Thursday, December 17, 2009

Your Masonry and Religion

By Bro "P.Q"
circa 1928

What about these? When I consider questions of religion and its connection with the State, the Craft and the individual, I always feel that I am striving to uncover something of great value which has become covered up, obliterated, or indistinguishable from the dust of ages; and the interminable wrangles of opposing views mostly on things which do not matter, at any rate not now.

Masonry two centuries ago, or a little more , apparently seeking for a religious base upon which to found the qualifications of a Masons for all time, took the common sense view that every Mason should believe in God whom they defined as the Great Architect of the Universe, leaving to the individual the selection of mode of worship for his own practise so that the dust of ages for him was wiped off at a stroke.

It is no use referring to the first B. of C. on this subject, but it will suffice if you use the one now in actual operation. Hence there is no need to argue whether if some other principles had been laid down things would be different.

The right place for Masonry and your religion is for them to be enshrined in your heart, each acting within its own sphere without detriment to the other .

Anyway, if you treat Masonry as a religion in itself, having all the benefits which the truly religious man wants and his soul will cry out for before the end of his earthly career, you have put your Masonry and religion in the wrong place.

Shakespeare - A Mason?

Bro C.H.D. Robbs, PAGDC
circa 1927

The thanks for our readers are, indeed, due for this interesting article. The late Bro. J.C. Parkinson`s contention may, perhaps, be met by a quotation, with slight alteration, from the Bard himself:-

"The Brother doth protest too much - methinks"!

I should like to add to the instance of quasi-Masonic allusions from Shakespeare`s works, a passage of immense significance to the speculative Master Mason:

"I will find where truth is hid,
Though it were hid indeed within the Centre."

(Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2, Polonius loq)

Is it not rather remarkable that the unknown compilers of our Masonic Ritual have most excellent prose, often reaching great heights of beauty, without undue borrowing from Holy Writ, or other sources?

It is true that Portia`s famous speech supplies, almost word for word, the comparison between charity and mercy, in the address to the initiate in the N.E..

Again a passage from Milton, "Paradise Loet," Book I:-

"No light, but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,"

has a similar ring to the M.M., and may possibly have been adopted from that poet for Masonic purposes.

I cannot think of any other potion of the Ritual where there appears to have been deliberate borrowing from other sources, and should be glad if other more erudite brethren would tell me if I have omitted other examples.

note from the webmaster: The following book reating to this topic is in our Library

Shakespeare - Creator of Freemasonry
by Alfred Dodd

Famous Freemasons/England;
A look at the works of Shakespeare in an effort to prove the title.

Library #: M13_DOD
Location: LoR
Publisher: Rider & co
Published year: 1937
Pages: 275
Condition: poor

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Ideal of Brotherhood

by Bro. Goodfellow
circa 1928

Brethren, we shall be conferring the degree of a M.M. on one of our Brethren at our next meeting, let us therefore briefly run over the ceremony, and endeavour to realise more fully the teachings embodied in the ceremony. As you know, we who have been already raised to this degree, are expected to afford assistance and instruction to our Brothers, and maybe these few words will be acceptable to some, and open out visions as to what the ceremony is intended to represent.

The invocation to the M.H., is indeed of a most sublime nature, and carefully considered, indicates the impressive nature of the degree, and asks in a very definite manner for help and guidance, and is a most fitting prelude to the degree of M.M.. The presentation to the S. & J.W`s. though somewhat of a perfunctory nature, are intended to not only show that our Brother is eligible for this degree, but should also be to him, a retrospect of those degrees to which he has also attained, and by the time this portion of the ceremony has been completed, a brief survey of his Masonic Life has passed before him.

The method of advancing indicates a very definite phase and is amply illustrated as the ceremony proceeds. The Ob. opens in a somewhat similar manner to the former Ob`s., and proceeds with a definition of the F.P.O.F., whilst the closing sentences are indeed of a drastic manner.

The Exhortation commences with a retrospect of the grades through which our Brother has passed, which are so aptly described by W.Bro W.L. Wilmshurst:

"The ceremony of our first degree. then, is a swift and comprehensive portrayal of the entrance of all men into, first, physical life, and spiritual life. - After purification comes contemplation and enlightenment which are the special subjects of the second degree."

We then proceed to a most dramatic episode, which is a symbolic transition, and indicates that although in this life of ours we experience many trials and tribulations, such an experience is of a character forming nature, and if we we are strong, and persist in our endeavours to overcome those trials and tribulations we shall with the aid of our "Master," be raised to a truer and more noble aspect of life.

The F.P.O.F. when given and explained, seem of a simple nature, but in meditation, they will be found in most noble and exalted outline of true Brotherhood, and may we all have the power to recognise them as such, and to mould our life and actions in their precepts. We finish with the Traditional History, which although symbolic in its entirety, again gives us food for meditation, and the explanation of the W.T.`s of this degree bring to a close a most profound and never to be forgotten ceremony.

There is indeed food for thought in all our ceremonies, much that is on the surface, but far more beneath, and we close this short address by a further quotation from W.Bro. Wilmshurst`s "Masonic Initiation":

"Let all Brethren be assured that there is no detail of Masonic Ceremonial but is charged with very deep purpose and significance; this will appear to them more and more fully and luminously in proportion to their faithful endeavour to realise the intention of even simple and apparently unimportant points of ritual".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

So whose problem is it anyway? (Lodge Bullies)

from the Librarian: With R.W.Bro Goding soon to be in the area I thought this article deserved to be given prominence on the site again.

by RW Bro Greg Goding PAGM

Special Envoy of the MW Grand Master
Chairman of the Membership Committee
November 2008

Too often we see in a lodge a problem between members which has been allowed to go on far too long. When the lodge finally decides that something has to be done about the problem, I am amazed how often that lodge wants Grand Lodge to intervene and sort out that problem. Except in a couple of cases, which I will touch on a bit later, it is not Grand Lodges place to intervene it is the lodges place to sort out the problem.

Grand Lodge cannot win because if it was silly enough to jump in to sort out the problem at the request of a lodge it would immediately be accused of heavy handedness; of being big brother; of sticking its nose in where it wasn`t wanted and if it doesn`t intervene, somehow it is letting down the lodge.

It is the lodge and the members of that lodge who need to step up to the plate and sort out their own problems. Too often a problem which should have been nipped in the bud the moment it started is allowed to fester and escalate out of all proportion because no-one had the fortitude to stop it at that moment it started. One of the reasons that this happens is usually because one of the parties having the disagreement is the resident bully who has been doing the same, totally unchallenged, to many other members for years.

Once again, remember that the world is a completely different place and has changed incredibly in the past 30 years. Bullies might have been able to get away with their bad behaviour in days gone by but in todays world their stand-over tactics are no longer acceptable. None of us want to go to a lodge and have that sort of behaviour inflicted on us and more importantly we are certainly never going to ask one of our friends to consider joining the Craft and cop it.

Those who have heard my Presentation would have no doubt that I believe that disharmony is singularly the biggest killer of lodges and always has been. Sadly there are many examples around this State of that disharmony destroying lodges. As part of my presentation I also suggest that it is one thing to admit that we have a problem in a lodge but far more important is the need to want to do something about that problem.

Many of us know that we have a problem in our personal lives but it is not until that day that we finally decide that we want to do something about the problem that we are able to improve our lot. A problem drinker may recognise that he has a drinking problem but it is not until the day that he wants to do something about that drinking problem does anything change in his life. It really does become the first day of the rest of his life.

The same is the case in our lodges; many of us know that our lodges have problems but nothing will change until we decide that today is the day that we want to do something about those problems. It is then and only then that day that we take responsibility for our own lodge will we start to improve the fortunes of that lodge.

The sad reality is that in many a lodge, when the decision is made to do something about the problem too often the perceived solution for solving the problem is hand- balling it down to Grand Lodge. Too often the lodge wants to abrogate its responsibilities to the Grand Master, the Grand Superintendent of Workings or the Board of General Purposes, rather than to deal with the problem themselves. The solution to nearly every problem is within the lodge itself and as the members of those lodges afflicted with these issues, it is us who must act. It is the inaction; the sitting on the hands; the unwillingness to get involved; the turning of the blind eye which allows those few who create the problems to continue to do so.

