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Masonic Questions
And Answers

The following questons and answers are from past and future issues of The Hempstead Masonic Lodge #749 A F and A M Newsletter. They were written for new Masons, Masonic wives and children, and Non-Masons. However, it wouldn't hurt any of us to read them again.

  1. Why the Square?

  2. Why do we use the term Worshipful Master?

  3. Is Masonry anti-Christian?

  4. Why is Freemasonry a secret organization?

  5. No, Then Why the Secrecy in Masonry?

  6. Is Freemasonry a cult?

  7. Why Symbolism?

  8. Why The Holy Saints John

  9. Is Masonry "guilty" of teaching toleration?

English Compass And Square

Q: Why the Square?

A: In China the implements of architecture were used in a system of moral philosophy at a very early date. Mencius, who wrote about 300 B.C., said: "A master Mason, in teaching his apprentices, makes use of the compasses and the square.

Ye who are engaged in the pursuit of Wisdom, must also make use of the compasses and the square."

In a book called Great Learning, 500 B.C., we find that "A man should abstain from doing unto others what he would not they should do unto him; and this is called the principle of acting on the square."

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Q: Why do we use the term Worshipful Master?

A: The title "worshipful" has absolutely nothing to do with any person being "worshipped". It is from an ancient title long in use in England, and it was always clearly understood to mean "respected" or "honorable". As all of us were taught in the military, you are not saluting the man when you salute an officer, you are saluting the man’s rank. If your understanding was that the word meant "someone deserving of religious worship", then rest assured that was never the meaning of the word. It's like a Judge. He may not be an honorable man, but you still use the term "Your Honor" in addressing him (Another ancient English title).

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Q: Is Masonry anti-Christian?

.A: No. Masonry is not anti any religion. This charge is raised by some anti-Masonic writers. Quoting Matthew 12:30 ("He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad."), they claim that, since Masonry does not require its members to be Christian, we are actively anti-Christian.

First of all, a reading of the entire passage makes it quite clear that Jesus was answering the Pharisees who were criticizing Him; it is not a passage which relates to the present discussion at all. Most people wouldn't agree that there are only two positions in the world-Christian and anti-Christian. The government of the United States, the city library, even the natural gas company, all serve and employ non-Christians and Christians alike-but no reasonable person would say that they were, therefore, "anti-Christian". Masonry encourages its members in their individual faiths. Masons do not oppose any faith

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Q: Why Is Freemasonry A Secret Organization?

A: The real reason, one that every Mason discovers and Non-Masons don't want to hear, is that Freemasonry is not a secret organization.

If the Masonic Lodge was really a secret organization, no one but the Masons would know that it even existed. Every Masonic Lodge has a sign on the outside of the building that states the time and day of the meetings. Many Lodges also have a sign at the city limits advertising the time and location of the meetings. Many Lodges also have the meetings advertised in the newspapers. So much for being a so called "Secret Organization".

Do Masonic Lodges have secrets? NO they do not. Do Masons tell what goes on during their their meetings and ceremonies? No, they do not Don't those last 2 statements form a contradiction? No they do not, because descriptions, words, grips and signs have been published in various books for the past 250 years. They can be repeated by anyone who takes the trouble to do some research. How can something be a secret when anyone may know it.

Reading a cook book reveals all of the "secrets" of cooking, but you have to actually cook the recipe to taste the food. By the same token, a person has to be prepared in order to grasp their meaning, to see their significance, to hear their message.

Much is made, by Non-Masons, of "Secret Oaths" to keep the secrets of Masonry when a man is initiated. Silence, not secret is what the Entered Apprentice actually promises to observe. What secrets does he know ? .... none ! So it is not keeping secrets that matters, but only being able to keep silent.

Almost any man who desires to "Learn the teachings of Masonry" is welcomed. If he is of good moral character and believes in God, all he has to do is ask a mason for a petition to become a Mason. No one asks you to go any further then you want to go.

