The Builder Magazine
October 1927 - Volume XIII -
Reason and Religion
THEODOR G. MASARYK Translated from the German by BRO. JACOB RUEHL, CHICAGO
article was written about twenty years ago and was later translated from
Bohemian into German and published in Freier- Gedanke, a Liberal periodical.
One of the foremost Germanic Masonic magazines, "Die Drei Ringe," recently
reprinted it. So far as we know it has never before been made available to
English readers. It will not be necessary to recall that Bohemia was, and is,
a Roman Catholic country, yet one in which the martyr John Huss remains a
great memory. These facts, however, must be borne in mind for the full
appreciation of what the President of the Czecho-Slovakian Republic had to say
long before his people dreamed of their present independence. The article has
been somewhat abridged in places.
any man with average intelligence the fact that Rome is losing power must
impress itself. I remember in 1870 when I was a student, the effect the
occupation of Rome by he National Italian forces had upon many, and especially
upon the more thoughtful of the younger generation. This occurred at the
moment when Pope Pius IX declared himself infallible. I was at that time
beginning to have doubts as to the Catholic faith, and I remember how the fact
affected me that nobody in Europe intervened against the Italians; not a hand
and not a sword was moved, only the Swiss mercenaries of the Pope, for pay,
and pro forma, defended a Rome deserted by the Catholic world. The
ecclesiastics looked for a Crusade against victor Emmanuel, but Europe,
Catholic Europe, remained indifferent. The capital of the Papal states, Rome,
spoke with 153,000 votes for annexation to Italy; for an independent
Pontifical state only 1507 votes were cast.
July 13 of the same year the new dogma was accepted. The Pope became the
absolute ruler of the Catholic world. Simultaneously the protector of the
Pope, Napoleon III, head of "Most Christian" France, made preparations for
combat against the Protestant "barbarians," the Germans. Blow after blow fell.
The world was astonished by the German victories, that beginning in August,
ended within a month with the capture of Napoleon. I cannot say how I, as a
Catholic, suffered at that time.
Peace Conference at the Hague in 1899, the intelligent Catholic read in the
papers that the Pope demanded a seat but that Italy protested against it-- and
the Pope was not invited. The theologians cannot realize how such a short
telegram affected the Catholic reader. Almost unobserved it began to dawn upon
the minds of such that Rome was without authority. In the same way the reader
followed day by day in the press how the people of a Catholic country, the
French, broke away from Rome. He saw that throughout the world the sympathies
of progressive and decent men were on the side of the French, he saw that Rome
had no argument for its demands but outworn custom and habit, and so he began
to wonder why this Church should cling to a temporal state, what need had a
church of temporal power, he thought of Jesus--and the result of his thinking
was against Rome, and against the Church.
this fight between Church and state [the reference is to the conclusion of the
Concordat and the expulsion of the Monastic orders from France. Tr.] the
intelligent man recalls the whole history of the French Church, of the rise of
Gallicanism, of the demand for a National Church. He remembers how the first
Napoleon cynically used the Papacy and the Church for his schemes of conquest
and political domination. And then how his downfall buried French Catholicism
which had existed in dependence on the Concordat between the Emperor and the
Church. He sees how the French Republic in its fight for democracy and
political liberty found its arch- enemy in Rome and the Church, and as a
result of all this he is gradually convinced that the Roman Church is
incompatible with political and social liberty. The conviction is confirmed by
the news that comes daily, the meaning of which gradually makes itself clear.
No argument, no treatise, only brief items of news by telegraph or telephone,
undermine his belief and destroy his habit of submission to the Church.
Theology is not based on experience and free critical examination. It is based
on an authority which claims its qualifications and privileges from direct
revelation --the conserver of which it is. Science is based on experiment and
reason. These facts cause the differences between science and theology, and
naturally, as I am convinced, a conflict that is irreconcilable.
ERRORS OF THE CHURCH
opposition between theology and the modern standpoint, Rome by means of the
Index, and in our own time by the Syllabus, has practically stereotyped into a
formal code. In regard to the Index I have proved in my Lecture on Science and
Religion [in the Almanach for Students, 1906] that it rejects all thinkers of
modern times, philosophical and historical authors, poets, novelists, and of
course all theological writers who have made even the most modest attempt to
progress beyond the mediaeval standpoint. In short, the Index represents the
old and impossible world.
natural that the Church should have this agency of the Index, but it is
characteristic how it is worked. Such an institution should have academic
direction, it should make critical selection and well elaborated judgments. In
actual fact it is unsystematic, incomplete and uncritical. The Index proves
that individual authors were condemned for personal reasons. The machinery is
that of a crude, unintelligent Inquisition with the spirit of a tyrannical
police department. It is characteristic of the Catholicism of our time that
Leo XIII, the philosopher, issued the Index himself, and by his constitution
in 1897 acknowledged the ecclesiastical censorship in harmony with the old
rules arranged for the new Church. The Church teaches that it is the duty of
bishops to censor, each in his diocese, all books and school affairs; and thus
in the Austrian Concordat between the Government and Rome might be read
bishops have all liberty to censor books dangerous to religion and the Church.
The government, too, must use every means to limit the circulation of such
in hand with the Index goes the Syllabus of 1864, that horrible formula of
eighty paragraphs by which all modern civilization is condemned; anathema sit,
let it be accursed, is the continuous burden of this manifestation of
obscurantism and exclusiveness, of intellectual egoism and lust of power. Some
theologians have tried to weaken the impression made by the Syllabus, by
asserting that it does not represent an absolute rule, that though of course
an official manifesto it has not the whole authority of the Church. This is
only evasion and excuse which confirms our standpoint. We men of intelligence
see how Rome suppresses its best minds. As soon as any reform tendency shows
itself, as not long ago the so-called Reform-Catholicism, its leading
representatives are put on the Index and a large number of men of distinction
find themselves unintentionally in conflict with Rome.
Rome is incapable of working scientifically we have continuous evidence. The
educated man can read how often she has erred. The intelligent Czecho-Slovakian
finds in the history of his own country how the Council of Constance condemned
opinions of John Huss that he never held. The intelligent reader finds this
unscrupulousness continually repeated. For instance, Hermes, a liberal
theologian of the 19th century, was condemned for having advanced theses he
never uttered. His disciples asserted positively that they condemned these
opinions but that Hermes never taught them.
has a classical example of these unscrupulous methods and the credulity of the
Roman Church in the beatification of John of Nepomuk. Evasions here are of no
service; Rome made a mistake. The general opinion was that there were two
Johns, and that one of them was beatified; but he never really existed. The
Grand-Vicar of Pomuk could not have been sanctified for he was everything else
but a decent respectable man, and very far from being a saint. In W. W.
Tomuk's History of the city of Prague he says:
not agree either with the older or the modern writers who acknowledge the
Grand Vicar John von Pomuk as a Saint and take him for Saint John of Nepomuk,
for the simple reason that the beatification of John Nepomuk by the Holy See
was not intended for him but for someone else.
did not have sufficient courage or historical conscientiousness to state the
real truth that there was no such person as this second John in the history of
Bohemia. But we are satisfied, he exposed the error made by the Church.
ORIGIN OF INFALLIBILITY AND THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
intelligent man reads how the new dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope
originated. I remember very well (I was at that time in the sixth class of the
Gymnasium) how I used to read in the papers the news about the Council at the
Vatican, and how these reports excited me. I came to the conclusion that the
Council was nothing but a Parliament with a minority and majority and other
divisions. I became aware of the fact that the best and most outstanding
ecclesiastics and theologians were against the new dogma. I read of Cardinal
Schwarzenberg, of Bishop Strossmeyer, of Doellinger and others, and I was
informed how, by the intrigues of the Jesuits, the resistance of the minority
was subdued, how the theologically untrained Pope depended upon the majority
of theological analphabets [illiterates], Asiatic dignitaries and others of
the same caliber to decide for the new dogma--the dogma which was published to
the Catholic world as a revelation. At that time, still only a young man, I
was not able to judge the matter objectively, and did not see how the whole
affair was connected with the evolution of Catholicism. But I could see this
much from the daily papers that the determination of this dogma was reached in
a most improper way. Today of course I know that it had previously had its
supporters, especially among the Jesuits; but that its proclamation was the
acme of Papal absolutism I did not realize, an absolutism utterly contrary to
the true conception of the Catholic Church.
Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary stands upon the same
grounds. According to the New Testament, Mary was the wife of Joseph and gave
birth to other children besides her first born, Jesus. Of these there are four
mentioned in the Bible as his brothers. St. Paul, the real founder of the
Church, states in several places that all men since Adam are sinful, that
Christ only is without sin.
Following the apotheosis of Jesus came that of his mother, and, by some, even
of his father. Especially was the virginity of Mary exalted by the monks, and
from this came, by logical development, the belief in her immaculate
conception [that she, too, was born without sin]. In the East the common
people developed an intense veneration of Mary as the Mother of God. At the
beginning of the eleventh century the paying of religious worship to the
virgin came into vogue. This cult played a fatal role against the Reformation
in Bohemia. The Jesuits used it as an effective means to Catholicize the
country. Through the history of this dogma we can see how the Catholic
doctrine has developed by quite human conceptions only.
early as the fourth century the layman Helvidius published a letter in which
he denied the perpetual virginity of Mary. He referred to the passages in
Scripture which mention the brothers of the Lord. Against him Hieronymus
(circa 384) wrote a defense of the doctrine, based on the sophistries and
evasions which are yet offered by theologians. St. Augustin, in his defense of
the perpetual virginity of Mary, admitted that it could not be said absolutely
that she was without sin. After him no definite decision was made by the
Church. Indeed one great teacher, St. Anselm (1109), taught definitely that
Mary was like all mankind.
twelfth century the vogue of the worship of the virgin Mary came to England
from the Orient, as to France and other countries. At that time some
theologians began to advance the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Other
prominent teachers rejected these new opinions, in especial St. Bernard, "the
last Father of the Church." Alexander of Hales was another, also Albertus
Magnus, St. Bonaventura, and among them must not be forgotten St. Thomas
Aquinas, whose system of philosophy has been officially adopted by the Church.
Duns Scotus, the great opponent of St. Thomas, took the contrary view in this
matter [in favor of the new doctrine].
meantime, "Celebrations of the Conception," as they were then called, had
become fashionable. Miracles of all kinds took place. St. Brigit had a vision
in which the virgin appeared and informed her that her Conception had been
without sin. Unfortunately the great mystic, St. Catherine of Sienna, also had
a vision in which the same virgin revealed to her that this was not the case.
The differences of opinion rose to a very high pitch and brought confusion
into the Church. The Council of Bale decided in favor of the Immaculate
Conception, but at the same time contrary opinions were published. The Council
of Trent was very careful in its decision, under the guidance of the wise Pope
Sixtus, who prohibited the teaching of new dogmas, though he was favorable to
the observance of the Festival of the Conception. Theologians continued the
dispute in their Latin treatises, but the Church favored among the common
people the cult of the Virginity. After the Council of Trent the Jesuits
joined with the Franciscans to propagate and support both the new cult and the
dogma. Alphonse Liguori stated that the prayers of Mary were direct commands
and so powerful that they could be heard in hell. He relates how a Franciscan
monk saw in a vision the heavens opened and two ladders leading up to it, one
red, the other white. At the top of the red one stood Christ, on the white one
stood the virgin Mary. People who tried to climb up the red ladder fell down
continually till a voice admonished them to climb the white ladder. To them
Mary reached out her hand and without difficulty they crawled into Paradise.
Pius IX endorsed the opinion of Liguori; in the encyclopedia of 1849 he said:
salvation rests in the virgin Mary if there is for us any hope, any spiritual
salvation, we obtain them from her.
be seen that the Catholic Trinity thus became a quadruple Deity, and in this
union of four persons the Queen of Heaven has superior rank. Pius IX asked the
bishops for their opinion in this new dogma. Many warned him against it, among
them Cardinal Schwarzenberg, but the committee to which the controversy was
referred sided with the Jesuits.
decision of this committee is of importance not only to laymen but to
theologians also. The Jesuits proclaimed the maxim, never before heard of,
that the Church needs no proof from Scripture to support its dogmas, the
traditions were sufficient. Concerning these traditions it was also
established that it was not necessary that they should reach back to the time
of the Apostles. In conformity with these new rules the new dogma was
from the history of this doctrine that it is in conflict with the Bible. Not
only is it contrary to the words of the Apostles and the evangelists, but also
to the recorded utterances of Jesus himself, who repeatedly mentions his
family. The dogma is inconsistent also with the teachings of the Apostolic and
later Fathers of the Church, and of its greatest doctors and teachers also. It
represents merely the crystallization of popular custom and belief, without
any warrant in Scripture. Thus it was through necessity that the Jesuits
devised their new rule that dogma could be founded upon tradition alone. Thus
it must be noted well that the authority of tradition becomes greater than
that of the Bible, the divine revelation.
clear to all thinking men that incorrect principles will lead to incorrect
conclusions. The divinity of a human being born of a woman leads logically to
the divinity of that woman herself. And that again to the divinity of her
parents, and so on indefinitely. The critical history of these doctrines kills
every revealed dogma. This pertains to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception,
and also to that of the Infallibility of the Pope.
bear in mind that these dogmas are supposed to be a revelation from God,
though history gives us plain evidence they were derived from the impulses and
the folly of masses of men during centuries, and their development can be
traced during the course of time. It is not my intention to analyze such
theoretical problems, but an example will be instructive.
show to what absurdities this new dogma must lead, in the year 1903 the
Redemptorist monk, George Freund of Munster, published a sermon on the
Veneration of Mary. In it we read:
while yet unborn in the womb of her mother, St. Anna, had the full use of her
understanding and reason. We are bound to believe that she knew more, before
she was born, of God and the hereafter, the meaning of the world and the end
of mankind than all the greatest men of science can ever know by thinking, by
study or by prayer.
things are dumbfounding, but they are interesting, too. In Catholicism the old
saying of Tertullian is constantly reiterated and acted upon, credo quia
absurdum est, I believe because it is impossible.
CATIIOLICISM AND SUPERSTITION
that has been said leads us to consider the relationship of Catholicism to
superstition. Catholicism does not hesitate to use the crudest forms of
superstition for its own benefit. Some theologians from time to time oppose
this exploitation of ignorance, but in Rome, from the Pope down to the simple
priest, superstition is the characteristic of the Vatican. Of this I shall
quote some examples. One characteristic superstition concerns Freemasonry.
Personal experience has brought it home. The Roman Catholic press has again
and again published statements that I am a Freemason in spite of my assertion
that I am not (1). It is not my purpose to accuse this press of deliberate
falsehood, the interesting point is that the rulers of the Church cannot
account for my activity, and that of other leading Catholics who are in
conflict with Rome, than by imagining that this opposition on our part is
inspired, supported and paid for by a powerful secret Order of Freemasons.
Rome is constantly warring against Freemasonry. Roman Catholic literature
depicts the Order as a hideous organization which ultimately is derived
directly from the Devil, and that therefore its sole object is to fight
against God. The Papacy and the Jesuits see in Freemasonry the founders of
united Italy, and for that reason they will never cease to make war upon it.
The Jesuits are continually "discovering" ostensible and abhorrent intrigues
on the part of Freemasons in order to gain reactionary rulers and statesmen to
their side. The history of Freemasonry is today accessible to everyone who
wishes to be informed upon the subject. I, myself, have written an article
about it in Nase Doba [a Czech periodical] because I saw that the continuous
clerical anti-Masonic propaganda was liable to mislead even the liberal
close connection with these superstitions about Masonry comes that concerning
Ritual murder. I have investigated the case of Hilsner; readers may find in
the work by Hermann L. Stark, Blood; In the Faith and Superstition of Mankind,
the origin of this myth, and how it is kept alive (even in spite of the
protests of some of the more liberal Popes) by the clerics of today. In
Bohemia the Catholic papers, with the lead of Bishop Brynych, still supports
belief in it, and the number of followers he finds is evidence of how deeply
it is rooted in the minds of the people (2).
Freie Wort of Frankfurt published some years ago the news of the discovery in
the Lateran at Rome of two very curious relics, namely the Praeputium and the
Umbilicus of Jesus. Some Catholic papers protested against it and tried to
discount the report. This gave rise to a controversy in which it came out that
these relics were venerated in other Italian cities, and in places outside of
Italy, even at the present time.
course there are other relics that draw attention. In the Lateran are
venerated the Ark of the Covenant, the Seven Branched Candlesticks of the
Temple of Jerusalem, the Rods of Aaron and Moses, the Tables of stone engraved
with the Ten Commandments, parts of the Manger which served Jesus as a cradle,
fragments of the five loaves and two small fishes with which he fed the
multitude, the towel with which he wiped the feet of his disciples, his
garments without seam, his scarlet robe, two small phials containing the blood
and water that came out of his side when pierced by the centurion's spear.
Some of the blood of John the Baptist and his leather girdle, and so forth. In
other places is shown the milk from the breasts of the virgin Mary. In the
Papal chapel are shown the sandals of Jesus, two bones of John the Baptist,
the bread of the Last Supper, a piece of the stone upon which Jesus sat when
he was baptized, and more of the same kind.
up we find in these instances sufficient evidence that the Catholic Church
favors and fosters superstition, that it retains customs and beliefs that will
not bear critical examination. In all these cases it is obvious that we have
nothing but pure superstition. But in spite of it, theologians, and not only
theologians but the highest ecclesiastical authorities, and the Pope himself,
uphold such superstition and propagate it. This system can never be harmonized
with science and scientific philosophy. Here we have two worlds standing one
over against the other, not only different in respect to intelligence but also
OBJECTIONS TO CATHOLICISM
main objections against Catholicism indeed are not intellectual. My doubts
sprang from ethical considerations. From a consideration of the inefficiency
of the system from a philosophical standpoint, I began to realize the Catholic
distinction between piety and morality. I saw that those called atheists were
better men, sometimes much better men, than the Catholic theists. I saw, as I
can see now, that the Catholic Church uses as her advocates and apologists
morally inferior and degraded men. Wherever there is a politician or a lawyer,
or a savant, who has been ostracized from his profession, the clerics made use
of him. Such cases stare us in the face here in Bohemia. Any observant person
can convince himself that the official Church of today not only refuses to
lead but actively resists all progress in social matters. The community is not
being guided by ecclesiastics but by laymen. It is laymen who are organizing
the campaign against alcoholism and prostitution; laymen are the leaders in
political affairs and social service, while the official Church supports all
the old abuses and is on the side of everything reactionary. The Church bows
before the powers of the world, and Catholicism becomes more and more merely
average man today sets morality higher than orthodoxy, and the chief thing is
that he does not separate morality from piety. A thing is not sacred to him if
it be immoral. I shall not here venture a complete analysis of the situation,
I will only touch on one concrete aspect of this, the question of sexual
morality. Catholicism borrowed from Judaism and Paganism those religious ideas
that led to a one-sided, unnatural and maimed asceticism. Owing to this
asceticism the Catholic Church holds an utterly wrong and crude idea of woman
and of marriage. Some exceptions are to be found both in the Old Testament and
among the Fathers of the Church who defended marriage and a true ideal of
womanhood, but in the history of the Church we find that unnatural and wrong
opinions gained the upper hand, that celibacy was held to be spiritually
higher than married life. This is a dangerous mistake, married life, too, is
pure, and often purer than celibacy, which is frequently life unmarried but
not a pure life. The morality of celibacy originated in a conception of
masculine superiority which degrades the wife and the mother and the family
below the level of the man--the priest. The celibacy of the priest is claimed
as the very acme of morality--but this conception creates a twofold ethical
standard, an aristocratic or sacredotal morality and a plebeian one. As early
as the letters of St. Paul in the New Testament we find celibacy advised, but
in the beginnings of Christianity celibacy was not an institution. This
developed when the Papacy needed soldiers for its Ecclesia Militans (Church
Militant) and since then the opinion had predominated in the Catholic Church
that marriage is merely a union of the body and a safeguard against
immorality. This view was definitely laid down by Alphonse Liguori. Every
Catholic, who is able to observe life with understanding, can see the
influence of the ethics of celibacy.
special field of Catholic morality is the so-called Pastoral- Medicine. This
furnishes evidence of how far apart religious opinions and motives are from
those of humanity and morality. The Pastoral-Medicine takes especial account
of the unborn child in order to add another soul to the Church in case the
mother is in danger of her life, therefore the baptizing of the unborn child
is approved. Liguori defends this and states that a child can be validly
baptized according to the rites of the Church if the consecrated water can be
brought into contact with the child by means of any instrument. In doing this
the mother's life is sacrificed to save another soul for the Church; while on
the other hand science endeavors to save the mother. Science seeks to save the
mother for her husband, her other children and for society in preference to
the undeveloped infant, the Pastoral-Medicine prefers to gain a new soul even
if it is an embryo. In the year 1895 Rome formally approved of craniotomy
(i.e., the breaking of the infant's skull at childbirth). The brutality of
this Pastoral-Medicine is shown in a case that occurred in Belglum which
became a subject of discussion in the Belglan Parliment in 1903. A pregnant
mother lay at the point of death. The sister of Charity handed to the husband
a butcher knife with which to cut open the woman's abdomen in order to baptize
the child and save it for the Church. The Clerical Deputy Delporte, a
practicing physician, declared to the aroused Parliament, "I do it regularly
for I must save a soul wherever it is possible."
brutality of a defectively founded religion manifests itself in great numbers
of cases, committed, not on unbelieving Mohammedans or Jews, but on Christian
heretics. How heretics were treated we Czechs know only too well. How the
Counter-Reformation under the leadership of the Jesuits converted Hussites,
Bohemian Brothers and Protestants to Catholicism. We know it through the
Inquisition, through the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and other undeniable
defense of the Inquisition and the burning of heretics, amongst them Master
John Huss, the Catholics say they were not executed by the Church, but by the
Civil Government. That this is not true is demonstrated by the Papal states
where heretics were burned. Furthermore, the Church never disapproved of this
penalty. The ecclesiastical fathers knew what would happen to John Huss when
he was condemned by the Council, it is therefore only a quibbling evasion to
make the state responsible for the cruelties of the Inquisition. Besides
Doellinger proved that the Inquisition was chiefly the work of the Popes, and
that the Church, if it again could make use of the stake, would certainly do
so. Some zealots have openly expressed themselves to this effect. Amongst them
the well-known Bishop Hefele, who in the year 1870 said that the Hierarchy did
not lack the will to again establish the stake. In 1895 one could read in the
Latin Roman periodical, Analecta Ecclesiastia, the sentence, "Blessed are ye
well-known journalistic leader of the French Clericals, Venillot, pronounced
the well-known sentence, "We demand of you liberty in the name of your
principles, but we deny you liberty in the name of our own."
is the Catholic Clerical morality and politics.
