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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes October 2009

The Lost Symbol

Released on Sept. 15, 2009, Dan Brown’s latest novel The Lost Symbol is an exciting look at our Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC. Woven into the story is a very positive examination of Freemasonry. Dan Brown had stated publicly that his new book (The Lost Symbol) would be positive about the Freemasons and he certainly kept his word.

The Masonic Myth

         With a renewed interest in “all things Masonic” Jay Kinney has written a book titled “The Masonic Myth: Unlocking the Truth About the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry.

ISBN 978-0-06-082256-9

         Intended as a guide, the book explores many myths about the fraternity and sets the record straight as to where the truth really lies.

Green Envelope Appeal

         November is fast approaching! That’s when our annual Green Envelope Appeal to support our Hospital Visitation Program goes out. Please watch for the Green Envelope. It is one way to say “thanks” and show support for our Veterans in VA Hospitals, State Veterans Homes and several Military Hospitals.

Applied Brotherhood

“We are all blind until we see
That in the human plan
Nothing is worth the making if
It does not make the man.

Why build these cities glorious
If man unbuilded goes?
In vain we build the work unless
The builder also grows.”

---Edwin Markham                                                   

Masonic Ritual

            With the release of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown and the attention it pays to Masonic Ritual the following excerpt from a longer article published in the Northern Light – Aug. 2009, seems very timely. Special thanks to Jeff Croteau who wrote Are Early Masonic Ritual Exposures Anti-Masonic?

Are Early Masonic Ritual Exposures Anti-Masonic?

            Masonic ritual exposures from the collection of the Van Gordon-Williams Library and Archives are just part of the anti-Masonic materials that will be on view in the reading room beginning September 26. In selecting objects for the exhibition, I was looking at our collection of ritual exposés and thinking about this interesting and complicated corner of anti-Masonry.

            Steven C. Bullock, in his essay Publishing Masonry; Print and the Early American Fraternity calls Masonic ritual exposés “the first important anti-Masonic genre.” The first ritual exposure in book form – Samuel Prichard’s Masonry Dissected – was printed in London in 1730. Prichard’s book, while an exposure, is an important document for historians as it provides the earliest known description of the Master Mason degree. To the historian, this type of documentation is invaluable. To the Mason, however, the idea of a ritual exposure is perhaps worrying at best, providing evidence of a betrayal of trust. But what about the historian who is also a Mason?

            Arturo de Hoyos, who is both an historian and a Mason, addresses this tension in the introduction to his book Light on Masonry; The History and Rituals of America’s Most Important Masonic Exposé. De Hoyos writes: “The great secret of Masonic historians is that many of us have a love affair with ritual exposures. Like other affairs of the heart, it is exciting, but it may also be a love-hate relationship. They are the product of betrayal and are ipso facto suspect, but they also present the possibility of authenticity and may teach us a great deal about the evolution of the ritual.” In other words, what was once the product of betrayal may now be carefully used by historians to trace some of the changes and developments of Masonic ritual.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Bullock, Steven C. "Publishing Masonry: Print and the Early American Fraternity." Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry and Illuminism in the United States, 1734-1850: A Bibliography. Kent Logan Walgren. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 2003.

Carr, Harry. Samuel Prichard's Masonry Dissected 1730: An Analyse and Commentary. Bloomington, IN: Masonic Book Club, 1977.

de Hoyos, Arturo. Light on Masonry: The History and Rituals of America's Most Important Masonic Exposé. Washington, DC: Scottish Rite Research Society, 2008.

Jackson, A.C.F. English Masonic Exposures 1760-1769. London: Lewis Masonic, 1986.

Smith, S.N. "The So-Called 'Exposures' of Freemasonry of the Mid-Eighteenth Century." Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 56 (1946): 4-36.

Three Distinct Knocks and Jachin and Boaz. With an Introduction and Commentary by Harry Carr. Bloomington, IN: Masonic Book Club, 1981.


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