Masonic Misunderstandings and Mormon Hypersensitivities

BYU NewsNet recently released a story entitled, Of Masons and Mormons: “The Solomon Key” offers controversial sequel. The article seems to pick up where Peggy Fletcher Stack left off in the Salt Lake Tribune. Peggy starts with the unsubstantiated rumor that Dan Brown’s next book “might deal with Mormonism” as a lead into a nice write up on the intersection of Mormonism and Masonry. Kimberly McLean, author of the BYU story, takes Peggy’s speculation and raises it to certainty, replete with speculative analysis of Dan Brown’s forthcoming release: “With Brown examining the mysteries of the Masons and their connection to Mormons, codebreaker fanatics anticipate another gripping ride.”

It is just that, well, there is nothing to suggest that the book will have any Mormon connection at all. A let down to be sure, but you never know, maybe we can assuage our persecution complex with the hope that a Mormon will pop up in Washington D.C. where the novel is to be set.

After indicating the Mormon connection to the book, the BYU article then administers the bromides. To be certain, the Mormon-Masonry connection is not particularly delineated in correlated discourse. The Endowment’s Masonic heritage is a particular favorite whipping boy of anti-Mormons. From the article:

“The Masons adopted familiar symbols, symbols you can find in Egyptian texts, on papyrus scrolls.” Ostler said. “They obviously want to prove their order goes back as far possible. The original temple ordinances, restored from antiquity, predate those Masonic symbols and rituals.”

BCC contacted Greg Kearney, a Mormon and Mason actively involved in this area of research and Mormon apologetics:

I do not believe that you can find any evidence that the ritual, as opposed to the teachings, of the LDS temple originated in antiquity. It is clearly not what was being done in Solomon’s Temple, a temple ritual centered around the ritualistic slaughter of animals. Further the similarities of the two as based in teaching forms and in the signs and tokens not in the use of Egyptian text or symbols.

Masonry can only be traced to the medieval stone mason’s guilds. There is not reliable evidence to suggest a tie to antiquity for Masonry. Further there is no evidence connecting modern LDS temple ritual to any practice of antiquity outside of those ordinances where we specifically state the connection from scripture such as the washing and anointings.

The teaching forms used in the temple most likely have their origins in 19th century Masonic practices. If they had come, as Ostler suggests, from “The original temple ordinances, restored from antiquity, predate those Masonic symbols and rituals,” then why do we change the ritual of the endowment from time to time to meet the modern needs of the saints?

Some of the discomfort Mormons feel with the topic probably stems from beliefs that Masonry was prohibited to members. Peggy reiterates this conception her article:

Antagonisms built up between the two groups. In Utah in 1860, Masonic lodges were established but they prohibited Mormons from joining. At the same time, Young forbade Mormons from joining and refused to allow any Mason to hold priesthood leadership positions in the church, Literski [a Mormon scholar of Masonry that will be soon releasing a book on the topic] says.

It wasn’t until 1984 that LDS President Spencer W. Kimball removed the prohibition against Latter-day Saints becoming Freemasons. Later that year, the Grand Lodge of Utah removed its own ban on Mormon membership so that, in the ensuing years, many Latter-day Saint men have returned to this part of their heritage.

The BYU article reiterates this position and the 1984 date of policy change. In reality, Brigham Young considered himself a Mason for his entire life. The Utah lodges defied Masonic custom and proscribed Mormons from participating. E.g., The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Utah, Joseph M. Orr, stated in 1878:

We say to the priests of the Latter-day Church, you cannot enter our lodge rooms–you surrender all to an unholy priesthood. You have heretofore sacrificed the sacred obligations of our beloved Order and we believe you would do the same again. Stand aside; we want none of you. Such a wound as you gave Masonry in Nauvoo is not easily healed, and no Latter-day Saint is, or can become a member of our Order in this jurisdiction. (1)

The history of the Church’s response is not completely clear, however, the Church began to consistently speak out against being members of “oath bound” organizations and counsel against associating with such groups worked its way in to the CHI. Edward Kimball in his history of the Temple Admission Standards reviews the Church’s policy. He notes that the earliest 19th century rhetoric was aimed at labor unions, which were secret societies and aimed to disrupt the Utah economy. After unions, the focus was on fraternal organizations and by the 20th century, masonry. There was definitely some response to the Utah lodges of the idea that Mormons didn’t need masonry anyway because we have the real McCoy. Curiously, Kimball states that the Utah Masonic proscription against Mormons started in 1924, which date is obviously mistaken.

