Sample Chapters

The Legend - The Secrets of Hiram Abif

In telling the story about Hiram Abif, Freemasonry placed him in the middle of the Old Testament tale about King Solomon building a temple. Without regard to whether or not that story is fiction, it begins with Solomon's ascension to the throne of Israel following the death of his father, King David. Although favored by God early in his youth, David was denied the privilege of building a stately edifice where God might comfortably dwell among His people, because he had waged vicious warfare upon his neighbors, allegedly stole the wife of a subject whose death he caused and otherwise behaved badly on numerous occasions. He was not, however, left without hope, for God reserved the dignified privilege of building His temple to the capable hands of Solomon, who is reported to have reigned during an unusual period of worldwide peace.

God's dwelling place among the Hebrews had heretofore been in a portable object called the Ark of the Covenant, an object that may have actually been the Tabernacle said to have been brought out of Egypt by Moses during the second exodus. It was carried from place to place by able-bodied Hebrews who believed that the Ark protected them from the ravages of wandering tribes and helped them secure the land. Once the struggle ended, King David decided that he and his people would settle down and establish a permanent home. It was necessary to establish a permanent home for the One True God, who had not only blessed David with ruling power, but had delivered him victory after victory during an intense period of bloody war.

During his wars, David developed a faithful friend in Hiram, the King of Tyre, who upon hearing that his son Solomon had ascended the throne of Israel sent congratulatory messages and offerings of assistance. Both Solomon and Hiram were reputed to have been men of wit and wisdom. Indeed, Solomon is historically renowned for the wisdom which he is said to have received after praying to God. Following a prayer of supplication during which Solomon asked for nothing more than the true wisdom necessary to understand right from wrong, God blessed him with true wisdom. As if to demonstrate to each other the extent of their wit and wisdom, Solomon and Hiram devised puzzling questions to test each other and upon discovering that they shared much in common soon became fast friends.

Intolerance - Advanced Meditations on Masonic Symbolism

“Are ye not then partial to yourselves, and become judges of evil thoughts?”
- Jas. 2:4

Early in his Masonic career, a Freemason is instructed upon the exercise of brotherly love and told that he is to regard the whole human species as one family. That family includes the high and the low, the rich and the poor who, as created by one Almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect one another. Throughout the remainder of his Masonic career, the Mason will receive countless additional instructions about the relationship of brotherly love to the concept of tolerance, especially the concept of religious tolerance.

Most people, including most Freemasons, generally regard themselves as tolerant of other people's religious beliefs. If asked that question during a town meeting, or in any other public setting it is not likely that many would hesitate to raise their hands in proof of their tolerant nature, if for no other reason than to avoid appearing to their friends and neighbors as being socially unacceptable. Indeed, as opposed to merely feigning sincerity, it is likely that most people actually believe they deserve to be labeled as tolerant, especially if they happen to be citizens of the United States.

Our Nation's Constitutional protection of the freedom of religion is taught to American school children at an early age. Churches of several different denominations dot the landscape, as do the synagogues and mosques. While our society can hope that such fundamental devotions to the concept of religious tolerance are accurately representative of how we act as citizens, the truth actually depends upon how one defines religious tolerance.

Wikipedia, an Internet dictionary, suggests that the word tolerance is a recent political term used as an antithesis to the word discrimination. That same source goes on to describe tolerance as a word most people would rather avoid using; a word that is evidently universally disliked, because it starkly challenges us to understand that it means much more than merely accepting differing opinions.

As an example of that distaste, one person with an excellent reputation for good character who had recently discovered the joys of a particular religion, replied with a resounding "no" when asked whether or not the new religion brought a deeper sense of tolerance. "To be truly tolerant, as I understand the meaning of that word," that person said, "would require me to be dishonest to both my religion and the beliefs I hold to be true should I accept other religious points of view."

Here, we have struck upon another definition of tolerance, one that has sadly enjoyed widespread acceptance throughout the world: a definition that clearly implies that being religiously tolerant means not having any firm beliefs in matters of morality and God. The basic misunderstanding behind that definition is based upon the misconception that one gives up anything other than ego and self-pride when other similarly held religious beliefs are tolerated. Such is not the case, at least not from the perspective of Freemasonry.

When you tolerate other religious beliefs you are not required to adopt those beliefs as your own. Neither is it required that you find any particular truth in those other beliefs. Although the failure to do so may expose you as a very unwise and narrow person, unwilling to discover the tremendous value in diversity, that alone does not necessarily render you intolerant. To be tolerant you simply need to be willing to extend religious freedom to people of all religious traditions even though you may disagree, in whole or in part, with the teachings of those other religions.

Principles of Brotherhood - Meditations on Masonic Symbolism

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is no friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
- Prov. 18:24

The principle of brotherhood and the obligation of a distinct affection for fellow members are characteristics common to many fraternal organizations. Too often brotherly love is, in reality, treated as a mere abstraction, an indefinable something that is not truly practiced. In many instances, if it is practiced at all, the individuals involved are motivated by selfish interest, such as manipulating others to give aid, or to be made to feel guilty for refusing.

A candidate for degrees in Freemasonry, however, will likely discover that the tenets of brotherly love, relief and truth taught him are regarded by the Craft “Masonic ornaments”, that is the sheer foundation of an institution built upon the great principle of love. The mode and manner of the practice of these principles is detailed in words which are illustrated in symbols so that there may be no cause for error in understanding, or failing to practice. No Mason is likely to forget the “Five Points of Fellowship” or the interesting incidents that accompany their explanation; and, as long as he is controlled by his knowledge and retains this memory, he is not likely to fail in his duties of brotherly love.

Benevolence is sometimes defined by other Masonic writers as the expression of goodwill to others which results in great deeds of kindness. It is prompted by the emotion of love inculcated in the divine command: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. A benevolent disposition suffers uneasiness at the suffering of others, abhors cruelty under every guise and pretext and seeks to relieve those conditions. It becomes universal when it yearns for and strives to secure the welfare of all men — friends and enemies alike.

Freemasons are taught to look upon all mankind as having been formed by the one Great Architect of the Universe in a spirit of love and sympathy. They are also taught to discharge the duties of benevolence in the widest and most generous scope. Masonry is an internal principle intended to regulate outward conduct. Masons are encouraged to become essential — to work for the benefit of others, to labor for our neighbor's best interest, to never become satisfied that we have given enough, but to pray for the strength to ceaselessly be a brother.
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