If we, the reasonable members of the lodge, stood up to the trouble makers; if we told them very quickly and very definitely at that moment that they are doing it; that their bad behaviour will no longer be tolerated, the sooner our lodges will find that all important harmony and the sooner we will grow as an organisation.

So many problems start off as simply as the wrong thing being said at the wrong time OR something being taken out of context OR someone who has had a bad day being allowed to ark up and spit the dummy. Many of us have witnessed such things and many of us are guilty of not defusing the situation then and there. How different an outcome might have been if we had have spoken up as it was happening and told him, (who was causing the problem) whooooo, hang on, mate, that is not the way we speak with each other? What might have been the outcome if we had spoken up the moment the trouble started?

Sadly I am aware of these types of problems all around our State and in all of the other States which have identical problems. The players are always the same no matter which lodge, which town, which State there is always the bully or the stand over merchant who is never challenged regardless of the fact that many of his members are not in agreement with his way of thinking. They will not challenge him because they don`t want the aggravation; they don`t want for him to turn on them as well they are not there to fight it is easier and safer to keep quiet rather then challenge him.

Like all bullies, they tend to turn their attention on those who they perceive as a threat or may see as someone who might be prepared to challenge their self imposed authority or question their methods. To stand up to the bully is the start of the erosion of his grip on the lodge. In the case of our lodges it is as simple as the reasonable members standing together and saying to him who has caused the problems for far too long that we are no longer going to accept his behaviour.

In 95% of the cases the solution is as simple as I have just stated we stand firm and tell him politely but definitely that we don`t want to see you go but we are no longer prepared to allow you to continue to drive away that 80% of our good members who have left because of your behaviour. However there are always going to be those who don`t see the writing on the wall and will continue their bad behaviour. So what do we do with them?

The Constitution is clear about what can be done. Under the heading of Offences we are told who has what authority. Short of reproducing the full Constitution here Article 516 (Page 115 in the 2008 edition) states Lodge jurisdiction:- Every lodge has full jurisdiction over every one of its members, including the power to exclude any member for sufficient cause with the exception of dealing with the Master of the lodge or a brother who has been convicted of an indictable offence - both of which must be dealt with by Grand Lodge. Grand Lodge is also the body to which a suspended brother can appeal if he feels that his treatment or punishment by his lodge has been unjust or unfair.

If your lodge has a problem that has to be dealt with then become familiar with that part of the Book of Constitution. It is quite clear how the process works and it leaves no doubt that the authority to deal with the problems (with the exception of those two points mentioned) is within the power of the Lodge. The important point is to deal with the problem - deal with it swiftly but fairly - don`t let it fester and destroy your lodge.

Grand Lodge has no interest in micro- managing lodges there would be a huge outcry by the masses if Grand Lodge was foolish enough to want to do so. There are far too many complaints now when Grand Lodge introduces reasonable policy decisions for the good of Freemasonry in General which are misunderstood by some of our membership. What Grand Lodge (which is all of us who are Master Masons by the way) does have is a very keen desire to see our survival. In a modern world our survival will not be guaranteed if we cannot stop the cancer from within which is harming and destroying us.

In todays world we have to find the fortitude to resolve our own problems. It is not Grand Lodges role to sort out all the little problems and the personalities within the lodges it is the responsibility of the lodges to sort out their own problems. As lodges, if we think that we are going to be still here in 5 years and if we think we are going to attract men from the modern world then we need to sort out and stop those who have, for years and years, driven 80% of our good members away.

To that silent majority of reasonable members of the Craft the time has come to take back the ownership of our lodges. Deal swiftly but fairly with those who, by their actions and disharmony continue to destroy the Craft that we love. Isolate them by standing together as the brothers that we profess to be. Victor Hugo wrote there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come the time has come to take back our lodges practice what we preach and side-line those who would destroy this wonderful institution by way of their own bad behaviour and self interest.

Successful lodges sort out these issues as soon as they arise they never ever forget the importance of Absolute & Perfect Harmony for the Lodge to thrive.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interview with the NSW-ACT GM on Sunrise - Sept 2009

The video is a 22mb file so may take sometime to load. There is a reference in the video by a "secret society expert" to Freemasonry as "a Ritualistic Rotary club".

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Freemasonry: Its Ministry to your Neighbour

Freemasonry: Its Ministry to your Neighbour
from "The Masonic Record" Vol 8, 1928
By W.Bro the Rev. Joseph Johnson
P.A.G. Chaplain

There is a feature of human life that makes all right thinking people sad. It consists in the seeking of selfish ends regardless of others, the shutting of one's heart to the troubles and sorrows of our fellow men and being content so long as, we are prosperous and happy. In the light of Masonic teaching such a phase of human life is under condemnation for in the very forefront of its principles the injunction is given to every member to act with his neighbour on the square, render him every kind office which justice or mercy may require, to relieve his necessities, soothe his afflictions, and to do to him as he would wish others would do to himself. In other words, Freemasonry joins its adherents to be chivalrous, beneficent, and kindly in thought and deed. It is worthy of emphasis, at the grace of chivalry makes for growth towards full and complete manhood. Its cultivation means self-abnegation and the sweetening of the temper of daily life. It enables Brethren to forget self and to place all their gifts at the service of others. Such is the essence of Freemasonry, it is the quality which gives strength and courage to those who practice it.

In its principles and teaching Freemasonry is posed to everything in the nature of cunning, greed or selfishness. It recognises that a man's body is the habitation of the soul, and it teaches that the body would be a worthy Temple of its Creator. It teaches, never to spoil the spirit or lower the dignity of true manhood by seeking personal gain at the expense of someone else, and to scorn any base motive in business or professional conduct that would deprive another man of his rightful claim by securing for ourselves the possession of an advantage to which we were not ultimately entitled. It encourages a man to keep pure the name his father gave him, to keep sweet the love his mother bore him, and to preserve himself from the stain of dishonour. It stimulates a man to bring to every sphere of life those special qualities which mark him out as willing to sink himself in entire self forgetfulness and place himself at the service of others. In all life's contests, competitions and rivalries, a true Freemason should be a good loser, and, in defeat, yield the palm to another with grace and cheerfulness, displaying that spirit which would rather suffer defeat a hundred times than win by unfairness or sharp practice.

"Sticktoitiveness" has often been named as one of qualities that made Abraham Lincoln famous. The same quality is urgently needed in the ranks of Freemasonry. In recent years, a man died of whom it was said "he saved a million lives." Long before most of the present generation was born, he began to puzzle his brain with a great problem that had severely taxed powers of a host of the medical profession, but without success. This man, however, concentrated himself solely on the problem until eventually there came to him the solution which has proved an immense boon to all sufferers who have since been called to pass through surgical operations. His discovery has saved millions of lives and multitudes of every rank and class of society are alive to-day because Lord Lister stuck to his task.

This is a lesson for every man who comes into Freemasonry. The great Fraternity which embraces in its fold all types of men of every class of society and of every nationality, is a great cementing and stimulating force, and in proportion as its adherents stick to it and make its principles operative will be the measure of its influence for good. Freemasons would do well to remember how remarkably life lived on a high plane affects for good those with whom it comes into contact. It is not only your neighbour who feels the impact of such a life, but the influence spreads and expands into the larger life of the world, and the whole atmosphere of society is clarified and rendered purer thereby.