Die Drei Ringe states positively that Masaryk never joined the Masonic
This refers to the continually recurring stories by which Anti- Semites rouse
the mob to violence, of the Ritual-killing sometimes by crucifixion, of
Christian children by the Jews.
observe that the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, and the Lodges under her
jurisdiction, enforce with great rigidness, the ancient regulation of
requiring that candidates for the second and third degrees have made
themselves proficient to advance. The candidate petitions, and is balloted for
on each degree, being first required to satisfy the Lodge, or a committee,
that he is qualified for advancement – otherwise he is rejected. This is in
conformity to the ancient usages of the Craft. It is not, however, we regret
to say, now very generally observed. It would be better for the Institution if
it were. We should have fewer nominal Masons, and more active Masonry. –
Freemason’s Magazine, February, 1842
Labyrinth and Its Legend
interesting Suggestion has been made in regard to the origin of the idea of
labyrinths. It is known that in primitive fortification the method employed to
strengthen the entrances, naturally the weakest places, was to make the
approach between an inner and outer wall, so that an advancing army would be
exposed to attack on the flank. In a survey of the ancient city Dibon in Moab,
where the famous Moabite stone was discovered, Dr. Duncan MacKenzie discovered
traces of very complex defenses of this kind. There was one opening that led
up a long way between two walls and ended in a cul-de-sac, so that an enemy
attacking there would be trapped. Close by was another opening which led up a
similar lane between two walls inside the first one that was apparently a true
entrance. In discussing this he points out that defenses of the same kind
existed in other ancient Mediterranean cities, as at Mycenal and Tiryns. But
the same plan is found elsewhere, in a very elaborate form, for example, in
the fortress ruins of Zimbabwe in Rhodesia, which are possibly of Semitic
origin. The same kind of defense is also found in the larger pre-historic
earth-work forts, and in the ruined cities of South America. In all such
examples of fortification it is noticeable that the direction of the entrance
always necessitates turning to the left, which made it difficult for attackers
armed with spear and shield to protect themselves. It would be too dogmatic to
say that such an idea had no effect on the labyrinth tradition, and where
origins are shrouded in obscurity one guess may be as good as another. But
though the prehistoric city of Ilium, the siege of which was sung by Homer,
was very possibly defended by labyrinthine walls, it is but slight evidence
that its fall should have come to be celebrated in maze dances not only in
countries about the Aegean Sea, but also all over the rest of Europe. Knossos
had no walls at all so this could have had no effect in developing the Cretan
the maze was not only a fashionable decoration of the houses of the rich under
Imperial Rome, but survived long after is eyond doubt. In the Latin countries
it became closely associated with Church architecture; why, it is difficult to
say, unless it is another case of pagan ritual being adopted and adapted by
the Church. Very often the goal was called Jerusalem, so that walking along
the various turns to the center was undertaking a mimic pilgrimage. There is
no proof that this was ever seriously done as a substitute for a real journey
in fulfillment of an awkward vow, or a too severe penance, though it may have
been. Probably the theory is a guess based on the fact that some mazes did
have the name Jerusalem marked in the center. In other cases, as at Amiens,
portraits of the bishop who built the cathedral and the three master masons
who did the work occupy the center space. In Rheis Cathedral there was a very
elaborate labyrinth (1) drawing of which is reproduced at Fig. 3. This is of
special interest, for though the five figures in the octagonal spaces are
seemingly in clerical garb, three are holding Masonic instruments. One has a
large square, one is drawing a circle with a pair of compasses, the third
holds a pair of compasses and seems to contemplate a geometrical figure, a
triangle, base up, from one end of which three radiating lines have been
British Isles and Scandinavia the remaining labyrinths are almost all either
turf cut mazes, or marked out with stones. So much did they enter into the
life of the people that the Norsemen made them in Iceland, where curiously
they are called Volundrhaus, Weland's House. Weland or Wayland Smith, as he is
named in English legend, is the northern counterpart of Daedalus, and this is
course it is hard to prove the age of a turf cut or rock marked maze. They may
be ages old or only a few years. Some in England seem to have been made within
a hundred years or so, others have been remade. Fig. 4 gives a view of one in
Rutland, of unknown antiquity. In Figs. 5 and 6 two illustrations are given
from works published in the 17th century. The Runic Cross is from a work by
the Danish antiquary and physician, Olaf Worm, published at Copenhagen in
1643, while the stone labyrinth is from the Atlantika of Olaf Rudbeck which
appeared in 1695. John Aubrey, whose name is well known to students of Masonic
history as the chief witness for Sr Christopher Wren being a member of the
Fraternity, makes many allusions to mazes both old and new, and states in one
place that they were inherited from the Danes, apparently on the authority of
these two Scandinavian writers. Mazes of this same type have also been found
in Finland or Lapland, where, however, they are called by the name Babylon
instead of Troy. This rather makes one wonder if the old folk rhyme now
degraded to the nursery:
many miles to Babylon?
score and ten.
get there by candle-light?
and back again.
anything to do with a maze dance. Mr. A. B. Cook emphasizes one important
fact, and that is that the distribution of the labyrinth corresponds very
closely with that of rude stone monuments, cromlechs, standing stones and
stone circles and avenues (2), and he endorses the conclusion of Dr. Krause
that so far from these primitive countryside labyrinths being imitations of
the Labyrinth of Crete, the latter was but a single representative that had
the fortune to be enshrined in the literature of Greece.
far we see that it is apparently entirely European. It cannot be asserted of
course that there are no labyrinths in Asia. Lack of evidence proves nothing
unless the thing in question has been carefully looked for and no research has
been made in this direction. There are megaIithic monuments in various parts
of Asia, and if the relationship suggested by Mr. Cook holds good some form of
labyrinth might be looked for, too, though perhaps in a modified form. Perhaps
after all the Buddhist Swastika illustrated in the first part of this article
is essentially the same thing. The coin types of Crete have shown development
on two lines, the labyrinth proper and the labyrinthine Swastika.
this apparent absence of the labyrinth in Asia makes it all the more
surprising that it should be found in America. W. H. Matthews in his recent
work on the subject gives a drawing from an unpublished Spanish MS., Fig. 7,
apparently an account of travels in America in the years 1761-1762. It is
stated that the design was scratched in the sand by a Pima Indian who told the
traveler it was the plan of a building. Some twenty years ago Dr. J.W. Tewkes
made inquiries of the Indians if there were any such building known to them.
One old man informed him the figure was used in a child's game called Tcuhiki,
the House of Tcuhu. Tcuhu is the Badger, who with the spider led the first
people up from the underworld. The Badger dug a spiral hole through which they
climbed up into daylight. Probably the Spanish traveler misunderstood what he
was told, and took the "House of the Badger" to be the plan of a building. Dr.
Tewkes was later misled by his statement and inquired for an actual building.
The Casa Grande engraving has presumably been discovered since then.
QUESTION OF ORIGIN IN AMERICA
Matthews suggests that the figure was introduced into South America by the
Spaniards. This is rather a desperate hypothesis, for it is hard to imagine
why the Spaniards should have imported it, and still less why the Indians
should have borrowed it. It might perhaps have been made part of a floor
pattern in some church, as a matter of tradition by imported workmen--but how
did it get to Arizona? It is pretty certain that the Spanish conquistadores
did not amuse themselves in spare moments by making mazes and dancing in them,
they might have done it at home as part of an old local festival, but there
would be no likelihood of their doing in the new world what was only a
survival in the old and the real purpose of which was long forgotten. Had they
guessed its origin it would have been matter for the Inquisition.
how else is the presence of a figure identical in its convolutions with
English turf mazes and Cretan coin designs to be explained in the desert
country of the Southwest? It seems as much a mystery as the elephant heads and
reminiscences of Buddha poses in the ruins of South American civilization. It
is known in a comparatively restricted area, an inland area, too, and so far
as can be discovered nowhere else in America. With all its inherent
improbability the hypothesis of its introduction to the Pima Indians by some
eccentric Spaniard seems the most plausible explanation - if it were not that
the Casa Grande example is apparently older than the advent of the Spaniards.
Could it then have been some stray Norsemen who introduced it a few centuries
earlier? Had there been any such, lost and adopted into Indian tribes one
could believe that they would have been far more likely to have introduced it
than the zealously orthodox Spaniards. Had the figure been dlscovered on or
near the East coast this would have seemed quite possible; but actually it is
in a locality almost as far as possible removed as it could be from any
suppositious contact with Norse or Icelandic influence. Though it always
remains possible that some individual or other came by chance or bad fortune
to peoples and places far removed from his own, the influence of a single man
is not, normally, likely to be perpetuated.
Another possible theory is that it was independently developed. There are
patterns used for decoration and ornament by the Indians of Mexico and Central
America, which the evidence of archeology shows to be of great antiquity, that
are labyrinthine in character. Fig. 8 is from a terra cotta stamp for
impressing a colored design on the body. It fits in with a series showing
spirals or concentric circles, in some cases having a small Greek cross in the
center, that might be explained as conventional representations of the sun.
Some of these show a tendency to become square in outline and then begin to
approach the key pattern, which we already know was in Mediterranean countries
closely connected with the Swastika, which itself was a sun symbol. Fig. 2 is
from Venezuela and shows this key pattern development and it may be compared
with the steatite plaque of early Egyptian work, Fig. 9, which it very
curiously resembles, though the Egyptian form approaches more nearly the
typical labyrinth. The upper part of this design represents in linear outline
two human figures seated with hands joined over some object between them.
shows a copper belt buckle from the Caucasus, with a spiral pattern in the
form of the triskele, which is a three-limbed form of the Swastika. It must be
remembered, too, that the Swastika in many forms appears to have been
generally known and used in ritual ornament by all the American Indians. But
then, even if the Swastika is closely related to both the true labyrinth and
to spiral and key pattern designs, there is the difficulty that the true
labyrinth seems to be intended always as the plan of the path of a ritual
dance or procession to which these other designs are not well adapted; and
further that the possible varieties of true labyrinths are innumerable, as the
later example, Fig. 3, shows. The mosaic labyrinth from Tunis given last month
is another example. It is almost too much to suppose that just this one set of
convolutions should have been separately and independently developed by the
Pimas, or their predecessors who built the Casa Grande.
POSSIBLE ANTIQUITY OF THE MAZE
only remaining hypothesis possible is first to suppose, as Krause, Cook and
Frazer are inclined to do, that this form is of enormous antiquity, that it
was part of the ritual heritage from the earliest pre-historic races of
mankind, and so spread over the world. But then why did it survive only in
Arizona and not elsewhere on the American continent? The theory is possible in
Europe where it has survived everywhere, but fails for Asia, Africa and
America. It seems, therefore, that until fresh evidence is forthcoming that
the problem must remain unsolved.
however the isolated American examples are to be accounted for, and their
interpretation is bound up with their origin, we are in a position to draw
some fairly definite conclusions about the labyrinth in Europe and the
Mediterranean countries. The classic story, in the first place, explicitly
connects the labyrinth with dances of young people, both at Crete and in
Delos. The Etruscan vase is evidence of a processional dance in Italy which is
confirmed by the allusions by Roman authors to a "game of Troy" played or
celebrated by children or youths. We know nothing directly of the purpose of
the church pavement mazes, or the Scandinavian stone labyrinths, but we do
know that in England they were used, again by young people, as a sort of game.
There are many allusions in English literature (3), to treading "quaint mazes
in the wanton green."
Stukely, who was made a Mason just after the organization of the first Grand
Lodge in England (because, as he informs us in his diary, he expected to find
in Freemasonry a survival of the ancient mysteries), devotes a chapter in one
of his books to the subject of mazes, and offers the opinion that they were
ancient British relics, constructed as a running course for the exercise of
Roman soldiers! But he also says that
of antiquity especially of the inferior classes, always speak of 'em with
great pleasure, as if there was something extraordinary in the thing, though
they cannot tell what.
H. Matthews, who cites this, also quotes another recent author (4) who
describes one of these mazes situated in a hollow on the top of a mound known
locally as the Fairies' Hill, and says that when he wrote there were people
still alive who had "trodden it on summer evenings and knelt at the center 'to
hear the fairies singing.'" And a letter is quoted dated 1866 saying that the
writer personally remembered "running the maze in and out" at Alkborough in
company with others, and of the villagers playing May-eve games there "under,"
to use his own words, "an infinite persuasion of something unseen and unknown
cooperating with them."
may have been pure fancy on the part of an old man, yet it does describe that
feeling of "presence" and exaltation that those sensitive to such things often
feel when engaged with others in some joint action, especially those charged
with an emotional content. Such as a solemn church service, an initiation
ceremony, or even a platoon of soldiers ready to "go over."
POSSIBLE EXPLANATION OF THE LEGEND
return to the classical myth and see what can be made of it. It has already
been noted that it is a late and sophisticated story on which ancient editors
and scholars have done their worst to make it consistent and coherent, and
that it is probably composed from more primitive local myths of much simpler
character. The localities expressly mentioned are Crete, Naxos, Delos, Athens
and Troezen. Undoubtedly there were local myths told in each place, that at a
latter time were fitted together. Through this process we get the duplications
of the wondrous sun bull, fire breathing, the consort of the moon, yoked to
the solar chariot, thrown up into the sky, or over the temple of a sun god, by
a young hero who has had attributed to him the labors and adventures of the
sun in passing through the round of the seasons.
the story brings in, and on its face explains, certain springtime festivities,
and the ceremonies of the harvest home when seed was set aside for the next
year's sowing and the tabu removed from the newly garnered crops. Furthermore
there is all through beginnings and endings, the birth of the Minotaur, the
death of the Bull of Marathon, which another story expressly tells us was the
same beast that was the leader of Minos' herd. There is the death of Aegeus
and the advent of Theseus to take his place--as well as the death of the
Minotaur. There is the love story of Ariadne and her desertion at Naxos, in
fact when examined critically it seems to be built up of repetitions of the
age old theme of the rejoicings of the spring time, and the mourning of
autumn, tempered by hope for the new spring to come; all parallel with the
widespread folk customs and rites of "carrying out death," the "harvest doll,"
"crying the neck," and the May Queen and King.
Mummer's play and sword dances of the English folk, though now displaced very
often in their season, was probably descended from a springtime festival and
rites such as those performed by the ancient College of the Arval Brethren at
Rome in the month of May. In the Mummer's play there is often a character
masked as an animal, there is also regularly a fight between two champions,
one of whom is killed and afterward restored to life. If the figure of the
Minotaur was, as Mr. Cook believes, the projection of the chief character in
the sun dance at Knossos, and possibly the son of the King, then his death at
the hands of Theseus can be simply accounted for by supposing the ritual
representation of the death of the old year being combined with the tradition
that originally the leader of the dance had worn a bull mask, a grotesque
detail that the aesthetic taste of the Greeks had eliminated in the later form
of the ritual.
subject is very far indeed from exhausted, but enough has been said to show
that this curious figure found in an ancient Indian ruin in Arizona is linked
up with an ageless ritual "myth" in the old world that has features of marked
significance to Masons interested in the antecedents and origin of the
mysteries of the Craft. "Treading the maze" is closely analogous to
circumambulation, the checks, turns and returns are open to symbolic
interpretation and with it all is the tale of a ritual death in the center -
"the King is dead, long live the King," thus with a slight change might the
newly-raised Master be hailed.
This labyrinth was made in 1240 and was composed of blue marble of different
shades. It was destroyed by the orders of a Canon of the Cathedral in 1779,
who objected to children playing on it while he said Mass.
Thomas Wilson in The Swastika (Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1896)
gives a map (page 905) showing the distribution of this symbol throughout the
world. So far as Europe is concerned the Labyrinth distribution coincides with
that of the Swastika, while Arizona seems to be about the center of its
distribution in America. Should labyrinth forms be discovered in India it
would begin to look as if there were a significant connection between the two
Notably in Shakespeare, as in the Midsummer Night's Dream, Act iii, Sc. 1,
also in King Lear. Spencer also alludes to them in the Faery Queen.
A.H. Allcroft; Earthwork of England.
a Freemason Forget His Initiation?
BRO. ROBERT I. CLEGG, Associate Editor, Illinois
possible that a man could forget? There is a remarkable instance on record
which at least suggests something of the sort. My old friend, Bro. A. M.
Mackay, a Past Master of Lodge St. David of Edinburgh, No. 36, sends me some
notes on the subject which he prepared for the annual festival of St. John in
December. He had during my sojourn in his beautiful city exhibited with very
pardonable pride the several interesting treasures in the archives of his
lodge. Among them were the items prompting the inquiry at the head of this
Arthur, son of viscount Wellesley, and afterwards famous as the Duke of
Wellington, was born in Ireland some time in 1769, the exact date and place
now being undetermined. He is believed to have been initiated in Lodge No.
494, at Trim, County Meath, Ireland, in 1790, where his brother Richard, in
1781, and his father, in 1775, had preceded him in Masonic membership. Of
these and other details there are references of interest and value in the
History of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland by Bros.
John Heron Lepper and Philip Crossle, which may be supplemented to advantage
by the particulars to be found in the Ars Quatuor Coronati, xv, 100;
Miscellanea Latomorum, volume ii, pages 28, 47, 75; Robert F. Gould's History
of Freemasonry, original edition, volume ii, page 254. These several allusions
also contain references to other sources of information but the foregoing are
ample as guides to the readers of this summary of the situation.
