mind, by which he reasons and
understands about the matters physical which he is surrounded. And he has
a "Something Beyond"; you may call it Soul, or Heart, or Spirit, or
Imagination as you will, but it is something which is allied to, rather
than a part of, reason, and which is connected with the physical side of
life only through its sensory contacts.

"Your soul or spirit, my brother, comprehends a language which the=20

brain does not understand. The keenest of minds have striven to make=20

this mystic language plain to reason, without success. If you hear=20

music which brings tears to your eyes and grief or joy to your heart,=20

you are responding to a language your brain does not understand and
cannot explain. It is not with your brain that you love your mother,

your child or your wife; it is "Something Beyond"; and the language=20

with which that love is spoken and understood is not the language of=20

the tongue.

"A symbol is a word in that language. Translate that symbol into words
which appeal only to the mind, and the spirit of the word is lost. Words
appeal to the mind; meanings not expressed in words appeal to the

"All that there is in Freemasonry, which can be set down in words on a
page, leaves out completely the spirit of the Order. If we depended on
words, or ideas alone, the fraternity would not make a universal appeal
to all men, since no man has it given to him to appeal to the minds of
all other men. But Freemasonry expresses truths which are universal; it
expresses them in a universal language, universally understood by all men
without words. That language is the language of the symbol, and the
symbol is universally understood because it is the means of communication
between spirits, souls, hearts.

"Indeed, when we say of Masonry that it is 'univeral,' we mean literally;
it is of the universe, not merely of the world. If it were possible for
an inhabitant of Mars to make and use a telescope which would enable him
to see plainly a square mile of the surface of the earth, and if we knew
it, and desired by drawing upon that square mile a symbol, to communicate
with the inhabitants of Mars, we would choose, undoubtedly, one with as
many meanings as possible; one which had a material, a mental and a
spiritual meaning. Such a symbol would be the triangle, the square or the
circle. Our supposed Martian might respond with a complementary symbol;
if we showed him a triangle, he might reply with the 47th problem of
Euclid; if we showed him a circle, he might set down 3.141659 (the number
by which a diameter multiplied, becomes a circumference). We would find
in a symbol a language with which to begin communication, even with all
the universe!

"Naturally then, we employ symbols here for heart to speak to heart. Call
it soul, mind, spirit, what you will, imagination is its collection of
senses. So we must appeal to the imagination when speaking a truth which
is neither mental or physical, and the symbol is the means by which one
imagination speaks to another. Nothing else will do; no words can be as
effective (unless they are themselves symbols), no teachings expressed in
language can be as easily taught or learned by the heart as those which
come via the symbol through the imagination.

Take from Freemasonry its symbols and you have but the husk; the kernel
is gone. He who hears but the words of Freemasonry misses its meaning

"The symbol has many interpretations. These o not contradict each other;
they amplify each other. Thus, the square is a symbol of perfection, of
rectitude of conduct, of honor and honesty, of good work. These are all
different, and yet allied. The square is not a symbol of wrong, or evil,
or meanness or disease! Ten different men may read ten different meanings
into a square, and yet each meaning fits with, and belongs to, the other

"Now ten men have ten different kinds of hearts. Not all have the same
power of imagination. They do not all have the same ability to
comprehend. So each gets from a symbol what he can. He uses his
imagination. He translates to his soul as much of the truth as he is able
to make part of him. This the ten cannot do with truths expressed in
words. 'Twice two is equal to four' is a truth which must be accepted all
at once, as a complete exposition, or not at all. He who can understand
but the 'twice' or the 'equal' or the 'four' has no conception of what is
being said. But ten men can read ten progressive, different, correct and
beautiful meanings into the trowel, and each be right as far as he goes.
The man who sees it merely as an instrument which helps to bind, has a
part of the meaning. He who finds it a link with operative Masons has
another part. The man who sees it as a symbol of man's relationship to
Deity, because with it he (spiritually) does the Master's work, has
another meaning. All these meanings are right; when <italic>all
</italic>men know <italic>all </italic>the meanings the need of Masonry
will have passed away.

"To sum up, the reason we must use symbols is because only by them can we
speak the language of the spirit, each to each, and because they form an
elastic language, which each man reads for himself according to his
ability. Symbolism is the only language which is that elastic, and the
only one by which the spirit can be touched.=20

To suggest that Masonry use any other would be as revolutionary as=20

to remove her Altars, meet in the public square or elect by a majority
vote! In other words, Masonry without symbols would not be Masonry; it
would be but dogmatic and not very erudite philosophy,=20

of which the world is full as it is, and none of which ever satisfies the


Carl Johnson, 32'

Burlington Masonic Lodge #254

GL of Washington F&AM

A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham

Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have=20

done for others and the world remains and is immortal." -Albert Pike

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


"I bought me a high school geometry the other day" confessed the Very New
Mason to the Old Past Master, sitting on the benches waiting for the
Worshipful Master to call the lodge to labor. "I was so much impressed with
what I learned of its importance to Masons, during the Fellowcraft Degree,
that I determined to go back to my school days and try again. But I am much

"Why so?" asked the old Past Master, interested. "I recall geometry as
rather an interesting subject. I don't suppose I could do a single original
now, it's been so many years.... I don't know when I have looked in one!"