Freemasons, too, should not forget that conversation affects for good or ill those with whom they fraternise. It is on record that the conversation of a stranger was the first thing that arrested the thought of John Bunyan. It was conversation which put him on the path that made his name immortal. It is also on record, that the conversation of a friend brought about the ruin of Scotland's greatest poet - Bro. Robert Burns. In one of his letters there are these memorable words, "His friendship did me a mischief," which directly refers to the influence of the man who by loose conversation led him astray. The result was, that he quickly came to find pleasure in that which would have otherwise given him pain. The lesson in this circumstance for all men, and especially for Masons, is never to forget our better self. There is a danger even in unguarded conversation of which we ought not to be in ignorance. A flippant thought, a careless expression, or an unclean suggestion may speedily set loose in others those thoughts which ultimately play havoc with character. All of us, more or less, have known the depths of a mother's love and the inspiration of a good home; the memory of these should ever lead us to set our faces defiantly against 'everything in the nature of degrading and suggestive stories that expose somebody's mother, sister or daughter to scorn, or belittle their dignity and honour. Conversation that provides no better subject than the slander of a woman's name is unworthy of decent society, and ought to be shunned. Conversation or social fellowship of any kind that leaves behind an unpleasant flavour is calculated to corrupt and spoil character and should be resolutely avoided.

The great thing that makes life worth while is when heart meets heart and they become united in fellowship. One cannot think of anything lovelier amid the cares and struggles of life than that of kindred hearts and hands being linked and bound together in mutual fellowship and service. Such an achievement is as remarkable as it is beautiful, for it means that a bond is woven which time can never break.

Freemasonry has the capacity for making friendships that strengthen and uplift, friendships that inspire in periods of disappointment, that afford guidance in perplexity, and stimulus and encouragement in emergency.

Our ministry to our neighbour can well be shewn by the three moveable jewels found in every Craft Lodge, the, Square, Level, and Plumb Rule, each of which ,is suggestive of fine moral teaching. The Square reminds Brethren to regulate their lives and actions by Masonic rule, to so harmonise their conduct in this life as to render them acceptable to that Divine Being from whence all goodness springs and to whom they must render an account of all their actions. The Level demonstrates that all men spring from the same stock, are partakers of the same nature, and sharers in the same hope: and although distinctions among men are necessary to preserve good government, yet no eminence of situation should lead them to forget that they are Brethren, and that he who is placed on the lowest spoke of Fortune's wheel is entitled to the regard of the Brethren of high degree. The Plumb Rule is the criterion of rectitude and truth enabling Brethren to 'walk justly and uprightly before God and man, never turning from the path of virtue; never becoming a persecutor or slanderer of religion; never pending towards avarice; injustice, malice or revenge, but giving up every selfish propensity which might injure others. It also calls on Brethren to steer the barque of this life over the seas of passion without quitting the helm of rectitude; to observe a due balance between avarice and profusion; to hold evenly the scales of justice, and to pursue their high calling with Eternity in view.

These are features of the teaching of Masonry that make its ministry to our neighbour effective. They provide a standard of moral rectitude that can never fail, a force for good in society that results in the building of a higher type of character. There is therefore scarcely a place to be found in the civilised world where the 'genial' influences of Freemasonry are not seen and felt. Ih the frozen regions of the North and the sunny lands of the South, throughout the broad expanses of East and West, her banner is floating. She has been a great forerunner, fitting the untutored mind for the reception of great truths. By teaching her own pure principles and proclaiming everywhere her mystic rites she has prepared "in the desert a highway for our God."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RearVision on Radio National discuss "The Freemasons"

Radio Nationals programme "RearVision".
7th of October 2009
Hosted by Annabelle Quince

Andrew Prescott

Librarian at University of Wales Lampeter, United Kingdom. Previous he was the Director, Centre for Research into Freemasonry, University of Sheffield, 2000-2007.

Steven Bullock

Professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Click here for the transcript.
Click here to download the audio.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Lost Word

by Albert G. Mackey
from the book "The Symbolism of Freemasonry"
Library #: M11_CLE
Location: LoR
Publisher: The Masonic History Company
Published year: 1869
Pages: 315

The last of the symbols, depending for its existence on its connection with a myth to which I shall invite attention, is the Lost Word, and the search for it. Very appropriately may this symbol terminate our investigations, since it includes within its comprehensive scope all the others, being itself the very essence of the science of masonic symbolism. The other symbols require for their just appreciation a knowledge of the origin of the order, because they owe their birth to its relationship with kindred and anterior institutions. But the symbolism of the Lost Word has reference exclusively to the design and the objects of the institution.

First, let us define the symbol, and then investigate its interpretation.

The mythical history of Freemasonry informs us that there once existed a WORD of surpassing value, and claiming a profound veneration; that this Word was known to but few; that it was at length lost; and that a temporary substitute for it was adopted. But as the very philosophy of Masonry teaches us that there can be no death without a resurrection,--no decay without a subsequent restoration,--on the same principle it follows that the loss of the Word must suppose its eventual recovery.

Now, this it is, precisely, that constitutes the myth of the Lost Word and the search for it. No matter what was the word, no matter how it was lost, nor why a substitute was provided, nor when nor where it was recovered. These are all points of subsidiary importance, necessary, it is true, for knowing the legendary history, but not necessary for understanding the symbolism. The only term of the myth that is to be regarded in the study of its interpretation, is the abstract idea of a word lost and afterwards recovered.

This, then, points us to the goal to which we must direct our steps in the pursuit of the investigation.

But the symbolism, referring in this case, as I have already said, solely to the great design of Freemasonry, the nature of that design at once suggests itself as a preliminary subject of inquiry in the investigation.

What, then, is the design of Freemasonry? A very large majority of its disciples, looking only to its practical results, as seen in the every-day business of life,--to the noble charities which it dispenses, to the tears of widows which it has dried, to the cries of orphans which it has hushed, to the wants of the destitute which it has supplied,--arrive with too much rapidity at the conclusion that Charity, and that, too, in its least exalted sense of eleemosynary aid, is the great design of the institution.

Others, with a still more contracted view, remembering the pleasant reunions at their lodge banquets, the unreserved communications which are thus encouraged, and the solemn obligations of mutual trust and confidence that are continually inculcated, believe that it was intended solely to promote the social sentiments and cement the bonds of friendship.

But, although the modern lectures inform us that Brotherly Love and Relief are two of "the principal tenets of a Mason's profession," yet, from the same authority, we learn that Truth is a third and not less important one; and Truth, too, not in its old Anglo-Saxon meaning of fidelity to engagements, 232 but in that more strictly philosophical one in which it is opposed to intellectual and religious error or falsehood.

But I have shown that the Primitive Freemasonry of the ancients was instituted for the purpose of preserving that truth which had been originally communicated to the patriarchs, in all its integrity, and that the Spurious Masonry, or the Mysteries, originated in the earnest need of the sages, and philosophers, and priests, to find again the same truth which had been lost by the surrounding multitudes. I have shown, also, that this same truth continued to be the object of the Temple Masonry, which was formed by a union of the Primitive, or Pure, and the Spurious systems. Lastly, I have endeavored to demonstrate that this truth related to the nature of God and the human soul.

The search, then, after this truth, I suppose to constitute the end and design of Speculative Masonry. From the very commencement of his career, the aspirant is by significant symbols and expressive instructions directed to the acquisition of this divine truth; and the whole lesson, if not completed in its full extent, is at least well developed in the myths and legends of the Master's degree. God and the soul--the unity of the one and the immortality of the other--are the great truths, the search for which is to constitute the constant occupation of every Mason, and which, when found, are to become the chief corner-stone, or the stone of foundation, of the spiritual temple--"the house not made with hands"--which he is engaged in erecting.

Now, this idea of a search after truth forms so prominent a part of the whole science of Freemasonry, that I conceive no better or more comprehensive answer could be given to the question, What is Freemasonry? than to say that it is a science which is engaged in the search after divine truth.

But Freemasonry is eminently a system of symbolism, and all its instructions are conveyed in symbols. It is, therefore, to be supposed that so prominent and so prevailing an idea as this,--one that constitutes, as I have said, the whole design of the institution, and which may appropriately be adopted as the very definition of its science,--could not with any consistency be left without its particular symbol.

The WORD, therefore, I conceive to be the symbol of Divine Truth; and all its modifications--the loss, the substitution, and the recovery--are but component parts of the mythical symbol which represents a search after truth.

How, then, is this symbolism preserved? How is the whole history of this Word to be interpreted, so as to bear, in all its accidents of time, and place, and circumstance, a patent reference to the substantive idea that has been symbolized?