Mackay reminds us that there is in possession of Lodge St. David, Edinburgh,
No. 36, a holograph letter of the great Duke of Wellington written four months
prior to his death, which occurred on Sept. 14, 1852. This letter has been
framed with its accompanying envelope, addressed in the same hand to "James
Shand Esq. N24 Royal Circus Edinburgh NB." Attached to the back of the
envelope is a fine impression, in red sealing wax, of the crest of the Duke.
The letter reads:
London, June 14, 1852.
The Duke of Wellington, presents his compliments to Mr. Shand. He has received
his Note and begs leave to inform him that he does not belong to the Society
of Freemasons. James Shand Esq.
holograph of the recipient, Bro. James J. Harvey Shand, an Edinburgh lawyer
and Right Worshipful Master of St. David during the years 1852 and 1853, there
is inscribed at the foot of the letter: Presented to Lodge Edinburgh St.
Davids as a memorial of the inauguration of the Wellington statue by their
affectionate brother James J. H. Shand, R. W. M.
lodge minutes of the period make no reference to this letter, or to the
circumstances under which it was penned by the distinguished Field Marshal,
but the probability is that it was in reply to a communication addressed to
him by Bro. Shand in view of the projected Masonic inauguration of the
equestrian statue erected in his honor at Edinburgh. This took place on the
anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1852, four days subsequent to
the date of the Duke's reply.
interesting to note that the letter quoted was not the only one written by
Wellington disclaiming any knowledge of "the Society of Freemasons." In the
previous year a Bro. J. Walsh had approached the Duke for particulars of his
initiation and was favored with the following reply:
London, October 13, 1851.
The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. Walsh. He has received
his letter of the 7th ult. The Duke has no recollection of having been
admitted a Freemason. He has no knowledge of that association.
Notwithstanding these disclaimers, sufficient evidence exists to show that, at
an early age, the future Field Marshal was initiated into the Craft in a lodge
working at Trim, County Meath, Ireland. Tradition has it that the locale of
the initiation was the family residence at Dangan Castle, but it would appear
that his strenuous career as a soldier precluded the Duke from taking any
active part in Freemasonry. This, in conjunction with the fact that at the
time he penned the foregoing letters he was in his eighty-third year, suggests
that after a period of sixty years the ceremony of his initiation had escaped
Lodge of Trim, of which the Duke and other members of his family were members,
received its charter on May 7, 1772, and was placed No. 494 on the roll of the
Grand Lodge of Ireland. Its existing records, of the eighteenth century,
consist of two manuscript books, denominated respectively the Rule Book and
the Roll Book, the former containing the various by-laws adopted from time to
time and the latter a list of members.
first of the Wesley family to sign the Rule Book was the Duke's father, the
Right Hon. Garrett Wesley, first Earl of Mornington and viscount Wellesley. He
was proposed for initiation on July 4, 1775, and on the 29th of the same month
was raised to the degree of Master Mason. On St. John the Baptist's Day in
June, 1776, Lord Mornington was installed and proclaimed Grand Master of
Ireland. He held that position for one year. His heir, the Hon. Richard Colley
Wesley, second Earl, afterwards Marquess Wellesley, brother of the Duke, was
also initiated in the lodge, probably on July 31, 1781, when his fees were
paid. He also--in the year following his initiation--was installed and
proclaimed head of the Craft in Ireland.
third of the family to sign the Rule Book was "A. Wesley"--the Hon. Arthur
Wesley, afterwards Duke of Wellington, then serving as a Lieutenant in the
12th Light Dragoons, and attached to the Viceregal Court at Dublin as A.D.C.
to the Lord Lieutenant. He was born in April, 1769, and did not use the
surname of Wellesley until about twenty-nine years of age, when his eldest
brother, Lord Mornington, adopted that spelling of the family name. As in the
case of his father and brother, no date is appended to his signature in the
Rule Book, but the corresponding entry in the Treasurer's book shows that the
admittance fee was paid on Dec. 7, 1790, and it may be presumed this was of
his initiation. As already stated, the tradition of the lodge at Trim, which
usually met in the Grand Jury Room there, places the ceremony of initiation at
Dangan Castle, the residency of his brother, Lord Mornington, where the
meetings were held as often as the convenience of the Grand Master or the well
being of the lodge demanded. No. 494 at this period might almost be considered
the family lodge of the Wesleys of Dangan, just as the town of Trim was their
pocket borough. During the month in which he joined the Craft young Wesley was
seeking the suffrages of the electors there, and in this he was successful.
There is no record of his having gone further than the Entered Apprentice
Degree, but he can be traced as a subscribing member of the lodge until 1795,
when he embarked for service in India.
lodge at Trim continued to prosper until the union of Great Britain with
Ireland, in 1800, when the times changed, consequent upon the exodus of the
county magnates and gentry residents in the district from among whom the
candidates for initiation had been principally derived. In 1838 there were
only three surviving members resident in the town, and in that year Grand
Lodge was petitioned in their name to entrust the charter to several brethren
resident in Dublin, well-known members of Lodge No. 2 there, who had
affiliated with No. 494 for the purpose indicated. The Grand Lodge sanctioned
the transfer, and the Dublin Lodge has continued to work to the present day
under the Warrant originally granted to Trim. Following the transference, the
new Secretary, Bro. Edward Carlton, an eminent Dublin attorney, wrote to the
Duke of Wellington asking permission to call the lodge by his Grace's name,
but this was declined.
London, August 13, 1838.
Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. Carlton. He perfectly
recollects that he was admitted to the lower grade of Freemasonry in a Lodge
which was fixed at Trim, in the County of Meath.
never since attended a Lodge of Free Masons. He cannot say that he knows
anything of the Art.
consent to give this Lodge his Name would be a ridiculous assumption of the
reputation of being attached to Free Masonry; in addition to being a
Duke of Wellington hopes, therefore, that Mr. Carlton will excuse the Duke for
declining to comply with his suggestion.
Carlton, Esq., No. 14, Dame street, Dublin.
letter is interesting from the fact that the Duke admits having been admitted
into the Craft. Shortly after his death, further light was thrown upon his
attitude to Freemasonry by his old Peninsular comrade, Field Marshal Viscount
Combermere. The latter, as Provincial Grand Master of Chesire, presiding at a
meeting of that Province at Macclesfield on Oct. 27, 1852, referred to his old
chief's connection with the Order in the following words:
Another year had rolled over and many changes had taken place. Amongst the
foremost to be regretted was the death to the nation of his Commander, the
great Wellington. He had been associated with him since 1793. Perhaps it was
not generally known that he was a Mason; he was made in Ireland and often when
in Spain, where Masonry was prohibited, in conversation with his Lordship, he
regretted repeatedly how sorry he was his military duties had prevented him
taking the active part his feelings dictated; for it was his (the Duke's)
opinion that Masonry was a great and royal art, beneficial to the individual
and to the community.
W. J. Chetwode Crawley, who wrote the article on "The Hon. A. Wesley and the
Lodge at Trim," Ars Quatuor Coronati, xv, in 1902, refers to the above
paragraph quoted by Bro. Mackay. This information, by the way, appeared in the
Freemason's Quarterly Review on Dec. 31, 1852. Dr. Chetwode Crawley's opinion
was that Lord Combermere's recollection of the sentiments he had in 1852
credited the Duke had become faulty after the lapse of nearly fifty years.
there seems good reason to believe that the Duke was initiated and that in
course of time, a great gap of the period from 1790 to 1851, over sixty busy
warring years from the far East in Asia to the near West in Europe, the Iron
Duke forgot the occasion when in a country lodge of his native land the
initiatory ceremony was performed upon him.
Edinburgh, on the far-famed Princes street, there is a bronze equestrian
statue of Wellington. St. David Lodge, with other brethren comprising some
twelve hundred, took part in the unveiling of that monument with Masonic
ceremonies under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. At that time
Bro. Shand was Right Worshipful Master of Lodge St. David and probably it was
because of this enthusiastic occasion that he communicated with the Duke and
this led to the receipt by him of the highly interesting document now in
possession of the brethren of his lodge.
the evidence pertaining to the membership of the Duke of Wellington, and it is
somewhat contradictory, there emerges a suggestion that may with many reach
the force and weight of a moral. Fathers find pleasure in sons becoming
members of the Craft. Our happiness is then all the more substantial when the
son petitions because it is the outcome of a conscientious conviction and not
just a habit in the family. Sons and fathers surely fraternize all the closer
when the search for Masonic light was prompted by the strengthening revelation
of an affectionate living manly model, not just the bare example of
relationship and nothing more.
Somehow there lingers the impression that the Duke in early life joined the
lodge because it was expected of him, the urge being mechanically of the head
rather than the warm impulse of the congenial heart. So, entering casually he
escaped Masonic initiation. Upon the roster might appear his name. But he
doubtless stopped all progress with the payment of his dues. In the work he
had no part. Neither for himself, nor from him to others did initiation
blossom unto education. From him Craft influence failed. Memory waned.
Freemasonry stagnant, became barren. In that direction one may find a cause
for the strange case of the Duke. We fathers have here a lesson. May our sons
indeed become real brothers in the faith Masonic.
BUILDER October, 1927
Brief Discussion of Two Modern Works
BRO. ERNEST E. THIEMEYER, Missouri
SHAKESPEARE'S Macbeth brings to mind the three old hags who hover over the
witches' cauldron, and this picture or some derivative of it illustrates the
general conception of the members of what doubtless was the most sorely
persecuted sect in the Middle Ages. That such a picture is no more than a
creation of the fancy may, or may not, be true, but it is certain that all
witches were not of this kind. In an effort to ascertain the exact status of
the people who were termed witches, their beliefs, acts and deeds, scholars
have written many volumes. A library of witchcraft, if it were possible to
build one, would be of no inconsiderable size. Most of the works dealing with
the subject are either in old English, French or Latin, and consequently are
not available for the general public, which is perhaps just as well. Aside
from this they are very rare and there are not many who are able to obtain the
texts for study. In the past few years, however, there have appeared two books
dealing with the subject which makes it possible for anyone sufficiently
interested to learn something about the witches without depending upon the
popular superstitions and the numerous references found in literature. Miss M.
A. Murray's Witch Cult of Western Europe was published in 1921, and Mr.
Montague Summers' History of Witchcraft and Demonology appeared in the closing
months of 1926. The books are very different in scope as well as in style, and
of the two doubtless Mr. Summers' work is the one which will attract the
attention of the general reader. Its style accounts for this in large measure
because it is more easily readable than the work of Miss Murray. Mr. Summers
professes to be at variance with Miss Murray and for the benefit of the reader
who does not wish to become a student of the subject it will be well to come
to some conclusion regarding the evidence offered by both writers.
quite possible that much of the supposed difference between these two scholars
hinges on the interpretation of the word Devil. Mr. Summers takes for granted
that the word means the personal Devil of Mediaeval theology, while Miss
Murray has another meaning to import. In explaining the organization of the
cult, Miss Murray says:
Cult was organized in as careful a manner as any other religious community;
each district however was independent, and therefore Mather is justified in
saying that the witches "form themselves after the manner of Congregational
Chief or Supreme Head of each district was known to the recorders as the
"Devil." Below him in each district, one or more officers--according to the
size of the district--were appointed by the Chief. ... At the Esbats (local
gatherings) the officer appears to have taken command in the absence of the
Grand Master, at the Sabbaths the officers were merely heads of their own
covens, and were known as Devils or Spirits, though recognized as greatly
inferior to the Chief (1).
Summers has taken the language of the records as literally meaning the
personal Devil above mentioned, and in this he follows those who wrote them.
On the basis of this rendering of the word, Mr. Summers is perhaps entitled to
his conclusions, but it has been shown that the actual meaning of the word was
no more than a title for the Chief of the Coven. In view of the fact that he
is described as appearing at different times to the members of the cult and in
different, though it must be said, similar disguises, and that the records of
the witch trials frequently connect one appearance in a given costume with
another in a different impersonation as though both manifestations were one
and the same person, it may be safely concluded that the Devil to whom the
witches referred was not the ecclesiastical devil, but the head of the cult in
a particular section, and as such enjoyed the veneration of the witches in
much the same way that the Indian medicine men were revered by their
it may appear that we are ready to discard Mr. Summers' conception of the
devil of witchcraft entirely, such is not the case. Undoubtedly there were
certain elements of Satanic worship which found a place in the witchcult. An
investigation of this phase of the question would be very interesting, but it
is not essential to our argument. It seems hardly fair, and certainly it is
not in accord with the traditions of good scholarship, for a man who is
supposed to be writing a history of witchcraft to give no credence to the
opinion of a contemporary who has supported a theory with a mass of evidence
equal to that brought to bear by Miss Murray. Doubtless there are some
mistakes in the work of Miss Murray; it hardly seems possible that such a work
could be perfect, but the whole tenor of Mr. Summers' book is to point out the
mistakes, such as they are, with a view to discounting the whole of Miss
Murray's work was the first of the two to appear and in the five years since
it came from the press it has been very generally accepted by students. Since
her case is backed by detailed evidence at almost wearisome length to the
ordinary reader, it does not seem unfair to demand of Mr. Summers that he
offer proof of his contention that Miss Murray's theory of the Witch Cult is
wrong. The later writer adheres, or seems at time to do so, to the older
school of thought in regard to witches. Miss Murray, if the widespread
acceptance of her theory can be taken as ground for the assertion, has proved
that the old school was wrong. It now becomes necessary for the adherents to
this line of thought to prove that they are right.
effort to ascertain whether or not this purpose has been accomplished, it is
necessary to present the theory Miss Murray supports. In her own language,
Witchcraft--or, as I propose to call it, the Dianic cult-- embraces the
religious beliefs and ritual of the people known in late mediaeval times as
"Witches." The evidence proves that underlying the Christian religion was a
cult practiced by many classes of the community, chiefly, however, by the more
ignorant or those in less thickly inhabited parts of the country. It can be
traced back to pre-Christian times, and appears to be the ancient religion of
Western Europe. The god, anthropomorphic, or theriomorphic, was worshipped in
well-defined rites; the organization was highly developed, and the ritual is
analogous to many other ancient rituals. The dates of the chief festivals
suggest that the religion belonged to a race which had not reached the
agricultural stage, and the evidence shows that various modifications were
introduced, probably by invading peoples who brought in their own beliefs. I
have not attempted to disentangle the various cults; I am content merely to
point out that it was a definite religion with beliefs, ritual, and
organization as highly developed as that of any other cult in the world (2).
clear statement of intention needs no elucidation. It may be as well, however,
to point out that Miss Murray sub-titles her work A Study in Anthropology. Her
method of presenting evidence is such that it would take a student versed at
least in the elementary principles of anthropological research to come to any
very clever understanding of the proof. Miss Murray does not write for the
beginner, and many things are taken for granted which, if elaborated, might
assist the elementary student in forming a more accurate opinion of the value
of her work. On the kind of evidence presented Miss Murray says:
evidence which I now bring forward is taken entirely from contemporary
sources, i.e., the legal records of the trials, pamphlets giving accounts of
individual witches, and the works of Inquisitors and other writers. I have
omitted the opinions of authors, and have examined only the recorded facts,
without however including the stories of ghosts and other "occult" phenomena
with which all the commentators confuse the subject. I have also, for the
reason given below, omitted all references to charms and spells when performed
by one witch alone, and have confined myself to those statements only which
show the beliefs, organization and ritual of a hitherto unrecognized cult.
order to clear the ground I make a sharp distinction between Operative
Witchcraft and Ritual Witchcraft. Under Operative Witchcraft I class all
charms and spells, whether used by a professed witch or by a professed
Christian, whether intended for good or evil, for killing or for curing. Such
charms and spells are common to every nation and country, and are practiced by
the priests and people of every religion. They are a part of the common
heritage of the human race and are therefore of no practical value in the
study of one particular cult. (3)
Summers is high in his praise of Miss Murray as an investigator though he has
objections to the method followed:
Murray has worked out her thesis with no inconsiderable ingenuity, but when
details are considered, historically examined, and set in their due
proportions, it must be concluded that the theory of a continuity of an
ancient religion is baseless. Her book is called A Study in Anthropology, and
here we can, I think, at once put our finger upon the fundamental mistake.
Anthropology alone offers no explanation of Witchcraft. Only the trained
theologian can adequately treat the subject. (4)
seems rather an astounding assertion in view of the fact that anthropology has
taught us all or at least the greater part of what we know about witchcraft
among primitive peoples, to say nothing of the magic rites and ceremonies
which have been unearthed through the efforts, not of trained theologians, but
of anthropologists. It is true that much of the evidence has been collected by
missionaries doubtless trained in theology and often not directly interested
in anthropology. Trained anthropologists have in many instances taken the
evidence collected by trained theologians and by proper application of the
comparative method have reached conclusions which few if any theologians, even
those who had made the investigations, would care to contradict. Why then
should anthropologists be excluded from the field of witchcraft ? I think that
no one would doubt the assertion that the witches had a definite place in the
culture of Medieval Europe. If it had, it certainly falls into the field of
anthropologists, since racial cultures are a part of their realm of activity.
It is true, doubtless, that the mass of material dealing with witchcraft was
compiled under the guidance of the clergy, but that, of itself, does not
preclude the possibility of revision at the hands of competent scientists. On
the whole the statement taken from Mr. Summers' work seems to be a thinly
veiled attempt to qualify the author for the task to which he has set himself
to the exclusion of those who do not possess similar qualifications.
my opinion that Mr. Summers would have done better if he had produced evidence
in support of his assertions instead of directing his efforts at the
disqualification of other students on the ground of improper training. His
arguments would be more convincing if he produced actual evidence instead of
his own word for support. Let us take the following quotation as an example:
is in particular one statement advanced by Miss Murray which goes far to show
how in complete unconsciousness she is fitting her material to her theory. She
writes: "There is at present nothing to show how much of the Witches' Mass (in
which the bread, the wine and the candles were black) derived from the
Christian ritual and how much belonged to the Dianic Cult; it is, however,
possible that the witches' service was the earlier form and influenced the
Christian." This last sentence is in truth an amazing assertion. A more
flagrant case of hysteron-proteron is hardly imaginable. So self-evident is
the absurdity that it refutes itself, and one can only suppose that the words
were allowed to remain owing to their having been overlooked in the revision
of a long and difficult study, a venial negligence. Every prayer and every
gesture of Holy Mass, since the first Mass was celebrated upon the first
Maundy Thursday, has been studied in minutest detail by generations of
liturgiologists and ceremonialists whose library is almost infinite in its
vastness and extent from the humblest pamphlets to the hugest folios. We can
trace each inspired development when such an early phrase was added, when such
a hallowed sign was first made at such words in such an orison. The witches'
service is a hideous burlesque of Holy Mass, and, briefly, what Miss Murray
suggests is that the parody may have existed before the thing parodied. It is
true that some topsy-turvey writers have actuaally proclaimed that magic
preceded religion but this view is generally discredited by authorities of all
schools. Sir James Frazer, Sir A. L. Lyall, and Mr. F.B. Jevons, for example,
recognize "a fundamental distinction and even opposition of principle between
magic and religion (5)."
is too much material in the above quotation to make a detailed analysis
possible. In the main it may be said that his argument is well-founded. The
quotation from Miss Murray is one of those errors to which we made reference
earlier in the discussion. As a matter of fact it has no direct bearing upon
the essentials of her theory and is relatively unimportant. The main objection
is that Mr. Summers makes assertions without any supporting proof. Especially
is this true when the last part of his statement is considered. Mr. Summers
quotes sir James Frazer in such a manner that one uninformed would be led to
believe that this great authority holds that religion preceded magic. This is
simply a case of Mr. Summers twisting the evidence to suit his needs, as will
be seen from the following:
this antagonism (between magic and religion), familiar as it is to us, seems
to have made its appearance comparatively late in the history of religion. At
an earlier stage the functions of priest and sorcerer were often comblned or,
to speak perhaps more correctly, were not yet differentiated from each other
again in another place:
Age of Religion has thus everywhere, as I venture to surmise, been preceded by
an Age of Magic, it is natural that we should enquire what causes have led
mankind, or rather a portion of them, to abandon magic as a principle of faith
and practice to betake themselves to religion instead. (7)
two astounding statements coming from the man Mr. Summers quotes in his own
favor. Even more astounding indeed, when those who have read the first two
volumes of Mr. Frazer's work know that they are devoted almost entirely to an
attempt to prove that magic really preceded religion. There is only one
conclusion that can be drawn and that is that the "trained theologian" is not
always the scholar he is supposed to be.
come to be a canon of anthropology that myth and ritual are extremely
tenacious. By this it is meant that we find many instances where the old
underlying legends and ritual practices have been fused into new ones. The
events related, the characters, and the ceremonies persist. The details vary,
and the names of characters are very often changed. Mr. Summers recognized
this changing character of myths and ritual, but his theological training
would not permit him to accept the obvious conclusion though it is accepted by
many who are doubtless as well trained in theology as he. He says
here and there lingered various old harmless customs and festivities which had
come down from pre-Christian times and which the Church had allowed, nay, had
even sanctified by directing them to the right source, the Maypole dances, for
example, and the Midsummer fires which now honor S. John Baptist, is a matter
of common knowledge. But this is no continuance of a pagan cult (8).
then is it ? Nothing more or less than the absorption by a new faith of what
belonged to an old. The distinction between this and the anthropological
teaching is precisely nothing (9). Sir James Frazer refutes Mr. Summers in
incontrovertible terms. For further substantiation of the absorption of pagan
festivals by the Church of Rome the reader is referred to Mr. E.K. Chambers'
The Medieval Stage, vol. I, pp. 228-248. These pages do not include all the
references, but will do much to show that Mr. Summers' hypothesis is
untenable. For those who do not care to look further, we may select a few
rather telling quotations:
position (between the Church and Pagans) was aggravated when, probably in the
fourth century, the Christian feast of the Birthday of Christ came to be fixed
on Dec. 25, in the very heart of the pagan rejoicings and upon the actual day
hitherto sacred to Sol Invictus (10).
