[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: November 1997

From: "Dan Cutler" <perkydan@nextdim.com>
To: <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Joseph Smith
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 04:12:57 -0800

I am sure the topic is worn to tatters, but I still want to know. I am studying the history of Joseph Smith. He was a Mason. From what I gather, he reached a high degree of recognition and certification in a very short period of time. I am tired of half-hearted attempts to explain the issue. I enjoyed your web-page about Masonry. I agree wholeheartedly with the reverence held for truth in Mason societies. It is truth I seek. What I desire is to know two things:

  1. 1. The story of Joseph Smith and Masonry from Mason-perspective.
  2. 2. A general explanation of the degrees of certification; i.e. how many, why, significance, etc. I understand fully the importance of holding your signs, and other recognition forms private, thus I don't ask for unecessary detail; but a brief overview would sure be nice.

Thank you for your time and I will await an answer...


ps. If you do not wish to publish it on the Net, I would still appreciate a note in my e-mail box. Thanks.

To: "Dan Cutler" <perkydan@nextdim.com>
Subject: Re: Joseph Smith 
In-reply-to: Your message of "Tue, 18 Nov 1997 04:12:57 PST."

Dear Mr. Cutler,

Sorry, I just don't have the time or background to answer you. I'd suggest putting in a Request for Correspondence at my guestbook: it'll get posted in both the regular guestbook and the request page.

Here's some info tho': Masonry has 3 degrees in the lodge ("craft lodge" or "blue lodge") -- 1st or "Entered Apprentice", 2nd or "Fellow Craft", and 3rd or "Master Mason". After that, a Mason is eligible to join other "side bodies" and adoptive rites that offer a variety of named or numbered degrees. In the US, two branches of Masonry have formed that have collected many of the side degrees under their umbrellas: York Rite and Scottish Rite.

I have no idea what degrees Joseph Smith received in regular or otherwise lodges.

Smith made many claims about the "high degrees" he had reached in Masonry, including some that could be improbable at best. Smith in one case describes visiting a lodge in which he "worked right ahead" of all the brethren, that is, worked "higher degrees" than they knew about. This sounds impressive but is impossible and makes no actual sense.

I am sure that if you contact Masonic libraries and CJC LDS sources you will find a variety of conflicting descriptions.

Masonry may be a big topic of focus and interest for LDS research or members, but the converse is not true: most Masons know little about and have little interest in the LDS and its brief intersection with the Craft. You'll have to find a specialist or some books on the subject to find out "the story of Joseph Smith and Masonry from a Mason-perspective".

If you end up writing up the result of your researches, I would be glad to post it at my web-site.

Good luck,

| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge, Winthrop, MA (2nd Mon)
| P.O.Box 505, Cambridge, MA 02142| & Mt. Scopus Lodge, Malden, MA (4th Wed)
| ofc: 617.253-0184 fax: 253-8665 | Brotherhood of the Blue Forget-Me-Not
| http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/  | Int'l Guild Masonic Webm@sters, Pres. MA
|      "...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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