The answers to these questions embrace what is, perhaps, the most intricate as well as most ingenious and interesting portion of the science of masonic symbolism.

This symbolism may be interpreted, either in an application to a general or to a special sense.

The general application will embrace the whole history of Freemasonry, from its inception to its consummation. The search after the Word is an epitome of the intellectual and religious progress of the order, from the period when, by the dispersion at Babel, the multitudes were enshrouded in the profundity of a moral darkness where truth was apparently forever extinguished. The true name of God was lost; his true nature was not understood; the divine lessons imparted by our father Noah were no longer remembered; the ancient traditions were now corrupted; the ancient symbols were perverted. Truth was buried beneath the rubbish of Sabaism, and the idolatrous adoration of the sun and stars had taken the place of the olden worship of the true God. A moral darkness was now spread over the face of the earth, as a dense, impenetrable cloud, which obstructed the rays of the spiritual sun, and covered the people as with a gloomy pall of intellectual night.

But this night was not to last forever. A brighter dawn was to arise, and amidst all this gloom and darkness there were still to be found a few sages in whom the religious sentiment, working in them with powerful throes, sent forth manfully to seek after truth. There were, even in those days of intellectual and religious darkness, craftsmen who were willing to search for the Lost Word. And though they were unable to find it, their approximation to truth was so near that the result of their search may well be symbolized by the Substitute Word.

It was among the idolatrous multitudes that the Word had been lost. It was among them that the Builder had been smitten, and that the works of the spiritual temple had been suspended; and so, losing at each successive stage of their decline, more and more of the true knowledge of God and of the pure religion which had originally been imparted by Noah, they finally arrived at gross materialism and idolatry, losing all sight of the divine existence. Thus it was that the truth--the Word--was said to have been lost; or, to apply the language of Hutchinson, modified in its reference to the time, "in this situation, it might well be said that the guide to heaven was lost, and the master of the works of righteousness was smitten. The nations had given themselves up to the grossest idolatry, and the service of the true God was effaced from the memory of those who had yielded themselves to the dominion of sin."

And now it was among the philosophers and priests in the ancient Mysteries, or the spurious Freemasonry, that an anxiety to discover the truth led to the search for the Lost Word. These were the craftsmen who saw the fatal-blow which had been given, who knew that the Word was now lost, but were willing to go forth, manfully and patiently, to seek its restoration. And there were the craftsmen who, failing to rescue it from the grave of oblivion into which it had fallen, by any efforts of their own incomplete knowledge, fell back upon the dim traditions which had been handed down from primeval times, and through their aid found a substitute for truth in their own philosophical religions.

And hence Schmidtz, speaking of these Mysteries of the pagan world, calls them the remains of the ancient Pelasgian religion, and says that "the associations of persons for the purpose of celebrating them must therefore have been formed at the time when the overwhelming influence of the Hellenic religion began to gain the upper hand in Greece, and when persons who still entertained a reverence for the worship of former times united together, with the intention of preserving and upholding among themselves as much as possible of the religion of their forefathers."

Applying, then, our interpretation in a general sense, the Word itself being the symbol of Divine Truth, the narrative of its loss and the search for its recovery becomes a mythical symbol of the decay and loss of the true religion among the ancient nations, at and after the dispersion on the plains of Shinar, and of the attempts of the wise men, the philosophers, and priests, to find and retain it in their secret Mysteries and initiations, which have hence been designated as the Spurious Freemasonry of Antiquity.

But I have said that there is a special, or individual, as well as a general interpretation. This compound or double symbolism, if I may so call it, is by no means unusual in Freemasonry. I have already exhibited an illustration of it in the symbolism of Solomon's temple, where, in a general sense, the temple is viewed as a symbol of that spiritual temple formed by the aggregation of the whole order, and in which each mason is considered as a stone; and, in an individual or special sense, the same temple is considered as a type of that spiritual temple which each mason is directed to erect in his heart.

Now, in this special or individual interpretation, the Word, with its accompanying myth of a loss, a substitute, and a recovery, becomes a symbol of the personal progress of a candidate from his first initiation to the completion of his course, when he receives a full development of the Mysteries.

The aspirant enters on this search after truth, as an Entered Apprentice, in darkness, seeking for light--the light of wisdom, the light of truth, the light symbolized by the Word. For this important task, upon which he starts forth gropingly, falteringly, doubtingly, in want and in weakness, he is prepared by a purification of the heart, and is invested with a first substitute for the true Word, which, like the pillar that went before the Israelites in the wilderness, is to guide him onwards in his weary journey. He is directed to take, as a staff and scrip for his journey, all those virtues which expand the heart and dignify the soul. Secrecy, obedience, humility, trust in God, purity of conscience, economy of time, are all inculcated by impressive types and symbols, which connect the first degree with the period of youth.

And then, next in the degree of Fellow Craft, he fairly enters upon his journey. Youth has now passed, and manhood has come on. New duties and increased obligations press upon the individual. The thinking and working stage of life is here symbolized. Science is to be cultivated; wisdom is to be acquired; the lost Word--divine truth--is still to be sought for. But even yet it is not to be found.

And now the Master Mason comes, with all the symbolism around him of old age--trials, sufferings, death. And here, too, the aspirant, pressing onward, always onward, still cries aloud for "light, more light." The search is almost over, but the lesson, humiliating to human nature, is to be taught, that in this life--gloomy and dark, earthly and carnal--pure truth has no abiding place; and contented with a substitute, and to that second temple of eternal life, for that true Word, that divine Truth, which will teach us all that we shall ever learn of God and his emanation, the human soul.

So, the Master Mason, receiving this substitute for the lost Word, waits with patience for the time when it shall be found, and perfect wisdom shall be attained.

But, work as we will, this symbolic Word--this knowledge of divine Truth--is never thoroughly attained in this life, or in its symbol, the Master Mason's lodge. The corruptions of mortality, which encumber and cloud the human intellect, hide it, as with a thick veil, from mortal eyes. It is only, as I have just said, beyond the tomb, and when released from the earthly burden of life, that man is capable of fully receiving and appreciating the revelation. Hence, then, when we speak of the recovery of the Word, in that higher degree which is a supplement to Ancient Craft Masonry, we intimate that that sublime portion of the masonic system is a symbolic representation of the state after death. For it is only after the decay and fall of this temple of life, which, as masons, we have been building, that from its ruins, deep beneath its foundations, and in the profound abyss of the grave, we find that divine truth, in the search for which life was spent, if not in vain, at least without success, and the mystic key to which death only could supply.

And now we know by this symbolism what is meant by masonic labor, which, too, is itself but another form of the same symbol. The search for the Word--to find divine Truth--this, and this only, is a mason's work, and the WORD is his reward.

Labor, said the old monks, is worship--laborare est orare; and thus in our lodges do we worship, working for the Word, working for the Truth, ever looking forward, casting no glance behind, but cheerily hoping for the consummation and the reward of our labor in the knowledge which is promised to him who plays no laggard's part.

Goethe, himself a mason and a poet, knew and felt all this symbolism of a mason's life and work, when he wrote that beautiful poem, which Carlyle has thus thrown into his own rough but impulsive language.

"The mason's ways are
A type of existence,--
And to his persistence
Is as the days are
Of men in this world.

"The future hides in it
Gladness and sorrow;
We press still thorow,
Nought that abides in it
Daunting us--onward.

"And solemn before us
Veiled the dark portal,
Goal of all mortal;
Stars silent rest o'er us
Graves under us silent.

"While earnest thou gazest
Come boding of terror,
Comes phantasm and error,
Perplexing the bravest
With doubt and misgiving.

"But heard are the voices,
Heard are the sages,
The worlds and the ages;
'Choose well; your choice is
Brief and yet endless.

"'Here eyes do regard you,
In eternity's stillness;
Here is all fullness,
Ye, brave to reward you;
Work and despair not.'"

And now, in concluding this work, so inadequate to the importance of the subjects that have been discussed, one deduction, at least, may be drawn from all that has been said.