Continuing on the same subject Mr. Chambers offers the following explanation:
enemies of Roman orthodoxy were not slow to assert that it merely continued
under another name the pagan celebration of the birthday of Sol Invictus. Nor
was the suggestion entirely an empty one. The worshippers of Sol Invictus and
in particular the Mithraic sect, were not quite on the level of the ordinary
pagans by tradition. Mithraism had claims to be a serious and reasonable rival
to Christianity, and if its adherents could be induced by argument to merge
their worship of the physical sun in that of the "Sun of Righteousness," they
were well worth winning (11).
there is nothing here presented to show that the Holy Mass may have been
derived from the ceremonies of the Dianic Cult is granted, but certainly the
evidence bears out Miss Murray's contention that it is possible. We have seen
pagan festivals incorporated in the celebrations of the church in other
respects, and there seems no reason to doubt that they may have found their
way into the Mass, Mr. Summers' opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. We
have seen something of the evidence on the one side, but Mr. Summers refrains
from making mention of the evidence to support his thesis. Miss Murray did not
say that this was the line of descent, neither did she state it as a
probability, but only offered it as a possibility; it does seem likely that
there is a chance that Miss Murray's opinion merits consideration.
has gone before shows the standpoint from which Mr. Summers considers the
subject of witchcraft. It is left for the readers to decide whether the purely
scientific consideration of evidence followed by Miss Murray, in which she
goes back to the actual records and discards the opinions of the students is
to be taken as the most sensible and the best founded method of research, or
whether Mr. Summers' dogmatic following of the teachings of scholars, who most
modern students believe to have been mistaken, is to be accepted. There is, I
think, only one answer.
question of Mr. Summers' disqualification of anthropologists as investigators
in the field of witchcraft has been mentioned earlier. It now becomes evident
that more could be said in relation to this point. To close the argument one
question might be asked: What right has a trained theologian, whose subject is
"the science that treats of the existence, nature and attributes of God,
especially of man's relation of God," to say that none but those with this
training have the equipment to deal with witchcraft?
Unfortunately Mr. Summers is not as definite in his declaration of purpose as
is Miss Murray. There appears in his book no statement of his theory, unless
the following can be so interpreted:
following pages I have endeavored to show the witch as she really was--an evil
liver; a social pest and parasite; the devotee of a loathly and obscene creed;
an adept at poisoning, blackmail, and other creeping crimes; a member of a
powerful secret organization inimical to Church and state, a blasphemer in
word and deed; swaying the villagers by terror and superstition, a charlatan
and a quack sometimes; a bawd, and abortionist, the dark counsellor of lewd
court ladies and adulterous gallants; a minister to vice and inconceivable
corruption, battening upon the filth and foulest passions of the age (12).
one thing therein offers any constructive criticism by which a new, or even an
old, conception of the witch can be placed in the stead of Miss Murray's idea.
Miss Murray's work admits the degenerate character of the Witch Cult in
Medieval times, and she may even admit, with no harm to her theory, the
"powerful secret organization inimical to Church and state." Mr. Summers'
characterization of the witch and her cult has nothing to do with its origin.
Mr. Summers wants to claim the medieval inquisitors were right, and that the
whole order was invented by the devil, that is, by Satan. His rhetoric seems
intended to produce an impression favorable to accepting this. It would seem,
however, that the degradation was due, not to the devil, but to the
persecution of the cult and its survival among the poor and wretched of the
Summers forgets himself when he says:
must not for a moment be supposed, as has often been superficially believed,
that Witchcraft was a product of the Middle Ages, and that only then did
authority adopt measures of repression and legislate against the warlock and
the sorceress .... Even pagan emperors had issued edicts absolutely forbidding
goetic theurgy, confiscating grimoires, and visiting necromancers with death.
In A.U.C. 721 (about 40 A. D.) during the triumvirate of Octavius, Antony and
Lepidus, all astrologers and charmers were banished (13).
must be remembered that in pagan times religion and state were more closely
connected than at present, even in Christian history has this been true.
Neither can we forget that the people legislated against in the edicts
mentioned by Mr. Summers were incomers, Orientals and Greeks. It is quite
generally agreed that the Roman religion was based largely upon magic. It may
well be the case that the persecution of witches in pagan times was due to a
motive similar to that which actuated the Inquisitors. The sect may have been
one which was old even then, anthropology would entitle us to this conclusion.
These practitioners may have been conducting rites and ceremonies which did
not meet with the approval of the religion of the state and consequently they
would be subject to imperial edicts. The mere fact that it existed in 40 A.D.
or thereabouts would tend to confirm Miss Murray's hypothesis, especially when
it is remembered that Paul, who brought Christianity to Rome, was in Corinth
in 51 A. D. and did not reach Rome until several years later.
must be said that when the theological point of view is left out of
consideration there is not one shred of evidence which on its own merit
contradicts Miss Murray. There is, however, much that tends to confirm it.
When it is considered that Mr. Summers is doubtless writing with the consent
of his ecclesiastical superiors, his treatment of the subject is easily
understood and it can be discounted as you please. The evidence in Mr.
Summers' work is of value in spite of the ex cathedra pronouncements of the
author against any theory that seems to cast the slightest shadow of error
upon the Catholic authorities who were responsible for the Inquisitorial
Murray, M. A., The Witch Cult of Western Europe, p. 186.
Murray, op. cit., pp. 11-12
Murray, op. cit., p. 11.
Summers, Montague, The History of Witchcraft p. 45.
Summers, op. cit., pp. 42-43. The last quotation is from Frazer's Golden
Bough, Part I, vol. I, p. xx. Third Edition, 1911.
Frazer, J.G., The Golden Bough, abr. ed., 1925, p. 52.
Frazer, op. cit., p. 56.
Summers, op. cit., p. 43.
For details in connection with St. John's Day, Midsummer Day, and Midsummer
Fires, see Frazer, op. cit., Index under St. John and Midsummer Fires.
Chambers, E. K., The Medieval stage, vol. I, p. 238.
Chambers, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 241-242.
Summers, op. cit., p. xiv.
Summers, op. cit., p. 11.
Grand Architect of the Universe
Bro. R.J. Meekren
some respects the series of articles on the Masonic requirement of a belief in
God has been disappointing, in spite of the very great interest of the
articles themselves. We have had revealed some very wide divergencies of
opinion; but that such divergencies existed was well known before, it was the
hope of finding some common, some agreed, understanding, that the series was
projected. Only one contributor, however, really endeavored to meet the
question as to what was required in Masonry as distinct from his own
individual creed; Bro. Covey-Crump in his article "The Freemason's vision of
God" did make a serious attempt to do this from the point of view of the
first article by "A Lay Brother" was a confession. It tells the intimate
personal history of the transition from the unthinking acquiescence of youth
in what seems to have been most inadequate religious teaching to the doubt and
scepticism so frequent among young men as they reach maturity. That the story
is a typical one everyone with experience must admit. The traditional and
stereotyped teaching of the average Sunday School does not prepare young
people to meet the questionings and doubts that will inevitably arise as soon
as they come in contact with the wider life of the world or gain an
acquaintance with science and philosophy in our Colleges and Universities.
This general failure is realized by all who are conversant with the facts. It
is intensified by the breakdown of anything like religious life and training
in the home, even where the parents themselves are devout church members. Such
training while not likely to be more effective intellectually than that of the
Sunday School does at least form habits which the weekly lesson cannot do. And
habit is a stronger anchor to faith than knowledge for most. A Lay Brother's
experience was therefore a typical one, and the fact that he felt it so was
one reason he gave for preferring to remain anonymous. The unusual feature (we
are afraid it is unusual) is that he did not rest in the agnostic or skeptical
state of mind but went on and reconstructed out of the ruins a new, if
somewhat nebulous faith in a Something in and behind the world making for
righteousness; to adapt Matthew Arnold's well-known utterance.
article attracted more notice than any of the others so far as that can be
judged from letters received. A few correspondents were scornful, thinking the
article immature or foolish; a judgment that is hardly fair, for given the
same circumstances almost any young person's mind will react in the same way
from unthinking acceptance to active if superficial disbelief. And left to
themselves, unaided by those who have gone through doubt to a deeper
experience, they do very well indeed to come back to anything like a religious
correspondents were bitterly opposed to the tentative creed expressed. Some
went so far as to say that not only should the Lay Brother never have been
admitted into Masonry but that he should be forthwith expelled. But the great
majority sided with him, the article has been copied and it has been read
before Masonic gatherings where it has met with approval. It is of course
impossible to estimate percentages among several millions of men from a
handful of letters, but there is no doubt that among those readers of THE
BUILDER interested enough to let us know what they thought, those who approved
the standpoint of the article were in a large majority.
FUNDAMENTALISM AND EVOLUTIONISM
second article was by the Rev. Dr. Briggs, a Past Grand Master of Missouri. He
wrote from the standpoint of Missouri Masonry, as he interprets its rules and
requirements. It seems that this Grand Lodge requires a signed declaration
from the applicant that he believes in "one living and true God," and it is
apparently also necessary to believe in the divine authority of the Bible. We
gather also that in his opinion evolutionary theories cannot be reconciled
with the Bible, but whether or not he draws the conclusion (which would seem
to follow) that those who believe in evolution cannot believe in the Bible as
inspired and are therefore debarred from Masonry does not appear. It would
seem, in fact, that Bro. Briggs really holds that only those professing belief
in the creed of one of the Protestant denominations are properly eligible to
Masonry. We suppose he accepts or excepts, Hebrews and Unitarians, as we
believe members of both these faiths are actually accepted by Missouri lodges;
but the position does not seem wholly a happy one from the purely logical
standpoint, for if the Jew and the Unitarian may reject the New Testament
wholly or in part, why may not others reject the first chapters of Genesis?
third article Bro. Norris came to the defense of the Lay Brother. Possibly in
doing so he lessened the value of what he had to say. He pointed out a number
of difficulties in the Bible, which appear as soon as any attempt is made to
determine what the Bible actually teaches about God. In subsequent
correspondence with Dr. Briggs he explained that his point was that on its
face there were contradictory estimates or conceptions of the Deity in the Old
Testament and that these needed to be explained. Dr. Briggs seems to agree
that this is so, too, though we presume they would not agree on the
explanation. From the point of view of evolution and progressive revelation
these things are not difficulties at all, but merely vestiges of the different
stages reached in the religious development of a people. Dr. Briggs states
plainly in his first letter that "Freemasonry does not attempt theological
definitions but leaves each Freemason free to interpret the Bible himself."
But are not the statements that God is one and is a living God, theological
definitions? And is not the evolution of religious ideas one mode of
interpreting the Bible?
Rev. John J. Lanier, priest, poet and mystic, made the next contribution to
the discussion by setting forth his reasons for believing in God. In his
article he made an effort to get beneath the surface of credal and dogmatic
forms of words to real conceptions and meanings. His conclusion seems to be
that as personality seems to be the highest thing we know that we must ascribe
personality at least to God, which implies personal relations between God and
man. He essays the difficult feat of distinguishing divine immanence in nature
from pantheism. It is difficult, not because the distinction is unreal, but
from the deficiencies of language in defining such matters.
THE ENGLISH RITUAL
Lanier was followed by the Rev. W.W. Covey-Crump whose article has already
been mentioned. In England there is a definite progression in the terms used
for the Deity in the different degrees, such as does not exist in any American
ritual, though a number of Canadian Jurisdictions follow England in this. In
the first degree God is presented as the Grand Architect, the Archetypal
Workman, the Builder of the World. In the second degree He is known as the
Grand Geometrician of the Universe. The first conception is that of work,
energy, constructive or creative power. The second is that of knowledge,
design, prescience. In the third degree He becomes the Most High.
progression is impressive, but it seems to raise certain theoretical
difficulties. Many Masons, whose orthodoxy has never been impugned, even if
their speculations are rejected by scholars today, have supposed Freemasonry
to have been in some sort derived from, or connected in origin with the
mysteries of antiquity, and the object of these mysteries (so it has been
supposed) was to keep and conceal the knowledge of the one true, and we
suppose, living God. Now ex hypothesi these Ancient Mysteries took fit
candidates who knew only of many false gods, and revealed this truth to them
by stages as they were able to receive it. The English ritual seems to follow
this method in form; but in practice seems to demand that the candidate shall
fully know and believe what the Mysteries are supposed to teach him. It seems
something of a dilemma. The American rituals are free of any such difficulty.
MASONRY A CHRISTIAN DEITY
next contributor was another clergyman of the Church of England, Bro. House,
who seems to quite definitely claim that the Masonic conception of God is
identical with that of Christianity. In this he is the successor of a large
school of Masonic authors, of which Dr. George Oliver was a notable
representative. There is no doubt at all that Masonic tenets can be
interpreted in a Christian sense, the Rose Croix grade or order is really a
Christian version of the third degree, or rather was in its original form.
Every Mason who wishes to do so may so interpret Masonry, and is free to seek
to persuade others to adopt his views, but to us it seems that Bro.
Covey-Crump has a juster appreciation of the minimum requirements of Masonry,
and it is on the minimum requirements that its universality must rest. Bro.
Ferdinand Oudin also takes this view, and it would seem that he was prepared
to accept even a lower minimum. Bro. Carter then followed with an attempt,
perhaps too philosophical for those without special knowledge, to show that as
"all roads lead to Rome" so all speculation concerning the First Cause or
Origin of things will bring one to an essentially theistic belief, if only
followed honestly to the end.
HISTORY OF THE BELIEF IN GOD REQUIREMENT
last article of the series, by Bro. Daynes, reviews the historical setting of
this requirement. This is of quite a different character from any of the
others, but certainly has its place in any attempt to clear up the obscurities
and confusions of thought that evidently exist on this important subject. Bro.
Daynes has marshalled, in the scholarly way that all acquainted with his work
have come to expect from him, all the early evidence on the subject. There is
a clear case that as far back as we have any record till the time that
Anderson published the Book of Constitutions the Christian faith was assumed
as a matter of course in Freemasonry. The Old Charges forbid heresy as they do
disloyalty and treason to the king. And in view of this the Grand Lodges, such
as those of Northern Europe, which demand Christian belief as an essential
requirement, have a real justification. They can claim truly to have held
closer to the original tradition than the Masonry of the rest of the world.
there is the possibility that in holding fast to the original form of
Christian Masonry they may have departed from the original spirit. English
Masons are charged to be loyal to their king-- American Masons to be loyal to
their flag and constitution--the requirements are very different but the
content is the same, namely, that they should be good law-abiding citizens of
their country. Heresy in olden times was very much in the same class as
treason, it was an offense against the law, and therefore we cannot build too
much on the ancient articles forbidding it. There is a real difference, and
practically a great difference in accepting a situation that exists, and
taking sides in a controversy. The first really means that the point has never
of the letters that were received have been published in the Correspondence
Columns of THE BUILDER. They were fairly typical, many others were equally
worthy of publication, but limits of space made it impossible. On looking
through them the present writer does not see anything that has not been
brought forward in some form in the discussion. As has been alrea.dy noted the
majority favored the liberal or modernist side of the question, agreeing with
the Lay Brother and Bro. Norris.
Missouri Mason in reference to the article of Dr. Briggs says that he
. . .
matter is only the manifestation of life. We could not see life if there were
no matter. Force and matter cannnt he separated. Some philosophers claim there
is no matter at all that it is all life or force that we see. ... Even if
chemistry should produce life artificially as Haeckel expected would
eventually be done, still we have to ask whence the force in the matter which
becomes living? Here we have no other answer but - God.
Montana brother says:
average Mason realizes that there is a Supreme Being, differing only as to
what that Supreme Being is.
remark is perhaps trite, but it is the fruit in this case not of reading or
scholarship, but of the experience of an aged Mason on the edge of that bourne
from which no traveler returns. Another brother also nearing the bound of life
says that man:
"last word" of creation, so far as we know, and endowed with Reason and a
capacity for progress and self improvement . . . [finds it] unthinkable to
believe that matter was created out of nothing by a Creator that created
himself. From this premise we find ourselves in the world or universe of
Nature . . . governed by the universal laws of nature and that this means
nothing more or less than Nature's God, to which many have bowed in the past,
and thus, it may be, have lived better than they knew.
goes on to quote the beliefs of such men as Burroughs and Edison. This way of
thinking, confused as it appears, seems to be that of many Masons today. It
shows two things at least, dissatisfaction with traditional religion as it has
been presented, and yet a clinging to the idea of God in some form or other.
RESULTS OF THE SERIES
discussion as a whole then seems to have done nothing but develop the
differences of opinion and belief that every observant Mason knew existed. But
to do this much is to the good. And though the more orthodox or fundamentalist
may think, and even say, that the modernist and liberal minded have no place
in the Craft, we do not at all expect that they will begin preferring charges
fact is that while American Grand Lodges insist on belief "in one true and
living God" or some equivalent formula, and while articles reiterating certain
stock sentiments periodically appear in the Masonic press, and are constantly
being repeated by lodge orators, more especially Grand Lodge orators, and
while the great majority of American Masons accept it, apparently, as the
"proper thing," yet never in actual practice do we hear of a lodge inquiring
what a candidate means when he says he believes in God. To some, words and
forms of words do not seem to mean very much, and they are precisely those who
are most rigid about the exact pronunciation of the local Shibboleth. If a man
says that he is going away tomorrow, or promises to pay a sum of money next
week, the meaning is clear and unmistakable. But when we begin to discuss
things that lie deeper uncertainty enters, and the deeper we go the greater
becomes the doubt that we really mean the same thing when we use the same
words. To people who have never thought, or whose thinking is superficial, it
is simple--God is God, and if a man professes belief in God, belief in God is
what he means.
years ago when the question of the recognition of French Freemasonry was being
discussed, during and just after the war, it was urged on one side that the
Grand Lodge of France maintained the formula in its rituals, the "Grand
Architect of the Universe." Against this the Conservatives agreed upon an
argument that became a sort of slogan, that the requirement was a religious
belief in God and not a philosophical one. This sounds well, and it is fairly
clear what is meant by it, or at least the kind of thing intended. It meant
practically that the use of the formula "Grand Architect of the Universe" was
no good, or at least insufficient. PHILOSOPHIC AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
what is the difference between a philosophical and a religious belief? It can
be taken two ways. A religious belief may be taken as that of one who accepts
the creed of some religion--accepts it on the authority of that religion. Then
a philosophical belief is one held by a man who belongs to no organized
religion, is not a church member, does not accept the creed of any
denomination, but has by his own meditations and reasoning arrived at a belief
in God. This does not seem to be what was intended at all. There are probably
thousands and thousands of American Masons who belong to no church, or at
least do not accept the authority of any church or religious system as binding
upon their beliefs and opinions.
other alternative is that a religious belief is one tinged with emotion, with
personal feeling, that with belief in God, goes reverence, awe or love. Then
(if the two terms are really meant to be antithetic as appears from their use)
the philosophical attitude is the one that accepts a God as a First Cause or
Primal Origin, as demanded by the nature of our minds, but is otherwise
indifferent to it. This is probably nearer what those who used the terms had
in mind; but are there not in our churches plenty of people who accept the
belief but to whom it makes no real difference? Is there a clergyman or
minister of the Gospel who has not preached about and at such people ? And it
cannot be denied that there are many of them in the Craft. Men too indifferent
about God to think about Him much less deny Him. We all know them. They pass
muster, as they do in the churches, as long as they pay dues and make
contributions - but while these pass anyone who thinks outside the limits of
orthodoxy is at once condemned by the orthodox group. But which of the two is
really the most irreligious? Of course we know what dead wood will do, it will
stay where it is put, even if it rots. While what is alive is incalculable and
therefore cause for apprehension, for it may go in the direction we don't want
it to go.
then all a matter of our own personal prejudices -- or rather of group
prejudices? We don't like to have our own creeds called by this name, yet we
at least are prejudiced in their favor. What is it but prejudices in favor of
sectional Shibboleths, that keeps the different Christian denominations from
uniting into one church? We make the lesser things of more importance than the
greater. The great thing in Christianity is the revelation of God in Jesus
Christ--Christianity is that or nothing. All the orthodox sects agree on
this--yet they cannot agree otherwise. Is it not something the same in
Freemasonry? If it be anything it is a Fraternity of just moral, upright men,
but when the question of recognition arises the character of the men judged
never enters into consideration at all.