"Why, you surprise me! I thought all good Masons must know geometry. We are
taught.... how does it go?.... something about a noble science...." his
voice trailed off in silence.

"'Geometry, the first and noblest of the sciences'" quoted the Old Past
Master, "' is the basis on which the superstructure of Masonry is erected.
By geometry, we may curiously trace Nature through her various windings, to
her most concealed recesses. By it we may discover the wisdom and the
goodness of the Grand Artificer of the universe and view with delight the
proportions which connect this vast machine.'"

"Yes, that's it!" agreed the Very New Mason. "And there is a lot more,
isn't there?"

"A whole lot!" smiled the Old Past Master, in agreement.

"Well, then, why doesn't a well informed Mason have to be a geometrician?"

"There is certainly no reason why a good geometrician shouldn't be a good
Mason," answered the Old Past Master, "but no reason why a man who doesn't
know geometry shouldn't be a good Mason.

"You see, my son, we hark back a great many years in much of our lectures,
to a time when knowledge was neither so great nor so diversified as now.
William Preston, the eminent Masonic student, scholar, writer, who lived
and wrote in the latter part of the eighteenth century, conceived the idea
of making the degrees in general, and the Fellowcraft degree in particular,
a liberal education! A 'liberal education' in those days was comprised
within what we still call, after Preston, the 'seven liberal arts and
sciences.' In those days any mathematics beyond geometry was only for the
very, very few; indeed, mathematics were looked upon rather askance by the
common men, as being of small use in the world, save for engineers and
designers and measurers of land.

"But Preston, if his lectures are no longer the real 'liberal education'
which he planned, and which, in the form of his lectures modified by Webb
(and somewhat tinkered with by various authorities and near authorities who
at times have kept the husk and let the kernel escape!) builded better than
he knew. For we may now justly and honorable take 'geometry' to mean not
only the science of measurement of surface and area and the calculation of
angles and distances, but to mean all measurement. And to study
measurement, my son, means to study science, for all science is but
measurement, and by that measurement, the deduction of laws and the
unravelling of the secrets of nature.

"I do not understand geometry anymore; it is long since I studied it. But I
do study, and do try to keep my mind awake and always filling, if never
full. It is true that to many a Mason the study of geometry itself would be
a grand mental discipline and thus greatly improve his mind. But I do not
think we are to take this admonition literally, any more than we are to
accept literal interpretations for other wordings in our ritual. We meet
upon the level, in Masonry, and we act upon the square. But that does not
mean that we put our feet upon a carpenter's level, or sit upon stone
masons' squares while we 'act.' The words are symbols of thoughts. I take
the admonition to study geometry as a symbol of a thought, meaning that a
Mason is to educate himself, to keep his mind open, to keep it active, to
learn, to think, to develop his reason and his logic, the he may the better
aid himself to know himself and his work to aid his fellowmen.

"Even Preston, literal-minded as he was, and focusing all his attention as
he did, upon ritual and teaching by it and a formalism which is not yet
outworn in our ranks, had a vision of what geometry might mean beside the
mathematical science of angles. For.... how does it go? In our charge to a
Fellowcraft, we say "Geometry, or Masonry, originally synonymous terms,
being of a divine and moral nature, is enriched with the most useful
knowledge, while it proves the wonderful properties of nature, it
demonstrates the more important truths of morality.'

"It should be obvious that a study of mathematics of any kind cannot
demonstrate morality unless it is considered a symbol as well as a science.
As we are thus told in so many words to use geometry as a symbol, we may
well agree with Pike, who wrote learnedly to prove a Mason's inherent right
to interpret the symbols of Freemasonry for himself. To me, geometry is a
symbol of science, and one which I should use to impress upon myself the
need of something else. To a Mason who had had few educational advantages,
the word might mean its literal sense, and he be greatly benefitted by a
close study of the book which discourages you.

"I do not attempt, my brother, to force upon you my understanding, or to
quarrel at all with those Masons who find a different interpretation of the
geometry which is Masonry as we understand it. I do but give you my ideas
for whatever use they may be to you, and so you will not be discouraged in
what is a praiseworthy attempt to profit by the Masonic lectures. Do you
recall the end of the charge you received as a Fellowcraft?"

"I.... I.... I am afraid I don't, just exactly...."

"It runs this way," smiled the Old Past Master. "....'in your new character
it is expected that you will conform to the principles of the Order by
steadily persevering in the practice of every commendable virtue.' If you
study the 'principles of the Order' you will, indeed, be learning Masonic


Carl Johnson,32
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

"The Old Paster Master" by Carl Claudy- 1924


"I want some Masonic work to do!" announced the newly raised Master Mason.
"I don't think I should be a member of this great fraternity and stand
around idle."

"That is very praiseworthy," responded the Old Past Master. "What would you
like to do?"