In tracing the progress of Freemasonry, and in detailing its system of symbolism, it has been found to be so intimately connected with the history of philosophy, of religion, and of art, in all ages of the world, that the conviction at once forces itself upon the mind, that no mason can expect thoroughly to comprehend its nature, or to appreciate its character as a science, unless he shall devote himself, with some labor and assiduity, to this study of its system. That skill which consists in repeating, with fluency and precision, the ordinary lectures, in complying with all the ceremonial requisitions of the ritual, or the giving, with sufficient accuracy, the appointed modes of recognition, pertains only to the very rudiments of the masonic science.

But there is a far nobler series of doctrines with which Freemasonry is connected, and which it has been my object, in this work, to present in some imperfect way. It is these which constitute the science and the philosophy of Freemasonry, and it is these alone which will return the student who devotes himself to the task, a sevenfold reward for his labor.

Freemasonry, viewed no longer, as too long it has been, as a merely social institution, has now assumed its original and undoubted position as a speculative science. While the mere ritual is still carefully preserved, as the casket should be which contains so bright a jewel; while its charities are still dispensed as the necessary though incidental result of all its moral teachings; while its social tendencies are still cultivated as the tenacious cement which is to unite so fair a fabric in symmetry and strength, the masonic mind is everywhere beginning to look and ask for something, which, like the manna in the desert, shall feed us, in our pilgrimage, with intellectual food. The universal cry, throughout the masonic world, is for light; our lodges are henceforth to be schools; our labor is to be study; our wages are to be learning; the types and symbols, the myths and allegories, of the institution are beginning to be investigated with reference to their ultimate meaning; our history is now traced by zealous inquiries as to its connection with antiquity; and Freemasons now thoroughly understand that often quoted definition, that "Masonry is a science of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."

Thus to learn Masonry is to know our work and to do it well. What true mason would shrink from the task?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The fundamental problem of the Fraternity

by M.W.Bro Harold J. Richardson
Grand Master of Masons in New York

from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York for 1928

As for myself, I am convinced that many of our most perplexing problems resolve themselves into phases or aspects of one fundamental problem, which is not difficult to envisage. We might describe it as the difficulty found buy the Craft in properly assimilating the new members and by the new members in assimilating the Craft.

Consider the picture! On the one hand is the new member. He is an individual. He comes to the door of the Lodge with only the vaguest of what kind of thing Freemasonry is. He has heard dim accounts of its mysterious history and vague rumours of its hidden activities. He brings nothing with him but his own head and his two hands, and he is perhaps a little timid and somewhat embarrassed.

On the other hand stands the great Fraternity, with all its complexity. Behind it is the vast sweep of its history, with its ever increasing richness of traditions. Within it is its ritual, the language; its symbols; its intricate system of jurisprudence; its peculiar system of offices; its truly bewildering complexity of activities; like a vast machine whirring, wheels within wheels. Around it are all manner of outgrowths, concordant bodies, side orders, and social organisations without number.

How shall the individual find his way into this strange, new world? What are the paths for him to follow? Where shall he discover his own appropriate place or station? How shall he learn to perform his duties? How can he become a Mason in fact as well as in name?

If he fails, he loses interest, drops from sight and becomes a mere name on the rolls, receives nothing except the satisfaction of calling himself a Mason, and gives nothing except his annual dues. Or else, if he becomes active, he may do himself and the Craft more harm than good, not from malice, but from a complete misunderstanding of Masonry, its practises, its rules, and its purposes; he may, for example believe the Lodge to be a social club, existing merely to give him a good time; or a sectarian organisation out to make war on some church or political party; or act out of some other misconception equally wild.

The solution for is for us to organise ourselves in all our parts and branches to close the gap between the Fraternity and the new member. We must keep the paths open for his feet to travel; we must develop to the full every possible means to to acquaint him with the fraternity, to enable him to understand it and to find his place in it, to appropriate it into his very own private life, and to contribute his life to it.

Everything that can help close the gap between the individual and the Craft should be used by us, I believe, should be encouraged and supported, not as a fad or as a a luxury but as a a necessity under the new conditions our extraordinary growth (comment from the Webmaster: growth could easily be replaced by decline here to reflect the current situation) have imposed upon us. By all possible means we should create and sustain such an atmosphere of enlightened interest and understanding throughout our whole membership that it will become the natural and inevitable thing that for every member to have a living knowledge of Masonry under his skin, flowing through his blood, shaping and inspiring his life. In so many cases Masonry does not have a chance with a Mason; it must be given that chance lest the day come when Masons cease to be Masons and become members only.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Knight versus Higham - part 11 - Regalia and Secrecy again

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue MacGregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

......continued from part 10

And now Val in Bournemouth you have a question for us I think.

(Val) Yes, good morning. I think my question would be to the Commander Higham. I have a friend who is elderly and sick and they have just returned from Malaysia and her husband, they've just come from the North of England back to the South, and her husband died and has left a lot of regalia I believe you call it- I'm afraid I'm not very well up on the technical terms....

You're wondering what should be done with it?

(Val) Yes.

Commander, can I ask you that question?

(H) Val, I'm sorry I haven't got your other name, if you'd let me know and the address has been given on the air.....

Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street....

(H) That's the word! Tell me all about it, we'll look after it for you.

All right, Val, we've given the address and I'll just repeat it very briefly, it`s Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B.

A last question very briefly to you Commander, why all the secrecy if it's all so blameless being a Freemason?

(H) Not secrecy, privacy.

But why?

(H) Why? Because we've got a habit of privacy, we're entitled to be private if we want to be. We're actually being a great deal more open now than we used to be ....

Well ....

(H) ... we're not, we're not secret .

. . . you certainly have been [open] on this programme. Thank you to Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge and to Stephen Knight, author of The Brotherhood. From us on Tuesday Call, goodbye.

Knight versus Higham - part 10 - are Masonic Meetings illegal?

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

...continued from part 9

Now we'll talk to Andrew Turek who's in London. Good morning, Mr Turek. Hullo, is that Andrew Turek?

(Mr Turek) Hullo. Yes it is.

What's your question please?

(Mr Turek) Mr Knight, good morning to you. On the first page of your book you allege that a Freemasons' lodge meets in technical breach- you call it- of an Act of the eighteenth century. When you wrote that did you know that Act was repealed in 1967?

(K) I didn't.

(Mr Turek) Well, in that case, that's something you could have checked in a public library, doesn't that rather cast doubt on the value of your research into things that people try to keep secret?

(K) No, well, yes I....

(Mr Turek) Doesn't it really leave a question mark over all the other pages in the book, whether there's any value in this at all?

Andrew, just let me make it clear to the listeners who may not have read the book, you're talking about the, page one of the Prologue of the book, where ....

(Mr Turek) That's right, Unlawful Societies Act was the Act, and it was repealed in 1967 .

...Stephen Knight says that not many people know that it is actually illegal to attend a Freemasons' meeting.

(Mr Turek) Yes, and those that do know have it wrong. And I think Mr Knight copied this from an earlier book printed before the Act was repealed and didn't bother to check, did you?


(K) No I didn't, I wasn't able to check in time ....

(Mr Turek) Oh. It's in the public library, you can look up whether any Act's been...

(K) Well can I speak please?

(Mr Turek) Of course.

(K) I unreservedly apologise for that. It was a thing which was put in at the last moment before it went to press, there is no excuse for it, but it doesn`t in any way cast doubt over the rest of the book.

(Mr Turek) Well Mr Knight may I add one thing which is that your book on the .. [words unclear] murder is much better.

(K) Thank you.

(Mr Turek) Okay?

Thank you for raising that point Mr Turek.

...continued on part 11

Knight versus Higham - part 9 - Education

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

....continued from part 8

Now we talk to Peter- just Peter- who's in Cambridge. Good morning Peter. What's your question?


(Peter) I want to know a bit about education and about the influence of Freemasonry especially in promotions in the professions, and how many headmasters and governing bodies are Freemasons, to what extent teachers' prospects are affected by whether or not they belong to the Freemasons?

Do you ask this from a rather concerned point of view, Peter?

