2019 - July

FREEMASONRY AND MORMONISM

A Veiled Relationship

The subject of the relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism has been and may still be, filled with poor information and misunderstanding. Neither organization has sought to emphasize any relationship with the other. Basically there are very few records that pertain to the early formation of the Mormon Church and its relationship and early similarities to Freemasonry. The records of the Grand Lodge of Illinois were almost entirely destroyed in the fire of February 1850. And just as noteworthy, a number of smaller fires of uncertain origin destroyed key records in related and neighboring lodges. Reliable information then, is scarce.

What is known is that the family of Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of Mormonism, had developed a close relationship with Freemasonry, even before the family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Mormon Church essentially came into being. In fact many writers claim that the Smith family, and therefore Mormonism, believed that Freemasonry had been of divine origin, but had been corrupted by human ambition. Thus, Mormonism could be the restoration and cleansing of a "fallen" set of beliefs.

In the early 1840's a Masonic lodge was formed by the LDS Church members in Nauvoo, Illinois. The men of the Smith Family were key members. The lodge grew by leaps and bounds, initiating large groups of Mormon men at one time, in a number of single ceremonies. Soon the local Mormon membership totaled approximately 1,300. Incidentally, the estimated entire Masonic membership in the rest of the United States was approximately 2,000. Problems occurred. Irregularities in initiation and advancement in the Mormon lodges were among them. Because of apparent and claimed attempts of the Mormon lodges to control local Freemasonry and the ritual procedures, the Grand Lodge of Illinois ordered all the Mormon lodges "to cease work and be dissolved." However, the Mormon lodges continued to operate as clandestine lodges. In 1844 local antagonism, perhaps including some Masonic participation, against the Mormons, drove them out of the area, causing them to eventually settle in Utah.

It has been said that Masonry acquainted Joseph Smith Jr. with a new ritual style that he admired and accepted, and apparently emulated in Mormonism, particularly in the Rite of Endowment (or Joining). Additionally, it must be remembered that many of the early leaders of the Mormon Church were Freemasons.

Some of the apparent similarities in the ritual and ceremonies of the two organizations are: using a prescribed ceremonial script; imparting signs, grips, and passwords; making oaths, while kneeling at an alter; vowing not to reveal ceremonial secrets; using dialogues to solicit passwords; repeating orders or reports two or three times verbatim; knocking three time for entrance; reciting three syllables in sacred language; acting out a ritual drama which represents a biblical figure; wearing an apron; using symbols such as the square and compasses; delivering lectures to review the ceremony and expanding on it meanings; and the use of such symbols as the all-seeing eye, the inverted five-pointed star (as in the Eastern Star), and the beehive.

It should be noted however, that certain revisions to the LDS Rites of Endowment took place in the 1920's and in 1990. In 1990, the use of the five points of fellowship was one of the elements eliminated. Additionally, it has been said that the current Saints i.e. the leaders of the Mormon Church do not believe that the Rite of Endowment has any relationship to Freemasonry.

2019 - June

MILITARY LODGES, A BRIEF HISTORY

(This paper uses material from the MSA Short Talk Bulletin of July 2011, “Military Lodges.” The paper includes direct quotes and excerpts from that publication. Other sources were used also.)

“A military lodge is one whose charter is granted to the members of a military unit. The lodge is not limited to one city, but moves about with the unit. Freemasonry was spread throughout much of the world by traveling military lodges.” (Complete Indiot’s Guide) The consent of the commanding officer of the regiment had to be obtained before a military lodge could be formed. Similarly, he could order its closure. Grand Lodge rules forbade civilians from joining military lodges. They were to join their local lodges.

The concept of military lodges is not new. Freemasonry, as was indicated, owes much of its world-wide nature to the Regimental Lodges of the British Armies. Accommodations were made for the professional soldiers when Grand Lodges began issuing warrants and charters to have traveling Military Lodges.

Using the system of warrants, the Irish Grand Lodge established lodges in the British army and navy. For example, the first Battalion of Royal Scots received its warrant in 1732. This lodge traveled with its regiment for over a century. By 1813 the Grand Lodges of Ireland, Scotland, and the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges of England had a total of 218 military lodges on their roles. And, Masonic Military Lodges had been established by several members of American Regiments in the Revolutionary War. The American army had ten military lodges between 1775 and 1780. These were in regiments in the Continental Line. Seven of these lodges held warrants from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Three of these lodges were for troops raised in that state, while the other military lodges were for regiments from North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. New York furnished a warrant for one lodge, while each of the competing Grand Lodges of Massachusetts authorized one military lodge each.