Despite the belief that Masonry was proscribed to Mormons, outside of Utah, masonry flourished among Mormons. Speaking with Greg Kearney:

The church never impose a ban on members being Masons. The ban was imposed by the Grand Lodge of Utah, which prohibited LDS Church members from becoming Masons in Utah or LDS Masons from other Grand Lodges from even visiting Utah lodges. Utah was the only Grand Lodge ever to implement a religious test for membership or visitation. In other part of the world, LDS Church members were welcomed into Masonry. Growing up in Maine, most of my Bishops, Stake Presidents and in fact most of the adult men in my town regardless of faith were Masons.

In 1984 the Utah Grand Lodge removed this provision from their bylaws and now LDS men are welcome to become Masons in Utah just as they have always been able to do everywhere else.

Indeed, the 1984 date that both the Trib and BYU cite as the turning point for Mormonism and Masonry was in fact the date the Utah lodges removed their prohibition against Mormons. In 1989, the Church removed language referring to oath bound organizations from the CHI (2).

It is understandable that Mormons are sensitive to controversial topics. Moreover, there is a significant amount of controversy surrounding Masonry and Mormonism. Perhaps, as our understanding matures we may not only be able to better deal with our history, but also our symbology. For more information see the new addition to the FAIR wiki and associated references.

____________________

  1. 1877 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Utah, 11-12 as contained in Homer, M. W. (1994) “Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry”: The Relationship Between Freemasonry and Mormonism. Dialogue. vol. 27 no. 3
  2. Kimball, E. L. (1998) The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards. Journal of Mormon History Spring pg. 135-175.

Comments

  1. Back in the 90’s when I was serving a mission in Japan we tracted out some fellow into ancient oriental mysticism. He really had no idea who we were or what the church was about, but during the course of our conversation in his doorway he felt inclined to show us how he understood how Buddha healed people. His demonstration on how Buddha healed people was identical to a gesture made during the endowment. I thought to myself at the time “my gosh, where did learn that?!” To me, it reinforced the notion that the endowment is of ancient origins and thereby not surprising we might find remnants of it in other cultural/religious practices.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    In connection with the FAIR conference last August, a number of us went on a tour of the Masonic temple in SLC (Greg was there with us and provided commentary). It was beautiful and quite fascinating. If you call their office and make arrangements in advance, anyone can go on a tour of the building.

    While many Saints are bothered to learn of a relationship between the endowment and Masonic ritual, when I learned the particulars many years ago it actually deepened my understanding and appreciation of the endowment. Without that connection, certain aspects of the endowment seemed just plain, well, weird. But once I understood their derivation, the weirdness vibe went away for me.

    Of course, these connections were well known to the early brethren, many of whom were Masons themselves.

  3. I second Kevin’s sentiments.

    Just because we have Protestant hymns in our hymnbook, does this negate their Mormonness to us? Was the notion of bread and wine as a sacrament revealed whole cloth to Joseph, or did he simply use a Christian motif already in existence?

    Joseph clearly borrowed masonic elements for the endowment, and weaved them into his (or God’s, or his and God’s depending on one’s viewpoint) grand narrative of priesthood.

    The endowment takes masonic signs and imbues them with a Mormon priesthood Christology that ends up being very different to their masonic originals. Its akin, I dunno, to the Egyptian ankh and the Christian cross — similar but different. Anyway, I like masonry. I also think that attempts to link masonry and the endowment to Solomon have a Dan Brownian whiff and should be avoided at all costs.

  4. See this old BCC post where Mormon Masons make an appearance.

  5. Oh, and don’t forget: the Endowment includes…women! Gasp. Very unmasonic. Joseph did for masonry what Christians did for fir trees. And I like Christmas trees.

  6. Educative, allegorical drama predates Masonry, J. Thus, it might be true, as your interviewee states that “The teaching forms used in the temple most likely have their origins in 19th century Masonic practices.” But the Masons also adopted their “teaching forms” from somewhere because Masons, by no means, have a monopoly on didactic allegorical drama as a method of teaching.

  7. I remember being at a museum with a huge section on Masonry and feeling weirded out by the whole thing. I was mad and uncomfortable.

    I got home and realized I like the influences of my experiences and the world on my inspiration and I like it on Joseph Smith’s inspiration too. Now I just feel foolish for knowing so little about masonry. I’m impressed Kevin and Ronan that y’all weren’t phased by it at all. It really freaked me out.