MASONRY AND RELIGIOUS TOLERATION
the fact remains that in spite of our accepted formulas there is no attempt to
make them real. Perhaps history may help us here, as it so often does, to
obtain a clearer idea of the situation. What first strikes us, both from the
present day state of Masonry throughout the world and the facts of its past,
is that (as is natural and perhaps inevitable) it faithfully reflects the
prevailing sentiments and conditions of the community. In Mediaeval England it
condemned heresy, as Bro. Daynes has shown us. Heresy of course meant
Lollardism first of all, Wiklifism and later perhaps Protestantism. Still
later Masonry became Protestant and Papistry became the heresy, and also
treason against the king. Later still, when the ideas of tolerance first began
to emerge in society, Masonry suddenly proclaimed a most tolerant attitude.
Anderson's statement was truer perhaps than he knew, that Masons were always
charged to be of that religion which was practiced in the country where they
lived. Whether so charged or not, thus Masons always have been. But literally
what he said implies that religion was a matter of no consequence to Masonry,
and to save trouble the Mason should profess whatever the state required.
"Moderns" were more tolerant than the "Ancients" even though there was some
reaction from Anderson's first proclamation of religious, that is credal,
indifference. The two organizations drew their membership from different
social strata. There was no cheap rationalist press in those days, and though
Deism and other liberal ideas were prevalent in the upper circles of the
community it had not touched the lower classes from which the lodges of the
"Ancients" were recruited. Thus we find they were more definite in their
religious requirements than their rivals.
we find that in those Protestant countries where religious indifferences have
not yet become widespread that Masonry is Protestant, and Christian. Perhaps
this is not the whole story, for this Christian Masonry is also very exclusive
and aristocratic, and as long as it remains under present conditions it will
never lack all the candidates it needs, any more than the Order of the Bath
does in England or the Legion of Honor in France.
other hand in Roman Catholic countries Masonry is agnostic, perhaps atheistic,
in the sense at least that the majority of its members are probably atheists.
The reason for this is obvious. Atheism is the normal reaction of the educated
thinking men in all Roman Catholic countries to the religious teaching given
them in childhood and youth. That this is so. is a simple matter of
statistics, whatever may be the reason for it; it is what we find in every
such country from South America to Poland. And as the average man ascribes any
faults or failings he thinks he has discovered in his wife to womankind in
general, so the educated man of Roman Catholic countries ascribe to all
religions the superstitions, abuses and inconsistencies they see in the
religion of their families.
we find at the two extremes that Masonry takes the color of the mental and
spiritual outlook of the classes from which its recruits are drawn. In Roman
Catholic countries the only classes from which they can be drawn. How then is
it with us? It would look as if the same rule were at work in America, too.
More and more our churches are bewailing the indifference and defection of
their members. Less and less does the younger generation seem inclined to take
their parents' places in organized religion. The churches are striving by
semi-commercial methods to keep going, by advertising, by sensational
services, by social activities, anything and everything but doctrinal
dogmatic, religious teaching.
average man, the man we rub shoulders with in the street car, with whom we do
business, or meet in lodge, does not deny God, he simply never thinks about
Him, he has no interest in the subject. His. religion is summed up pretty well
by a statement often heard, "If a man tries to live a fairly respectable,
honest life he will be all right in the future," if there be a future, about
which he is not sure. It is utterly useless to deny that this average man is
not represented, fully represented in the Craft. He is there, and if we are
honest with ourselves we must admit he is there, just as in many cases he is
still a contributing member to some church or other.
nothing whatever to do with the argument, logically speaking, but it may
possibly help towards relieving some readers of sundry suspicions that may
have been aroused as to the purpose or tendency of this article. The writer is
a communicant of a respected and orthodox Christian Church, and he is a
Churchman before he is a Mason. If it were conceivable that circumstances
should arise that would make it necessary to choose between the two, with
whatever regret, he would abide by his church and give up Masonry. To a
convinced Christian there can be no comparison between his religion and
anything else in the world. It may be for this reason that he is inclined to
think that not only is Freemasonry not a religion, but it is only (if at all)
a very humble handmaid of religion. Religion stands on its own feet, whether
Christianity or Theism, and the support of Freemasonry really seems something
of an impertinence. Freemasonry is a wonderful thing, it embodies a most noble
ideal, and it is wholly consistent with true religion, but if we realized its
true functions, the fact that it was not something else than it is would not
MASONRY AND CHRISTIANITY
the advent of the Prince of Peace, Christianity and Masonry have gone hand in
hand in the work of charity and love. Before that happy epoch, as a writer has
observed, alms houses and eleemosinary institutions were unknown. Poverty
(except among the Masons) was without a friend, and the humble supplications
of distress were lost amid the proud pursuits of ambition, the wild and
terrible clangor of arms and the sweeping desolations and cruelties of
persecution, anarchy and despotism.--Freemason's Magazine, January, 1842.
MEEKREN, Editor in Charge
Thiemeyer, Research Editor
I. CLEGG, Illinois
GILBERT W. DAYNES, England
H. DERN, Utah
CHARLES F. IRWIN, Pennsylvania
E. MORCOMBE, California
C. PARKER, New York
HUGO TATSCH, Iowa
M. WHITED, California
E. W WILLIAMSON Nevada
MASONRY TO BLAME
Vienna correspondent whose letter regarding the recent riots in that city
appeared in THE BUILDER last month, was justified in his desire to put the
facts of the situation before American Masons. Already Fascist accounts of the
affair are being repeated in the newspapers of this country which lay it all
to the dark intrigues of International Masonry. These intrigues, if you
please, are designed wholly towards beginning a new world war apparently, with
what object does not appear, however. We suggest to Fascist organs that it
might be in revenge for the unjust treatment of Masons in Italy; but even so
it would seem - to the purblind eye of common sense - rather like biting one's
nose to spite one's face, or the alleged Chinese method of getting even with
an enemy by committing suicide on his doorstep.
Fascist organ - all newspapers in Italy are Fascist organs now - Il Levere has
the following to say:
was the news which came out of the chaos at Vienna? It was this: The armed
intervention of Italy in Austria. This news was to trouble Europe and bring
about war. Who wants this? International Masonry.
seems to be constructed entirely out of the fears of the conservative elements
in Austria that JugoSlavia or Italy might take advantage of the disorder.
paper goes on to speak of Russia:
easy to speak of the third international, communism and agents of Moscow, but
the people forget that the first cause of all trouble is the socialist,
Masonic democracy, and that perhaps without Kerensky there would have been no
Fascist Italians must see that around our frontiers is established a Masonic
democracy which is more dangerous than any Asiatic danger.
Central Europe and the Balkans, until 1934, will be the field of action for
Masonry, which has sworn death to Fascism. Fascism has sworn death to Masonry
and has already given proof of its pitiless strength.
how beautifully it all fits together! The Russian case is to back up the
Austrian instance. Freemasonry is aiming at world chaos. Mrs. Nesta Webster
would be glad of this confirmation of her theories. That Masonry did not and
does not exist in Russia doesn't matter in the least! There is a Russian
Masonry, but it lives in exile, chiefly in France. The exiles have become
Masons since their flight from Russia. The last thing we can imagine them
aiding and abetting is Bolshevism. However, gaps in the evidence never disturb
the wolf in his indictment of the lamb. Fascism was glad to have the support
of Masons (not of Masonry) when it was weak. Now it glories in its "pitiless
strength" and ruthless injustice. Why? It is hard to say. The article by
President Masaryk on another page gives in one place what may be a clue. The
Roman Church believes (or professes to) that Freemasonry is Devil Worship,
that Masons are sworn to Satan's service, and therefore to fight against
everything good. The readiness with which the incredibly ridiculous inventions
of Leo Taxil were believed shows at least a hatred not easily realized by
American Masons. As Fascists have entered into a close confederation with the
Papacy it may be that this persecution is part of the price of the Church's
blessing upon them and their works.
* * *
first installment of a long promised work, The Shadow of the Vatican, by Dr.
Leo Cadius, a writer well known to our readers, will be found in the pages of
THE BUILDER as soon as the present preliminary series is completed, which will
be before the end of the current volume. It goes without saying that the
forthcoming series will maintain the high standard of scholarship set by
previous articles from the pen of this author. Until the publication of the
first of THE BUILDER's articles on the subject of the Roman Church in May of
this year, the vast majority of such material appearing in the Masonic press
dealt with the relations of the Church to our Fraternity. This is perhaps only
natural since it is this phase of the question which is most interesting to
Freemasons, and for the additional reason that it is very difficult to find
anyone really qualified to write about the Church itself. So far as we know,
there has never been a series of articles similar to The Shadow of the Vatican
published either in the Masonic press or by any commercial publisher.
work of Dr. Cadius does not deal with the doctrines and dogmas of the Church.
Almost any theologian is qualified to discuss these points, and for the most
part they would be rather dull reading. An even more important reason for
excluding them from the discussion, however, is the fact that when all is said
and done we would doubtless be no nearer a solution of the problem than we are
fully appreciate the value of The Shadow of the Vatican, it must be borne in
mind that the author is a Roman Catholic theologian, and that what he has to
say bears the stamp of one who knows the Roman Church as no Protestant
possibly could. This fact enhances its value materially, because it does not
permit of any possible charge of prejudice. The author is publishing it in a
Masonic periodical because he has learned that other publishers fear the power
of the Hierarchy.
Cadius is a well educated man, possessing the highest of scholastic
qualifications. His past work is an adequate guarantee that he will not
indulge in the blatant, unreasoning criticism which is to be found in many
modern periodicals. His style should be well enough known to our readers to
need no comment. It is sufficient to say that a correspondent who was at one
time a professor of English Literature has written that there is "something
reminiscent of Charles Lamb" in the writings of Dr. Cadius. The Shadow of the
Vatican shows that it is written by one trained in research where it is
necessary to eliminate personalities and weigh evidence carefully. Because of
this fact his revelations carry all the more weight.
been said that there is no discussion of dogma to be found in its pages. What,
then, is the subject of the work? The question is difficult to answer, but we
might say that it is a problem in citizenship; a problem in government; and a
discussion of the methods of government which are to be found in the Church
itself. Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the fact that it is an
unprejudiced pronouncement, scholarly and impartial in tone, but none the less
a severe indictment of Hierarchical methods. The Shadow of the Vatican aims to
show the American people, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, that there is a
real need for them to investigate and understand the present Church Politic.
It endeavors to show that there is a real danger, and one against which we
should be on guard.
all this is a higher motive. The work is designed to lead us to an
understanding which will be mutually satisfactory, where hatred and prejudice
will have no place, and where there will be a real religious freedom, both
mental and physical, and where intersectarian prejudices will cease to exist.
In other words, it aims to teach us "to regard the whole human species as one
family, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, who as created by one Almighty
Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect
each other." It tries to show why this happy state is at present impossible,
and what can be done to make it a future possibility.
* * *
FREEMASONRY AND RELIGION
CORRESPONDENT has posed a question that is definitely in line with the series
of articles that are being published in THE BUILDER on the implications of the
requirement of a belief in God, but which has not been covered by the
preceding discussion. It is a very penetrating question and certainly needs
consideration. Of course all Masons would say offhand that the answer was in
the affirmative; it is on the ground that the affirmative answer is correct
that thousands of men have become Masons; but curiously it seems doubtful if
many could give a reasoned account of why they so believe.
question is this: Can an intelligent person consistently hold to the
philosophy or religion of Masonry (so far as it can be said to have either)
and at the same time accept literally the doctrines of Christianity?
slight change has been made in the wording of the question, as in the letter
it refers specifically to an accompanying pamphlet which briefly sets forth
the essential articles of faith in the Lutheran Church, but it manifestly
applies to all orthodox Christianity. As is fairly well known this church, or
a part of it at least, is uncompromisingly hostile to Freemasonry, and will
not admit to full communion any Mason who does not renounce his connection
with the Craft, and this chiefly on the grounds that the above question must
be answered in the negative.
letter it is stated that the writer has found among Masons a great variety of
opinion, and much ignorance. While it is asserted that Freemasonry is a
world-wide, universal institution accepting men of all races and nationalities
and of all religions, there is uncertainty whether it is, as an institution,
committed to any religious system. Some holding that it is essentially
Christian and others asserting that it is antiChristian "in the sense that it
rejects some of the most fundamental doctrines of the Bible."
course there is a stock answer to this, that Freemasonry is not in any sense a
religion, and acknowledges every faith and creed. And to many it will seem
that this is the last word and that there is nothing more to be said.
Nevertheless there are logical difficulties in the way of fully defining the
position which are not always fully realized. All Masonic authorities in
English speaking countries insist, first that Freemasonry is not a religion,
and secondly that every Mason must profess the fundamental and essential tenet
without which religion can hardly exist, that is, a belief in God.
spite of the unhesitating acceptance by the great majority of Masons of these
two postulates it is doubtful if most of them have realized the debatable
character of the conclusions that follow from them. In order to accept the
above statement it is necessary to assume that though belief in God is an
essential to religion it cannot constitute a religion by itself, and also that
there is some underlying conception of God that is common ground to all
not necessarily to be understood from this that there is no answer to these
difficulties, but only that the problem is seldom realized, and more seldom
discussed. We have an institution to which are admitted on equal terms men of
the two great unitarian creeds, Islam and Judaism, with the Unitarians, who as
a body historically seceded chiefly from the Congregational Church; and
besides we have those who adhere to all the denominations of orthodox
Christianity, ranging from the Holy Orthodox or Eastern Church itself to the
minor Protestant bodies of the West, and also members of various other sects
that are unorthodox and others that would be classed as pantheistic. Now it is
a theological question of great complexity to reach any definition that would
be true of all these religions that at the same time would be anything more
than the barest abstraction, the mere empty form of a Deity; it is even open
to doubt whether more than such an empty form could possibly fit the case.
There is, however, a side path which may be taken, and which is perhaps the
proper answer, and that is that every Mason is to think that his conception,
his belief is the true one, and that he accepts the beliefs of others who
differ from him, as evidence of good will on their part and a sincere desire
to come at the truth (as he sees it) but which they are prevented from fully
seeing by reason of inherited prejudices and erroneous teaching. This is the
tolerant attitude, and tolerance is certainly a Masonic virtue, even though
nowhere mentioned by name, but though unnamed it is implied everywhere all
through the Masonic system, ritual, symbolic and constitutional.
Supposing then that this is the answer to the second part of the problem, and
that we need not bother with the complicated theological questions that seemed
to be involved, what is to be said to the first of two suppositions, that
belief in God is not in and by itself a religion? To begin with comes the
question what is to be understood as a religion. In the sense of a church it
is not, of course, but in the sense of a creed it seems difficult to answer
with a sweeping negative. If belief in God is more than mere assent to a
verbal formula without meaning, and certainly more than that is generally
understood, it is practically impossible to believe in God without believing
something about Him. To give content to the word we must conceive Him, for
example, as eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, or the reverse; as personal,
super-personal or impersonal; as beneficient or indifferent, and so on. And by
the time we have selected the attributes which we believe to inhere in the
Deity, we have a full fledged creed, to which it will be very difficult to
deny the name of a religion in that sense, and which certainly is some
justification for the contention of the churches who denounce the Masonic
Institution as a secret theistic religion.
here again perhaps the same by-path will permit us to avoid the impasse.
Freemasonry is not a religion because every man who enters it brings his own
religion, and keeps it, taking nothing from Masonry but its tolerance - to
which of course he must have been disposed or he would never have come.
are not fully clear of the difficulties yet for this brings us face to face
with another question. What are the limits within which the individual Mason's
beliefs must lie? The series of articles that have been appearing in THE
BUILDER have so far not thrown very much light on this point. Most of them
have done little more than exhibit, what was obvious to begin with, that very
different conceptions of God were held by members of the Craft. Practically
everyone willing to accept the local formula, and profess belief in God, with
or without some qualification or attribute, is accepted without further
question - so far as this point goes at least. This is an eminently practical
method, and is justified by its results we may say, but it is something of a
disgrace to the supposedly intellectual character of Freemasonry that the
philosophical and metaphysical aspects of the requirement have been so little
studied. There have been floods of orratory and reams of rhetoric, going about
and about the question, and glossing over all the difficulties, but very
little serious thought. Apparently the position may summed up thus,
tentatively at least: that we require that everyone who desires to join us
should have some religion, but that it has never been agreed exactly where the
line should be drawn; that while in the great majority of actual cases we are
all in practical agreement, there are different opinions as to the exact
limits that should be set.
is precisely this understanding of the situation which is the reason that
certain churches forbid their members to become Masons. Other reasons may be
added based on misunderstanding and misinformation, but this is really the
essential point. Freemasonry has a religious character because it demands a
religious test, and therefore it is not a truly neutral organization like a
professional society, say, or a social club. On this ground it would seem that
any organized religion with an intolerant creed is justified on its own
premises, or at least is consistent, in condemning it. In the little pamphlet
above referred to we find for example a statement that "to ignore or deny one
[of the Persons of the Trinity] is to disavow all." And another to the effect
"that the Bible in all its words is the Word of God" and "that it is the only
divine truth known on earth." Further, "all unbelievers will be sent into
eternal condemnation," and what is to be understood by unbelievers becomes
clear in the statement that "at the Last Day all those human beings who die
without faith in Christ will be consigned to the same hell of eternal torment
and doom," to which the fallen angels are already condemned.
is of course intolerance pure and simple, and men who so believe are right to
eschew Masonry. But essentially Islam is equally intolerant, and though our
liberally minded Jewish brethren may dissent it seems true that Judaism is in
some places (and it must be confessed very naturally) as intolerant of
Christianity as some Christians are of Judaism. In a sense it is so natural as
to be almost inevitable, that an ethical religion should be intolerant.
Polytheism is broad and inclusive, a new god is simply added to the pantheon;
India has thousands of gods and goddesses. But the higher and purer a religion
becomes, the more it holds its followers morally and spiritually and the more
certain they become that they are right; and the corollary of that certainty
is that others are wrong. There is a higher level still, we believe, but not
easy to attain, and that is that our rightness does not exclude the rightness
of others even though we cannot see how logically conflicting beliefs can be
reconciled in the same system of truth. This tolerance is a positive thing, it
is hard to attain. It is hard, for instance, to believe that Christ is God,
and that Salvation comes only through Him, and yet admit that the Unitarian or
the Mohammedan also believes in and worships the same God, and that God will
receive them according as they followed the light given them. There is a much
easier form of tolerance which is really incipient unbelief and indifference.
