[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: December 2004

Message-ID: <BAY7-DAV37263836E8BBB6B3BDA7EAF5AE0@phx.gbl>
From: "mary nolen" <beachie_blonde@msn.com>
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: Masonry Question
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 2004 09:32:05 -0800

Good Morning,

My father who was a Mason, and has now passed away was very involved in your organization, and would never reveal any of the Masons' secrets.

I have just finished reading the Da Vinci Code, and it mentioned the Masons a few times. I'm curious, what did or does the Masons have to do with any of this?

We do have quite a bit of paper work, the Masonic Bible and other writings by the Masons of my fathers, but out of respect, and remembering that Dad always said that if he divulged any information about the Masons, he'd have to "kill us". We realized that he wasn't serious, or at least we hoped not, so we have not read the bible, or his papers. We wouldn't understand the information anyway I'm sure. So any information that you could give me or send me would be better as I'm so not computer savvy would be great. And it would help to understand my father's devotion to your group.

Thank you

Mary Nolen
2602 Westridge Ave X-304
Tacoma, Wa. 98466

From: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
Message-Id: <200412190621.iBJ6LN5K021135@grumpy-fuzzball.mit.edu>
To: "mary nolen" <beachie_blonde@msn.com>
Subject: Re: Masonry Question
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 01:21:23 -0500
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 16 Dec 2004 09:32:05 PST."

Dear Ms Nolen,

First of all, I hope you know that your father was not (or should not have been) serious about "killing" anybody. The expression "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" is popular, so I have to think your dad was making a (bad) joke. There is not and never was anything at all in Masonry about the members having to kill anyone. In fact, every promise, obligation, agreement a Mason makes in his lodge includes the proviso "without injury to myself or family" -- a Mason knows he shouldn't even miss an important family occasion for a lodge meeting, let alone harm a family member.

There really are a lot of things your dad could have told you about Masonry, and it's a shame so many Masons think that it's all secret, when really there is so very little that Masons promise to keep private.

Now with that out of the way, the first thing I'm going to tell you to do is to go right ahead and look through that Masonic bible. A Masonic bible is an ordinary bible with some added features that make it a nice presentation gift to a Mason. It's typically given to a candidate after his third degree, when he's been "raised" to the degree of Master Mason. It's usually the King James Version, with some special introductory material about Masonry and maybe some illustrations of Solomon's Temple in ancient Jerusalem, and perhaps a "square and compasses" embossed on the cover or spine. There might also be a signature page at the front of the bible, signed by the lodge members and other Masonic guests who were at the meeting where it was presented. Now that he's gone, it would make a nice family memento of him, now and for future generations.

I can't tell from your letter what those other "papers" might be. They might just be old lodge notices (meeting announcements and newsletters), though there could be more significant things: his Masonic "diploma", or award certificates, or other memorabilia that you might be interested to know about. If you can't understand what you're looking at, what the items are, you could contact your dad's lodge if it's not too far away, or a lodge in your area, and ask them to have someone meet you to look over the papers with you. Or if you write to describe them to me, I can help you figure out what they are.

Finally, about The DaVinci Code -- it's a fun book, but there's a reason it's on the "Fiction" shelves. The author mixes a very small amount of fact with a lot of speculation and outright nonsense. If you want to know more about what Masonry really is and what Masons do, I hope you'll go back to my web-site. You could start with the Essays section at http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/Essays/ where the whole first section is "What is Freemasonry?"

I hope that helps. Please take advantage of all the material posted at my web-site to learn more about the fraternity that obviously meant so much to your father. And if you have further questions, please write and ask.

best wishes,

| 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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