  8. For whatever fourth-hand rumors are worth—not much more than pure speculation, I suppose—I have been told by a relative who knows someone whose father works in the Church’s PR department that they have had discussions with Dan Brown about how Mormonism is to be portrayed in the book.

    Of course, these connections were well known to the early brethren, many of whom were Masons themselves.

    Of course, these early brethren believed in the antiquity of Masonic ritual. They thought a corrupted version was being restored. Hence the early brethren’s comfort with similarities to Masonry does nothing to make traditional Mormons feel any better once they become convinced that the ritual is not in fact ancient. Such must make a new and separate peace, as Kearny apparently has.

  9. I, for one, am just grateful that I’m was on record as being very critical of Dan Brown’s poorly written novels way before it was known that he might write about Mormons. That way, my non-Mormon co-bloggers can’t accuse me of attacking Brown as a reflexive response to his anti-Mormon beliefs.

    Dan Brown is one of the worst writers of popular fiction around, and that’s saying something.

    I would like to learn more about Mormonism and Masonry, but I’m certainly not going to expect Dan Brown to writing anything reliable about the subject.

  10. So, you plan on attacking him, BTD Greg? At least you can say it’s not in response to his ‘anti-Mormon beliefs’ whatever they may or may not be (little early to say at this point, no?)

  11. I don’t think Dan Brown is a terrible writer, he’s in good company if he is. I wasn’t all that interested in those books, but I read them.

    I was a member of Rainbow Girls, the youth organization of the Masons. I don’t remember anything remotely like the temple ceremony.

  12. How do you have the time to research all this stuff then create such intersting posts? I had no idea about any of this. Just fascinating.

  13. g.wesley says:

    without glossing over the masonic connection, i think kearney’s statement — I do not believe that you can find any evidence that the ritual, as opposed to the teachings, of the LDS temple originated in antiquity — is a little rash. there are interesting parallels between gnostic liturgy and the endowment, both in terms of the actual ritual and the purpose behind it. there are big differences too, and i’m not saying the gnostics were mormons or vice-versa. but there is evidence to be had. how to interpret it of course is a separate matter.

  14. APJ: I guess I wasn’t too clear. I have been critical about Dan Brown in the past (and probably will continue to be in the future) because I think he’s a terrible writer. What I was saying is that I’m glad I’m on record as someone who dislikes Dan Brown before he says whatever it is he plans to say about Mormons so that I won’t be accused of having some ulterior motive for disliking his books.

    annieg: I respectfully disagree. Dan Brown is quite bad. And I’m no literary snob. I enjoy a lot of popular fiction, including J.K. Rowling and Michael Chricton. But Dan Brown is bad–even worse John Grisham, who’s pretty bad himself.

  15. annegb, that is one that the anti-mormons don’t harp on very much: The YW program was lifted from Rainbow Girls. Also, Buchannan’s army wasn’t sent to put down the Mormon rebellion in 1857. They were sent to bring the National Treasure to be burried underneath the SL Temple (to spare it from the civil war). Sh, don’t tell anyone though.

  16. Well, the YW and mutual that I knew and know now are nothing like Rainbow Girls. I had to be voted in, which is a miracle since only one girl liked me, but it was a pity vote, probably, because my family was so white trash.

    Then they have an initiation ceremony, where you wear formals and I can’t remember what happened because I had the flu and had to go throw up, but it was some sort of ritual. Maybe remotely similar to the temple, although not remotely holy. More like, “I promise not to tell who the rainbow girls are” or something like that.

    Then we went on a trip to Reno and stayed in a motel and voted for the grand hoobah girl.

    I was fairly underwhelmed and didn’t last long.

  17. g.wesley says:

    actually, the old boy scout handshake looks really familiar (not to mention the scout sign). and its use was discouraged among lds scouts in the early 1900s.

  18. I believe Greg knows much about Masonry. I think there are some important things he doesn’t know about ancient ritual, and I flatly disagree with his statement

    I do not believe that you can find any evidence that the ritual, as opposed to the teachings, of the LDS temple originated in antiquity.

    He himself has acknowledge that there are differences in teh ritual, and those differences are significant.

  19. Ronan #5, there’s an entire book recently published on exactly that fact. Of course, it’s sort of bad. But provocative.

  20. RT,
    Nice Amazon review. The problem with Forsberg is that he posits a masonic explanation for everything mormon. I see no evidence for anything masonic until Nauvoo.