(Peter) That's right. Well I know someone who used to teach in the West Country and he felt very firmly that there were reasons why he hadn't got promotion when other newcomers to the school had, and he didn't know at the time, but when I read Stephen Knight's book I felt that there probably was a connection.

Stephen Knight, perhaps you could elaborate on the views you expressed in the book?

(K) What I would like to say is that many people feel tremendous paranoia about Freemasonry for their own reasons, and just because somebody has not got promoted or someone else has got promoted whom you don't think should have done, is no reason immediately to jump to the conclusion that Freemasonry is at the back of it. I have invited people to write to me- I don't go into the education area in the current edition- I've invited people to write to me, and many have, on the education situation. But at this stage it's just impossible to say how many, what percentage of headmasters or whatever are Freemasons.

It's not an area that bothers you particularly?

(K) It's not an area I've looked into, so I can't say whether it bothers me or not.

The areas that do bother you are Freemasonry in the police force and Freemasonry in the church?

(K) Not so much in the church. I mean, that chapter was written not because I am concerned particularly personally, but because so many people had written to me and wanted to know, they were concerned and wanted to know the situation. It's the police, the law, and local government more.

Right. Well let's stick to education for the moment and ask Commander Higham to answer that point.

(H) First I can't answer your question about how many headmasters are Freemasons, our records don't go into that sort of detail. I think Stephen Knight's put his finger on the reason behind your friend in the West Country not being promoted. I don't want to seem to comment on his professional abilities, but I think in general it might be a happy accident that better men are promoted because the system is right- and I'm not talking about Freemasonry, because the promotion system in education is right- and by accident better men happen to be Freemasons. The two I don't think are connected at all.

Peter, would you like to answer that point?

Well, I'm very grateful for those views. Just the reasons why I thought this because my friend had served at this particular school a long time and newcomers came in with fewer qualifications and apparently less ability, and things seemed to change, the atmosphere in that school changed, and he was very concerned about this.

You're talking about this at one remove of course, because you're talking about a friend, not yourself?

Well that's right, yes.

Right. Peter, thank you very much for your question.

...continued in part 10

Knight versus Higham - part 8 - Mozart`s Death

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

....continued from part 7

Now let`s talk to Alexander Myers who's in Brentwood. Hullo Mr Myers.


(Mr Myers) Hullo Miss MacGregor. There was a broadcast last year which was a mock inquest about the death of Mozart, and the verdict was that he was murdered by poisoning for having given away masonic secrets, so I wondered if your team would agree that, A, that he had given away masonic secrets, and B, that he was murdered for it?

This would be Masonic secrets as given away in the opera The Magic Flute?

(Mr Myers) I should have said that, that's right, yes.

Yes. Stephen do you have a view on this at all?

(K) No, I don't. I mean it's a long standing story that one. I haven't looked into it, I don't know anything in great detail about Mozart, and so I can't say either way. All I know is that there were strange circumstances surrounding Mozart's death, but whether they were anything to do with masons or not I don't know. I would somewhat doubt it. Certainly masons acting officially, I mean they may have been masons and also murderers but that's another matter.

Anyone who saw the play or the film Amadeus might know a little bit more abut what Mr Myers is talking about. But do you have a view on this Commander Higham?

(H) I didn't see the film. No. I think it's very unlikely that a Freemason acting as a Freemason, in fact I could say it's absolutely certain ....

Be extraordinary if you said it was likely in the circumstances!

(H) Well, I don't think you'll get me to admit it! No, we've got some lurid penalties in the obligations but they've never been inflicted.

(K) As far as you know!

So you don't have a view really one way or the other. Mr Myers, I'm afraid you're not ....

(H) If you find the evidence I'll look at it!

... going to get a very satisfactory answer. I'm sure if anyone does have firm evidence on that it would make a great, it would be a find of great historical significance. Thank you for your question.

...continued in part 9

Knight versus Higham - part 7 - Masonic Relatives

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

.....continued from part 6

Thank you Commander, and Mr Bond. We'll move to Reigate in Surrey, we'll talk to Mrs Joyce Allen who is on the phone to us on Tuesday Call, hullo Mrs Allen.


(Mrs Allen) Hullo. I would like to say that amongst my mother's papers after she died I found that she'd written in 1926 that my grandfather was a Freemason, I wondered were there any records or registered- even if I wrote in, that could get information about my grandfather? It's for family history reasons.

Where was he a member of a lodge Mrs Allen?

(Mrs Allen) Well I don't know you see, this was just my mother, just one sentence she wrote in 1926, and she was writing about me, and what she wrote was "her grandfather was a Freemason".

Would it be possible to find out with those very sparse clues, Commander?

(H) Well, Mrs Allen, I think we might have to ask you to help us a bit more than that. We'd like to know when your grandfather was born, what his full names were, and ....

(Mrs Allen) He was born in 1856, he married in 1879, my mother was born in 1888 ...

Mrs Allen, we won't go into all the details now. I think Commander Higham' probably inviting you to write in to him, and to see if he can help ....

(H) Dead right.

Do you think it might be possible, Commander Higham?

(H) Certainly, if we can identify Mrs Allen's grandfather we'll tell her something about his masonic career.

(Mrs Allen) He lived in St Giles, Bloomsbury area in London.

Well, it sounds as if it might well be possible to find out. Records are fairly detailed are they Commander Higham, of past members, deceased members?

(H) They're not- I wouldn't say 'detailed', they may well be adequate for Mrs Allen's purpose.

Thank you very much Mrs Allen.

(H) Look forward to hearing from you.

And we'd better give the address of the United Grand Lodge I think for people who aren't familiar with it.

(H) Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ.

I'll repeat that, it's Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2.

...continued in part 8

Knight versus Higham - part 6 - Charity

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

.......continued from part 5

Thank you Commander, and Mr Begbie for your question. Now to Cardiff we go and talk to Mr Cyril Bond. Mr Bond, what's the point you'd like to make?


(Mr Bond) Well, I was wondering, there's been a terrific slant against Freemasonry, not the emphasis on the good things of it. I've found recently in our local press a series of articles that are slanted against, and there's no doubt about it, against Freemasonry. What on Earth are they afraid of? And in a recent BBC Wales Television programme, was similarly slanted. In half an hour three minutes only were devoted to an interview with a past master of a local lodge trying to, and I emphasise trying to, get in a point about masonic charities. I wonder why, why there's not emphasis on the good points, the very considerable amount raised for such widespread things as famine relief, repairs to cathedrals, to churches, and about fifteen years ago the raising of one million pounds- fifteen years ago- for research, to the Royal College of Surgeons- for research irrespective of religion, colour or creed.

Well, Mr Bond you've made a valuable point about some masonic charity work, let me ask Stephen Knight about that, as he's written a book which is largely critical of the masons. What do you feel about perhaps the influence for evil sometimes overshadowing the influence for good?

(K) The influence for good is very great. The potential for good, and the actual influence for good is very very great indeed. There's an enormous amount of money which goes to various charities. And I mention all that in the book. I come back to my concern with an organisation which has so many members, many of whom, a minority are using it for their own purposes, and what I want to happen is for Grand Lodge to say, 'Okay, well this situation is happening to whatever degree, and what we've got to do is get to the bottom of it and root out as much as we can- no-one can ever loot out all corruption- 'root out whatever corruption there, to whatever extent, in Freemasonry.'

While acknowledging the good of the charitable donations you're saying there is, you have evidence of corruption- we can't go into that on this programme- and you're calling for an enquiry?

(K) An enquiry by Grand Lodge.

Can we turn Mr Bond's original question into a question about an enquiry?

(H) Sorry Mr Bond, I expect we'll come back to your question in a moment. Mr Knight is saying that there's, there has been corruption, or people who are masons have got the way in which they carry out their obligations wrong. If he would provide us with evidence then we would consider it, and I think that's as far as he or I would want to take that at the moment. But to get back to charity, your basic question was why is so little reported about the good side of Freemasonry, I'm afraid it's not news. I hope that if people were, interested in good news they would be able to pick up quite a lot that is favourable to Freemasonry, and not just for our own people. I mean you've quoted quite a lot of examples Mr Bond and I'm very grateful to you for it!

