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  1. Interesting that Dan would choose this topic at this time, timely for me as I have begun digging a bit into Freemasonry as complimentary to the LDS life. Yesterday I had just finished reading book, Hiram’s Key, with authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, feeling more drawn to further explorations. I appreciated what the guests had to say about their experiences with Freemasonry and there were many elements in their stories which resonated strongly with me. Good chance this podcast pushed us both in a ‘next steps’ direction. My stepfather whom I admire was a Mason, and while I didn’t at the time know a great deal about Freemason’s I respected his approach to life, to his sense of fairness, to quietness with no personal boasting in his social generosity, to his sense of kindness, to being a Man’s kind of man while being a gentleman. For what it’s worth, I find this podcast to be very timely and look forward to the rest of the series.

  2. This podcast was unsettling and enlightening – both at the same time. For sometime I have been seeing Joseph Smith not as a restorer of lost truth, but as a gatherer of scattered truth. I am playing with the idea that the restoration is a process that was put in motion, and still continues to this day, by gathering truth from everyone and everywhere until all truth can be circumscribed in one great whole. This podcast furthered that line of reasoning.

    It was disturbing because in my faith transition I have come to associate ritual (probably mistakenly so) with coercion and control. I know this sounds harsh, but for me the temple and its ordinances have always been represented as the pinnacle of our religion and there has been so much pressure and guilt associated with temple recommends, temple attendance, temple worthiness, etc., that I am having a hard time reconciling the knowledge some could find value and spiritual awakening through association with more ritual. But, that is their spiritual journey. Maybe I’m really afraid that one day I will come to the same conclusion that they have come to and find that I need more ritual also.

    1. That is a fascinating idea: that Joseph Smith was sent to gather scattered truth! I have never thought of it like that…but it rings true to me. We all know that all religions and philosophies have some truth in them. So the Great Apostasy was probably when one system forgot some of the truth it was supposed to have. A restoration of that system was needed not because the truth had been lost, but because it had been…scattered.

      1. I couldn’t disagree with your comment more. Christianity is different from every other religion. All other religions are about man’s search for God. The Christian religion is about God’s search for man. Paul in 1 Cor 1-4 directly attacks your comment.

        You also presuppose that there was a Great Apostasy. This idea is akin to saying that the self revelation of God in the person of Jesus was an utter failure. The climax of Israel’s history and that of the world in Jesus life and ministry went off like an airplane that took off, the landing gear went up but then suffered a catastrophic failure and crashed. It is to deny the clear teaching of Paul in the reference I give you of the now and not yet nature of the kingdom. Read the first three chapters of Mark and you get the same message as delivered by Jesus. In Jesus’ ministry, from the defeat of the evil powers in the wilderness and the casting out of demons, we see a demonstration of the defeat of evil and the old age and the coming of the new. In sending of the Holy Spirit Jesus is still present with the world as we await Jesus’ return. This is the truth of the Gospel. It was not lost, it did not need to be restored and truth gathered as you say is to deny the self revelation of God in Christ and the work of the Spirit.

        1. Michael:

          I am also fairly satisfied that the purpose of this particular blog and thread isn’t to argue theological differences. The podcast wasn’t about dogmas that divide us; rather, it was an exploration of that which enriches us in its bringing us together. This particular exploration is about how that can work for Mormons who are Freemasons. Your own comments here appear to be concerned with something else.

          This being the case, I commend to you the words of Paul, at least for the purposes of THIS thread:

          “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

          As God is the fair and loving judge of all, I leave my Brother in His hands in this matter. When we sit in Lodge, I trust him to do the same — and to think as kindly — of me.

    2. I too associate the temple and temple recommend system with pressure and coercion. I can also see how historically the temple recommend has defined aspects of Mormon orthodoxy as much as it has measured them.

      I don’t think that the problem is the ceremony itself, but the fact that we have occasionally used it as a club to keep people in line. On top of that, we use it not just to judge whether somebody is allowed to enter the temple, but whether they are good enough to be a member of our community.

  3. Lietta,

    Your stepfather sounds like he was a wonderful person. I imagine the traits he exhibited were modeled after Freemasonry. Thank you for your comments and good luck with your journey and study of Freemasonry.

  4. Greg,

    Your insights are very interesting. There is a school of thought within Reform Judaism that states that God revealing himself to Moses was not an open and closed event, rather it was the unveiling of continuous truth that continues to flow. Another point of this is that our cup never becomes full and therefore cut-off. Rather, if we give our light to others, we receive continuous light as our body (as it were) is a a continuous stream of giving and receiving. Truly, that is how I see the Restoration in Mormonism terms; the heavens were opened and remain open.