The former, truer tolerance would hardly be condemned; men possessing it may
found in every church and every creed - not many, but here and there one or
two. The other tolerance is what our religious opponents see in Freemasonry
and condemn. And are they altogether wrong? Is such tolerance really an asset?
Practically it may be some extent, but it comes back to what is perhaps the
real point of the question with which we started, can an intelligent person
who believes in a definite positive creed hold to the religion and philosophy
of Masonry? It is possible that it is this implication that leads many
brethren who are sincere and earnest Christians to interpret Masonry in a
Christian sense. This is their undoubted right so long as they do not seek
also to force it on their brethren as the only interpretation. But on the
other hand it certainly seems that those whose beliefs are as exclusive as
those quoted above are right, and fully justified, in remaining outside, and
possibly even in condemning the Fraternity.
Bulletin of the National Masonic Tuberculosis Sanatoria Association
Incorporated by Authority of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico, A.F.&A.M.
MASONIC TEMPLE, ALBUQUERQUE, N. M.
OFFICERS AND BOARD OF GOVERNORS
HERBERT B. HOLT, Past Grand Master, President
RICHARD H. HANNA, Vice-President
FRANCIS E. LESTER, Vice-President
L. ELSER, Executive Secretary
ALPHEUS A. KEEN, Secretary
W. BOWMAN, Treasurer
J. NEWTON, Editor, Manager N.M.T.S.A.. Las Cruces, New Mexico
Tale of Proceedings
the Grand Master's Address; Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1924.
sometimes hear the expression that 'charity begins at home.' Masonic charity
begins at home in the sense that we are obligated to take proper care of our
own needy brethren, their widows and orphans, but Masonic charity should not
end at home. We are taught that 'Freemasonry is neither bounded by
geographical lines nor circumscribed by race, creed or time,' and that 'wheresoever
destitution exists, there it is Masonic duty to relieve.' Our lodges are
constituted in the name of 'universal benevolence' and in the dedicatory
ceremony we pray that the Fraternity everywhere may be inspired to such deeds
of benevolence as shall prove a constant joy to all mankind. Masonry teaches
us that our charity shall be 'as boundless as the wants of our fellowman’.”
the Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1926.
four pages of the Grand Master's address is devoted to the N. M. T.,S. A. and
the tubercular problem. The situation in the Southwest was described, largely
by quotations from reports and appeals made by the association for assistance.
He then went on to say:
"Inasmuch as New York is mentioned as being second on the list of the six
states furnishing the most migrants, and that New York furnishes a large part
of the migration to the Southwest, and that Masons form a part of the
migration of the sick to the Southwest, I sent to the Master of each lodge a
letter requesting him to have the Secretary send to the Grand Secretary at
once a list giving all the names and addresses of the members of his lodge at
present residing in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, and have the Secretary,
where it is known that the brother was afflicted with tuberculosis, to so
indicate on his list, and advise what has been done in his case; at the same
time a copy was sent to the District Deputy Grand Master of each district with
a request that he follow the matter up. Out of 965 lodges, reports have been
received from 884. These reports show there are 217 of their members residing
in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico; 192 of this number are in good health as far
as the lodge records show; two were afflicted with tuberculosis, but have
recovered, and 23 are at present afflicted, and are there for their health;
some of these are in good circumstances; some being cared for by their
relatives; none apparently have asked for assistance at home. These reports
are not to be taken as final, for the reason that reports from 81 lodges are
missing, and for the further reason that the present physical condition of
each member will have to be checked up, and should any of them be unable to
meet the expenses of the treatment they require, and in the proper way,
assistance should be promptly furnished them in the same manner as though they
were residents here, together with the expense of distribution to the
individuals through whatever agency may be selected in each state, whether it
be the association referred to, or otherwise, and as the Trustees of the
Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund do not have the necessary funds, I recommend they
be supplied with such funds as they may find to be necessary. This would seem
to meet the following requirement in a publication of the National Masonic
Tuberculosis Sanatoria Association, sent by M. W. Bro. Miller, reading as
follows: 'We propose to make an effort, which we have faith to believe will be
successful, to interest Masons of the United States in this problem to secure
their help to meet this need. The Masons of the Southwest will give their
time, what money they can afford, and their talents, to work out this problem
in the future, as they have in the past, if our brethren in the North, South,
East and West will help us to take care of their own members who come out here
and sooner or later appeal to our local lodges for help.' "
result a recommendation was made to Grand Lodge as follows:
direction of the Grand Master, a joint meeting of the Elective Grand Lodge
Officers, Committee on Constitution, Committee on Jurisprudence, Trustees of
the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund, Chief Commissioner of Appeals and Judge
Advocate, was held on Tuesday afternoon, May fourth, 1926.
"Consideration was given to the matter of tubercular relief and the matter of
the National Masonic Tuberculosis Sanatoria Association.
following resolutions were adopted to be presented to Grand Lodge:
Resolved, That the sum of ten thousand dollars be placed in the possession of
the Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund to be used by them for
tubercular relief, and that the Grand Lodge be requested to make said
appropriation for that purpose from the Permanent Fund.
Resolved, That the matter of the National Masonic Tuberculosis Sanatoria
Association be referred to the Elective Grand Lodge Officers and the Committee
on Jurisprudence for consideration and report."
the Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1927.
following is from the report made by the Joint Committee on Jurisprudence and
Constitution on the subject of the N. M. T.,S. A., and its recommendations
object of this enterprise is worthy and one that appeals to all. As is known,
many people who become afflicted with that dread disease, in their search for
health and life, migrate to certain Southwestern states of our country, where
the climate is thought to be helpful for them. Many of these become indigent
and sometimes objects of charity. Our brethren in Arizona, New Mexico and some
of the bordering states, endeavoring to alleviate this distress, have or are
about to organize a corporation and through it build and maintain a sanitarium
for such; while principally for Masons and their families, it is intended to
benefit all thus suffering. They are asking the other Grand Lodges of our
country to join with them in this undertaking. There are three main objections
to our so doing. (a) It is not a Masonic organization except as it is
organized and will, presumably, be managed by Masons, largely for the benefit
of Masons. (b) It is an out of the state corporation; by associating ourselves
with it, formally and officially, we would subject ourselves financially and
possibly otherwise to the laws of a foreign state with all the incumbent
dangers to such a situation. The distance is such that we could have no real
voice or part in its management or control. (c) The third is, perhaps, of
minor importance, but nevertheless must be given its place in the
determination. When this matter first came up, our then Grand Master, M. W.
Bro. Rowan, caused to be made a careful survey of our membership with a view
of determining about how many would likely benefit from such an infirmary. It
transpired that out of our large membership there were but one or two who came
within its intendment. Our lodges, with the aid of the Grand Lodge, are caring
for most of these needy brethren and their dependents, in the Adirondacks.
year we contributed $10,000 toward the help of these sufferers and doubtless
will send them from time to time additional sums. From all aspects it seems
better not to embark in an enterprise where the financial responsibility is
not only unknown but inherently dangerous.
therefore recommend that the matter of the National Masonic Tuberculosis
Sanatoria Association, so far as membership of the Grand Lodge therein is
concerned, be not approved ond that the invitation to become a member thereof
be respectfully declined."
this report is appended a copy of a letter by M. W. Bro. Frank L. Simpson,
Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, to M. W. Bro. Herbert B.
Holt, of New Mexico, in relation to the foregoing.
letter from Bro. Simpson to Bro. Holt, copies of which were sent by him to all
the Grand Masters in the United States, is very long, but in spite of that
should be published for the benefit of the American Craft. It gives one the
impression that Bro. Simpson wrote rather as a lawyer to his brief than as a
Mason. Attention should be given to the three objections stated. Note the
element of doubt introduced with the word "presumably." They are well worth
* * *
the Grand Master's Address; Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1927.
N. M. T. S. A.] is an association organized and incorporated by the M. W.
Grand Lodge of New Mexico to act as an agent, or trustee, for all Grand
Jurisdictions that will cooperate with it in the relief and hospitalization of
consumptive Masons, and I feel that this is a worthy association and one that
all Master Masons will support. I wonder how many of the brethren realize that
there are 91 deaths from tuberculosis among the Masons of this state every
year, according to the figures compiled by this association? Oklahoma has 396
hospital beds to care for approximately 1233 citizens who die annually of
tuberculosis. The figures shown above were prepared by the recently organized
National Masonic Tuberculosis Sanatoria Association which was chartered by the
Grand Lodge of New Mexico 'to act as an agent or trustee; to receive and
administer funds contributed or acquired for the relief of Freemasons and
their families; to secure hospitalization of the sick; to render service
according to the need and our ability; to erect and operate sanatoria; to aid
in the prevention and the treatment of tuberculosis among Masons and their
families; to disseminate knowledge as to the cause, treatment, relief and cure
of tuberculosis.' From my own knowledge this association is doing good. One
Master Mason from a lodge near my home town has been cared for by this
association and he tells me that they have visited him many times and were
always willing to render every service within their power. I feel that we
would be remiss in our duty as Masons were we to fail to contribute to this
association. The money that we pay in salaries and expenses of our Masonic
Service Association, if contributed to organize relief such as this
association officers, will, in my opinion, be contributed to real Masonic
service. It is impossible for the Grand Lodge within whose jurisdiction lies
the mecca of our tubercular brethren, to give aid to each and every one who
requests it, however worthy they may be. Statistics gathered by the
association show that 90 per cent of the tubercular brethren who go to the and
region in search of relief appeal for help to some charitable association in
less than one year after their arrival. The city of El Paso, Texas, estimates
a 600 non-resident, sick Master Masons in that city. Albuquerque has 200
cases, and Denver, Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, and
many other smaller cities and towns have more than their proportionate share.
To meet these conditions the Grand Lodge of New Mexico was compelled, in self
defense, to create or incorporate a legal Masonic institution to handle
problems which arise, when brethren from their Grand jurisdictions, our own
included, come to them every day for help. The recent Chicago meeting of the
Masonic Service Association considered this problem and was so impressed with
the need for prompt and definite action that it has undertaken to issue a call
for funds for organization work.'
quoting literally from literature sent out by this association. I feel that
our Grand Lodge should take some action towards recognizing this association
and that we should contribute our bit toward the care of our unfortunate
* * *
the Grand Master's Address; Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1926.
of the worst scourges of the human race is tuberculosis. The awful ravages of
this dread disease are familiar to all of us but up to very recently it has
not been presented to us in the light of a distinctively Masonic problem. To
our brethren in the Southwest it has been such for years and they have borne a
steadily increasing burden in the ministering to the needs of the thousands of
Masons who are led to seek the benefits of their invigorating climate in the
usually vain search for health and strength.
report of a special committee to the Masonic Service Association said last
more than a generation consumptives have gone to the Southwest seeking the
benefits of a mild climate, most of them without adequate means of support.
These numbers of indigent, migratory consumptives have created a problem which
during the last fifteen years has engaged the study and attention of charity,
welfare and health organizations, and of the United States Government. Some
ten years ago the National Tuberculosis Association estimated that 10,000 or
more hopeless cases went to the west every year and that more than half of
them soon became objects of charity.'
1920 in six southwestern cities a total of 7319 consumptives was found.
Sixteen per cent of them made application for assistance within a week after
arrival, one-third within a month, 50 per cent within three months and 90 per
cent within less than a year after coming to these cities.
these unfortunates hundreds are Masons and in many cases that fact is
discovered by accident or when it is too late to give the sufferer any lasting
725 sick Masons in El Paso, and 250 in Albuquerque, are but samples of the
Masonic tubercular population of the great Southwest who have gone there by
thousands in hope of relief and in the great majority of cases have become a
burden on the lodges there, a burden of which far too little is carried by the
the purpose of centralizing this work under the authority of a responsible
organization the National Masonic Tuberculosis Sanatoria Association was
formed under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of New Mexico on the eighteenth
of February and is now being recognized by our Grand Lodges as a proper
channel through which to contribute to this most distressing need. To them
Massachusetts has sent a thousand dollars, New Jersey the same, Connecticut
$500, and other jurisdictions according to their ability. This is a work in
which we should be represented and I recommend that we make a contribution of
$200 to this association."
conclusion he said:
"Brethren, I wonder if we are open to criticism of being content to float
about in the eddy of indifference when the current Masonic life, activity and
thought should have carried us to higher and better things, to larger fields
of usefulness and service. Ignorance may be bliss, but is far from folly to be
informed regarding the Masonic progress of the day and the various
organizations bearing the approval of the Fraternity which have come into
being during the last few years. We cannot stand aloof indefinitely and
continue to hold up our heads among our brethren round about. The time has
gone by, if it ever was, when Masons can proudly consider themselves as
considerably better than the average run of men and by so doing justify
failure as good citizens. More and more insistent comes the demand for deeds
in the place of words, and less and less are claims taken at their face value
and respect given to traditional virtue and merit claimed by the descendants
by those whose possession of those qualities in ample measure distinguished
them among their brethren.
is no surer way to dry up sympathy, kindness and regard than indulgence in
that feeling of superiority which is the natural result of dwelling upon past
performance or record. Others care nothing for alibi and not much more for
history, and we face the ever-growing demand that organizations as well as men
be judged according to achievement.
mission is service, and that implies and demands far more than good
ritualistic ceremony or excellent floor work. These are well, and the emphasis
placed upon them is well bestowed, but they are too highly valued if they are
regarded as anything more than the means to an end, and that end is the
bringing of the elect and through them those whom in some degree they
influence into a place of larger outlook on the great problem of life, of
deeper sympathy with our brothers in need, of high resolve to do our part in
making the world a cleaner, brighter and better place in which to live. Such
is the nature of our engagement as Master Masons, and to these duties we are
bound by the most solemn ties."
* * *
the Grand Master's Address; Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1925.
"Exultant claims of superiority and exceptional worth for our Order are but
sounding brass and tinkling cymbals unless supported by concrete evidence of
efficient service to mankind in either a moral or practical sense. Euphonious
phrases alone never relieve a widow's want, nor will high sounding platitudes
stop the cravings of a hungry man. Comfortable surroundings and wholesome
social intercourse stimulate interest in lodge meetings, and should not be
discountenanced or discouraged in any Masonic community. This, however, should
not and does not alter the fact that the relief of distress, the protection of
the widow and orphan, and the kind and sympathetic ministrations to those who
have a just claim upon our affections is the solvent and indisputable
guarantee of our merit, and the best assurance of posterity's favor.
"Freemasonry is as mysterious in its operations as it is in its origin. It
came into my life in a trail of domestic sorrow. A beloved kinsman stricken
with a lingering illness languished for months ere his spirit took its flight
from a tenement of suffering. During all this period of anxiety, Freemasons,
true to their calling, ministered to his every want. It was a ministry beyond
my understanding, this subtle power which drew men from different walks in
life, for such they were, to act the part of gentle Samaritan. Here indeed was
the incarnate and overt spirit of God leading gently His children through the
agency of a temporal order to do His bidding and serve His cause. I sought
this brotherhood, was inducted into its light and from then until now, by
Heaven's permission, it has been the medium through which I have rendered to
mankind the best service a moderate intellect and feeble body would permit."
* * *
the Grand Master's Address; Grand Lodge Proceedings, 1926.
association [the N. M. T. S. A.] was incorporated in 1925 by the Grand Lodge
of New Mexico, for the purpose of extending needed relief, through
hospitalization and other means, to Masons afflicted with tuberculosis and to
Mexico, Texas and Arizona, having equable climates, have become Meccas for
these sufferers, who have invaded these states named in such numbers that it
is beyond the power and financial means of the communities to afford relief to
all. In two cities alone, El Paso, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, there
are nearly one thousand tubercular Masons, 75 per cent of them from other
jurisdictions, many of them dependent wholly on charity.
have received many letters and printed circulars from Grand Master H. B. Holt,
of New Mexico, President of the Association, stating the aims of the
organization and inviting the cooperation of all jurisdictions. The movement
has received the endorsement of the Masonic Service Association and of the
National Tuberculosis Association, and a majority of the Grand Jurisdictions
has accepted service on the Board of Governors, being represented either by
the Grand Master or a Past Grand Master. At the earnest solicitation of
President Holt, I recently consented to serve on the Board, such acceptance
not committing this Grand jurisdiction to any definite action.
have at hand all of the correspondence and much printed matter pertaining to
this subject, and would respectfully suggest that it be referred to a
committee to investigate and make report during this session; or, if that be
found impracticable, to work in conjunction with the incoming Grand Master,
and make report at the next session of the Grand Lodge."
* * *
the Review of Templar Proceedings, by Grand Recorder Ray V. Denslow, of
has been estimated that the value of the Templar uniforms actually owned in
the United States today is almost $50,000,000. Almost $2,000,000 is invested
annually by those who are knighted.
this by an Order whose novitiates formerly took upon themselves the vows of
poverty, chastity and obedience. Such an investment in Masonic temples would
give us one hundred half-million dollar temples; the annual investment would
build forty $50,000 temples or give a splendid competence to 4000 deserving
widows and orphans.
worth the expense?
writer can take you within a radius of three hundred miles and show you
anywhere from five hundred to a thousand uniforms never removed from their
original wrappings; he can take you into almost any jurisdiction and show you
75 to 80 per cent of the uniforms not in use in a single year. The percentage
might be decreased during Triennial year, which leads us to the question of
what is to be gained by the vast amount of money expended tri-annually in
attending the parade of the Grand Encampment. The writer's own jurisdiction
will, no doubt, expend upwards of $100,000 in making this trip; the writer
confesses that he himself intends to be a member of the party, and yet, after
all, he wonders whether the end justifies the means.
"Extravagance and luxury were the two great causes which contributed to the
downfall of the Ancient Order of Knighthood. Is history to repeat itself in
the downfall of the modern Order? Whether we attempt to pass out by way of the
south, the west or the east, we are waylaid by the railways, the hotel keepers
and the uniform makers, so that eventually we may have to put on the garments
of poverty, which will necessarily result in chastity and probably obedience.
can be done? Let us return to our ancient obligations; let us devote our
substance to the relief of the distressed widows and orphans; let us rally to
the defense of innocent maidens and the Christian religion, not a religion of
show, but a religion of practice.
be necessary, or if it be thought wise, to wear the distinguishing mark of the
Templar, let us at least try to bear out the tradition by endeavoring to wear
the true Templar costume, which is just as essential as the true Templar
cross. A parade of thousands of Knights, thus garbed, would be like a breath
from the feudal days, a vision of the chivalry of the Middle Ages, and a spark
of the religious enthusisam which incited many of another century to perform
acts of charity and deeds of pure beneficience which spread their fame both
far and wide.
us return to our ancient customs and principles."
Comment on all this seems hardly called for. The story told by these
quotations is on the whole a saddening one, at least to those who think that
the Craft should be organized to give effect to the responsibilities and
obligations voluntarily assumed by every Mason.
pamphlet on "How to Organize and Maintain a Study Club" will be sent free on
request, in quantities to fifty
Formation of a Study Club
Practical Illustration of the Work of the National Masonic Research Society
following excerpts are taken from one of our files and show step by step the
formation of a Study Club by a group of interested Masons. Names and places
have been intentionally omitted, but will be furnished to anyone who cares to
address an inquiry to the Society.
accordance with the new plan for this department, we are publishing these
letters because they are valuable in assisting others in the formation of
Study Clubs. There is, ready for publication, a series of articles relative to
a Study Club formed under the auspices of the National Masonic Research
Society which will appear from time to time in the pages of THE BUILDER.