"Well, I don't know exactly. Maybe I could help in building a new Temple.
Perhaps I could do some research work and write a book. Maybe there is room
for me in some great Masonic educational work."

"You aim high," answered the Old Past Master. "Such work is not always easy
to find."

"It's all I have been able to find," answered the first speaker.

"That is because your eyes are not yet opened to the light," answered the
Old Past Master. "Masonic work is everywhere. It lies around loose ready to
be done. You find it here in lodge, at home, on the street, everywhere."

"Oh, you mean charity. Well, I give according to my pocket-book," was the

"I do mean charity, but not pocketbook charity," answered the Old Past
Master. "Masonic charity neither begins nor ends with money."

"I wish you would explain what you mean. I don't understand...."

"I will very gladly explain. Do you see Brother Eggleston over there?"

"The old man with the ear-horn?"

"Exactly. He is eighty-two years of age. He is very hard of hearing. He is
also extremely fond of being talked to. It's a hard job to tell him
anything. You have to shout. Yet Brother Eggleston always has some one
talking to him at refreshment and in the anteroom.

"Just behind him is Brother Palinski. He doesn't speak very good English.
He isn't very rich. He is very shy. Yet he is a member of this lodge and a
good one. Have you met his acquaintance? You need not answer. I am not
inquiring what you have done, but just suggesting to you that he feels more
at home and more Masonic when his brethren do not let him sit alone and
unspoken to, because he is foreign, different, hard to talk to.

"Jimmy is the Tiler of this lodge. He works pretty hard, does Jimmy. You
and I and a hundred other fellows take off our aprons and drop them where
we sit when lodge is closed. Jimmy has to gather them up and fold them
neatly in the box. Jimmy has charge of the clothing and the jewels and
locks up the charter in the safe. Jimmy has to be here early and leaves
late. He doesn't get paid very heavily for his work. Sometimes some brother
stays and helps Jimmy do his work. Jimmy is always happy when he, too, can
get out in time to hop into some one's car and get taken part way home.

"Do you run an automobile? Somewhere within half a mile of you live two or
three or four old Masons who find walking hard and street cars
uncomfortable. They love their lodge, but they do not always come when it
rains, because it is hard on their old bones to walk or take the trolley.
Sometimes some brother thinks of them and calls for them and takes them
home. The brother who does this rarely thinks he has done anything except
afford transportation, but you have to be an old man and have a young one
pay you a little attention to know how it makes their old hearts sing. I am
an old man, and I know, although I have a car and a son to call for me, yet
I like attention; I like to think some one doesn't think I am on the shelf.
I like your asking me questions. I like to feel that I am some use to
Masonry, even now.

"You give, you inform me, according to your pocketbook. You smoke I
observe, very good cigars. At Roberts avenue and Upshur street is a
children's hospital. In it are many little children. Some of them belong to
Master Masons. Not all of their parents can get there every day, or bring a
toy to while away a tedious hour every time they come. The price of two of
those cigars would make a Mason's child happy for a week.

"Last month there died a Mason of this lodge, who left a wife and five
children. He left plenty of insurance. His wife doesn't have to go to work.
She can support herself and her children very easily. No lodge action was
necessary. But what a place for Masonic work! Those children now have no
Daddy. They have problems only Daddy could solve. No one can jump in and
become a Daddy to them, but some Mason might try to ease that awful empty
feeling, with his presence and his interest.

"Wilkins, of this lodge, works at the electrical trade. He makes things
with his hands; anything, everything. But mostly he makes wireless sets; a
little radio apparatus that isn't expensive, but is better than can be
bought for a few dollars. He puts in most of his evenings making them. The
lodge supplies the material. The little sets go to the State Home for the
Blind. I wonder sometimes, if the little head pieces do not speak Masonic
words to those who listen to them so gratefully.

"Do you know Filbert? Poor Filbert; it's an open secret. That's Filbert,
over there with the young face and the snow white hair. He had an accident.
It took a year for his strength to come back. His mind never was quite
right, and isn't now. He loves to come to lodge. He isn't very bright, any
more. He is just a watchman now, who used to be a bookkeeper. Filbert has
an eighteen year old boy, putting himself through college. He has to work
at odd times and nights and Sundays. He does everything he can; waits on
table, cuts grass, runs errands, paints fences, anything. You might give
him a job now and then; I think it would be regarded as work on your
Master's Piece by the great Architect."

"Oh, I hope it would... but what you have done for me just now, I know is
work on your Master's Piece!" stammered the young Mason. "Indeed, my eyes
were not open, but I... I begin to see the light!"


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have 
done for others and the world remains and is immortal." -Albert Pike

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy -1924


"Masonry is contradictory!" sighed the Young Master Mason at refreshment.
"I am sure I will never get the right of it in my stupid head!"

"It is something to recognize that it is contradictory!" smiled the Old
Past Master. "But just what particular contradictions are worrying you now?"

