Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nation of Freemasonry

It can certainly be argued that the 'Nation' of Freemasonry is indeed the United States of America. After all, the USA was primarily founded and organized by a veritable litany of prominant Freemasons not the least of whom were George Washington, its first President, and the statesman Benjamin Franklin. Most Masons know a bit about this early American history if only because they know the famous name of John Hancock who was a Mason himself and one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Even so, I argue that there is indeed a 'Nation of Freemasonry' and that it reaches far beyond the American shores.

Freemasonry has been around for hundreds of years and spans the continents of the world. As old as it is and as broad as its reach may be, its core has changed but little since its beginning. Freemasonry remains a trust between men of like mind and heart. And it is that trust and the ideals it espouses through its Degrees that transcends borders and barriers on a map.

Today, Freemasonry is challenged from many sides. Some doubt its modern relevance. And others only mistrust the intent of such a vast organization. Every generation brings with it the change that comes with social upheaval and cultural evolution. Still, the modern generations have witnessed religion brought under the harsh scrutiny of the scientific light. And with that science has come heady uncertainty. The simple truths of medicine, the Atomic Bomb and the latest pictures from the Hubble have made a mess of our most stable philosophical and human approaches. We are left wondering again at the Great Mystery.

Like so many other men, I looked to the Light of Freemasonry to help answer my own existential questions. I travelled the road from Apprentice to Master and faced the Ruffians of my own doubts and fears. Following my journey through the Degrees I again am left with the Mystery. It is the Mystery of my own personal journey under the guidance of Masonic Light and Faith.

There are men who have come away from the Degrees who have missed something in them. Perhaps in some ways the organization itself has faltered from time to time in affording each seeker the most adept Masonic instruction. But more than the Word of Freemasonry seems to be lost in this modern world. The very relevance of Freemasonry and the Light that is so central to the Order seems to be lost to so many new Master Masons as well.

Men join the Order, proceed through the Degrees, and are left with no more certainty of their place in the Universe than when they began.

These men, these particular seekers, have simply missed the point.

At last, a man must come to realize that his place in the Universe and his personal relevance, much like Freemasonry's, is a matter of perspective. The Universal Mystery is not an Answer, but a Question. The God of the Kabbalists is a Verb. And the Light of Masonry is a Verb as well. Life is being.

The secret of Freemasonry is the value of that being, its inherant freedom and its inherant right. It comes full circle really. A man joins the Order after he answers a question regarding his belief in Supreme Being. And it is at last to that answer he returns.

As men of faith, we search for such secrets within and labor to see our governments recognize the rights of men and women who share this Mysterious existence together. That very search sets Freemasons aside from others. It does not make them better men in the sense of having greater human worth. It does, however, afford such men a sense of that Universal perspective once had only in the Garden.

Masonry is an Organization of these seekers of Light who congregate under the same spirit and ideals. It is simply preposterous that Freemasonry is irrelevant today precisely because an assembly of these like minds is in itself relevant. This is the Nation of Freemasonry and it is not a nation of lands or territories. It is a United Body that spans the world men have made from the natures of God.

Freemasonry is not and cannot be merely a fraternal bureacracy in the lowest sense of the word. The traditions are sound and its history must be carried on. However, this is only the framework of the Order's intent. It must never become a limitation. The Lodges and Appendant bodies of Freemasonry that impart the Degrees of the Craft must always be mindful of the purpose and never lose sight of the Light Itself.

The Nation of Freemasonry must return to its Glory and wrest free of the challenges of the times and the all too familiar organizational red tape. The United States of America has indeed embraced the Red, White and Blue of Democratic organization and the spirited bonds of human brotherhood. But it is only a part of the greater whole.

"Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...yearning to be free." This is humanity in the hands of those who labor to do the work that the Light has set forth to do. The Masonic Ideals stand in any earthly country...steadfast.

Men of character. Men of truth. Men of wisdom. Men of compassion.

This is the Nation of Freemasonry.


2 BOWL CAIN said...

This is a Nation of Freemasonry?

Regular or irregular?

Was it founded by Clandestine masons?

Part of this Nation of Freemasons refuses to "recognise" other american freemasons, because of color, err, exclusive territorial jurisdiction.