The real, so called "Secret" teachings of Masonry should have been learned from your mother's knee when you were a small child.

First, Love Your God

Second, Love Your Country

Third, Love Your Brother

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Q: Is Masonry A Cult?

A: Recently I was talking to a man who told me that he had been seriously thinking about becoming a Mason. Before he committed himself however, he decided to ask a couple of men he had met at his new church what they thought about the Masonic Lodge. One of the men quickly answered, "Well, I know they are a cult."

I was somewhat annoyed by this statement, but smiled and said, "Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion". Now, here is a man who has known all his life that his brother, father, grandfather, great grandfather and many assorted uncles and cousins are and were Masons and good upright Christian men. His brother is even an ordained preacher, but he put his trust in a couple of men he has known about 6 months.

I thought about it for a long time and finally decided to look up the word "Cult" in the dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary states "Cult; 1. A system or community of religious worship and ritual. 2. a. Obsessive devotion to a person or ideal. b. A group of persons sharing such devotion."

Although Masonry is not a religion and does not endorse or reject any religion and I am not obsessive, I am devoted to the major Masonic teachings of "Love your brother." "Love your country." and "Love your God." so maybe definition number 2a. fits me.

At the same time, the man I am speaking of is deeply involved in his church which is "a system or community of religious worship" as in definition number 1. In fact, it seems to me that the term "a system or community of religious worship" would describe most churches.

Like so many curse words in the English language that are proper everyday words and only curses when that is the intent assigned to it's usage, maybe "Cult" is in the same category.

I would like to make it clear that this particular column is my own private thoughts on the subject and not an opinion or teaching of the Masonic Lodge or The Grand Lodge of Texas. Corky.

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Q: Why The Holy Saints John

A: There have been several stories and theories relating to the connection between Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist and the Masonic Fraternity. There is no question that the two are patron saints of Masonry, but some of the stories concerning them are as frivolous as those claiming that Noah, Moses and King Solomon were Freemasons and those claiming that the first Masonic lodge was located in Jerusalem.

In 1737, the Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of France, Chevalier Ramsey, made a speech ascribing origin of Freemasonry to an order of crusading knights who had fought so valiantly for possession the Holy Land, saying that, "Some times after, this order was united with that of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, for which reason in all countries our lodges are called lodges of Saint John." Many Masons believed Ramsey, but no evidence has ever been found to substantiate his claim.

What is felt to be closest to the truth is this. Centuries ago, the early Christian churches adopted the pagan customs of celebrating the summer and winter solstices. These celebrations were dedicated Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist and took place on June 24 and December 27, respectively. In later years, as building guilds and other associations were formed, the civil and religious authorities required each chartered body to name one or more patron saints and to observe that saint's day as a holiday. By the sixteenth century, the Masonic guilds, like the churches, were associating themselves with both Saints John. This probably explains where the idea got started that both had been members of the fraternity.

The bottom line is this. The two saints are eminent patrons of Masonry because we have preserved and continued the ancient customs of observing the summer and winter solstices and the naming of patron saints. An interesting question is why don't we dedicate our lodges to Saint Thomas, the patron saint of Architecture? In England, lodges are dedicated to King Solomon.

Finally, modem Masons should keep in mind that the connection with the Saints John is entirely symbolic and not meant to be historic.

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Q: Why the Secrecy in Masonry?

A: Can you think of anything said in a lodge room recently that could not have been said in public without doing harm to Masonry? Is there any need for secrecy today?

When the concepts that have become Masonic concepts first emerged, the people were uneducated and lived in a society in which order was necessary to preserve life. The Mysteries which we have inherited were clothed in ceremony and ritual, and their deep meanings were restricted to the intellectual class. Secrecy was needed so that the ignorant would not pervert the lessons and knowledge of these Mysteries to the detriment of society. Such knowledge in the hands of men motivated by false and petty reasons would have been dangerous to order and therefore to life. Such organizations as the Essene Order, the Dionysian Mysteries, the Delphic Mysteries, the Pythagoreans, early Christians, Knights Templar, Rosicrucians and finally Masonry, were meant to be places of learning and investigation into the philosophical and scientific vanguard so that society could progress. Their secrecy was never for the purpose of evil.