"Oh, a whole lot of them. For instance, we do not recognize negro Masons,
yet I am told there is a lodge composed of negroes in this country, which
is a part of, and works under, one of the regular, recognized State Grand
Lodges. I read that there are women Freemasons abroad and yet we are taught
that no woman can be a Freemason. I have just read the wonderful story of
Roosevelt Lodge in Providence, R.I., and thus found out that there are
lodges which refuse to admit foreigners and Jews; yet we teach and claim
that Masonry is universal and without sect or creed. Kipling, in his Mother
Lodge poem, has a Roman Catholic a member of it, yet everywhere I hear that
Masons are opposed to Catholics. I am told in Lodge that there is no
religion honored in Masonry, yet there is a Grand Lodge, I am informed,
which bases itself and its teachings on Christianity!"

"Well, you are rather up against it!" smiled the Old Past Master. Yet is
really very simple. Let me ask you a few questions."

"Shoot! If questions will help me, I'm here to answer!"

"What do you regard as the most civilized nation on the face of the earth?"

"America, France, England, I don't know which."

"What is the abiding principle of Christianity?"


"What is the fundamental of all foundations of this government of ours?"

"Freedom, liberty, I suppose."

"Is war civilized?"

"Certainly not! It is barbarous."

"Is murder a matter of love?"

"Gracious no!. Matter of hate, I should say! What are you getting at,
anyway?" asked the Young Master Mason.

"Can you think of any examples in our national life in which liberty is
abridged, either within or without the law?"

"Plenty of them!"

"Well, then," explained the Old Past Master, "we have civilization which is
contradictory, government which is contradictory and the greatest and most
far reaching religion which the world has ever known, contradictory!"

"Oh, no!" cried the Young Master Mason. "Because we made war doesn't mean
civilization is a failure; we failed civilization. Because murders are
committed by Christians doesn't mean Christianity failed; the murderers
failed. Because some people violate the laws of liberty doesn't mean our
government fails; they fail."

"You are a bright scholar!" admitted the Old Past Master. "And because
there are contradictions in Masonry it doesn't follow that Masonry is
contradictory, but that Masons contradict each other! It is true that we do
not recognize negro Masons, as a general rule. It is true there is a
recognized Negro lodge under a Grand Lodge of one of our States. It is the
exception which proves the rule. History tells you how it happened.

"According to our ideas, no woman can be a Freemason. It is unthinkable as
to suppose a woman could be a father. But some foreign Masons have made
what they call woman Freemasons. Their apostasy doesn't affect any one but
themselves. It is too true that some lodges in this country won't have Jews
or foreigners in their membership. That is their privilege. But that
doesn't make Masonry contradictory; it makes those Masons contradict what
they were taught. There is no Masonic reason why a Roman Catholic cannot be
a Freemason; the reason they cannot is because their Church forbids them to
join oath-bound societies outside of their own. Some Catholics in foreign
countries have done so; honor the lodge broad-minded enough to receive
them! We do not receive them; we contend that a man owes his allegiance to
where his faith is given; if a Catholic applies to us, knowing that his
Church forbids it, it is evidence that he is ready to disobey where he has
promised obedience. Therefore, we don't want him.

"Masonry opposes the Catholic hierarchy. We defend American institutions
from Papal encroachment. It is their organization, their political
ambitions we oppose; not that they choose to worship God in ways which are
strange to us.

"Masonry is not Christian. It is not Mohammedan. It is not Buddistic. It is
not of any faith or creed. Because some one lodge or Grand Lodge declaims
that it is, does not make it so. Masonry does not contradict itself; Masons
contradict themselves!

"Men are not perfect. If they were, there would be no need of Masonry.
Masonry could not function in a perfect world of perfect men. There would
be no use of a system of morality when all men were moral; no need of
teaching anything by symbols or any other means if all men were wise. But
men are not perfect; they quarrel and disagree and take exceptions to each
other's ideas and beliefs. But it is the men, not the Masonry, which

"Life is all a compromise, my brother. Practical Masonry is a compromise.
Never can we all be perfect. And one of the greatest teachings of Masonry
is toleration; toleration of the other fellow's idea, his viewpoint, his
belief. When you are intolerant of these contradictions, you are yourself a
contradiction of Masonic teachings. If I taught you that Masonry
contradicted herself, I would be a contradiction!"

"I will not contradict you!" smiled the Young Mason, "unless you say I am
not grateful."


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy -1924


"I think I shall have to take an evening off and read a book about
symbols!" said the Very New Master Mason to the Old Past Master at
refreshment. "I find I don't know all about them."

"When you find the book which teaches you all about them, lend it to me,
won't you?" asked the Old Past Master.

"Why, I'm sure there must be such a book," answered the Very Mew Master
Mason, surprised. "And I know you know all about symbols, anyway."

"I have never read a book which even attempted to tell 'all about symbols'"
answered the Old Past Master. "I never knew the Mason who was willing to
admit he knew all about them. And I never thought I knew very much about
them, although I have studied them for forty years!"

"Why, you amaze me! There are only half a dozen symbols in the lodge;
surely they cannot have so many meanings. The tools, the apron, I suppose
the pillars on the porch; that's about all, isn't it?