However, the Study Club Department is to be devoted primarily to
correspondence which might furnish clews to those who are undertaking the
organization of Study Groups, and which might be of assistance to those Clubs
already under way. For this reason, the series above mentioned may be
interrupted at any time in order to make room for important correspondence.
following letter is the first in the series relative to the formation of a
Study Club in a Western city, and with its succeeding correspondence indicates
the manner in which the N. M. R. S. aids the work of developing intelligent
study of Masonic history and principles:
of the members of this lodge are anxious to organize a Study Club. Some time
ago I received several leaflets relative to such clubs from the National
Masonic Research Society. I have just been appointed Acting Chairman of the
Committee on Masonic Education in our lodge and I hope to get a real Study
Club started - one which will grow and spread "further light in Masonry." I
would appreciate your sending me any information you may have relative to the
first problems confronting us in the organization of such a Club.
reply to this letter the Society wrote as follows:
first difficulty which confronts any Study Group is the problem of what to
study. It seems quite difficult for beginning groups to select a starting
point and carry out anything in the way of systematic study. We have recently
published a new Syllabus of Masonic Study which covers the ritual and
symbolism of the three degrees in a manner particularly designed to meet this
Syllabus is a course in ceremonial and symbolical Masonry covering the first
three degrees. The design is such that it carries the candidate through the
ceremony in ritual sequence, explaining as it progresses the symbolism of each
ritual act. The Syllabus itself is in outline form and is divided into
convenient sections, each accompanied by a list of references to the necessary
textbooks. These references mention not only the name of the book, but the
pages on which the information will be found. It is so arranged that a student
having the textbooks is able to select his reading in accordance with the
course. In the case of a Study Club each subdivision could be made the topic
for one meeting. The leader could prepare his talk from the references and the
other members could read such portions of them as they saw fit. This would
prepare them to take part in the evening's discussion.
two weeks later we were pleased to receive the following letter from our
night, at an invitational gathering of certain brethren of my lodge, we
organized a Study Circle which we have named the .......... Masonic Research
my privilege to be instrumental in promoting this meeting and we derived a
great deal of benefit from the suggestions, advice, etc., contained in the
leaflets which you sent, together with the information in your letter to me.
planning to commence our study with the Symbolism of the First Degree, and
work on through the three degrees.
motion of one of our members, which was duly seconded and unanimously carried,
we voted to make all Masters and Past Masters, who desired to join us in our
work, honorary members of our Club.
city we have two Blue Lodges. Our idea in naming our Study Circle the Masonic
Research Club was, to have it maintain itself, thereby making it possible for
t brothers of both lodges to become members of our club. This, we believe,
will help to more strongly unite the two lodges in the interests of
Freemasonry in our locality, and will do much to promote a more cordial and
sincere feeling of Brotherly Love among the Craft.
our intention to establish a Question Box, in the ante room of the lodges, for
the benefit of the curious, interested members of the Fraternity who desire
more light as to the "whys and wherefores" and who desire to know what it is
feel very fortunate in having a Master who is particularly interested along
these lines, and who will cooperate with us in every way possible, and
particularly by announcing in open session of the lodge the date of our
meeting, and allotting us certain time for replying to the queries received in
the Question Box.
reply the only thing which might be of interest to the general reader is the
excerpt printed below:
Question Box idea seems particularly good. Doubtless you will run into
questions from time to time that will stump you and to which you will not be
able to find answers conveniently. Please bear in mind when such an occasion
arises that the National Masonic Research Society stands ready to place all of
its resources for work of this kind at your disposal. We will either prepare
an answer to your questions or send you the material from which you can
prepare your own answer, whichever seems best suited to the case, or as you
correspondence has continued very much along the same lines and there is
little more of interest. The club is flourishing and they have sent in several
questions in accordance with the plan above suggested. The following extract
shows the extent of this progress:
have started the work of study as outlined in the Syllabus and at our next
meeting the Study Director is going to have different brothers read a portion
of the text and then hold this portion open for discussion.
membership is now fifteen and we are all very much interested in the work.
order to show that the work of the Society was beneficial and appreciated, we
quote the latest communication from this Club:
regular meeting of the …… Masonic Research Club held on July 15, 1927, the
brothers assembled being very grateful for the help furnished by the Society
at the time we were organizing our Club, upon motion duly made, seconded and
unanimously carried, adopted the following resolution:
a copy of the Constitution and By-Laws be sent to the National Masonic
Research Society of St. Louis, Mo., for the purpose of advising them of the
progress of the .......... Masonic Research Club and as a mark of appreciation
of their efforts on behalf of the Club."
Pursuant to the wish of the brothers the Secretary was instructed to attend to
this matter and enclosed herewith pleas find a copy of the above mentioned
Constitution and By-Laws.
books reviewed in these pages can be procured through the Book Department of
the N.M.R.S. at the prices given, which always include postage. These prices
are subject (as a matter of precaution) to change without notice; though
occasion for this will very seldom arise. Occasionally it may happen, where
books are privately printed, that there is no supply available, but some
indication of this will be given in the review. The Book Department is
equipped to procure any books in print on any subject, and will make inquiries
for second-hand works and books out of print.
GENTLEMEN MARCH. By Roland Pertwee. Published by The Houghton Mifflin Co.,
Boston. Cloth, Table of Contents, 323 pages. Price, $2.15.
our readers has ever heard of Roland Pertwee? No, this is not one of those
"Ask Me Another" tests, but an honest question. I must confess that until I
saw the announcement of his new novel he was totally unknown to me. I hate to
make such an admission for two reasons. In the first place it is not pleasant
to admit ignorance, and in the second, which is by far the more important, for
seven years I seem to have missed some of the most delightful entertainment
that has been offered to those who enjoy light fiction. It was with no little
trepidation that the reading of Gentlemen March was undertaken. I put it off
as long as possible, for no particular reason, except that I dreaded the
possibility of its being one of those dull novels that one so frequently finds
today. It was undertaken one evening when the humor for more serious reading
was off on vacation. The book was finished the same evening with the
consequent loss of sleep and with the resulting inefficiency the next morning.
It is not a particularly arduous task to read a three hundred page novel in
one evening. Usually one reads about one hundred pages and looks over, or over
looks, as you prefer, the balance. That means two hours at the most. This was
different, however. It was impossible to skip anything. One never knew around
which corner, or over which page, something new was going to happen. You could
not afford to skip through it, and you did not want to, either. This was my
introduction to Roland Pertwee. I hope I shall come to know him better. (I
learned a little more the other night, but that comes later in the story.)
those who profess to read nothing but non-fiction find it, necessary to get
away from the serious thoughts of scholars once in a while and hide in the
realms of romance. There is no more invigorating relaxation to my mind than a
good story of adventure. Doubtless you know what is coming, but I cannot
resist the temptation to mention the man who, to my way of thinking, has done
more to place adventure upon the highest plane of fiction than any other
living author. Rafael Sabatini has for several years past been my idol and
ideal when it came to this type of literature. I do not think that anyone will
ever usurp the place occupied in my mind by that story of the French
Revolution which first brought Sabatini before the great mass of people.
Scaramouche was, and still is, his masterpiece. Those works which have come
since do not reach the same pinnacle. They are excellent reading, no one can
deny that, but somehow they fall short of the above mentioned melodrama. His
earlier works show the effects of immaturity, but the plots are vivid and
packed with dramatic incidents that are sufficient to hold almost anyone on
the edge of his chair, and if he becomes too deeply impressed he is likely to
fall off. I have found that the best place to read books of this kind is on
the floor. It obviates all possible danger, and gives ample opportunity to
allow your mind full sway.
this fellow Pertwee comes upon the scene. In many ways I wish he had remained
in the fastnesses from which he came. I shall have to spena no little time in
the next few weeks trying to catch up with what I have missed. The short
biographical sketch to be found on the wrapper of Gentlemen March tells us
that like Aubrey Beardsley (whoever he was), Pertwee was born in Brighton and
that he began his career as an artist working under John Singer Sargent and
Alma-Tadema. Later he forsook the palette and brush for the stage and played
under the management of H. B. Irving. (That is the second unknown who has
received publicity from the publishers.) Pertwee says that he always did
write, but that until the war it was only for his own amusement. During the
war he began to write seriously. Short stories came first and then his first
novel, Our Wonderful Selves, was written in 1918 in a convalescent hospital.
So much for the author. I find I am about nine years behind time and insist
that I shall have to catch up very soon.
story of Gentlemen March must be read to be appreciated. Briefly the action
concerns Nicholas Cheyne who meets a school-girl in Paris, and of course, it
is always "of course" in a case of this kind, falls in love with her. He
learns that Natalie is heir to the throne of Sciriel, which seems to let him
out, accordingly he tries to conquer his love by enlisting in the Foreign
Legion. After seven years of service Nicholas discovers that the Great War has
brought about the overthrow of the reigning house of Sciriel. He departs from
the Legion to seek and rescue Natalie, whom he thinks of no longer as a Crown
Princess, but as a woman to whom he may once more aspire. The rest of the
story you can imagine, but don't try to do more than picture the ending. The
adventures of Nicholas in Sciriel form the most fascinating bit of adventurous
literature it has been my pleasure to read in a long time.
been indicated there are other novels by this same writer. I do hope there are
not too many, because the busy season is coming on and it will be necessary to
devote some time to other work. The fact that I read Rivers to Cross one night
was mentioned earlier. It is necessary to say just a word about that book. It
is a worthy predecessor to Gentlemen March and if these two books can be taken
as a criterion a word of warning will also be necessary. I began Rivers to
Cross on the way home. I had an engagement for the evening and was late in
keeping it. Arriving home considerably later, I saw the book again, and
finished it in the wee small hours of the morning. Whatever you do, and
whatever you want to do, don't miss reading Gentlemen March. If you like this
sort of fiction you will want to read more of Pertwee; if you have no liking
for it read it anyhow, and then read Scaramouche. I venture the opinion that
you will be haunting the libraries for the rest of Pertwee's books, and not a
few of Sabatini's. But above all things don't start any of them unless you
have an evening totally free, and with no strings tied to it. Of course, it
makes no difference if you don't mind missing a night's sleep, but if you
start Gentlemen March or Rivers to Cross, you will finish them before morning.
* * *
MESSAGE OF THE POETS. By, John J. Lanier. Privately printed. Limited Masonic
Edition (125 copies). Cloth, table of contents, 159 pages. Price, $5.00.
Ordinary edition; $2.50.
is a strange little book; it would be difficult to give it a label and put it
in its right place. Most books follow certain broad lines, they are novels,
books of verse, histories, or they treat of some special subject. This treats
of poetry it is true, but to say that would not give an adequate idea of what
it is. Bro. Lanier, who is at heart a poet himself, sets out ostensibly to
tell us the place that poetry should take in our lives, but he goes on far
beyond that into the inescapable facts of birth and life and death, and the
tragedy of the world, and what is at the back of it all. This he does partly
in his own words and partly in the language of poems quoted to illustrate his
following quotations may give a better idea of what is to be found than any
world were such a world as we would like the Almighty to make for us, we
should be jelly fish to the end of time. We never should have any physical,
mental or spiritual backbone. The world is hard and full of dangers of all
sorts; and ought to be so, for in no other kind of world can men and women be
made brave, generous, noble, fearless and godlike. This is the purpose of God
. . . and if one objects to being such a person this is the worst of worlds to
awards are not given because of what we have thought about God, or even how we
have treated Him, but because of what we have done to our fellow man.
shall say unto us, "Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto
these my children, even unto the least, you have done it unto me."
is not new of course. People have been reading it in the Bible for centuries -
and yet official and formal religionists are always smothering it up with
their version of the "traditions of the elders."
Speaking of the family tie he says:
takes something tremendously strong to hold the family together after it is
made. In fact it takes the strongest thing in the universe. And at times it is
a terrific strain even upon this greatest of all powers. What is it? It is
love. Nothing less than love can work this miracle.
book deserved better of the printers and the proof readers. But that is
probably incidental to the work being done locally by printers unused to book
work; so perhaps the critic should not be too severe. In these days it is a
great risk and a great expense for any but a writer of "best sellers" to
publish a book, and we believe this was well worth publishing.
* * *
DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATING THE HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION IN MEDIAEVAL ENGLAND
(1066-1500). By R. Trevor Davies. Published by Methuen & Co. Cloth, table of
contents, index, 413 pages. Price, $3.65.
title of this book is a very accurate one, it is a collection of documents,
and they do illustrate the history of Mediaeval England, which includes the
civilization of the period; but in spite of that it is very misleading. One
would naturally expect, after wading through the title, a dry-as-dust work of
reference; and a casual glancing through the book might confirm the
expectation, for it looks like that kind of book. But if one stops to read a
few sentences the illusion is gone, the veil is rent, and one is apt to be
lost till someone else impatiently says it is time for supper or bed or
something else equally unimportant. Even the extracts from Domesday book have
an interest, and the trial of a horse-thief in the thirteenth century, in
spite of its ritual dialogue, moves on as swiftly to its denouement as in the
court of Judge Lynch himself with a jury of Vigilantes, only the condemned was
allowed to have his shrift from a priest before he was hung.
regulations in the Statute of Winchester regarding clearing the highways are
interesting - two hundred feet on each side was to be cleared so as to leave
no covert for an ambush; and every man had to have "harness" and weapons
according to his means and rank "for to keep the peace." And "view of armour"
(which was an inspection of arms where every freeman was a soldier) was to be
made twice a year.
chronicle of Jocelyn of Brakelond, a monk of St. Edmunds, is very exciting in
places, especially where be tells of the election of Samson, master of the
novices, to be abbot. The abbot of St. Edmunds was a very important person,
and the king had much interest in the election. Samson was by birth of the
lowest classes, his election put him on an equality with the greatest nobles.
The king was suspicious, the monks timid, they wanted Samson but were almost
too frightened to say so. But their choice was justified, the new abbot pulled
the monastery out of the slough of debt and disorder into which it had fallen,
and though he had disputes with the monks and the king and the burghers of St.
Albans, all respected him, and in the end loved him.
is a long extract from the journal of the Sieur de Joinville, who accompanied
St. Louis, King of France, on the Crusade. This gives a very vivid picture of
the campaign with many sidelights on the customs and manners of the time. When
he left home, he says he would not turn his eyes towards Joinville for fear
his heart would melt at the thought of leaving his home and children.
Froissart's Chronicles are readily accessible, being in most public libraries,
and the passages quoted are those best known, the description of the English
campaigns in France and the prowess of the Black Prince. Perhaps the most
interesting, to those who do not already know them, are the selections from
the Paston letters. These are between members and friends of the Paston
family, and show at once how amazingly like ourselves people were then, and
yet how different their lives. The quaintest thing is perhaps the letter of
Margaret Paston to her "Right Worshipful Husband" (she calls him "dear heart"
in other places), asking him to send some crossbows and "quarrels" and "wyndacs"
to wind the bows up with, because the house "was so low that there may none
man shoot out with no long bow though we had never so much need," also she
wants some short poleaxes to keep within doors, presumably for the inmates to
use on any unwelcome intruders. The times were evidently rather lively - also
the lady was not afraid of double or even triple negatives.
Probably it is better to get the original works, Froissat, William of
Malmesbury, Giraldus Cambrensis, Sir John Maundeville and the rest; but for
those who have them not this book will give at least a selection of the
treasures to be found i these old chronicles of the past.
* * *
AUTOGRAPHS AND THEIR REVELATIONS. By Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose. Published by
the MacmiIlan Co. Cloth, analytical table of contents, illustrated, appendix,
index. Price, $1.95.
seem rather curious to introduce a book by quoting from the Appendix. But as
this is taken from the Inaugural Address on the occasion of the dedication of
the Bose Institute at Calcutta in 1917 it would naturally say something of the
author's work and the purpose or ideal inspiring it. This is one thing he
excessive specialization in modern science has led to the danger of losing
sight of the fundamental fact that there can be but one truth, one science,
which includes all the branches of knowledge.
can be little doubt that this is the fundamental postulate of all scientific
research. The scientist, who is very, very seldom a philosopher, takes the
naive metaphysics of common sense for granted. He assumes that things, the
facts of the world are real, and also that they are explicable. And on this
assumption he would also look for real and intelligible connections between
different sciences, or branches of science, only that he seldom thinks about
it, being too much occupied and his field of vision too much circumscribed by
his labors in his own mine or quarry. The author went on:
through her habit of mind is peculiarly fitted to realize the idea of unity,
and to see in the phenomenal world an orderly universe.
world that, as he had just remarked, appears at first sight to be so chaotic
and disconnected. It was this that led him "to the frontiers in the different
sciences" and "to the border region of physics and physiology" where he was
. . .
to find boundary lines vanishing and points of contact emerging between the
realms of the living and non-living. Inorganic matter was found to be anything
but inert. . . . A common reaction seemed to bring. together metal plant and
animal under a general law. They all exhibited the phenomena of fatigue and
depression, together with possibilities of recovery and exaltation yet also
that of permanent irresponsiveness which is associated with death.
sense this is not entirely new; for instance, it was observed long ago by
practical men whose work made it important, that metals appear to suffer from
fatigue, and that being allowed to rest the weak places are strengthened; but
the observation was rather of the loose and inaccurate type of every day
judgments, where we arrive at conclusions, or impressions, from accumulated
experience, without being able to give any definite account of the matter,
statistical or analytical. This has, however, been one of those things that
comparatively few people knew and still fewer had thought about; in regard to
plants it is far otherwise. Hundreds of thousands of people are intimately
concerned with these, and have observed their habits, have seen how the roots
of seedlings will go down and the shoots come up; or rather how shoots and
leaves will seek the light, as the roots will burrow for moisture and food.
People who love flowers, and they are many, will often in a half-ashamed way
say that it seems that plants actually respond to care and attention beyond
the mere provision of favorable conditions. While other people cannot keep
them alive no matter what they do. This may be superstition, but it is folk
lore in the general sense, and the raw material of science.
a case of interest and attention after all. For many people have denied, and
some do deny, that animals have any intelligence, or even feeling, and act
accordingly. They are no worse than others, less sympathetic and less
observant still, who seem to think almost that other races of mankind than
their own are without sense or sensibility; and also speak and act
Jagadis Chunder Bose has brought to bear on this borderland all the technique
of modern exact science. The science that depends on measurements of the
greatest refinement, of strict records and repeated experiments. He had of
course to devise apparatus for the purpose, much of which is clearly described
in the present work. Machines for magnifying and recording the most minute
movements, devices that make the growth of a plant visible, that show how it
varies, sometimes even in a negative sense, shrinking instead of growing. As a
result of his experiments he has discovered that the flow of sap in plants is
caused exactly in the same way as the flow of blood in animals. It does not
depend on pressures, or attraction, capillary or otherwise, but is due to the
rhythmic expansion and contraction of the cells in the vascular fibres, each
cell acting as an undifferentiated and microscopic heart, forcing the sap
received from its neighbor below into the one next above. The movement is so
small, the cells of course being visible only under a microscope, that it
could not be detected without such apparatus as the author has invented.
same way rudimentary powers of movement have been detected which in principle
are analogous in every way to the muscular activity of animals. And more than
this a real nervous system is shown to exist. Very simple indeed, compared
with that of mammals or human beings, about in the same ratio as a toy
telephone would be to a large telephone exchange in a big city with all its
connections, but nevertheless functioning in the same way, even to the
distinction between afferent and efferent nerves and the existence of reflex
arcs. Of course there is nothing like a brain in any plant, scarcely anything
indeed that could be called a ganglion, but yet something that is parallel and
for the purposes of plant life equivalent.
discoveries, which it is truly not too much to call startling, will give much
food for thought to those who are not satisfied to rest content with the
appearances of things and the transitory and illusory values of the forum and
market place. It is not a new line of speculation that the whole creation runs
in an ascending scale from the so-called inanimate to man, in whom
intelligence shows possibilities of bursting the bounds of the material, but
these new facts will do much to stimulate speculation on these lines, and may
lead to further and undreamed of discoveries. From this point of view perhaps
the book disappoints us a little. The experiments on metals, which have
apparently been performed, and perhaps on other kinds of inorganic substances,
too, are only alluded to and not described. For this reason it is impossible
to judge what inferences should be drawn from them. Perhaps the author intends
to give us an account of these later; we sincerely hope that he will. It seems
the more necessary, as it would appear that in some ways he has not broken
entirely free of the shackles of occidental thought. There are superstitions
in science as elsewhere - and myths. This is becoming recognized, and a number
of recent works have more or less clearly pointed it out. The myths of science
deal with imaginary reasons or causes for phenomena observed. The "caloric" of
the older physicists was such a myth, it may be the electron of today is also
one, but that is aside. We note two places specially where it may be that the
author has held closer to such hypotheses than there was any need, and where
if he broke away it might lead to a truer understanding, and indeed it would
seem to a conception more in line with Indian philosophic thought. In the one
he assumes as a matter of course that plant energy is solar energy, stored up
presumably in the latent form called molecular. He here briefly alludes to
experiments, but does not describe them. Which is a great pity, for without
knowing what they were it is impossible to judge how far the result is
justified. Everything savoring of vitalism is usually rejected at sight by
scientists, who it may be by constantly so doing are blinding themselves to
other possible interpretations of the facts, possibly even blinding themselves
to certain unobstrusive facts which would disturb the orthodox theories based
on the universal application of the conservation of energy and its
other thing was less important, yet would fit in with the above. In discussing
the nerves of plants and equally the nerves of animals, he accepts apparently
without question the current scientific ideas, and speaks of the passage of
the impulse or message along them as being molecular action. Now the unit of
the organism is the cell, not the molecule. And the molecule after all is only
a hypothesis of another branch of science. The cell can be seen, dissected,
its structure known; the molecule is, if it exists, far too small to ever be
seen, because it is smaller than the shortest light waves. The nerve action is
no more properly molecular (or only as much) as muscle action, or the action
of a hammer on the anvil, or a wheel on the road. There is a perfectly simple
explanation of nerve action, based on the unit cell. If a number of men stand
in a row holding hands, a signal can be sent along the line, by pressure,
shaking, pulling or pushing. If each man repeats with one hand what the man on
the other side has just done, the signal will pass to the other end , the last
man may be instructed to do different things according to the signal. Practice
and attention will quicken the rate at which the signal will pass,
inattention, fatigue and like causes, will reduce it. The nerve consists of a
string of cells in contact. We know even the undifferentiated cell is
sensitive and capable of movement to some degree. By supposing the message is
passed from cell to cell by some very faint movement received and recognized
and passed on by each one accounts perfectly for all the phenomena without any
need to bring in hypothetical (mythical) valves or molecular action, or even
the passage of energy such as an electric current. For though it is true that
cell action seems to be accompanied by electric disturbance, this may well be
only an accompaniment, a by-product of cell action.
considerations, however, are not intended as criticisms, but rather as
suggestions that might possibly lead to the opening up of yet new vistas.
book is popular in the best sense, it requires no special knowledge of
science, either physics, physiology or biology. Any intelligent educated
reader can follow the description of the experiments and appreciate the
inferences drawn from them. The style is easy, fluent and lucid, and the
matter, as has been indicated, is of the greatest interest to those who want
to know bow and why and the meaning of the world in which we live.
