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Masonic Service Association of North America

Focus April 2001

Who Speaks for Freemasonry?

There is no national or international Masonic authority. Freemasonry in North America is governed by independent legislative bodies known as Grand Lodges who exercise absolute Masonic authority within a state or province.

Writers may express their opinions about the Fraternity, but their statements are not authoritative. Only Grand Lodges can make authoritative statements, and these apply only to their members.

(Prepared by the Masonic Information Center, March 2001)

Letter to North American Grand Secretaries

One of the major problems the Masonic Information Center has encountered in dealing with the media and the general public about anti-Masonic rhetoric is the issue of Masonic Authority. It is difficult for people to understand that Freemasonry is structured in such a way that its highest Masonic Authority rests within the Grand Lodge of each state or province.

Because many writers have expressed their opinions and associated themselves with related Masonic organizations, the perception is that these Masonic organizations, which are not Grand Lodges, have authority over all Freemasons. They do not. Also, however prominent or well known they may be, writers on Freemasonry speak only for themselves. Their opinions are not authoritative for all Freemasonry.

The enclosed Statement on Masonic Authority (noted above) is brief and gives a clear explanation as to where ultimate Masonic Authority rests. It is concise enough to be used in a newspaper or magazine sidebar, accompanying a larger story, or in a video production.

Should you wish to use this statement in any of your publications or in response to inquiries, please feel free to do so.

(This letter was sent to all North American Grand Secretaries in March 2001)

Morals and Dogma, A Closer Look at Chapter One

No book has been more misunderstood or misused by critics of Freemasonry than has Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma. My desire in this article is to clarify the book by taking a close look at Chapter I, particularly its philosophical aspects. Philosophers discuss who God is and how He relates to creation (theology), right and wrong thinking (logic), how we know something (epistemology), what is real or not real (metaphysics), beauty (esthetics), ethics, morality, politics, and so forth. Like any good history of philosophy (and Morals and Dogma is just that, an outline of cultural and religious philosophy), Pike provides his readers with a survey of the thinking of philosophers, Christian and non-Christian, since the beginning of recorded history.

Pike did not see himself as the final answer on the subjects he discusses in Morals and Dogma. Rex R. Hutchens writes that Morals and Dogma is "a rather diverse collection of other people's writings and its compiler's (Pike's) thoughts about the great questions of life. The text is not well organized and was never carefully edited". (Pillars of Wisdom, p. 3).

Use of Symbols

Pike stresses that no one should imagine he can do nothing to change society. We must never give up, even when liberty is taken away by tyranny. He compares, "Tyranny" with Hydra, a mythical water monster with nine heads. When one head was cut off, two grew back in its place. Tyranny, Pike says, is not easily destroyed. It recovers quickly, like the heads of Hydra. He calls the fight against tyranny an "eternal" duty of every person and urges each of us to have faith in the justice and wisdom of God, hope for the future and love for those who make mistakes.

What is Truth?

Pike said, "To be true, and to seek to find and learn the Truth, are the great objects of every Mason" (p.21). Finding it may be impossible, but seeking it is absolutely essential. We are human and can never be absolutely certain of knowing "truth", but we must not give up trying. Seeking truth is a journey to which we must commit ourselves. For Pike, searching for "truth" was not a selfish goal, for through the search we become better citizens. We can better oppose tyranny, corruption, and evil and better treat all people equally as we move along on our journey toward "truth."

Morals and Dogma, even in its first chapter, is a step on the exciting history of mankind's journey toward "Truth."

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Editor's Note: The above article, reprinted from the CIS (Center for Interfaith Studies) Masonic Report, Jan. 2000, has been edited, with permission, for presentation in the Plumbline. To subscribe to CIS Masonic Reports, write to Gary Leazer at PO Box 870523, Stone Mountain, Georgia 30087 or contact him at phone/fax 770-979-1687 or e-mail to l[email protected]

(Source: The Plumbline, Scottish Rite Research Society, Summer 2001)

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