  21. Greg Kearney says:

    RT, I think you are right about Forsberg book, not everything in Mormonism is Masonic, quite the opposite outside of some elements of the endowment ritual which appeared in Nuavoo much isn’t.

    The critics of the Church delight in pointing to the similarities but never want to talk about the differences which are many.

    For the record, I never meant to imply that the whole ritual of the endowment originated in 19th century masonic practice, there are whole portions of the endowment, such as the washing and anointing, which have no masonic counterpart. I do believe however that the ritual form of the play and some of actions of the endowment have their genesis in Freemasonry, that does not trouble me a bit, it never has.

    Greg Kearney

  22. Ben S., It’s bad enough that Mormonism is so saturated with the ultra-apologetic outlook on its own religion. Must we also be apologists for Masonry? Seriously, when I hear Mormons claim that there is viability in the claim that aspects of Masonry date to antiquity, it really makes me wonder how reliable they are as witnesses to the antiquity of Mormon claims.

  23. The primary item lacking from a genuine historical account of the relationship Mormonism and Masonry (as opposed to a mere cataloging of historical facts) is a plausible and cohesive theory of why Joseph Smith brought Masonry into Mormonism.

    Fawn Brodie’s point of view (which is pretty off-hand) is that Joseph Smith liked its respectability and its “costuming, pageantry, and general abracadabra” (280-3). But I don’t buy this. The one fact that only Hogan seems to emphasize (though Homer accumulates evidence to this effect in his Dialogue article) is this: Joseph Smith did not need to join the Masons in order to barrow from Masonry.

    Joseph Smith’s acquaintance with Masonry began in the 1820s with Hyrum’s elevation in the Lodge in Palmyra. In 1826, Morgan published his expose of Masonry in Batavia, NY (Hogan 1977, 284). He vanished from Canandaigua, NY (Hogan 1977, 284). (These locations are 50 miles west and 20 miles south of Palmyra.) This expose and the disappearance of its author resulted in an explosion of anti-Masonic fury. At least three other exposes gained wide readership during the time in which Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon (Homer 14). It was common for these exposes to ridicule claims of antiquity.

    In addition to printed exposes, disaffected Masons offered regular performance of Masonic rituals. (Hogan 1978, ??)

    Moreover, at least three of Joseph’s close friends were former Masons who had renounced their oaths; viz., William Phelps, George Harris, and John Bennett (Hogan, 1976, 9; 1970, 12).

    Several other well-known Mormons who were loyal to Joseph were Masons and former Masons, including Hyrum Smith, Heber Kimball, and Newel Whitney. Three active Mormons in Nauvoo were Past Masters; viz., Asabel Perry, Daniel Miles, and Hezekiah Peck (Hogan 1977, 303).

    The bottom line is this: By the time that Joseph Smith joined the Masons, he had been awash in Masonic and anti-Masonic information for more 15 years. If he wanted to import portions of the Masonic ritual, he didn’t need to join the Masons, because information on Masonry was so readily available to him.

    Moreover, (and this is the real kicker) there is no precedent (before or since) for Joseph introducing a corrupt, un-restored practice into the church. Joseph introduced Masonry as a corrupted (and not merely an incomplete) priesthood and then pretended to refine it into the temple endowment. This is analogous to introducing the (corrupt) Catholic priesthood into the church, and then refining it (instead of directly restoring it, as he did). Indeed, there is something vaguely contradictory about claiming (on the one hand) that Joseph Smith viewed Masonry as an apostate or degenerate endowment, and (on the other) that he participated and encouraged members to participate in this apostate or degenerate form of ordinances.

    Lastly, Joseph had always been resistant to introducing a Masonry into the church (e.g., he squelched the idea when Bennett brought it up). What happened in 1842 that changed this?

    There’s an important intersect that most historians ignore, that I think is key to understanding. By 1841, Joseph had been struggling to introduce the Nauvoo innovations. For example, Joseph’s first recorded effort to teach polygamy publicly occurred in 1841, when he discussed the possibility of legalized polygamy in Zion during a morning sermon. The objections of his wife and other prominent women were strong enough to prompt a complete retraction later that afternoon (Whitney, pp. 11, 23-24 as sited in Van Wagoner, p51). It was clear at this point that it was not tenable to advocate polygamy in public.

    Shortly after the failure of this trial balloon, James Adams and Abraham Jonas approached Joseph about creating a Mormon Masonic Lodge (Hogan 1977, 311).

