Focus - September 2009
The Lost Symbol
Dan Brown, in May 2004, was quoted as saying about his next book “Masons should be happy because there is so much misinformation about the group.”
In September 2009, after the release of the book, he further said “The world will now realize my new book The Lost Symbol is in fact a reverential exploration of Masonic philosophy.”
The most quoted comment used by the media is:
It’s very clear from the media coverage that his message was correctly understood and that Dan Brown was true to his word about his portrayal of Freemasonry.
There will be countless reviews of this book but some of the things Dan Brown said will be very helpful to Freemasons because he meets – head-on – many of the misunderstandings about the Fraternity. Here are some of Dan Brown’s thoughts:
Was Washington, DC designed by Masons?
Last year, a freshman had rushed wild-eyed into Langdon’s classroom with a printout from the Web. It was a street map of D.C. on which certain streets had been highlighted to form various shapes—satanic pentacles, a Masonic compass and square, the head of Baphomet—proof apparently that the Masons who designed Washington, D. C., were involved in some kind of dark, mystical conspiracy.
“Fun,” Langdon said, “but hardly convincing. If you draw enough intersecting lines on a map, you’re bound to find all kinds of shapes.”
“But this can’t be coincidence!” the kid exclaimed.
Langdon patiently showed the student that the same exact shapes could be formed on a street map of Detroit.
The kid seemed sorely disappointed.
A definition of occult
“Every spring I teach a course called Occult Symbols. I talk a lot about D.C. You should take the course.”
“Occult symbols!” The freshman looked excited again. “So there are devil symbols in D.C.!”
Langdon smiled. “Sorry, but the word occult, despite conjuring images of devil worship, actually means ‘hidden’ or ‘obscured.’ In times of religious oppression, knowledge that was counterdoctrinal had to be kept hidden or ‘occult,’ and because the church felt threatened by this, they redefined anything ‘occult’ as evil, and the prejudice survived.”
Is Freemasonry a Religion?
“So tell me, what are the three prerequisites for an ideology to be considered a religion?”
“ABC,” one woman offered. “Assure, Believe, Convert.”
“Correct,” Langdon said. “Religions assure salvation; religions believe in a precise theology; and religions convert nonbelievers.” He paused, “Masonry, however, is batting zero for three. Masons make no promises of salvation; they have no specific theology; and they do not seek to convert you. In fact, within Masonic lodges, discussions of religion are prohibited.”
“So…Masonry is antireligious?”
“On the contrary. One of the prerequisites for becoming a Mason is that you must believe in a higher power. The difference between Masonic spirituality and organized religion is that the Masons do not impose a specific definition or name on a higher power. Rather than definitive theological identities like God, Allah, Buddha, or Jesus, the Masons use more general terms like Supreme Being or Great Architect of the Universe. This enables Masons of different faiths to gather together.”
An example of a “metaphor”
Langdon exhaled. “He’s made the same error many zealots make—confusing metaphor with a literal reality.” Similarly, early alchemists had toiled in vain to transform lead into gold, never realizing that lead-to-gold was nothing but a metaphor for tapping into true human potential—that of taking a dull, ignorant mind and transforming it into a bright, enlightened one.
Masonic initiations were startling because they were meant to be transformative. Masonic vows were unforgiving because they are meant to be reminders that man’s honor and his “word” were all he could take from this world. Masonic teachings were arcane because they were meant to be universal…taught through a common language of symbols and metaphors that transcended religions, cultures, and races…creating a unified “world-wide consciousness” of brotherly love.
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