This country was founded by American Freemasons, under French tutelage. Not England.

Question your loyalty, because the founding fathers wanted nothing to do with England and their monarch controlled Fraternity!

Washington was an adhering Mason from age 21 to his death. His Masonic credentials began at Fredericksburg, Va., Lodge No. 4, where he was initiated 1st degree on Nov. 4, 1752; passed to 2nd degree on March 3, 1753; and raised to 3rd degree on Aug. 4, 1753. Lodge No. 4 was a British constituted lodge, which offered only three degrees. At that time, George Washington was as high as he could go in colonial Freemasonry. A year after initiation, he visited the lodge once again, and never returned. In fact, he never set foot in any British lodge after the Revolution began.

Washington was not alone in breaking connections with the mother lodge of England. Freemason Albert G. Mackey informs us, "Soon after the beginning of the Revolution, a disposition was manifested among American Free-masons to dissever their connection, as subordinates, with the Masonic authorities of the mother country, and in several of the newly erected States the Provincial Grand Lodges assumed an independent character."

Another record of Washington's affiliation with a lodge was in Virginia. (Virginia had "dissevered" its lodges from English control.) Lodge No. 39 of Alexandria, previously working under the Grand Lodge of Penn., transferred its allegiance to Virginia in 1788 and became Lodge No. 22. On April 28, Washington was made Charter Master in absentia and reelected Dec. 29.

There is no record that Washington renounced his Masonic oaths, resigned from any lodge, be it British or French, or protested his leadership role in a lodge in absentia. Our first President was an active Mason his entire life, writing cordial letters to, and receiving letters from lodges until his death. Throughout his political career he visited a number of French lodges and officiated in some, but always boycotted English lodges.

President Washington also enjoyed attending public Masonic functions. On Sept. 18, 1793, he is pictured in a painting wearing his Masonic apron laying the cornerstone of the Capitol Building. And in 1795, he assisted in laying out the streets of the Capitol in the shape of Masonic symbols.

Washington constantly gave a Masonic idiom. When speaking of "Providence," which was our founding father's term for God, he frequently used the phrase "Grand Architect of the Universe." He believed the success of the Revolution was due to the "Grand Architect of the Universe," and ended his frequent prayers in that deity's name. In short, writes Masonic scholar William H. Stemper, "Freemasonry was Washington's political theology. It enabled him to project a political sacrality. Washington's usage of Freemasonry as a political theology was to reconcile and harmonize democracy with the providential moral working of the foundation of the Republic. Yet, there is little or no 'sacred' mystery [in Washington's lifestyle]."

Washington was so revered by American Masons that several started a movement to make him national Grand Master of all U.S. Masons. To create a national Grand Lodge, all state Grand Lodges were required to relinquish their authority. Massachusetts Masons did not consent, and the idea died.

Most of General Washington's hands-on Masonic activity occurred during our War of Independence. Until then Masonry's growth was slow in America. During war Masonic membership increases, because Masonic oaths demand of Masons (whether friend or foe) that they protect each other from harm.

I will not give the grand hailing sign of distress except I am in real distress… should I ever see that sign given, or the word accompanying it, and the person who gave it appearing to be in distress, I will fly to his relief at the risk of my life, should there be a greater probability of saving his life than of losing my own.

This oath was practiced at least twenty years before the Revolution. Consequently, it was a great incentive for a soldier to join Freemasonry. According to Masonic records, "Members of the Craft were among the highest in command of all armies…."

During War Partiality Increases Masonic Membership

Preservation of life was the bait that enabled Freemasonry to rapidly grow during our War of Independence. A soldier had a greater chance of returning home if he joined a military lodge. In Life Magazine (Oct. 8, 1956), we read: "During the Revolutionary War, Washington…favored creation of military Lodges for soldiers. There were at least 11 such Lodges, the most famous being American Union Lodge Number One. At Valley Forge, Washington helped initiate Lafayette into Masonry."

By the time our revolution was won, Masons occupied every dominant position that militarily protected or politically governed this fledgling nation. Freemasonry confirms in a 1951 Masonic edition of the Holy Bible (page 6) that twenty-four of Washington's major generals were Masons, as were thirty of his thirty-three brigadier generals. And of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 53 were claimed by Freemasonry to be Master Masons. In fact, there is ample evidence to show that we won the Revolution because of complicity among American, French and British Masons.