The Old Past Master turned and looked curiously at his questioner.
Satisfied that he was serious, the Old Past Master explained, gently, as to
a child.

"I doubt very much that any one has ever had the temerity even to count the
Masonic symbols," he began. "Certainly I have not. But there are enough to
keep a great many Masonic scholars and antiquarians busy for a great many
years to come, as they have in past, trying to dig out of literature,
history, archeology, sacred writings, religion, philosophy, and kindred
branches of study, a few of the more important meanings of our symbols.
Your innocent little catalog of lodge symbols would be pathetic if it
wasn't funny, and humorous if it wasn't sad!

"Certainly you could not have meant to overlook the Great Light as a
symbol, and...."

"Oh, but I don't understand that as a symbol," interrupted the Very New
Master Mason. "That's the Bible, the Book. I thought a symbol was something
that meant something else!"

"It is true that in our American and in British Lodges the Great Light is
the Holy Scriptures," agreed the Old Past Master. "But in another lodge, in
another country, some other sacred Book may lie on the altar. The important
thing is not what book there lies open, but that it be the book which the
Masons who kneel before it, venerate as the earthly repository of spiritual
knowledge. Thus, to our Jewish brethren, the New Testament in our Great
Light is not a Sacred writing as is their Old Testament. Yet our Book
contains both.

"But the Book of the Law when used in Masonry is more than a repository of
Divine Will and Knowledge. It is a symbol of the fountain head of all
learning, and a symbol of a Mason's belief in Deity. It is also a symbol of
many other things, of which you will find in the books you will read, but
in none of them will you find it all.

"Did you ever stop to ask yourself why Masons circumambulate in the lodge?
Or why they perform this rite at various times and in various ways? Or why
that rite in a Blue Lodge is always done in one direction? That is a
symbol, my brother, and a very beautiful one. It is a connection, tenuous,
but very direct, with those far progenitors of Masonry who lived thousands
of years ago and worshipped the Sun as the only god they knew.

"It is human to be like those we strive to admire. The small boy plays at
being a soldier or a fireman, and struts with a small cane to be like his
father. Imitating, we feel that we are like that which we imitate. Our
savage forefathers had this same bit of humanness. They believed that when
they imitated that which was powerful, they in turn received power. They
worshipped the Sun. The Sun, to them, travelled always from the East to the
West, swinging north in the summer and south in the winter. Therefore they
believed that if they, in their simple prayers and rites, imitated the
course of the sun, they, too, would become godlike and have power. Many
religions, rites and ceremonies of a spiritual significance have followed
in the footsteps of these early men, and thought to find in
circumambulation a power which comes from the Divine Something they worship.

"Of course there are other meanings of circumambulation; these, too, you
will discover in the books you will read.

"Not all our symbols are so ancient, although some are even further back in
time. You are familiar, of course, with the 'certain point within a
circle.' That is a symbol and a great one. It has many meanings; meanings
not attributed to it haphazard, but meanings born in it, as you might say.
A Mason may not materially err if he circumscribe his passions within that
circle, not because the ritual says so, but because our ancient brethren,
who actually built Temples and Cathedrals, found that the point, or center
in the circle, and another dot or two, were their easiest means of making
their squares perfect, and absolutely at right angles. This is a little
problem in geometry with which you are doubtless familiar; if not, the
books you will read will explain it to you.

"Get out of your mind, my brother, the idea that any symbols in Masonry are
arbitrary; that some man said, for instance 'here is an oblong square; I
will make it into a symbol which means the lodge, just because I like the

"The 'oblong square' my brother, was the shape which our ancient brethren
conceived the world to be. We use it as the 'shape of the lodge' because
the lodge itself is a symbol of the world, and thus of our life in it.

"My brother, symbolism in general, and Masonic symbolism in particular, is
a life-time study. It is ever new, never ending. The more you read and
study, the more you understand and enjoy this Masonry of ours. But you will
learn it not in one evening or two; not even in many shall you learn it all."

"Unless I spend them talking to you," smiled the Very New Master Mason.


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy -1924


"Haven't paid your pledge yet? Well, brother, it's not ethical for me to
ask why. That's your business. What? Peeved at the Committee? Now, you do
amaze me! How do you expect them to build the Temple if you, and twenty
thousand like you, don't do what you promised to do? You think they
shouldn't 'dun' you for the money? Well, they shouldn't have to! But human
beings are prone to forget and put off, and the stone masons who build the
Temple have to be paid, and their families have to be fed and they have to
eat and they can't wait, I suppose, until you get over your peeve!

"There are a lot of brethren, you know, who make pledges to pay a certain
amount towards the erection of a new Temple and then don't do it. You can't
say they break their promise, because they truly intend to pay 'some day.'
But they break the spirit of the promise when they don't pay when they have
promised to pay. And they... and you, my brother... have taken an
obligation which should prevent you from withholding even the value of a
penny, knowingly, from your brother to whom you promised it.

