MW Cameron M. Bailey


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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Due to the pandemic, many Masonic leaders, including me have attempted to continue engaging with the Fraternity through means other than our regular meetings and events.

This blog is just one such example.

Written essays, videos, podcasts, through all of these means a great deal of high quality content is being created. Just today I saw a superb video created by one of the leaders of my Scottish Rite Valley.

When we consume this Masonic content, I think it is important for us to remember that no one man speaks for Freemasonry.

Freemasonry is a worldwide Brotherhood enjoyed by men of every nation and creed. Certainly such diverse men will hold a great diversity of opinion. Beyond that every Mason has a right to, and does indeed hold his own unique view of what Freemasonry is to him.

Freemasonry means one thing to me, it means something different to my friend and Brother VW Larry Foley. Given that Masonry means something a bit different to each of us, it follows that when communicating about it, we might well communicate about different things, and in different ways.

All of this is a long way of saying that when we read a Masonic essay, or watch a Masonic video, or listen to a podcast, we need to remember that it is perfectly OK for us to disagree. No matter what position the man who created it holds.

Properly we should accept that which we believe to be true, for ourselves, and reject that which we find, upon reflection, to be false.

Through my years as a Mason I have slowly created what has become a fairly large, extremely high quality Masonic book collection. All of that has resulted in a great deal of Masonic reading, over quite a few years now.

Back when I was a brand spankin new EA, one of the very first things I read, and I've never forgotten, is the following passage from Albert Pike in which he made the same point I have tried to make above. I am pleased to commend it to you.

“Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound.” -Morals and Dogma

That precept by Brother Pike has been of tremendous value to me in my reading as I have continued my own quest for Masonic Light.

#ThisBlog #AlbertPike #MoralsAndDogma


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

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Lending A Helping Hand

Freemasonry is an active endeavor. As Masons we are charged with improvement of the self, and care for others. By doing these things, we ultimately improve the world around us.

We improve ourselves by reflecting, deeply into our natures. Thereby discovering those things that we should use our gavels to chip away from our character, and conversely, strengthening our best qualities. This is labor. Mental labor, but work nevertheless. We will never be perfect men, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive towards perfection of character.

We should labor to take care of our Brothers, and if they are distressed, their families as best we can. To paraphrase our ritual, as far as his needs dictate, and our own resources allow, presuming of course, always, that he is a worthy brother, with a worthy need.

Lastly, we should endeavor, in some way, to make the world around us just a little bit brighter. Eyes in desperate need should never see a Masonic ring pass uncaringly by. This too is our labor, for everyone has a claim upon our kindness.

Improvement of self is a solitary endeavor. It is labor that we must do on our own.

Assistance to a Brother however can, and likely should be given at the Lodge level, so that everyone can assist in some small way, but have their own contributions magnified by being combined with those from everyone else. That is one of the beauties of Masonry, being able to work together and combine efforts in order to have a strong impact on any given problem.

Helping the world around us is much more difficult of course, given the vast scale of many of the problems within our society. For that reason, our Fraternity has created many formal charity programs. Lodge Scholarship and Bikes for Books programs that support local educational efforts. The Scottish Rite's Rite Care program that helps children who can't otherwise learn to speak. The York Rite charity programs. Shriner's Hospitals for Children, and of course, our own Washington Masonic Charities. Money is a form of work. It is what we exchange our work for in order to purchase the works of others. By giving some of that to one or more Masonic charity programs we are in effect giving of our labor, and using our labor to help improve the world around us.

In this time of pandemic, when so much is curtailed, I suggest that we might all be wise to use some of the extra time we likely find ourselves with to do some Masonic labor. To do the work of reflection within ourselves, in order to improve ourselves.

After this pandemic has passed, we will get back into our Lodges, and again be able to labor within them with our Brothers. In the meantime, with so many out of work for so long now, genuine need in our communities is exploding. It is my hope that those of us who can give something to one or more of our Masonic charities will seriously consider doing so.

