The Voice of Freemasonry

As a Scottish Rite Freemason, I should be allowed to talk about this.

I’m curious why the Scottish Rite has taken it upon itself to speak for Freemasonry. Please, don’t take this the wrong way, the Scottish Rite represents a large section of Freemasons, and they do a lot of great work. But I’ve noticed lately, that The House of the Temple has been taking the initiative to be the spokesman for Freemasonry.

Just to illustrate what I am talking about, the biggest press Freemasonry has received recently was its appearance on National Television’s Good Morning America on ABC. In segments spread across the program, the fraternity was well illuminated. Appearing in the segments were Dr. Margaret Jacob, Steven C. Bullock, Richard E. Fletcher, and S. Brent Morris. Each spoke about Freemasonry, answering questions but from different perspectives. Dr. Jacob’s spoke on the history, Bullock spoke on the institution, and Fletcher spoke on the bigger impact of Freemasonry in America today. But the iconography was clearly of the Rite. Most of the images shown were unique to the Rite, and not specifically to Freemasonry. It left me with the feeling that the Rite was becoming the voice of Freemasonry.

What brought me to this question though was a recent article from the Mercury News out of San Jose, California. It was an article about a building modeled after the temple of Halicarnassus (an ancient Greek/Turk building made as a tomb for King Maussollos, which is where we get the name mausoleum from). But the building is not a Masonic temple per se; instead it is the House of the Temple for the ‘Scottish Rite’ of Freemasonry. The Rite is an appendant body of Masonry, and not an extension of the fraternity. Living with the ethos that there is no greater degree than that of the 3rd why then is an agency not solely about Freemasonry, speaking for it? Even in the GMA piece, it says that the Rite, and the Rite building, are the “center” of Freemasonry, and that the 2-year gatherings of the Supreme Council meet to discuss the future of the fraternity. Again, is this the Rite stepping up to take the role of spokesman? Even Brent Morris was presented as a high official in freemasonry, but was he presented as a Mason or as a Scottish Rite Mason? Is there a difference or is it just a case of semantics?

I have a simple question: Why?

Maybe it is a question of semantics. Freemasonry is the foundation of the Scottish Rite, but with the press and presentation that Freemasonry is getting these days, I think it would be good for us (Freemasonry) to get our message together and present it as the message of Freemasonry. Otherwise, the college of the Rite will take that role, and in doing so take the role of leadership in America.

Perhaps that role isn’t such a bad thing, but would that not create the basis of a national Grand Lodge? Would it be such a stretch for an organization to step up and take on that mantle? Would that be good for Freemasonry, an institution that prides itself as independent?

What do you think?

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~ by Greg on July 26, 2006.

7 Responses to “The Voice of Freemasonry”

  1. Great point, and I agree. Thanks for bringing this topic up for discussion. The “appendant” bodies always seem to emphasize that the 3rd Degree is the “highest,” yet Masonry is guilty of letting society believe that “33rd Degree” Masons are somehow higher ranking than the average brother. “Experts” are never listed simply as “Master Masons.” I believe the Grand Lodges are as guilty of this as the S.Rite. If we really believe that a MM is the ultimate accomplishment in Freemasonry, then the GLs need to fight to keep it that way, instead of passively letting the press – and many within Masonry – believe otherwise. Furthermore, if we want to preserve the MM as the highest degree, why are SR and York Rite allowed to use numbering systems? If those in the YR and SR truly believe that MM is the highest, then they should have no problem with abandoning a misleading numbering system of the degree.

  2. As a newly raised brother, I think my lodge has done a pretty good job in not letting me think that the extra numbers go to my head. I’m very content to remain a blue lodge member, and I don’t know if that will change. I’m more interested in the traditional rituals rather than later additions.

    I do agree that it’s held in higher honor among people who don’t know better, I get asked all the time if I’m a 33rd degree Mason. ~shrugs~ whether or not it bothers you is going to depend on who you ask. No one speaks for me but me, but then again, I’m used to being misreprsented.

  3. Excellent post, Bro. Greg.

    As Sixline said, almost everyone who hears that I’m a Mason first asks, “Are you 32nd degree?”, or “What degree are you?” Americans are fascinated by position and privilege and rank, I think, and that attitude fuels some of the questions. But the Scottish Rite and the Grand Lodges have done nothing to discourage the belief that 32 is better than Master Mason, so we can hardly blame the pubic and the press — which is a) lazy and b) really just an extension of the public at large — from believing in the mystique of the numbering system.

    Widow’s Son, a humble Master Mason

  4. Hey, wait a minute! Are you telling me that joining all those other bodies will not make me a better, i.e., higher ranking Mason? That I can save some bucks by not paying dues to half a dozen more bodies?


    The Tao of Masonry

  5. Brother Tom, why do you think they keep the Blue Lodge dues so low?

    All, when I was master(last year), at my inspection, with more than a 100 men in attendance, I gave strict orders to my senior deacon NOT to introduce any 33rd’s or KYCH’s, due to the fact of what I considered to be un-masonic, bullying and intimidating, slanderous behavior by men of these ranks, as well as the same title holders allowing and perpetuating the same behavior.
    Boy, one would have thought I committed a sin, but all tilte holders were going to be punished if any of the “bad elements” were present, because they were not going to be acknowledged in my Lodge! So all would suffer.
    I firmly believe for the benefit of the Blue Lodges, the york rite and scottish rite should be offered as lodge education for the members. Let it be open for discussion and not a side group who creates titles and rapes the Blue Lodges of it’s young officers.
    Blue Lodge Freemasonry needs its own, seperate identity.
    Oh, by the way, thanks to the AASR for showing the real grip of a MM and a candidate being raised on the History channel show.

  6. FYI:

    Contrary to an earlier comment, the “York” Rite does not use a numbering system for the degrees and orders like the A. & A.S.R.

    The “York” Rite is a collection of three independent and distinct bodies, each with their own qualifications. The KT does not even confer degrees but instead confers orders of knighthood.

    In the rush to push, many masons erroneously believe that there is a top to every masonic organization and that one must take every degree under the sun in order to make it to that top. Unfortunately, the York Rite is not a consecutive system, much less an actual “rite”.

  7. I agree, there is no higher degree than that of Maste Mason. Here in Honduras we have a saying if you have higher degree than master and dont participate in your simbolic lodge than youre not doing squat!, you could be a 33 but if you dont work in 1,2 and 3 then whats the use?

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