The American Civil War saw the creation of the greatest number of military lodges in the history of the nation. This was due to the duration of the conflict and the number of men mobilized. The then common practice of ceasing campaigning during the winter months provided opportunities for increased fraternal association. As many as 244 military lodges (94 from the North and 150 from the South) formed, having been given permission from the appropriate Grand Lodges.

Several commanding generals on both sides of the conflicts were Masons. In fact, the Northern General George B. McClelland, was initiated in a military lodge in Oregon in 1853.

There are some references to military lodges in the Spanish American War. However, beginning with WWI and continuing until the end of the draft in 1973, there was a shift from state and /or local organized units to individual draftees assigned to different units as needed. It in fact remained such until the Persian Gulf Wars when Reservists and National Guardsmen again went to war as part of identifiable and distinct units.

These papers are presented one per month as part of the Masonic Education Program of Bellevue Lodge #325 A.M. & F.M. at the monthly Stated Communication.

2019 - January

Corn, wine and oil were the Masonic wages of our ancient brethren

(Taken from www.masonic-lodge-of-education.com)

In ancient operative times, the Master of the Work received the highest wages. His wages were corn, wine, oil and sometimes the coin of the realm. Fellowcraft and Entered Apprentice wages were less than the Master was, but they were kept in "mete and drynk" (meat and drink).

In Speculative Freemasonry, Masonic wages are not earned in coin. They are the rewards earned through acts of kindness, good deeds of service, and the gift of your time to others. They are earned by mentoring other brethren, helping others, remembering the widow and the orphan and visiting the sick. In short, wages are earned much as the biblical verse says: "Do unto others as you would HAVE them do unto you."

Corn, wine and oil are the Masonic elements of consecration. The adoption of these symbols is supported by the highest antiquity. Corn, wine and oil were the most important productions of Eastern countries; they constituted the wealth of the people, and were esteemed as the supports of life and the means of refreshment. David enumerates them among the greatest blessings that we enjoy, and speaks of them as in Psalm 104: 15: "wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart".

In processions, the corn alone is carried in a golden pitcher, the wine and oil are placed in silver vessels, and this is to remind us that the first, as a necessity and the "staff of life" is of more importance and more worthy of honor than the others, which are but comforts.

In devoting anything to religious purposes, the anointing with oil was considered as a necessary part of the ceremony, a rite which has descended to Christian nations. The Hebrews anointed their Kings, Prophets and High Priests with oil mingled with the richest spices. They also anointed themselves with oil on all festive occasions, whence the expression in Psalm xlv, 7: "God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness." The tabernacle in the wilderness, and all its holy vessels, were, by God's express command, anointed with oil. Aaron and his two sons were set apart for the priesthood with the same ceremony. And the prophets and kings of Israel were consecrated to their offices by the same rite.

Hence, Freemasons' Lodges, which are but temples to the Most High, are consecrated to the sacred purposes for which they were built by strewing corn, wine and oil upon the Lodge, the emblem of the Holy Ark. Thus does this mystic ceremony instruct us to be nourished with the hidden manna of righteousness, to be refreshed with the Word of the Lord, and to rejoice with joy unspeakable in the riches of divine grace.

Wine, as a symbol of the inward refreshment of a good conscience is intended, under the name of the Wine of Refreshment, to remind us of the eternal refreshments which the good are to receive in the future life for the faithful performance of duty in the present. And, thus, your unspotted white lambskin Masonic apron is a symbol reminding you of the necessity of the purity of heart, and uprightness of conduct in order to earn the Masonic wages, which are due you.

Your final wages will be earned when you leave this world and travel to "that House not made with hands", where you will receive your Masonic wages for a life well spent in the "coin" of that realm.



MATERIAL DISCLAIMER

The material in this papers was developed from a variety of sources: books, encyclopedias, magazine articles, M.S.A Publications, television, and the internet. Most, but not all, of these sources were written and/or edited by Masons. There is no claim made that the information in these papers is original, or was originally developed by this writer. Each paper contains: direct quotes, excerpts, and paraphrasing from the sources used.

These papers are presented one per month as part of the Masonic Education Program of Bellevue Lodge #325 A.M. & F.M. at the monthly Stated Communication.

- Br. William H. Miller