[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: September 2002

Message-ID: <000a01c25898$aec1b980$bf453942@nc.rr.com>
From: "karen watson" <ksquare4@nc.rr.com>
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: I just want to know
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 00:07:10 -0700

Dear Sirs,

My grandfather died recently. He was such a wonderful, God-loving man. I know that his children (40-60 yrs) loved him dearly...

I remember him as a loving, caring provider of our family. A patriarch. A church going man whose funeral was attended by his entire community of Selmer, Tennessee. I loved him dearly.

Besides the fireworks he always put on for us grandchildren on the 4th of July, and the summers of fun we spent with him, playing and going to church, what I remember he held so dear was his Masonic Brotherhood. I remember being curious about it from the time I was 6. I used to ask him about it and all he ever said was that it was Christian and that he was proud. As I got older I really tried to probe as to what it was because anything secretive held a special interest to me. I never did figure it out.

My granddaddy was such a good man. He was so respected by his chuch and community. I still don't understand the secret. I know he wore his ring so proudly until he died, and I know my oldest uncle inherited it. I know he was proud. I just don't understand why the tenets of the organization are so secretive. I've been in a sorority and I understand pledges, but I don't really understand the basic philosophy of Masonry.

Anyone who could help explain Granddaddy's beliefs to me is so welcomed to respond. He was such a moralistic man and I loved him so dearly and I sort of feel like I don't really know all there is to know about him.

Also, my grandmother was a "Sister of the Eastern Star" and she was my favorite person in the world. All she ever said about that when I asked was that it was "Like the Masons".

Thanks to anyone who can give me any personal information about George & Willabe Stewart, or their relationship to the Masons. I loved them so dearly and have been so curious about their associations since I was a young child.

Karen Watson

To: "karen watson" <ksquare4@nc.rr.com>
Subject: Re: I just want to know
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Tue, 10 Sep 2002 00:07:10 PDT."

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your grandfather, and I'm sure he would want you to understand that Masonry is not secretive, but is proud of its teachings and ideals. That's why I set up my web-site, so people could see what we're about.

If you look around the web-site, you'll certainly find explanations of what we're about, but I'll try to put it "in a nutshell" for you.

Freemasonry (or "Masonry") is a fraternal society that teaches its members to live as much as they can in the virtues of Friendship, Morality, Brotherly Love, Relief of the Distressed, and Truth. Everything else we do follows from that.

Freemasonry takes its forms and ceremonies from the stone-masons guilds of the Middle Ages, when masons were the premiere artists and architects of their age, expressing the world-view of their time in monumental cathedrals of stone and light. In those days, the work was harder and more dangerous than we can easily imagine today, and the masons learned to look after each other as brothers, and to take care of the families of their brothers who had been injured or killed in the work. Those workers (nearly always men of course in those days) knew that they had to work in harmony one with another, and that each man's work had to be true and perfect if the building was to stand and survive. All of these life experiences formed their beliefs about the world and how the should live with each other.

In those days, there were no union ID cards or faxes or long-distance phone-calls. If a man showed up at a work-site and claimed to be a trained mason, the supervisors would have to test him on his knowledge of both the practical aspects of the work, and of the various technical terms and inside knowledge that only a properly trained mason would know. These days, we have certain "signs and tokens" which represent that ancient way of "proving" a true mason, and those are our only "secrets".

Into that ancient strand of tradition, and its traditional teaching ceremonies, came the ideals of the era called Enlightenment (1600s and 1700s) when many people began to value especially the virtues of freedom of thought and conscience, that each person had a right to their own religious and political beliefs. This was the era that produced such amazing and important social documents as...

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with cetain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

...which I hope you recognize. It was men of that stripe who founded the modern fraternity of Freemasonry -- which officially began in 1717 in London England.

Masonry teaches that Humanity were created (by whatever process of coming into being that an individual Mason may believe) by a Benevolent Supreme Being from Whom we receive the ability to perceive Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Order, and all the other attributes necessary to progress along every artistic, scientific, creative, and moral path. Masonry teaches that we have those abilities, and that it is our responsibility to excercise them for the good of our human family and the world.

There are those who hate Masonry because it mentions God and our obligations to God, but does not insist on forcing any one set of prayers or religious customs on all its members. That is an old and unfortunate argument, and it will probably continue for many years to come.

That is what Masonry teaches. I hope that will be helpful to you.

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA (PM)
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA (PM)
| w: 617.253-0184 f: 617.258-6875 | Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, MIT, MA
|  "A Page About Freemasonry"     | Internet Lodge #9659, E. Lancs UGLE   
|  http://mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/ | 32~; MPS; B'hood o/t Blue Forget-Me-Not 
|                                 | RWG Rep.GL Russia near GL Massachusetts 
| "...one sacred band, or society of Friends and Brothers, among
|  whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."

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