    So let’s be clear on what happened: Joseph tries to introduce polygamy publicly, he gets rebuffed, and then some guys approach him about organizing a society whose meetings are guarded by oaths of secrecy. My theory is that Joseph saw the introduction of the Masonic Lodge as a venue in which he could introduce his new doctrines in safety–a venue whose secrecy would not excite any unusual alarm. And Joseph Smith’s attribution of sacred antiquity to Masonry created confidence in it as a venue for new doctrines among its members–some of whom had been strident anti-masons.

    And that is my theory of why Joseph introduced Masonry into Mormonism; I hope that it is plausible and coherent–perhaps even persuasive.

    (Anyway, this is a quick summary of part of my paper on the topic of Joseph’s Two Nauvoo Churches. My overall theory is that Joseph’s introduction of Masonry into Mormonism is the beginning of his creation of a second, underground church that Joseph creates as an incubator for his Nauvoo innovations.)

    Brodie, Fawn M. No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. 2nd ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.

    Hogan, Mervin B. “The Cryptic Cable Tow between Mormonism and Freemasonry.” Phoenix: Paper No. 22, Arizona Research Lodge No. 1, F. & A.M., 24 Feb. 24, 1970. (Typewritten manuscript in author’s position)

    — “What of Mormonism and Freemasonry.” Salt Lake City: Research Lodge of Utah, F. & A.M., 3 May 1976. (Typewritten manuscript in author’s position)

    — “Mormonism and Freemasonry: The Illinois Episode.” In Little Masonic Library. 5 vols. Ed. Silas H. Shepherd, Lionel Vibert, and Roscoe Pound. Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Pub. & Masonic Supply Co., 1978. Vol. 2, 267-326.

    Homer, Michael W. “‘Similarity of Priesthood and Masonry’: The Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27, no.3 (Fall 1994): p 1-116.

    Van Wagoner, Richard. Mormon Polygamy: A History. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989.

    Whitney, Helen Mar Kimball. “Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph; a Reply to Joseph Smith, Editor of the Lamoni (Iowa) Herald.” Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882.

  24. when I hear Mormons claim that there is viability in the claim that aspects of Masonry date to antiquity

    I am not arguing for this, DKL, and am hardly a Masonic apologist.

  25. g.wesley: actually, the old boy scout handshake looks really familiar (not to mention the scout sign). and its use was discouraged among lds scouts in the early 1900s.

    The current scout sign (right arm raised to the square with three fingers extended) is close enough to one of the temple gestures that (having been a scoutmaster), I have on more than one occasion inadvertently made the scout sign in the temple at certain points in the ceremony. I wonder how often this occurs.

  26. Greg Kearney says:

    Baden-Powell was a Mason and if you really wan to see the Masonic influence in scouting lookup the Order of the Arrow ritual.

  27. I didn’t know we do gestures and motions and movements as part of the ordinances in the temple!

    Sometimes I think so much is kept secret, that one could really freak out when one finally goes. I don’t mean, reveal anything sacred, but to learn that there’s all this gesturing and secret handshakes? and stuff?

    What do you s’pose they’d do if I had a panic attack in the middle of my endowment, or initiatory? I’m assuming maybe given my problems they’d let me ask the temple president how to deal w/it? I should probably ask this somewhere else, but when you go for your own personal one, are there a bunch of other people there doing work for the dead during your session, besides family?

    I’m just really worried I’ll have the panic attack that feels like a heart attack (squeezes lungs/heart and so much pain you can’t talk or respond or communicate and you think you are dying) when I’m in there, if I ever get to go.

    Okay, back to your irregularly scheduled Masonic thread.

  28. I just meant my comment more as a point of view on a little of this from someone who hasn’t gone, is married, w/child, in their 30’s. That, and the stuff I’m finding out is freaking me out even more.
    Not so much about the Masonic stuff, although that seems wierd to me that what I’ve been taught has parts from something like that? But more about gestures, movements, severe oaths . . . I guess I just pictured it as you sit in each room, listen/watch/say amen or a thing or two all together (recently read about that last in a thread round about here, too, and it just sounds wierd, but hey, the Lord is my shepherd). And then move to the next room and repeat.

    Anyway, from the perspective of someone not there yet (due to mental illness/not being able to be consistent at much of anything) it’s an .. . . . . interesting thread.