In closing, I leave you with a few words from Morals and Dogma:

“Masonry is action and not inertness. It requires its Initiates to Work, actively and earnestly, for the benefit of their brethren, their country, and mankind. It is the patron of the oppressed, as it is the comforter and consoler of the unfortunate and wretched.” -Albert Pike

#Labor #Charity #MoralsAndDogma #AlbertPike #WashingtonMasonicCharities


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

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United States and Masonic Flags

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forever more.” -John Adams, President of the United States

I hope that you and yours have a most wonderful 4th of July!

We can't now celebrate together, but in time this dark pandemic will pass, and we will again be able to join together in fellowship and brotherhood.

Until then, I leave you with the following from Morals and Dogma:

“The true Mason identifies the honor of his country with his own. Nothing more conduces to the beauty and glory of one's country than the preservation against all enemies of its civil and religious liberty. The world will never willingly let die the names of those patriots who in her different ages have received upon their own breasts the blows aimed by insolent enemies at the bosom of their country.”

“But also it conduces, and in no small measure, to the beauty and glory of one's country, that justice should always be administered there to all alike, and neither denied, sold, or delayed to anyone; that the interest of the poor should be looked to, that none starve or be houseless, or clamor in vain for work...”

The above paragraphs, laid down so long ago, give I think guidance to what we as Masons need to be working for today. Justice, poverty, homelessness, unemployment. These must be addressed in a moral society for her people, and for the honor of the nation.

#Holiday #MoralsAndDogma #FoundingFathers


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

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The concern that I have heard expressed most often by Lodge leaders since our Lodges have been closed has been about our candidates for the Degrees.

The widely held concern is that we have people awaiting their EA Degree, somewhere in the process of receiving the three Degrees, or in the process of the Six Steps. The worry is that if the Lodge is able to take no action, these men might give up on Masonry.

I've got a suggestion.

While it is true that our Lodges can not now meet to initiate these men, there is nothing in either the governmental guidelines or the Grand Master's edicts that says that a member of the Lodge can't sit down with them one on one and teach them about Masonry. This could certainly be done either in person, or via video conference.

Virtually every Lodge I have ever been inside of has at least half a dozen copies of the book Morals and Dogma stored somewhere. For those who are not familiar with it, Morals and Dogma is a collection of lectures for the Scottish Rite Degrees. Including the first three Degrees.

Given that they are very rarely worked, or even exemplified in the United States, many Masons do not realize that the Scottish Rite has its own versions of our first three, or Craft Degrees. Nevertheless it does, and Morals and Dogma contains extensive writings on each of these Degrees.

So, my suggestion is that a Lodge assign a Brother to work with a candidate, providing each with a copy of this book, and slowly they can work through the information it contains within those three chapters.

If it were me, I'd actually make the Preface (in newer versions this is titled 'Preface to the original edition') into the first lesson. Under the guidance of my Mentor, I read that preface as an EA, and what I learned from it has been one of the most valuable things I've learned in my entire Masonic career.

If you utilize Morals and Dogma with a candidate, please note that he will learn some things, particularly as to the items contained within a Lodge Room that he might otherwise not see until his Degree. However, he will not learn any of the secrets of the Degrees, and quite likely he would have already seen things like our Pillars while cruising around the internet, so there is little or no danger of somehow spoiling his Degrees for him, provided that the Brother leading the discussion uses some care to not divulge those things that should not be talked about.

With full knowledge and approval of my Lodge I read Morals and Dogma as I went through the Degrees, and I found that doing so enhanced, rather than detracted from my experience. I think your candidates will find the same result.

There is a tremendous amount of information contained within the three Degree chapters. Taking just a few pages at a time will lead to very lively and enlightening discussions, plus provide months of material for the Candidate to work with.

It will keep him active and engaged with Masonry, which seems to address the concerns I've heard expressed. Beyond that, the Lodge will greatly benefit because when he does eventually become a Master Mason, the man in question will be extremely well educated about his new Craft.

Benefits of course will accrue to the Brother guiding the candidate as well, for one of the very best ways to learn is to teach.

If for whatever reason your Lodge does not have copies of Morals and Dogma, copies can be purchased directly from the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction in their online store. The newer version might actually prove more satisfactory because unlike the old, it contains extensive footnoting which leads to easier understanding.

It is my hope that this suggestion will prove helpful to those who currently have, and are concerned about candidates during this unique time.

#Pandemic #Candidate #ScottishRite #MoralsAndDogma #Mentoring


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

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