Masons Killing Masonry

I'm a member of a large online Masonic discussion group. A topic published in it tonight clearly shows one of the major reasons for the Fraternity's membership declines and retention issues.

A young EA asked:

“Being new to the craft and having many questions and not wanting to spoil any up coming rituals I plan on doing some reading. Would Morals and Dogma (Annotated) by Albert Pike be a good read to inform but no spoil my journey?”

Of course we know that reading Morals & Dogma would not spoil his upcoming Degrees because it contains no ritual elements. Rather it is Pike's Lectures for the Scottish Rite Degrees, including the Craft Degrees of EA, FC, & MM.

Certainly no harm whatsoever can come to a Mason, or to anyone else for that matter from reading this book. I started reading it myself as an EA, and I've continued reading it ever since.

Then the irrational and harmful answers to this young man's question came. They included such gems as:

“Absolutely not. It's really only of interest to people who have been through the 32 degrees of the Scottish Rite, specifically in the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States.” -This from a Past Master in Texas who apparently never bothered to read the book, so doesn't understand that it does include Lectures for the EA, FC, & MM Degrees.

“Nope. Morals and Dogma is highly overrated and frequently misunderstood. It has some value for members of Southern Jurisdiction Scottish Rite who want to dive into the degrees. It has virtually no relevance or value for craft lodge degrees.” -This from a Junior Warden in Indiana, who apparently also managed to miss the Craft Degree Lectures in the book.

“My strongest recommendation, and I can’t stress this enough, is that as you’re going through the first three degrees you should only work with material provided to you by your Grand Lodge education committee. Anything else can screw you up, because what’s done in one jurisdiction may not be done the same in another, and at this point you’re not going to be able to recognize the differences, and that could affect any memory work or proficiency you need to pass to proceed to the next degree.” -Texas Past Master. Apparently in his view, if it ain't written by the Grand Lodge it must be bad. Plus, all the ritual work in Morals and Dogma might be different from our EA's GL's ritual work, so will confuse him. Of course there is not a single word of ritual in Pike's Lectures, but alas, why should facts confuse the issue. The important thing is that we keep this poor young man away from scary books.

”...from the perspective of a SJ Scottish Rite Mason who loves Pike’s work and has read M&D... it’s highly overrated. It’s only appropriate for Scottish Rite Masons, and it’s not really that necessary for SR Masons. Even seeing the current SJ degrees and reading M&D alone won’t be very insightful.” -This gem from a Mason in Oklahoma. Seems pretty clear that he is exaggerating his love for Pike's work, and I've got to wonder, if he can actually read Morals and Dogma, and go through the Scottish Rite Degrees, and still not get much insightful out of all of that, why on earth does he bother? The lessons of Masonry do require some level of thought, apparently he needs a wee bit more of that.

“I would absolutely avoid M&D for now.” -Says a Mason from Arizona. What does this Mason suggest the young man read instead? “Corinthians, Genesis 28, Psalm 133” -Golly, the advice this young Mason is getting just keeps getting better and better.

“You'll need to learn to wait. After all, who knows if you want to join an appendant body after you are raised? Maybe you might stay with blue lodge your entire life. Maybe you might want to get involved with OES or the youth groups. Or maybe you'll want to go York Rite or become a Shriner. Maybe you'll focus on committees, or district or GL activities. Or you'll be interested in a lodge of research, or maybe the GL's library or museum. There is so much out there, you just need patience.” -Says a Mason from New Mexico. Getting slightly off topic. Of course what our Mason from New Mexico fails to understand is that this young Mason won't be around long enough to become involved with any of those things, because getting advice like he is getting from this bunch will drive him away from Masonry in very short order.

“There are a few books worse than M&D to give you a masonic education but not that many.” -The UGLE Mason from across the pond helpfully adds.

“No! Don’t read it yet. It’s only appropriate for 32° Masons. It will absolutely spoil your journey” -So says the Oklahoma Mason who's self chosen nickname in the group is a reference to his own penis. He doesn't spell out how the book could possibly spoil this young Mason's journey, but apparently it can, and it is bad. Gotta protect the EA from evil books that spoil things in mysterious ways.

You've read enough of that nonsense now.

So how many people in the group actually told this young Mason that Morals and Dogma contained Lectures? That it specifically contained Lectures for the Craft Degrees? That it contained no ritual, and therefore could not spoil his upcoming Degrees? That it is OK if he reads the book? That people don't have a right to tell other people what to read? That Masonry is a quest for knowledge?


Only one.

Me. I told him these things. No one else did.

I also told him that the book is difficult to read, and that he might find a lot more enjoyment reading something else, but I made it clear that it is OK to read a book.

Nineteen Freemasons told him that it isn't OK to read a book.


Over 90% of Masons surveyed by the Masonic Service Association said that Masonic Education was very important to them. Over 65% of those respondents said that their Lodge provides no Masonic Education.

Think about that for a moment.

If we think about it long enough we will understand why Freemasonry does not retain its Masons.

Here is a brand spankin' new Mason, crying out for some Masonic Education. He obviously doesn't have a decent mentor in his Lodge or he wouldn't have had to run off to the internet to ask his question. All he wants to do is read a book and these 'elders' in the Craft do all they can to discourage him.

What's most fun about all of their pronouncements is that it is quite clear from their own statements that not a one of them realize that Morals and Dogma contains Lectures for the Craft Degrees. As these first three Lectures are at the very start of the book, it clearly shows that not a one of them have ever actually read the thing.

That is usually the case with Morals and Dogma though. Forever condemned as too hard to read by Masons who have never actually bothered to try and read it.

I also notice that if their concern truly was that he would read into the non-craft Degrees, not a one of them recommended Pike's book written specifically for the Craft Degrees, Esoterika, Symbolism Of The Blue Degrees Of Freemasonry. Perhaps because their Lodges don't have a dozen copies of it laying around, gathering dust, so they don't even know it exists.

Reading things like this reminds me again that it is Masons who are destroying Masonry. Masons who are refusing to teach Masonry to the young men who knock on our doors. Masons who discourage rather than encourage free inquiry among our own initiates.

Hence, I guess, why I'm currently working on Emeth. An online space that celebrates Freemasonry and Freemasonic education. A place where those who value the lessons of Freemasonry can discuss them without being drowned out by those who believe our Ancient Craft to be nothing more than a goofy old social club with aprons.

Sorry if this post tilts pretty close to a rant. I try to write positive things most all the time, but once in awhile one must call out what is so obviously wrong.



Cameron M. Bailey Past Grand Master The MW Grand Lodge F&AM of Washington

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