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Masonic Service Association of North America

Focus December 2004

National Treasure

The new movie National Treasure, starring Nicolas Cage, opened in theaters across the nation on November 19, 2004. It quickly rose to be the number one film for three weeks (now #3) and has generated an extremely wide public awareness of Freemasonry. Most importantly, it portrays Masonry in a positive light and accents the significance of the Founding Fathers to our national identity. Many of these early patriots identified as Masons in the film, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, are well known. Only one reference is not correct. Early in the movie, Charles Carroll, identified as the last survivor of the 56 patriots who signed the Declaration of Independence, is portrayed as a Freemason. Charles Carroll of Maryland was not a member of the fraternity. (Historically, it is believed the reason he was identified as a Mason is that he was present at the laying of the cornerstone of the B&O Railroad.)

Most of the movie is entirely fictional. There is no "National Treasure," as defined by the film, nor were Freemasons as a group ever involved in collecting and safeguarding valuable antiquities on behalf of all humanity. Nevertheless, Masonic principles and values are referenced many times in the film, and the audience receives a very favorable impression of the Craft.

The movie is rated PG because of "mild violence." It really is a family movie, and one all Masons should enjoy. It might even be fun for a lodge to have a "movie night" and sponsor members and their families who wish to attend. Discussions about the film should result in many beneficial insights regarding Freemasonry among both Masons and the general public.

The Solomon Key

Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code is recognized as an "industry phenomenon" with more than 9,000,000 hardcover copies sold. Now, Dan Brown is working on his new novel which, according to his publisher, Stephen Rubin of Doubleday, will be titled The Solomon Key. No release date has been set, but it will probably come out in spring 2005.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

The Masonic Information Center wishes all of our readers the happiest of Holiday Seasons!

 

The Initiated Eye

Mark the date of May 18, 2005, in your calendar! It is the opening day of a six-month exhibit at the Octagon Museum in Washington, D. C.

The Scottish Rite Valley of Washington, D.C., is supporting the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia in an unprecedented collaboration with the Octagon Museum to organize an original exhibition highlighting the little-recognized contribution of Freemasons to the design and architecture of our nation's capital.

Featuring 20 original paintings by Peter Waddell, the exhibition will illustrate the role Masons have consistently played in American architectural history. Original artifacts from the rich collections of the metropolitan area's several Lodges, many never seen before by the public, will be displayed with the paintings.

This project is central to the planning for the 2011 bicentennial of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia and a major step on the road towards a "Masonic Renaissance" in the Federal City. The intention of this project is to bring Masonry to the community by demystifying the role Freemasons have played in this nation's architectural history and to provide a new perspective on various historic events. The current six-month project consists of:

  • A painting exhibit designed to take the visitor on a journey of Masonic discovery through art, architecture, symbolism, and esotericism;
  • series of lectures by prominent speakers who will address the Masonic Fraternity's contribution over time to the "American Experiment"; 
  • A number of musical performances that will showcase great Masonic composers, both classical and contemporary.

Ownership by the District of Columbia Grand Lodge of the paintings and all copyrights associated with the collection will enable great use of them beyond the exhibit.

Peter Waddell is well known for his work as a history painter and has created several series of paintings that have served as the foundation of popular exhibitions at the Octagon, including, most recently, Inside the Temple of Liberty: 19th-Century Interiors of the U.S. Capitol Building (2002). A group of Masons is working closely with Mr. Waddell to help select topics for the paintings and participate in the research necessary to ensure the accuracy of the work.

The Octagon, the museum of the American Architectural Foundation (AAF), is a nationally recognized museum of architecture and design located two blocks from the White House at 1799 New York Ave., NW. One of Washington's earliest residences, the building is a National Registered Landmark (1960) and is accredited by the American Association of Museums (1973). The Octagon's mission is to educate the public about architecture, design, historic preservation, and stewardship of our architectural heritage. These goals are accomplished through on-site exhibitions, traveling exhibitions, collections, and a wide variety of creative public programs.

If you are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., between May and November 2005 make sure you drop by and visit the exhibit.

(Source: Article by George R. Adams and Akram Elias -
The Scottish Rite Journal, Nov-Dec 2004)

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