  29. a random John says:

    Here is some info on Scouting and Masonry, that I’ve posted in the past:

    http://www.100megsfree4.com/stimso/oa1.htm

    And here is part of the Order of the Arrow ceremony:
    http://www.quapawbsa.org/db/uploads/986321344_Local_brotherhoodquestionnaire.pdf

  30. mullingandmusing says:

    28 —
    Sarebear, I’d have to say that a place like this (a blog) probably isn’t the best place to go to gain perspective about what goes on in the temple! I just went to the library today and got one of my favorite books that I have read on the subject…it’s called House of Glory by S. Michael Wilcox. Also, Elder Nelson gave a talk in the April 2001 Conference (and there was an article in the Ensign the next year as well, I think in March, by Elder Nelson with similar themes. If you read the references he includes, you might be able to learn a little more without stressing yourself out about it. The best advice I got, for when you get the chance to go, is that I not worry so much about the details, but focus on the feeling I had there. Insights and understanding about the details can come with time, mostly through the Spirit.

  31. That isn’t my purpose for reading this blog, but perhaps I should avoid threads re: it, although, often it comes up in a thread that isn’t specifically about it; plus, of course, there’s the natural lifelong curiosity factor since I’m not a part of it, yet, but I still reverence it highly.

    Cool, I’ll check those out. Thanks M&M!

  32. Also, as well, that it can sometimes I hope/think be interesting for those who’ve been going, practically forever, to hear a point of view on a subject from someone like me who hasn’t yet. Maybe. I dunno. I hesitate to add yet another comment, but, it’s pertinent. Finally. Lol.

  33. mullingandmusing says:

    carebear,
    A couple of other thoughts:

    -Part of the reason I like Elder Nelson’s talk and the things he shares is that he helps us understand that there are ancient connections with the temple…that, as far as I understand, far predate Masonry. (Not that I’m an expert in such things by any means, but…. I find the scriptural teachings to be extremely interesting…and they might be even more so after you go…which is something I think Elder Nelson points out as well.)
    – I can’t find the quote right now, but I recently read a quote from one of our leaders that the endowment was received by revelation and must be understood by revelation. I always get uncomfortable when a) too much discussion surrounds some of the details of the temple, esp. when it’s made to sound so nuts-and-bolts-ish and b) when the temple ceremony is somehow portrayed to be simply an aggrandized masonic ritual or something like that. I believe it was something given to a prophet by the Lord, something that can tie us symbolically to our ancient fathers, and, most importantly, something that points us to Christ. There is a lifetime of learning within the walls of the temple (even in the symbolism outside)!

    Discussions like this may be interesting to some from an intellectual standpoint, but I think that they often miss the spiritual, especially for someone like yourself who has yet to experience the simple beauty the temple has to offer.

    Just wanted to add that (wanted to get it off my mind before I head to bed), for what it is worth. :)

  34. Sarebear,

    Yes, the Endowment is strange. Yes, the Endowment features mason-esque symbols. But do not let this worry you. It is only strange because we Mormons are otherwise rather ritual-free. It is exciting to take part in a ritual that is so full of symbolism and pageantry! It sure beats a boring sacrament meeting! As to the masonic connection: do not worry. Masonry is an ennobling organisation that seeks to instill righteous principles in its members; the Endowment takes this even further and imbues its symbols with a messages of priesthood, eternity and Christ. It can be a beautiful and peaceful event.

    So, do not fear, just be prepared. I highly recommend this website for starters. Be sure to have a good friend escort you when you first go to the temple; I would also speak to the temple president before you go about your panic attacks. If the temple workers are asked to be sensitive to your needs, then I think all will be well. Good luck!

  35. Sarebare, like Ronan said, in a good temple prep class, you will be able to discuss alot of details that would not be appropriate in this venue. And with such preparation, there won’t be anything surprising.

  36. g.wesley says:

    here’s a nice bit on scouting from R.I. Kimball’s Sports in Zion(University of Iinois, 2003):

    “The YMMIA Hand Book for 1925 requested that LDS Scouts and Scout officials not participate in the traditional Scout hand clasp. In its place, LDS Scouts substituted the American handshake. Additionally, Mormon scouters were instructed to use the phrase ‘Scout Promise’ instead of ‘Scout Oath.’ Scouting rituals–including the offical induction ceremony and advancement from one class to another–could be made ‘very impressive’ but should remain ‘simple and dignified.’ ‘Ceremonies’ were not to be used. Thought the reasons were never fully articulated, it is not difficult to understand why church leaders drew the line at taking ‘oaths’ and participating in secular Scouting ceremonies. Ceremonial aspects of Scouting were likely passed over in deference to the sacred ceremonies performed in Mormon temples. Perhaps it was feared that an association with Scouting ceremonies might diminish the impact of the holy actvities in the temple (p.145).”