....continued in part 7

Knight versus Higham - part 5 - Christian Degrees

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

......continued form part 4

Thank you, gentlemen. We'll move on now to Egham in Surrey and to Mr Jeremy Begbie who's on the line to us. Hullo Mr Begbie.


(Mr Begbie) Good morning. I'd like to bring the discussion back if I may to the more religious aspect of Freemasonry, if I might put it like that, I have heard it said that there's such things as Christian lodges, that is lodges open only to Christians, and secondly I have heard also about Christian degrees, that is degrees which have a specifically Christian emphasis, I'm thinking particularly of the eighteenth degree, the 'Rose Croix', and I'm wondering if I could have confirmation of that.

Well the best person to ask I think is Commander Higham. Are there lodges open only to Christians?

(H) Not lodges, Mr Begbie, but there are masonic units which belong, you identify it correctly, to the 'Rose Croix', which require a Christian belief which is laid on top of the basic masonic requirement for a belief in a Supreme Being.

How does a degree differ from a lodge?

(H) Oh, gosh! Basic masonry, what we call 'Craft' masonry, is the first three degrees in Freemasonry. The third degree extends into the Holy Royal Arch, and then after that you're away from the orders of Freemasonry which are administered from Freemasons' Hall into other masonic organisations, still based, as I say on Craft masonry, and one of them is the Rose Croix, and yes there are Christian degrees and there's no trouble about them because they don't practice Christianity in a way which upsets the Christians who belong to it ....

So really serious Masons can work their way gradually up through the degrees, is that right?

(H) Oh, no, it's not a question of 'working your way up'. The fact that the Rose Croix happens to be called number eighteen doesn't mean to say that it's superior to the first three. I mean basically all your masonic organisations are independent, they are in charge of affairs within their own order of masonry, but they don't try and jump over each others' backs and say that we're senior or higher. If you're interested in Freemasonry, yes, you can go off and join a lot of other degrees and you find a lot of satisfaction in doing it.

Mr Begbie, are you satisfied with that answer?

(Mr Begbie) Thank you. If I may just quickly follow up the last point about the eighteenth degree, we've been told that there aren't, there isn't anything like, a sacrament in Freemasonry, however in the eighteenth degree ritual, which I have been lent, there seems something very akin to a sacrament toward the end of that ritual, could I have your confirmation on that? Or is that to detailed a question?

(H) I don't think it's too detailed. I can tell you that it's not sacramental, if you read your ritual you'll find what the reason for it is, it's an ancient Oriental custom of fellowship, but not a sacrament at all. You won't find the..., any element of worship or sacrament in that if you read it properly.

...continued in part 6

Knight versus Higham - part 4 - Masonry too open, Money

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue MacGregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

.....continued from part 3



(K) This I think highlights one of the problems of Freemasonry. Many many members misunderstand what Freemasonry is all about, and if only the Grand Lodge could make it apparent what Freemasonry is about, and make it clear that what things are to be done and what things aren't to be done, there would be a lot more understanding. I mean, Commander Higham mentioned earlier that one - to join Freemasonry - one goes through a long process, and it's very well known, I know - very well known by an existing member. I know of a place where there are application forms for Freemasonic membership on the bar in a pub.

You mean it's become as open as that?

(K) As open as that. And what I'm saying is that standards, the required standards of entry aren't as high as they once were, and this again is a basic part of the problem.

I think we'll move on, though, from membership because we may come back to it later, for the moment, and thank Mr Smith in Reading for his questions. There is of course a new, a brand new leaflet called What Is Freemasonry? that's available to masons, it really helps them explain in simple terms what masonry's about to people who are not masons, so there is a chink in their armour, perhaps a deliberate one there. But let's move on now to Birmingham and talk to Denis Bagley. Good morning Mr Bagley.

(Mr Bagley) Good morning.

You've got a fairly straight forward question I think.


(Mr Bagley) Sure. Commander Higham, I read some time ago that it was necessary to have a considerable amount of money to be a Freemason, would you say this is correct? Would you say that you meet any ordinary working people among the masons, anyone a little down at heel, very many unemployed amongst the masons, or are they from the top echelons, the big businessmen, the top ranks of the police and such?

(H) No Mr Bagley, you don't need to have a great deal of money to join masonry. The amount of money you have to layout depends on the lodge you join, you may find that in your area if you wanted to become a mason there's a great variety of lodges that you could belong to, and depending on your circumstances in life you'd find people who thought the same way as you and probably had much the same income as you. There are some lodges which have enormously high joining fees, that's because they try to be exclusive, there are some which have very small ones. My own is for impoverished naval officers and has a very small subscription.

Can you give us some sort of idea what the highest and what the lowest subscriptions might be?

(H) I can give you my own lodge's subscription which is fifteen pounds a year, fifteen pounds to join. I have heard of lodges with joining fees of two hundred pounds, and I may be not in the top of the bracket there. But the point is nobody is required to layout more money on Freemasonry than he can afford, he's not required to put out more time on Freemasonry than he can afford.

I think Mr Bagley's point perhaps is that there is an impression given that Freemasonry is only for, were you saying sort of middle class, professional people Mr Bagley?

(Mr Bagley) This is correct. What I would like to say I'm not interested in the amount for you joining, would you be recommended and seconded if you was not in a wealthy position or in some position of power, Commander?

(H) Yes you would. There's no idea that Freemasonry is only for the powerful and the rich. I can give you a complete list of - l wouldn't give you a complete list ....

Ah, I wondered whether ....

(H) ... I would mention to you a lot of professions or occupations which do not normally get themselves associated with richness or power.

Mention some.

(H) Engine drivers- I suppose they're fairly powerful!- stage hands, there's one lodge that I certainly know has got porters in a building in it, who are in the hierarchy of that building not of the highest, they enjoy their masonry in their own way.

Do lodges tend to specialise in certain callings?

(H) Yes, but not exclusively. You'll find that some lodges are centred on institutions or professions but you'll find anybody who's associated with that profession will be able to join. You find lodges sometimes start as being exclusive and then circumstances change and they get away from it.

Mr Bagley, I'd like to know what Stephen, and I expect you do too, what Stephen Knight feels about that.

(Mr Bagley) Could I speak ... ?

Yes. Can we just hear Stephen Knight what he feels about this?

(K) Well I feel exactly the same as Commander Higham, and it's open to everybody, and there's no-one better to explain that than the man who's actually inside.

So you have no criticisms on that score?

(K) Oh no, none at all.

Mr Bagley.

(Mr Bagley) Well I would like to ask Commander Higham what impression, has he noted many unemployed, many ordinary people, maybe there's one or two porters in to make it appear democratic but I still feel to be of the opinion that it's basically consists of the upper classes and businessmen who are pushing their own interests through the order of Freemasonry.

(H) Mr Bagley, I don't think that we're going to agree about this. But I don't think we're going to find that people join as porters merely to correct an image which if you like is more democratic, they join because they want to join, because they've got friends who bring them in.

....continued in part 5

Knight versus Higham - part 3 - Chistianity and Business

BBC Radio 4'S Tuesday Call
13 November 1984

In this live radio broadcast, listeners phoned in to Tuesday Call to ask questions about Freemasonry, under the chairmanship of Sue Macgregor. In the transcript below, her words are printed in italic, and those of the two participants are prefixed with

(K) -
Stephen Knight author of `The Brotherhood ` or
(H) -
Commander Michael Higham, Grand Secretary of the UGLE

to differentiate them from the questioners.

....continued from Part 2

Hullo Mr Hopkins?


(Mr Hopkins) Good morning Miss MacGregor and gentlemen. How can Freemasonry and Christianity be compatible as Freemasonry is essentially syncretistic and Christianity is not?

Can you explain, Mr Hopkins, what you mean by syncretistic?

(Mr Hopkins) Well a mixture- well syncretism is explicitly condemned throughout the Old Testament and implicitly in the New Testament, whereas the Freemasons' Great Architect of the Universe is a compound word derived from Chaldean, Hebrew, Assyrian and Jewish sources.