"There are all sorts of reasons for not paying! There is your childish
reason... being 'peeved!' Any one would think to look at you, that you were
truly grown up. Yet you let a grievance against one brother, or one set of
brethren on a committee, keep you from fulfilling your obligation to all
your brethren in this jurisdiction. If you, as a parent, were peeved with
the school board, would you keep your child from school? If you were peeved
at the Mayor, would you refuse to allow the fire engines to put out a fire
in your home? If you were cross with the boss of your ward would you refuse
to let the policeman he had appointed, arrest the burglar trying to steal
your goods and chattels? Probably not! Yet here you are, offended at the
committee and saying to them, in effect 'because I don't like the way you
act, I will refuse to put my stone in the Temple. For all of me, there can
be a hole in the wall. Not that I have any grudge against my brethren, or
any crossness with the fraternity or any ill-will to Masonry, but the only
way I can get even with you, who offend me, is to make it difficult for you
to serve my brethren!'

"Don't you think that's rather childish?

"Now, Brother Jones over there, he has another reason for not paying. He
isn't peeved or anything, but he doesn't like the design of the Temple! He
says 'you tear it down and build it up over again, and build it long where
it is now short and short where it is now long. Put 17 pillars in it
instead of seven, or 70, and I'll pay my hundred dollars' or whatever it is
he has promised.

"Nice, reasonable human being, Jones! But he is logic itself compared to
Smith! Smith doesn't pay because he says he has so many other things to pay
and 'they won't miss my little pledge.' Imagine Smith, when he makes a note
to the bank for his pay roll. Comes around another month and the note falls
due. But Smith won't pay... not he! He goes to the bank and say 'I'm sorry,
but I have to pay a lot of other things this month. Just tear up the note
and forget it, won't you? I have changed my mind about paying the note!'

"What? Why yes, it is a parallel case, exactly. Smith gave his word to his
brethren that he would pay a certain amount towards the new Temple. The
Committee believed him, just as they believed the rest of the Masons who
pledged their aid. And because they believed in a Mason's word, they
obligated the fraternity to stone masons and electricians, to iron workers
and plasterers, to builders and plumbers, to do the work. Just suppose
every one of the pledgers refuse because they have other obligations? Where
will we find the money to pay our debts? Is Masonry to stand discredited
before the world because one brother has a childish peeve, another doesn't
like the design of the Temple, a third finds it inconvenient?

"My brother, a pledge to pay money, on which other men act, should be as
sacred as a secured obligation to a bank. The Temple is being built by
Masons, for Masons. It is to be a testimonial to all the world that here is
a seat of truth, of light, of freedom of thought, of reverence for God, of
brotherly love, of comforting philosophy... of Masonry. If what we teach
sinks into our hearts, there will be no unpaid pledges.

"Luckily for us all, the great, great majority of Masons do as they agree.
They pay what they promise. They stand behind their word. That is how the
Temple is built... how all Masonic Temples are built. That is how all
temples of any kind are built, whether they be of stone, for Masons, or in
the heart, for God.

"Most Masons mean what they say when they kneel before the altar and pledge
their lives to brotherhood. They do so without any evasion in their minds
or hearts. Most Masons when they pledge their money to a Masonic cause,
pledge it without evasions on their mind or heart. Most men, thank God, are
honest, and a very large number of honest men are honest Masons and... what
are you doing? Oh, I see you have your check book and your fountain pen. I
trust, my brother, that nothing I have said has offended you! I wouldn't
make you mad with yourself because you haven't paid, for anything. All I
tried to do was to transfer that peeve from the Committee to the chap who
didn't play fair, but who, I see, is now going to play fair! Yes, I see;
the check is for double your pledge. I think, if you take it over and show
it to Jones and then to Smith, and tell them all I said, you will feel
better and they will feel worse... why, certainly, my brother, I am proud
to shake the hand of any of my brethren, especially when I find them as
real underneath as you. What? Oh, don't mention it!


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

[ERS] Easy Reading Sunday

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy -1924


"I don't believe in a Christmas celebration by the lodge. I don't think we
ought to have one, or be asked to contribute to one or in any way engage in
Christmas festivities."

"The Junior Mason spoke emphatically and with marked disapproval of the
little ante-room group nearby, making happy plans for Yule-tide.

"That's very interesting," commented the Old Past Master. I like to hear
points of view unfamiliar to me. Would you mind telling me why?"

"Of course not. It's very simple. Masonry is not Christian. King Solomon,
of course, wasn't a Christian, nor were either of the Hiram's. Masonry
admits to her ranks any good man of faith; Christian, Jewish, Mohammedan,
Buddhist... it makes no difference, so he has a Faith. Then, as a lodge, we
celebrate a holiday belonging to one faith. Now I personally am a
Christian, and of course I celebrate Christmas. But my brother across the
way is a Jew, who does not recognize Christianity. To ask him to spend his
proportion of lodge funds in celebrating the birth of a Leader in Whom he
does not believe would be exactly like asking me to celebrate, with my
proportion of lodge money, the birth of Confucius. Of course, I have only
one vote and the majority rules, but when it comes to personal
contributions to a Masonic Christmas celebration, my hands will never come
out of my pockets."