  37. I’ve taken a temple prep class, but it’s vaguer than vague (well, I understand sacred secrecy though).

    It’s all about, pray, feel the Spirit, you need to do x y z to get there, and have your marriage license, daughter’s birth certificate, etc., etc., and we go to the temple to, um, well, let’s see . . . get married forever, do work for the dead.

    They were so even vague about the PURPOSE. Details were the last thing that would have been mentioned. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the class made me more fearful since it seemed like they were tiptoeing around it, lol! Thanks for the suggestions, my email is queenofsilly att hotmail do.t com. So’s I don’t sidetrack the conversation further.

  38. J. Stapley, you do realize you called me Sarebare?

    Didn’t realize stripping was involved, lol!

  39. manpace says:

    This is strange. The Daily Universe ran a rather similar article back in February that actually stated Brown’s next book would examine the Mormon-Mason connection:

    http://nn.byu.edu/story.cfm/58302

    I wrote a letter to the editor scolding them about reporting such a thing as fact when only speculations were publicly available. I suppose we should be pleased they are merely employing rumor and innuendo this time.

  40. Greg Kearney says:

    Rather similar?
    More like the second story lifted whole passages from the first without atribution!

    Here are the links, look for yourself.

    http://nn.byu.edu/story.cfm/58302 dated 6 FEB 2006
    http://nn.byu.edu/story.cfm/59740 dated 19 MAY 2006

    Greg Kearney

  41. It almost sounds like ‘Solomon Key’ is going to be the book version of the movie ‘National Treasure.’ I remember thinking that National Treasure was like the American Da Vinci Code. Anyone know if that movie was based on any book, or an original?

  42. annegb, I’m a Past Master Councilor and hold the Chevalier Degree in DeMolay, so I’m familiar with Rainbow and Job’s Daughters. When anyone asks about my involvement in the Masonic youth organization, I tell them honestly, it made me the man I am today, and helped me accept the restored gospel.

    However, I was implicitly discouraged to continue involvement with Masonry and DeMolay after baptism, and I sometimes regret it.

    I learned much about Masonry during my DeMolay years, and never heard anything that frightened me. But I wanted to make sure that I was staying on the right path after baptism.

    Now, I’m afraid that I’m too far removed, and truly lack the time to be involved with either Masonry or DeMolay.

  43. Okay, so I’ll further add my rumor knowledge to the rumors that have already been shared. But I think I have a slightly better source than many already mentioned: a few months ago my husband had lunch with Opus Dei’s PR director, and Opus Dei’s PR guy said that in one of the many meetings he’d had with Dan Brown’s PR guys, they had told him that Brown’s next book would be exploring the Mormon-Mason connection. So, unless Dan Brown’s PR guys are lying, or unless the Opus Dei PR guy is lying, I think this is a real connection (because I know my husband wasn’t lying). :)

  44. I don’t know what makes Greg Kearney the expert on LDS Temple ceremony non-antiquity. My dad attended his presentation at FAIR last year and really enjoyed it, but I’ve read loads of stuff on the temple (LDS and non-LDS authors) and I think its a little overstated to say there are no ancient roots to the LDS temple ceremony. Perhaps Greg should read a little more widely. For example, the Hopi Indians have a legend about the return of the great Pahana (the lost white brother). They believed that the great white brother would return and when he did they were to give him the appropriate handshake to identify him. I quote from Frank Waters book, “Book of the Hopi” pg. 252, – speaking of the arrival of the Spaniards (particularly, Pedro de Tovar- the first white man the Hopis saw) to Hopiland in 1540, “The Bear Clan leader stepped up to the barrier and extended his hand, palm up, to the leader of the white men. If he was indeed the true Pahana, the Hopis knew he would extend his owm hand, palm down, and clasp the Bear Clan leader’s hand to for the nakwach, the ancient symbol of brotherhood. Tovar instead curtly commanded one of his men to drop a gift into the Bear chief’s hand, believing that the Indian wanted a present of some kind. Instantly all the Hopi chiefs knew that Pahana had forgotten the ancient agreement made between their peoples at the time of their separation.”

