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WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 22, 2014

BRYCE ON THE MASONS

- Is it a club, a corporation, a religious cult, a PAC, a philanthropy, or a fraternity?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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In the many years I have been a member, I have always found it fascinating how people perceive the institution of Freemasonry. Some say it is a club, others see it as a philanthropy, but very few seem to understand the concept of fraternity. Further, when we investigate candidates for membership, we normally ask what they are looking for, but rarely do people comprehend precisely what they are joining. This is a compelling argument, one I’ve debated on more than one occasion.

Some of our members see Freemasonry as nothing more than a club, such as a garden club, sports club, country club, etc., an institution we join with some common activity or goal. Clubs are typically run by a set of officers who participate in order to receive some notoriety for their position. This, of course, leads to politics involving backscratching, deceit, backstabbing, and one-up-man-ship. It is not uncommon to find people in such positions who have done nothing of substance in their professional lives and now relish the opportunity to control others. In Freemasonry, we are taught members are all equal in terms of position and opinion. The officers in a Lodge represent a network of duties and responsibilities designed to be implemented by many people, not just one, thereby encouraging teamwork, and eliminating the need for autocratic rule.

There are those who see Freemasonry as a corporation. The problem here is that a corporation is designed to be profitable in nature, Freemasonry is not. True, there are advantages to running any institution like a business, particularly by the state who requires all organizations to run as such, but Freemasonry certainly has no mercenary objectives other than the betterment of its members.

Despite the warnings of conspiracy theorists, Freemasonry does not preach dogma, nor practice religion. A person must believe in a Supreme Being to become a Mason, but his choice of religion is his business, not the Masons. As such, it is not uncommon to sit in a Masonic Lodge with men of many different faiths, thereby promoting religious tolerance.

Freemasonry is not a Political Action Committee (PAC). In order to maintain harmony in the Lodge, politics and religion are two topics forbidden from discussion. Like religion, men of different political beliefs sit in Lodge together in harmony. If anything, Freemasonry promotes the concept of citizenship to the community and patriotism to the country. Those who violate the law and believe in the overthrow of the government by force are not permitted to become Masons. Masons are law-abiding citizens who are taught to use peaceful means to change the government if necessary. As such, Masons hope to become role models for the community.

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that Freemasonry is a philanthropy. It is true Masons give generously to help others in distress, but this is a peripheral goal. It is not intended to spend countless hours on fund raisers or to shake down the Brethren for every available penny. Masons help others if it is within their capacity to do so. Otherwise there is no mandate in Freemasonry to perform philanthropic work. If Masons spend more time on philanthropy than fraternity, then they are subverting the intent of the institution.

Instead, Freemasonry is a fraternity; the original fraternity, and the model for others who came much later, such as college fraternities. The term “fraternity” comes from the Latin word “frater,” meaning “brother.” Fraternity, therefore, is a brotherhood, an environment of companionship dedicated to the social development of its members. The basic tenets of Freemasonry are “Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love.” As such, it is designed to build character, devotion, and encourage its members to lead an honorable life. Attending a Masonic Lodge meeting is intended to act as a fortress of solitude for its members, both local and visiting Masons, where they can meet and find solace away from the vermin and troubles of the world. It is a place where men seek understanding, compassion, and to be treated fairly and honestly.

Education is of significant importance in a Masonic Lodge, where Brothers ponder past, present and future problems of morality, responsibility, compassion, and civility. We refer to this as seeking “further light.”

Freemasonry, therefore, is not a club, a philanthropy, a religion, or a PAC. Using symbols from ancient operative Masonry, Freemasonry is a place where men meet “on the level” (to promote equality), act “by the plumb” (rectitude of conduct), and part upon “the square” (to practice morality). For many centuries, Freemasonry is the fraternity where men of character have naturally gravitated to, simply because they yearn for such simple treatment.

Those who think of or practice Freemasonry any other way are missing the boat.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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21 Responses to “WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An S.M. of Middlesex, United Kingdom wrote…

    “I just thought I would drop you a line to say how much I enjoyed reading the above post from yourself. It goes a long way to demystifying the Craft.

    I’m a regular reader of your postings and find them really interesting and a great way of contrasting the attitudes from both sides of the pond.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An A.K. of New York wrote…

    “Outstanding! Every brother should read this.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A G.B. of Largo, Florida wrote…

    “In other words…. a place where men of virtue can associate with other men of virtue?”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An R.F. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “Good description Tim! Hear Hear!”

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    An M.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    ” Good article. Well said. Do you expect leaves to fall from the tree? Truth be told. “

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    An R.W. of West Harpswell, Maine wrote…

    “Well done. My husband was inducted in April and raised in September. He loves the organization and the good work it does.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    An M.M. of Los Angeles, California wrote…

    “Decades ago, when I was a Catholic, it was forbidden (and may still be, as far as I know) to join the Freemasons – not that I was interested in doing so anyway, so I didn’t really think much about why it was prohibited. From your description, Tim, it seems to be a rather benevolent organization, so I’m curious as to whether there’s more than meets the eye to what’s behind the “schism” between Freemasonry and my former church. Did (and do) they simply misunderstand each other?”