He shoved them deeper in as he spoke to emphasize his intention not to

"Hm!" answered the Old Past Master. "So you think your Jewish brother
across the way doesn't recognize Christianity? Don't you mean he doesn't
recognize Christ as the Son of God? Wait a minute... Oh, Brother Samuels."
The Old Past Master called across the ante-room. "Here a minute, will you?"

The Jewish brother rose and came forward.

"I just wanted to ask you if you are in favor or against the lodge
Christmas celebration?" asked the Old Past Master.

"Me? I am in favor of it, of course, both for the lodge appropriation and
the individual contribution."

"Thank you," nodded the Old Past Master. Then as the Jewish brother went
back to his seat, he turned to the Junior Mason. 

"You see, my son, our Jewish friend is not narrow. He does not believe in
Christ as the Redeemer, but he recognizes that he lives in a country
largely Christian, and belongs to a lodge largely Christian. To him the
Christmas celebration is not one of His birthday, but of the spirit of
joyousness and love which we mean when we sing, at Christmas time 'Peace on
earth, good will towards men!' If you argue that 'peace' is only a
Christian word, he might even quote to you the words of One who said 'I
bring you not Peace, but a Sword.'

"Now let me explain something to you. The Jew has just as much right to
refuse to recognize Christ as the Son of God, as you have to refuse to
consider Mohammed the Prophet the followers of Allah say he is. But as an
educated man, you must know that Mohammed was a good man, a devout leader,
a wise teacher. As an educated man, you admit that the religion founded by
Buddha has much in it that is good, and you admit that Confucius was a wise
and just leader. Were you in the land where the birthdays of any of these
were celebrated, would you refuse your part in the people's joy in their
Leader, simply because you followed another? I trust not. Well, neither do
our Jewish brethren or our Mohammedan brethren, desire to be left out of
our celebration. They may not believe in the Divinity of Him we, as
Christians, follow, but if they are good men and good Masons... they are
perfectly willing to admit that the religion we follow is as good for us as
theirs is for them, and to join with us in celebrating the day which is to
us the glad day of all the year.

"Believe me, boy, Christmas doesn't mean Christ's birthday to many a man
who calls himself Christian. It is not because of joy the He was born that
many a good man celebrates Christmas. It is because his neighbor celebrates
it, because it is a time of joy for little ones, because it is a day when
he can express his thanks to his God that he is allowed to have a wife and
family and children and friends and a lodge, because of that very 'peace on
earth' spirit which is no more the property of the Gentile than the Jew,
the Chinese or the Mohammedan.

"It is such a spirit that Masons join, all, in celebrating Christmas. It is
on the Masonic side of the tree we dance, not the Christian side. When this
lodge erects its Christmas tree in the basement and throws it open to the
little ones of the poor of this town, you will find children of all kinds
there; black, white, yellow, and brown, Jew and Gentile, Christian and
Mohammedan. And you will find a Jew at the door, and among the biggest
subscriptions will be those from some Jewish brethren, and there is a Jew
who rents cars for a living who will supply us a dozen free to take baskets
to those who cannot come. And when the Jewish Orphan Asylum has its fair,
in the Spring, you will find many a Christian Mason attending to spend his
money and help along the cause dear to his Jewish brethren, never
remembering that they are of a different faith. That, my son, is Masonry."

"For Charity is neither Christian nor Jewish, nor Chinese nor Buddhistic.
And celebrations which create joy in little hearts and feed the hungry and
make the poor think that Masons do not forget the lessons in lodge, are not
Christian alone, though they be held at Christmas, and are not for
Christians alone, though the celebration be in His honor. Recall the
ritual: 'By the exercise of brotherly love we are taught to regard the
whole human species as one family, the high and low, the rich and poor,
who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet,
are to aid, support and protect each other'.

"It is with this thought that we, as Masons, celebrate Christmas, to bring
joy to our brethren and their little ones, and truly observe the
brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, whether we be Jew or Gentile,
Mohammedan or Buddhist."

The Old Past Master ceased and stood musing, his old eyes looking back
along a long line of lodge Christmas trees about which eager little faces
danced. Then he turned to the Junior Mason.

"Well," he said smiling, "Do you understand?"

"I thank you for my Christmas present," came the answer. "Please tell me to
which brother I should make my Christmas contribution?"


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy -1924


"Well, I know you'll be glad to hear I am through learning the Work!"
announced a young brother to the Old Past Master, "One more lesson and I'll
know all about Masonry!"

"That's fine, son. I congratulate you!" answered the Old Past Master.

"Some conceit!" murmured another brother, as the satisfied young brother
moved away. "I've been studying Masonry many years and I don't think I know
all about it, by a long chalk!"

"Of course you don't, and neither does he. But we all have to learn of the
Masonry we make for ourselves."

"Oh, do you think so? I thought we learned of the Masonry our ancient
brethren had made for us!"