Yes. I think Commander Higham that a lot of Christians are bothered by the fact that the Masons take an oath to the Great Architect of the Universe who appears to be above the Christian God and Jesus Christ for instance. What do you say to that?

(H) First of all, there is no Masonic god. The oaths of Freemasonry are not taken to a god, the name of God is invoked. Freemasons must believe in a Supreme Being, but that doesn't mean that Freemasonry is a substitute for Religion. It is a way of pulling together men of any faith which requires the Belief in a Supreme Being under one society.

You don't have to be a Christian to belong?

(H) No you don't, you can be any sort of religion that believes in a Supreme Being.

Can you be an agnostic or an atheist?

(H) Not if you don't believe in a Supreme Being. It doesn't match. The whole business requires a belief in a Supreme Being, and a Supreme Being is I benign Supreme Being, there's no question of devil worship in Freemasonry, I know people have suggested it, this compound word which Mr Hopkins has mentioned has got an element which some people interpret as 'Baal'. That is not so, cannot be so. The origins of that particular word was a time in the mid-1800s when people didn't know so much about Egyptology, or The Bible even, as we know nowadays.

But there are a lot of Christians who are critical of the masonic movement because they feel that it is, actually overshadows what people believe when they go to church and go through, for instance the Church of England services.

(H) Absolutely not. Freemasonry is an addition to religion if you like, but there's no incompatibility between Freemasonry and Christianity.

Now Stephen Knight in your book you have made it fairly plain I think that you believe that there is.

(K) Well yes. From the Christian churches' point of view there is. Freemasonry is happy to accept Christians but basically why is Jesus Christ's name left out of masonic services and masonic hymns? Also there is the fact that the same, for the religions to be the same they must worship the same God, and 'Jabulon' simply is not the Same god as the Christian God.

Is this something that bothers you Mr Hopkins?

(Mr Hopkins) Well in the early 1950`s there was a considerable controversy about Freemasonry. And I remember at the time Walton Hanna writing to me and saying he only wished he was at liberty to disclose what went on behind the scenes to prevent the issue from being discussed at the Convocation of Canterbury, and when he was attempting to reply to a book on the subject by the Rev Dr Box, a masonic Anglican clergyman, writing under the pseudonym of 'Vindex', frankly claimed that Freemasonry was, and I quote, 'the heir and legitimate successor of the ancient mysteries,' close quotes, also that the masonic Hiram is Osiris, Persephone, Bacchus, Orpheus, Camus or Mithra, adding, quotes, 'but quite legitimately he is also Christ.'

Now you're confusing us with quite a lot of long words there Mr Hopkins. Are you saying that in fact some time ago a lot of Christian clergy were bothered about the connection and the incompatibility?

(Mr Hopkins) Oh there was a great controversy in the 1950`s.

But what about now?

(Mr Hopkins) Yes, well it's also, upsets a great number of Christians now, and they don't think that the two are compatible. I can understand a person being a Christian or a person being a Deist, being a mason, but I cannot understand how the two can be considered compatible.

Commander Higham?

(H) Well, if you can't understand it Mr Hopkins we're going to be in great difficulty. But I can tell you that a whole number of Christian churchmen have become Freemasons and had no problem with it. They can make the difference between their religion, which is Christianity in whichever form it takes, and Freemasonry, which is not a religion but an adjunct to it. And they find no difficulty at all. Freemasonry doesn't worship as Freemasonry a god, it refers to a Supreme Being. There's no form of sacrament in Freemasonry, talking in Christian terms. All right you can go on about syncretism, but Freemasonry won't join you in the argument, it studiously keeps away from theology, it is confident that it is not a religion. It merely pulls people of different religions together. There's no requirement I think for a system of that sort to refer to anyone particular religion, there's no harm in leaving out the name of Christ from masonic ritual. If you introduced the name of Christ you'd offend a lot of people who weren't Christians. The whole idea is to pull people together. It's not to substitute for a religion and I think it does its job quite well in that way.

Thank you very much Commander, and Mr Hopkins for your question. Now we move to Reading to Mr Smith. I don't know whether that's a pseudonym, is it, Mr Smith?

(Mr Smith) No, no, absolutely genuine.

It's a genuine Mr Smith, right. What's the question you'd like to ask?

(Mr Smith) Well I've got two questions, I was listening to the Commander there speaking particularly about the advancement for business, and the secret, it's not a secret society. I would like to ask him first of all, as quoted in the Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England, Antient Charges, Five, that you're, 'particularly not to let your family and friends and neighbours know the concerns of the lodge.' Is this consistent with an open society?


(H) I think you're talking two different things, your open society is one thing and the private affairs of the lodge are something else. I think that a Freemason who doesn't tell his family anything about Freemasonry has probably got it wrong. There's a great deal he can tell them about it. But if something's private then I think he, as a mason, like any other citizen of the country is entitled to a small amount of privacy.

(Mr Smith) I would agree a hundred percent with you, but you do have in your Constitutions, particularly not to let your family and friends know the concerns of the lodge.

And you feel this is unfairly excluding the family?

(Mr Smith) Very much so.

From part of the business of being a family and being together. Commander?

(H) Well the Ancient Charges are as they say, ancient, and if you go on in that particular ancient charge you find the nice advice which does support the family, it says you must, 'consult your health by not continuing together too late or too long from home after lodge hours have passed, by avoiding of gluttony or drunkenness that your families be not neglected or injured, nor you disabled from working.' It's a practical rule. In the old days I think people were very much more private than they are now. I think that the ancient charges, while not being ignored, are being looked at in a slightly new light. I'm not saying they're going to be abandoned, because probably you'd destroy Freemasonry if you did. I repeat that you should be allowed to be private about some things even from your family. It doesn't mean you can't tell them, it's just that it doesn't concern them.

Stephen Knight what do you feel about this? Because there are a lot of women, for instance, although we've heard that women can join their own kind of Freemasonry, who feel excluded from their husbands' masonry.

(K) Yes, I've had many letters from wives, many saying that they are in favour of their husbands being Freemasons, that it has done a lot for them, and about an equal number saying that it is damaging to the marriage because they simply will not discuss where they've gone or what they've done. I think Commander Higham here has an opportunity to tell a lot of masons that Freemasonry doesn't require them not to tell their wives where they're going in the evening, if that's true, and I think it is.

(H) Indeed, we've just done it. In fact the first, it was the thin end of the wedge you might think when Freemasonry started making a noise, was a letter to the papers pointing out that a Freemason was not obliged by his obligations to conceal his membership and the people who wrote in to thank me for that were mostly wives.

But you think a lot of their husbands actually rather enjoyed the secretive nature of not saying where they were going in the evening?

(H) Well, I think with great respect to those husbands, they've got it wrong. They're taking Freemasonry out of the family when it's actually meant to be a sort of extension of it.


Mr Smith does that answer your question?

(Mr Smith) Yes, to a certain extent on that one. But there was this point about the advancement in business, that you wouldn't put up notices so as people wouldn't know, but we, I think the majority of people know there's words which will be said, not as a whole, etcetera, but then when we come down to the Ancient Charges again on six, it says quite clearly, 'only to prefer a poor brother that is a good man, and true before any other poor people in the same circumstances.'

Preferment for brother masons in other words against others. That's correct.


(H) Now we really are getting into history. You go back into history, the Freemasons grew from operative masons, they were the people who built castles, churches, they were 'free' of the mystery of operative stonework, they had learnt their trade, and they preserved the secrets of their trade for very good reasons, that if they gave them out to everybody their jobs would go, in a way you could say Freemasonry was one of the first trades unions.

But this is still in the book of rules?

(H) It's still in the book of the rules. And the explanation for this is that in the old days if somebody came as a Freemason to a masons' lodge he would be given a day's work and sent on his way. If he wasn't a mason he probably wouldn't be helped, it was a self help society in those days. Now it`s changed, and what I explained in the past is definitely the rule today.

So in other words it's a rule that we should interpret differently today?

(H) Yes, the interpretation is different.

.... continued in part 4