    Hopi scholars indicate that the Hopi Pahana handshake or pass-grip is the exact same one used in Freemasonic and LDS temple rites. So, this begs the question- why the same ritualistic grip, and in 1540? There are a hundred different ways a person can grip….why the same among the Native Americans? And, why in a spiritual or moral setting (the Hopi also use the grip in their Kiva rituals)? Coincidence? And, interestingly, this grip is not unique to the Hopi. Apparently, it’s known and used by many Native American tribes (See Tom Cryer’s book). In addition, it is used among the Mandeans. Perhaps the “ceremony” is latter-day, but is every
    everything modern…I doubt it. All you have to do is read Margaret Barker’s book, “The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy” to know that Christ taught secret teachings, often referring to the right hand. Does Greg just ignore all of this? These things may not prove antiquity but they should certainly be considered.

    Andy

  45. Andy, I am no expert on the topic; but, from a critical perspective, one can find parallels from myriad disparate sources that share no relation. I don’t particularly have a strong opinion, and there are many who believe that there is an ancient source for the mechanistic aspects of the endowment; however, outside of apologetics, it isn’t a perspective widely held.

  46. Put me in the camp with Rene Guenon, Mircea Elide, A. Coomarswamy, Joseph Campbell, and C. G. Jung, all of whom “find parallels from myriad disparate sources” meaningful. I, along with them, do not so easily discount the similarities in form or the “common modalities of the sacred” as coincidence- or unrelated. Eliade, shows time and time again how disparate cultures “bear a striking similarity in form or content (“Patterns in Comparative Religion”),- ultimately, he argues that “each religious culture seems to draw from a common fund of symbolic currency.”

    Such striking similarities between seemingly unrelated groups could be coincidence or chance, but I am persuaded more by the argument that much is the remnant of a primitive tradition rather than spontaneous eruptions of strikingly similiar symbols or rituals in disparate geographical locations.

    I know patternism isn’t in academic vogue at the moment, but even from a clearly scientific or statistical point of view, one would have ask (for example), “What is the statistical probablity of finding the ‘tree of life’- the navel of the world, which can be found “from myriad disparate sources”- see Eliade, (“Images and Symbols, pg. 42), purely by chance (or of no relation- as you suggest)?

    I guess it just depends on how one wants to interpret the similarities. As for me, I lean away from chance or coincidence and more towards a common historical root.

    Having said all of that, I am not bothered by the possibility or suggestion that much of the current endowment might have been generated or created in the 19th century as a tool to convey deeply spiritual ideas, but I also think it is too soon to entirely discount the possibility that the striking similarities in sacred symbols, gestures, and rituals among seemingly unrelated groups as insignificant (or of ancient orgin)…for me, the jury is still out.

    Andy

  47. Kimball L. Hunt says:

    In essence, we’re talking about patterns of culture here — as these involve universals of how the mind works. And such an accounting for religious symbols as we’re imagining can be informed by the study of how, say, the phonemes of language evolve . . . the building blocks of symbolic meaning in speech? Did I use the word EVOLVE? (Evolve from what? Is there an Adamic language? If so, what does our interpretation of this concept?)

    Yet, in any case, there’s seen to be proto-forms of currently existing tongues. Which we can trace to disparate, etymological roots — that can be “cognate” with yet other historical roots with which they can be seen to have a fairly direct, “cousinish,” familial relationship. Yet in the aggregate, the corresponcence between any particular sequential patterns-of-utterance of “tongue” to its meaning is but due to — accidental happenstance. Well that’s yes at the same time quite purposeful( . . . making for a study of not-random randomness?)

    And yet, despite these happenstances of wordforms’ origins, we also project “psycho-sociological” universals of semantics/ symbolic meanings — such as, say, the Algonquin term “wampum” (meaning “white string [of shells]“) and the English phrase “monetary currency” (with whatever its etymologies), with both terms meaning “portable, valued stuff convenient for trade.” So, now: simply move from tracing universal patterns of trade to those of religious rites and their meanings . . . . .

  48. jothegrill says:

    I think that Dan Brown writes what he thinks will sell, like many fiction authors. I do not agree with the way he tries to portray fiction as fact, but I admit that he has been successful in making money. I don’t really care what he writes about Mormons for my sake, but I hope that others will continue to be skeptical of his writing and try to find out the truth.

  49. sideline says:

    When I was a recommend carrying member I was suitably freaked out when I attended a funeral for a relative who was a mason and there were all these men in aprons making symbols at the service. It troubled me. I, too, was part of the crew who simply assumed both masons and lds were deriving these rituals from something ancient. It was the doing it in public that freaked me.

    Years later, I saw a show about the history of the masons which prompted me to go to the library and research their roots. I no longer believe masonic rituals to have ancient roots and I definitely believe lds temple rituals were derived from masons.

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