When our Order was organized into a public institution, it was hoped that three things would occur: (1) greater access could be made of the intellectuals of that day; (2) the general good of society could be improved; and (3) men of caliber and integrity could oversee the dispersal of the knowledge for the good of all. Free thought and discussion can occur in an organization where no revelation is made of its discussions to the public. Peace and harmony does not mean an absence of disagreement; it merely means a willingness to continue to love in disagreement. It was in such a careful atmosphere that the Boston Tea Party was planned and where Madison forged the Bill of Rights. In such an atmosphere, Benjamin Franklin developed his concepts, and his brilliance was recognized.

Consider the value of such an atmosphere. Both radical and conservative decisions could be arrived at without fear of preliminary discussion leaking out. The brethren could agree and disagree without lasting bitterness. The Master, acting as moderator, could insure that all is done in a gentlemanly way, without rancour. The Brethren could find even higher truths together that would aid all of society, and those truths could be released in the most beneficial of ways.

Unfortunately, little like that occurs today. The business of most lodges could be revealed without threat to the lodge or to society. And, in light of today's intense anti-Masonic criticism, many feel that this is the way it should be. But, perhaps we should preserve at least a modicum of secrecy in order to maintain an atmosphere of freedom of discussion in our lodge meetings and never completely open them to the profane. That kind of secrecy is one of the many things that makes Masonry unique.

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A: Why do we teach in symbols? Why can't we put things into plain words instead of using one thing to stand for another? Well, the answer is a bit complicated, so let's talk about it. First, we must understand that man is a complex character. He has a body and brain which help him understand the physical world around him and help him to reason things out. And, he also has a heart and a spirit and a soul which help him comprehend a language which his brain cannot. As an example, it isn't with your brain or your body that you love your God, your family and your country; it is with your heart and soul. Another way of putting it is that the language of love is not the same as the language of the tongue.

That same principle is present in Masonry. If everything in Masonry was written, there would be no spirit in it. Masonry expresses truths that are universal and can be understood without the use of words. This is symbolic language and is the means we use to communicate with the spirits, souls and hearts of other Masons. If you met with a Mason in a foreign land and couldn't speak his language, you could use signs and grips, draw a square and compasses, or draw a trowel, and he would understand. When a Mason sees the square and compasses, he knows immediately that it always stands for good and never stands for evil. And, when he sees the trowel symbol he knows that it not only is used to spread regular cement; it is also used to spread the cement of brotherly love.

To sum up, the reason we use symbolism is because only by symbols can we speak the language of the spirit, and because symbols form an elastic language which each man reads for himself according to his ability. symbolism is the only language by which the heart, spirit and soul can be touched. To suggest that Masonry use any other language would be just as revolutionary as removing our altars or meeting in public square instead of a Lodge room. Masonry without symbols would not be Masonry.

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Q: Is Masonry "guilty" of teaching toleration?

A: Yes. And proud of it! It seems a strange accusation, but anti-Masonic writers often charge that we accept people with many different religious viewpoints as Brothers. They are correct.

Jesus did not say to us, "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another - as long as he goes to the same church you do, or if he belongs to the same political party."

In Romans 13: 8 -10 Jesus said "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fullfilled the law

In John 13: 34, 35 Jesus said "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Does “love one another” mean we should only love Baptists, or Methodists or some self appointed splinter preacher who makes a living by selling hatred literature.

Yet one anti-Masonic writer claims that this toleration is the blackest sin of Masonry. Toleration, he says, "springs from the pits of hell and from the father of lies, Lucifer."

When you consider what intolerance has produced in this world, the Inquisition, the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, the burning of Protestants at the stake, the horrors of Hitler, the mass murders of Stalin, the "killing fields" of Cambodia -- it is hard to believe that toleration springs from the devil.

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