After the war, Masonic partiality helped pave the road to the White House. George Washington, an able candidate, was elected first President of the United States. His Vice President was Freemason John Adams, who is reported to have been the founder of the Masonic Lodges in New England. (John Adams was the father of President John Quincy Adams (1825-1828). For twenty years following his presidency, John Quincy Adams played an important role in the anti-Masonic Movement.)

At George Washington's inauguration, Masonic involvements continued to prevail. Robert Livingston, Grand Master of New York's Grand Lodge, administered the Oath of Office. Marshal of the day was Freemason General Jacob Morton. Washington's escort was Freemason General Morgan Lewis. The Bible used for the oath of office was a Masonic Edition from St. John's Lodge No. 1 of New York.

Again, near the end of Washington's second term as President, when he announced that he would not seek a third term, the President received a letter from Grand Lodge of Penn. congratulating Him for his many years of Masonic and public service. Washington's cogent response brings into focus the subtlety and importance of this stage in American Masonic development:

Fellow citizens and brothers…I have received your address with all Brotherly affection… [T]o have been, in any degree, an instrument in the hands of Providence to promote orders and union, and erect upon a solid foundation, the true principles of government, is only to have shared with many others in a labour, the result of which, let us hope, will prove through all ages a sanctuary for Brothers, and a lodge for the virtues… Permit me to reciprocate your prayers, and to supplicate that we all may meet thereafter in the eternal Temple whose Builder is the Great Architect of the Universe.

One year before his death, Washington was informed by letter that Masonic partiality had enabled evil to enter the Lodge. Agents of the European Illuminati had infiltrated his beloved Freemasonry for the express purpose of subverting our government. The letter also accused our first President of "presiding over the English lodges in this country." (In Charles G. Finney's book on Freemasonry, the "Introduction," pp. lxi-lxvii, contains a brief history of the Order of the Illuminati in early America).

On Sept. 25, 1798, Washington responded to the accusation: "I have little more to add than thanks for your wishes, and favorable sentiments, except to correct an error you have run into of my presiding over the English lodges in this country. The fact is I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice within the last thirty years. I believe, notwithstanding, that none of the lodges in this country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the society of the Illuminati."

The accusation made of Washington that he presided "over the English lodges in this country" was to apparently suggest he was a secret agent for the British. As Masonic history records, and as we have revealed, our first President was careful not to set foot in any English lodge after the Revolution began. During and after the Revolution, Washington's Masonic activity was only in lodges that had "dissevered" from the "mother country." And the military lodges in which Washington officiated were founded by the French, whose great assistance in military arms, funds, and soldiering is a matter of historic record to the success of our Revolution.

this nation was founded on universal acceptance of different ideals, our masonic fraternity does not even practice that!

Emeraldi42 said...

Great article! It reminds me a little of a quote from Allen E. Roberts who said "Nothing in Freemasonry is a definition for a man to learn, or a doctrine for a man to believe, but is a subject presented to the mind for a man to think about." I believe that once the inquiry ceases, so does the purpose.

Freestyle said...

Of course the Nation I am talking about isnt any particular country but Freemasonry itself.

I dont believe that the disparity between the ideals of the USA and Freemasonry are so disparate. The Order teaches beauty, truth, freedom, brotherhood and other tenets of basic humanity and morality. The Order is ethical more than mystical.

There can be no doubt that in many places, the US included, the Light of Masonry has been oft abscured by bureacracies both State and Local.

These challenges need to be addressed by Masonic brothers and righted for the good of the Order. It is not enough to point them out but to do something about them.

And this begins with belief in the Good and the Ideals of the Craft itself.

Justa Mason said...

A thought-provoking paper, FS. Bravo.

As a Canadian, I'll avoid addressing the premise of your opening statement, but I was intrigued with your characterisation of Freemasonry as a nation.

The one thing that creates a nation is unity. A nation is a group of people who unite to have a common government within a common boundary. In a similar way, Freemasons unite in a belief in certain common principles, and to assist each other, when possible, in being better individuals.

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