    Like

  8. Tuller, Jim {BORDEN} said

    Good article!

    Like

  9. Chris Payne said

    Well said. Any reviews? Cf

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  10. Tim Bryce said

    A W.A. of Colorado wrote…

    “Nailed it!

    That’s about the best, short exposition on what Freemasonry is and what it is not that I’ve ever seen in print. The sad thing—or, perhaps, I should say the saddest thing, considering the many misconceptions that abound regarding the fraternity—is that you are correct, Brother Bryce, in the observation that “very few seem to understand the concept of fraternity.” Whether that has commonly been the case or is more a product of ‘modern times,’ with today’s emphasis upon the superficial and the temporary, I cannot determine. However, my suspicions run strongly toward the latter view.

    Purely from the Lodge’s perspective, it is especially telling that “we normally ask what they are looking for, but rarely do people comprehend precisely what they are joining.” That is tragic! At the very point in time at which a prospective member might be most amenable to the education that he is owed by the fraternity, the Lodge so often fails him: explaining every other aspect of his membership—from the mundane to the profound—yet neglecting to inculcate the essence of what the Craft must come to mean to him in order for him to optimize his Masonic experience. In even the more traditional Lodges, we so often make ‘members’ rather than Masons. Then we puzzle over the result, as we see our Brothers make of their Masonic careers no more than one would of his most casual affiliations.”

    Like

  11. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    I have a better understanding now,thanks.

    Like

  12. Tim Bryce said

    An M.M. of Dallas, Texas wrote…

    “I enjoyed your article about Freemasonry. It cleared up a lot of silly notions that may have crossed my mind. I knew one gentleman years ago who I later found out was a
    Freemason. He was so good to his wife, kind to me and also repaired wheelchairs so that those who needed them could use them again. Although retired, He was a hard working man, a good neighbor and kind to animals. I also noticed he was a very private man…except that day he came home from his mother’s funeral. I went out to see him, looked into his eyes with understanding and sympathy. Then, for the first and last time, he hugged me. Now I understand how human Freemasons can be and I now have a good opinion of them as a group. Before reading this, I had no idea what it was all about. Thank you, Tim Bryce , for enlightening me.” :-)

    Like

  13. Tim Bryce said

    A D.F. of New York City wrote…

    “You mean this is not a secret organization that controls the Government of the United States and the rest of the world? I guess I’ll have to stop watching A&E and the History Channel at 3AM.”

    Like

  14. Tim Bryce said

    An E.H. of Dayton, Ohio wrote…

    “Well stated!!!”

    Like

  15. Tim Bryce said

    An L.S. of Baltimore, Maryland wrote…

    “I certainly agree with the comments written within this topic of discussion. I especially love the quotes you stated regarding the Freemasonry and its tenants of Friendship, Morality and Brotherly Love. Yes, every Mason should strive to enhance the development of his character to be a paragon within society. Again, I enjoyed reading this article.

    Yes, Keep The Faith Tim !!!”

    Like

  16. […] TIME:  WHAT IS FREEMASONRY?  – Is it a club, a corporation, a religious cult, a PAC, a philanthropy, or a […]

    Like

  17. […] WHAT IS FREEMASONRY? […]

    Like

  18. Tim Bryce said

    An S.S. of Chicago, Illinois wrote…

    “Brother Bryce I wholeheartedly agree with your statement, I am a brother that has been inactive from any lodge or Grand for the past ten years. I have continued to read and study my craft, but I have not found any lodges in the Chicagoland area that are not racially motivated and that seek to truly teach the craft deeply to uplift their brethren. Please suggest to me books or historical information that I should seek out to better my understanding of the craft as well that would help me to becoming a better teacher of the craft. ( I am still seeking a home & greater knowledge!!!!!) “

    Like

  19. Jude Akunne said

    Your statement is really very educational and more understandable for those who haven’t seen the light. Because you have already broken it down to the lowest form for them to know what Freemasonry is all about, and not listening to the fake news people are carrying. I am so proud to be a Mason because I have learned a lot from its teachings and it has really made me a better man from what I used to be. That is why I wanted to drop this short note. Three of my friends joined Masonry today because of my charity work and knowledge I have acquired. I keep praying for more wisdom and courage. I thank you so much for this wonderful statement and I pray the TGAOTU will keep on showering his blessings on you.

    Like

  20. Tim Bryce said

    A T.S. of Minneapolis, Minnesota wrote…

    “Excellent piece of work. This is why many mainstream lodges are failing to attract new members. Many prospective members like the “idea” of being a Mason, but do not understand, or willing to put in the time and effort to become a true Mason. The alternative lodges, many from Europe offer a more traditional, older way of thinking, especially the history of the craft, as well as continuing Masonic education. The fact that U.S. lodges find them irregular or even clandestine is unfortunate, as there is a true alternative to the mainstream.”

    Like

  21. […] 1. What is Freemasonry (Tim Bryce) […]

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