"That, too, of course. But the Masonry they made for us is the Masonry
which can be written down, or put in symbols, or taught by word of mouth.
It is a concrete thing; a thing of words and phrases, of symbols and
figures, of stone and wood and temple and rough ashler and square and
compasses. But the inner Masonry... that we make for ourselves.

"Do you ever read Ingersoll? Somewhere he says 'an honest God is the
noblest work of man' and thousands of people have shuddered away from the
sentence and calls it blasphemy. But they fail to understand what the great
agnostic meant. Our modern conception of the Great Architect of course
falls infinitely short of reality, but at least we do not do him the
injustice of confining Him within the limits of our human frailties. But up
through the ages man has limited his gods and his God, according to
himself. The gods of Greece and Rome (to go no further back) were gods and
goddesses who felt jealousy, anger, revenge. They interfered in the affairs
of men for their own pleasures. They were made in the image of men who made
them! Later, God was a cruel tyrant, who sanctioned the torments of the
Inquisition and loved those who were wicked in his name... at least, such
was the middle ages' conception of Deity. Only within a few hundred years
has the world as a whole come to consider God as the all-wise, all-loving,
all-merciful, all-tender Father of us all. This was what Ingersoll meant
when he spoke of the honest God as the noblest work of men; and honest
conception of a God infinitely wonderful and beautiful, is a noble

"Masonry is a conception. After one gets through learning the ritual, the
mere words and phrases, he begins to absorb the philosophy and moral system
of Masonry. Still later he begins to carry Masonry in his daily life and
live by it. Later on... but wait a minute. We have word Masons to whom the
ritual is the whole. We have Masons to whom the symbolism is the whole
thing, and who see nothing beyond the inner meanings to squares and
compasses and stones and angles. We have others who add to this, philosophy
of Masonry, but to whom Masonry is yet a perfect system which can be
learned in its entirety by those who apply themselves.

"But there are others... more every year, thank God!... who make their own
Masonry, beyond that of the books and the lodge, the word and the symbol.
To these, Ingersoll might have said that 'an honest Masonry is the noblest
work of the Craft' with no more irreverence than he intended in his famous

"Masonry, to such thinking men, is illimitable. It has no end. It is as
infinite as space, as unending as time, as distant in boundary as the
faintest nebula. It is not a thing of earth only; it encompasses the
universe, and joins man's hands with God. This is the Masonry we make for
ourselves, and, could what we make be measured, its proportions would be
exactly the proportions which are our own. For the hidden Masonry we make
is large or small, wide or cramped, beautiful or ugly, grave or gay, useful
or ornamental, fine or doss, exactly as are we.

"In each of us is an idea conception of all we would attain. We have our
ideal man, our ideal woman, our ideal job, our ideal position, our ideal
happiness. Some of us are so inarticulate we cannot express them; some of
us are so inchoate in our thinking we cannot clearly visualize them, but
they are there, these ideals, each and every one a measure of what we are.

"And we have, also our ideal of Masonry, the hidden Masonry we make, each
man for himself. Your inner temple is not like mine and mine is not like
yours, though each may be beautiful and perfect; two faces may be equally
lovely, you know, yet totally unlike.

"To my way of thinking, we are better Masons as we grow our inner Masonry
for ourselves, as we perfect it and polish it, and raise it higher and
higher. It is sadly true that no man may teach another how to build this
hidden temple, but it is beautifully true that all of us may build the
better by getting for ourselves better working tools. And the working tools
with which we as Craftsmen build our own inner, hidden temple of Masonry,
into which none may ever step but ourselves and God; the rough and perfect
ashlar, square and plumb, trowel and compasses, by which we build this
edifice, are available for us all. Our young friend has one, when he
secures a perfect working knowledge of the ritual. The student has another,
when he has mastered most of the symbolism. The doctor has a third, when he
understands and can formulate the philosophy of Masonry, and all of us get
a new edge to our tools as we live according to Masonic light and gain in
Masonic experience."

"The Old Past Master stopped and looked off, as if he saw a vision.

The brother to whom he spoke sighed. "I wish," he said, "I might have the
inspiration of looking at your temple of Masonry, that I might make mine


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike

"The Old Past Master" by Carl Claudy -1924


Masonry teaches the young and untried brother to apply to his elder
brethren for instruction in the art and assures him that they will always
be as ready to teach as his is ready to learn.

The author took this comforting assurance literally and seriously. To many
"Old Past Masters", and not all of them have been through the chairs!... he
owes anything of Masonic wisdom which may have filtered through his pen to
these pages. It is given to few to originate in this world; if to him has
come opportunity to report to the many what would otherwise perhaps have
been but the learning of the few, he is more than content, even if there be
nothing within these pages which he can claim as his own.

A guide post never gets anywhere, but it points the way!

Carl H. Claudy


Carl Johnson, 32'
Burlington Masonic Lodge #254
GL of Washington F&AM
A&ASR, Valley of Bellingham
Orient of Washington

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for
others and the world remains and is immortal. -Albert Pike