* * *
History of the Ancient World. By M. Rostovtzeff, published by the Oxford
University Press, New York, 2 volumes. Price, $5.25 per volume.
Freimaurerisches Lesebuch, ein Einfuhrung in das freimaurer-ische Schriftum,
Vol. II. By Dr. August Horneffer, published by the Verein deutscher Freimaurer,
* * *
ITEM OF INTEREST
conjunction with the present series of articles appearing in THE BUILDER it is
of interest to note that the September number of The Converted Catholic, the
monthly magazine of Christ's Mission in New York City, contains much
interesting material along the lines of our own series. A special article is
devoted to the letter from Hugh Manity, published some time ago in our pages.
Christ's Mission was founded more than forty years ago by the late Father
James A. O'Connor, who had been a priest of the Roman Church, and has, in that
period, been of service to over 150 priests, some of whom are today carrying
on successful pastorates in Protestant churches. A former priest, now pastor
of a Presbyterian church in New York City, recently brought to Christ's
Mission a Spanish priest who had been exiled from Mexico. Steps were
immediately taken to provide such assistance as he required. The article
contains the story of this priest. An account of the incidents leading up to
the break with the church by the founder of the Mission, as described by him
in an open letter to the late Cardinal McCloskey in 1893, is also contained in
the special article to which reference has been made. It is with no little
interest that THE BUILDER notes the fact that our series has aroused the
thoughts of others and that publicity is being given to our articles.
* * *
Hogg, the poet - more properly known as the "Ettrick Shepherd" - was initiated
into Masonry on the 7th May, 1835, by Brethren of the ancient "Lodge Canongate
Kilwinning" (Scotland), specially convened for the purpose at the village of
Inverleithen. After the ceremonies were over, he acknowledged the kindness of
the Brethren in the courtesy they had shown him, in convening a Lodge
specially for his accommodation; and remarked, that "his mind had been deeply
impressed with the solemn moral injunctions he had received." He afterwards
became "Poet Laureate" of the Lodge. And it is not a little remarkable that
the same office should have been held by his illustrious countryman and
Brother, Robert Burns, at the time of his decease. It had remained vacant
during the interregnum. Mr. Hogg continued warmly attached to the Brotherhood
until his death, which occurred at his residence, on the banks of the Yarrow,
on 21st of November, 1835. It was an event that did not fail to impress every
son of genius and reader of taste, on both sides of the Atlantic, with a deep
and melancholy interest. He was, perhaps, taken all-in-all, the most
remarkable man that ever wore professionally a shepherd's plaid, and one of
the sweetest poets that ever framed a lay. He was buried on the 27th, in the
Ettrick Church-yard, closely adjoining the cottage in which he was born. The
funeral was attended by a crowd of mourners such as has rarely been witnessed
in the pastoral valleys of the Ettrick and Yarrow. - Freemason's Magazine,
* * *
BUILDER is pleased to announce that beginning on Oct. 17 and continuing six
weeks through Nov. 28, The Christian Science Monitor will publish a series of
articles on What Masons and Kindred Groups Are Doing Today. The articles will
be world-wide in scope, and special treatment will be given to the work
outside of the United States; particular efforts are being made to see that
the benevolent enterprises of no organization in the general Masonic family
are omitted. It will be seen from this that the purpose of the series is
designed not so much to depict the ritualistic side of the Craft with its
acknowledged benefits to the initiate, but the educational and charitable side
- the influence of which reaches far beyond the confines of membership. We are
advised by the Editorial Department of The Christian Science Monitor that a
special rate is being made to those who desire to subscribe to the paper
during the progress of this series. We feel certain that all of our readers
will be interested in seeing what is to be said about the National Masonic
Research Society as well as the other organizations which will be featured.
For any information relative to the series you may address your communications
to the Society, or to The Christian Science Monitor, Back BayStation, Boston,
following correspondence will prove interesting to those who are interested in
the relationship of the different branches of the Masonic Fraternity
throughout the world. The first letter is from an American Mason now domiciled
in Sweden to a Swedish Mason who has long been resident in the United States.
The two that follow are from these two brethren respectively to THE BUILDER.
The Swedish Mason has been, and is, recognized in America as a brother, the
American Mason is not recognized as such in Sweden. Were it not that the whole
question of recognition is beset with the most absurd anomalies this would be
disturbing. As it is it is just another case. The letters follow:
Jan. 22, 1924, 1 received through Mr. H. L. Haywood an interesting description
of the Swedish Masonry, written by you. This letter from you is lost, but I
remember you said that Freemasonry in Sweden is practically the same as in
Michigan and I remember you gave a description of the twelve degrees in
Sweden. I wish very much I had that description now.
been in Sweden since November, 1926, and located near Stockholm, where I have
relatives and friends who are Freemasons and whom I often visit. I have tried
to gain admission to a lodge in Stockholm through Kabinettskammarherre Berndt
Hay, whose duty it is to investigate all foreign Freemasons whether they are
accepted or not. He said I could not gain admission on my papers, which I
showed him, because, he said, the Swedish Masonry does not recognize the
bodies to which I belong.
I am a
member in good standing in Zion Lodge, No. 1, Detroit, since 1913; Michigan
Consistory, 32 degrees, since 1915, and Moslem Temple since 1915.
ask, did you ever visit a lodge in Stockholm or any other place in Sweden? If
so, when and where? To what Masonic bodies do you belong? Maybe the Swedish
Masonry recognizes the Commanderies in Michigan, but not the Scottish Rite
Bodies or the 32 degrees, or maybe nothing at all in the Northern Masonic
Jurisdiction of the United States. Perhaps they have communication with the
Southern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States only, and not the Northern?
Could a letter of recommendation from you to someone here help me in any way
to gain admission, to be accepted and taken as a Mason? Then I certainly would
you these questions because I have written to Walter N. Glass of Detroit
without any good result.
seems very peculiar to me that I am not taken as a Mason here, although I
belong to the Freemasonry of the world. There must be something wrong
somewhere in the Fraternity.
H. Peterson, Sweden.
is to thank you very much for your kind letter of April 9, pertaining to
I received your letter I tried again to obtain admission in the First Degree
of St. Erik's Lodge in Stockholm. which is a Blue Lodge or a St. John's Lodge.
It was the 28th of April.
went along with an old friend of mine, who is a Seventh Degree Mason in
Stockholm and who was certain that I should gain admission. We were dressed in
full dress suit, as is the custom here at all Masonic meetings. When we came
to the tyler to register, I was asked if I ever visited here before. I said
no, but I showed my dimit from Zion Lodge, No. 1, in Detroit. The tyler asked
if Admiral Arvid Lindman had approved it and signed it. I said I did not know
it was required and asked if I could see him here tonight. He was not there.
friend then said he should go, in and ask the Worshipful Master. He came out
to the ante-room and informed me that it was necessary for me to go and see
Mr. Berndt Hay and have him see my dimit, approve it and sign it.
friend got peeved but it could not be helped. He called up Mr. Hay over the
'phone and asked if I could be allowed to visit lodge tonight, but the answer
was that I could come and see him tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.
went and the next day at agreed time we were received by Mr. Hay in his
office. He was the same man I visited once in January for the same reason,
only at that time I did not have the dimit, which I received in March. Hay did
not seem to recognize me. I introduced myself, told him my errand and showed
him my dimit. He read it and regretted that Swedish Masonry does not have any
connection with the Grand Lodge of Michigan and for that reason I could not
obtain admission. He said he was sorry therefore, but he could not help it. It
might be, he said, for some reason long before our time.
him I was very much surprised to learn that a member of the Free and Accepted
Masonry of the world was not received and welcomed in a Swedish lodge. I asked
him if Swedish Masonry has connection with any Grand Lodge in the U. S. A. He
said, "Yes, with certain states." I asked what states but he would not tell.
Consequently, here it does not seem to be the question whether a man is a
Mason or not, a question which is answered by Masonic grips and words. It is
simply: Are you a Mason from the U. S. A., nothing doing. And I would like to
know why and I am certain thousands would like to know the same thing. It does
not conform to the great Masonic principle, brotherly love.
I am a
Mason and I am proud of it. I have been refused recognition by Swedish Masonry
without any examination or investigation except the question what Grand Lodge
I belonged to. But even at that I do not think that a Swedish Mason would be
refused admission into a Michigan Lodge if he try admission.
think the Grand Lodge of Michigan stands insulted by the declaration of Berndt
Hay in Stockholm as not acceptable by Swedish Masonry. He said the Masons in
the U. S. A. are working in a different order than the Swedes, and yet, I
understand, that all true Masons are working under the principles laid down by
the first Grand Lodge of Masons, formed in England in 1717. The Grand Lodge of
Michigan is, I understand, working under those principles. If the Swedes are
true Masons, they should work under those same principles and, as a matter of
course, members from Michigan should be accepted as Masons in Sweden and
everywhere else in the world.
on a Masonic chart the other day that Swedish Masonry is called "IXth Masonic
Province 1780." Its motto under its coat of arm is: "Veritas persvadet." The
name of its various lodges I give on a separate sheet, enclosed.
think it should be in the interest of Masonry in the U. S. A. to investigate
this deplorable condition, the feelings between Swedish Masonry and American
Masonry. And because you said in your letter you wanted to learn the
developments of my efforts to obtain recognition, I have written this letter.
It will, no doubt, be interesting for you to read it and maybe it contains
matter worthy of research.
H. Peterson, Sweden.
few weeks ago I had a letter from Bro. Eric H. Peterson, dated Hesselby
Villastad, Sweden, and enclosed with it a copy of a letter sent to you in
which he tells me that the St. Eric Lodge at Stockholm, a St. John's or Blue
Lodge, refused him admittance to its meeting, and that this refusal later on
was ratified by an official of the Swedish Grand Lodge.
behavior of the Swedish Masons perplexes me very much and I think that the
matter ought to be examined not so much on account of Bro. Peterson as on
account of the principle involved. I have advised Bro. Peterson to present the
matter to his lodge and to have this take the matter up by the help of the
Michigan Grand Lodge. If you would support him in some way or other possibly a
decision of far-reaching importance could be had.
Undoubtedly the Swedish Grand Lodge will assert that it is master in its own
house and that it has a right to decide whether or not it will give a foreign
Mason admittance to its meetings; but an assertion of this kind will be in
conflict with its claim of being a link of the great international Masonic
brotherhood and the obligations which according to its rite are laid on the
brothers. The Swedish Grand Lodge has no right to claim to be inside the great
Masonic brotherhood and at the same time scorn a brother who proves that he
belongs to it. This could be a disclaimer of the basic principle. A lodge is
no private club, any more than a house of devotion, and has to be opened to
anybody who proves that he is a member of good standing. As remarked, really I
believe that the question ought to be taken up.
way. The June copy of THE BUILDER contains an interesting article in relation
to Freemasonry in Russia. Undoubtedly you remember that Leo Tolstoy in his
novel, War and Peace, describes the initiation of a Mason. The description is
not imaginary but the ceremonies related are undoubtedly those of the Swedish
Rite of the first part of the nineteenth century. According to the mentioned
article in your paper the Swedish Rite played a great role in the Russian
Masonry and even in the first part of the said century had jurisdiction.
Unsatisfactory as the situation seems it is hard to say what can be done. The
only pressure that one Grand Lodge can exert upon another is to refuse
recognition. Such a weapon loses all its force when the cause of offense is
refusal to recognize. That this situation is of long standing, as Bro. Hay
intimated to Bro. Peterson, may be seen from what Gould has to say in Chapter
xxvi of his History, which deals with Masonry in Northern Europe.
history of Freemasonry in Sweden possesses an interest peculiar to itself. The
Swedes appear to have fallen away from the simple teachings of the Craft as
easily and early as the other nationalities of Europe, but with this
difference, that instead of flitting from one Rite to another, constantly
seeking variety, they have remained steadfast to their first heresy, and still
work the same ceremonies that originally riveted their attention about 1760.
These ceremonies are in great part their own invention, although based-not
improbably-upon the degrees of the Clermont Chapter; and as they have only
been adopted by one Grand Body in Prussia, and by Denmark, Sweden has ever
since been practically outside the circle of Freemasonry - a distant
connection only of the great Masonic family. This want of intimate Masonic
intercourse, combined with a marked absence of indigenous Masonic literature,
is the reason that any history of Swedish Freemasonry can be no more than a
seems that the Freemasonry of Scandinavia, including Denmark, adopted the Rite
of Strict Observance, and these three countries became Provinces of that
system. That is how Sweden calls itself the IXth Masonic Province, as Bro.
Peterson observes. The Rite ceased to exist elsewhere, and apparently was
considerably changed in Scandinavia, yet the old style is retained though the
provinces with lower numbers have long since passed into oblivion.
* * *
appreciate very much any information you may be able to give on the following:
Is there any other Pope, besides Pius IX, that was a member of the Fraternity?
(b) In the affirmative case, is there any documentary evidence supporting the
Council of Rome (Vatican Council) was held in the year 1870 with the main
purpose of making as a Dogma of Faith the infallibility of the Pope. In that
Council many were against it. It has been said that Bishop Strossineyer
delivered a very strong speech or rather sermon against it in the presence of
Pius IX. Can you furnish the undersigned a copy of the said speech? Was the
Bishop excommunicated or punished for such a behavior?
you know of any history written on the Popes? Please furnish me the title of
the book, its price and where to secure it. G. J. M., Philippine Islands.
the questions in order. In regard to the first, it has been frequently stated
that Pope Pius IX was a Freemason, but Bro. Arthur Singer, of Germany, in his
book, The War of Rome Against Freemasonry, devotes a chapter to the subject
and exhaustively discusses every rumor and scrap of evidence that has been
brought forward to prove this assertion. He comes to the conclusion that
nothing has been demonstrated. Pius came of a family of very liberal
tendencies, and a number of his male relatives were, or had been, Freemasons,
but that is all that is certain. The most therefore that can be said is that
it is barely possible that in early youth he had been initiated. So far as we
know this has not been asserted of any other Pope.
Vatican Council the minority of bishops who were opposed to any pronouncement
on the doctrine of infallibility was about 20 per cent of the whole number
present. They were, however, exceedingly influential in that they comprised a
majority of the outstanding scholars and theologians of the church. The
minority, however, was gradually reduced by every kind of personal pressure
brought to bear individually, but even so 88 voted against it and 62 gave it
only conditional assent. This, however, was only at the preliminary ballot.
When it came up for confirmation the dissenting minority, in order to avoid
embarrassment for themselves and for the church, requested leave of absence of
the Pope and left Rome. Two of them only remained and actually voted against
the final confirmation. These two, however, made their submission almost
the discussions many very strong utterances were made against the adoption of
the dogma. Bishop Strossmeyer objected to the clause which described
Protestantism as pestis, that is, an unclean or poisonous thing, and as a
"fountain of naturalism." He was interrupted by outcries and had to Ieave the
tribune, nevertheless the clause he objected to was Iater removed.
sessions of the Council were all secret there is, so far as we know, no
authentic account or report of the speeches. The best accounts of the Council
as a whole are in German and not very easily obtainable. In Dr. Dollinger's
work will be found a great deal against the dogma, but not any account of what
was said at the Council.
Strossmeyer with all the other dissentient bishops eventually submitted. They
could not well have been excommunicated for opposing the dogma before it had
been accepted. They avoided it afterwards by their submission.
following works can be procured on the history of the Popes: History of the
Papacy in the 19th Century, The History of Rome and Popes in the Middle Ages,
Papal Monarchy and The Popes and Their Church.
* * *
BUILDER for May, 1927, on the first page appears an article entitled "Masonry
and Religious Persecution in Mexico,” by Bro. Jose D'Arimathea.
mind of the writer this is the most profound article on the spirit of Masonry
we have read in many years. The analysis of Masonry is clearly and distinctly
drawn, it also portrays religion and gives the adept confirmation of his
conclusions after a careful and complete analysis of the two great opposing
forces for the cultivation or control of the human mind in this age.
were within our power we would try to pass this message on to every thinking
mind within the body of the Craft throughout the world. His is a mind that
stands out clearly above and beyond all the writers of the age who are today
seeking either self-aggrandizement and notoriety on the one hand or the clear
portrayal of the spirit of Masonry, unselfishly, on the other, seeking only as
we see him, to remove a part of the tarnish from the Shekinah with which it
has been besmirched by the corrosion and corruption of the ages.
brother finds sanctuary for his soul 'neath the shade of the trees beside the
babbling brook, or on the banks of the shining river that flows through the
sands of time he has become emancipated from the tyranny of fear and the
thralldom of superstition and has tuned in with the cosmic reservoir from
which has emanated all inspirations, deities and divinities throughout
recorded history. He has discovered the real stumbling block in the pathway of
progress that has dwarfed, blighted and retarded the enlightment of every age,
beyond question he has parted the veil and permitted those who have eyes to
see "the land that is fairer than day."
writer regrets that few there be who can see and realize the presence and
effectiveness of that golden thread that traces its way through the warp and
woof of time which, when discovered and incorporated in daily life and
followed through concentration and application actuated by desire, leads on
and on to that city four square. And He showed me a pure river of water clear
as crystal proceeding out from the throne of God and the lamb.
you continue to increase the effectiveness of THE BUILDER by the selection of
such articles as this, so that when life's fitful fever is over you will have
erected a monument to Masonic endeavor that will endure as long as stone and
bronze shall last and tradition go on from lip to lip. That the generation of
men yet to follow may not lose sight of the relative relationship of the
lambskin and untempered mortar.
of The Story of the Craft by Lionel Vibert, Evolution of Freemasonry by D. D.
Darrah, and Beginnings of Freemasonry in America by M. M. Johnson, slightly
dog-eared and with erasures on front and back fly leaves; all new editions.
Address offers to the Society.