    Also, I appreciate what you said about the restoration itself. I think that Joseph wasn’t attempting to restore Christ’s true church, but rather he was attempting to restore all truth. Much like God gathered matter that was already present, so did Joseph when it came to gathering truth.

    My advise to you about the temple ritual would be to make the endowment solely about yourself and not about measuring up to expectations of church members, or family, etc. While in the endowment ritual, if you can place your mind in a state where the people around you are like ornaments in the room, things can open up a bit. As I said, hold to yourself. The Endowment is there as a guide to teach you how to approach God, and that is completely something about the within and not so much about the without.

    1. Patrick, Thank you for your kind words. Your statement regarding Reform Judaism is fascinating. I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago that was talking about the Jewish mystic tradition of Kabbalah. During the podcast they made a statement that said that the Torah was a document describing the inner life of God. That statement really caught my attention. I have been thinking about it as it might apply to the Book of Mormon. I haven’t come to any solid conclusions or thoughts, but it is changing the way I view that book of scripture.

  5. I met a man on a plane from SLC to Phoenix; an active Mormon, who told me (with a touch of anger) that there was absolutely no connection between Freemasonry and Mormonism. I sure wish I had his contact information, so that I could share this podcast with him.

    I still do not understand the need for yet one more belief system along with the thousands we already have, but it was interesting to hear the reverence with which your guests speak of this part of their faith tradition.

    I certainly feel that the vibrancy of the LDS church has been lost among all the rules and regulations that destroy any spiritual desire to do what is right. Members have become rule keepers rather than taking control of their own commitment to God and mankind. It is their loss when they shut out what they think are dissenting voices, rather than gathering the ‘More Good’ that they claim Mormon means.

  6. I just don’t get freemasonry…seems like a big waste of time to me. While I am not interested in the “Men’s Club,” I am all in favor of it being available to those that enjoy it. After all, I love sports, and many believe they are a waste of time too…

    One question though: do you think freemasonry is he most influential reason men and women don’t sit together during the endowment ceremony?

    1. I’ve always thought of the seating arrangement as representing the condition of souls in the lesser glories, as described in DC 132:17. To me as a Mason, Joseph Smith’s activities in Nauvoo around the Relief Society and the Temple look like he was extremely eager to extend blessings and benefits to women an a par with what men enjoyed, and not at all to erect new barriers.

  7. I really enjoyed this. Patrick, Lon, Joe, George, which books would you suggest reading? There is so much out there. Which should be at top of the reading/study list? Also, have any of you read Joseph’s Temples: The Dynamic Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism, by Michael W. Homer? Thoughts? Thank you.

  8. I truly enjoyed this, and look forward eagerly to the series. I’m a bit of a dilettante when it comes to supplementing my spiritual life with other traditions, and I feel very keenly the need to commit and dive in. An upcoming journey in India is giving me a great opportunity to research both Hindu and Buddhist traditions and I hope this series will explore the vast untapped potential of Eastern religion as it relates to Mormonism.

  9. When I finished listening to John Dehlin’s interview with Greg Kearney nine years ago I realized I didn’t need to waste another second worrying about Mormonism and Freemasonry. When I finished listening to this discussion I was more impressed than ever that Masons probably experience a vibrancy in their fellowship and devotion that I miss in my daily Mormon walk. I also am intrigued at the possibility that Freemasonry sheds light on the faith of my heritage and even brings additional clarity to some things.

    When I interviewed my friend’s grandmother she told me a remarkable tale of their family driving to New England in 1938 so her father could earn a PhD in epidemiology. To their alarm as they were pulling into town they were met in force by the Great Hurricane of 1938. A life-and-death crisis of finding shelter was compounded when no one would accept the doctor’s checks from his Idaho bank. Things were dire indeed until the last hotel owner he contacted noticed his Masonic ring and welcomed a fellow Mason and his family with open arms.

    Here is a brief list of interesting books on Freemasonry, and a few representative web resources. The books listed here are generally accepted by Masonic scholars to be reliable guides to Masonic knowledge, and are generally easily available on the Internet, through Masonic supply companies, or at your local bookstore.


    Arturo de Hoyos & S. Brent Morris. Is it True What They Say About Freemasonry? The Methods of Anti-Masons, Revised Edition. Lanham, MD: M. Evans, 2010.

    Bernard E. Jones. Freemason’s Guide and Compendium: New and Revised Edition. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 2006

    Harry Carr. The Freemason at Work. Seventh Revised Edition. UK: Lewis Masonic, 1992

    Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. Freemasonry: An Introduction. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2007.

    Jasper Ridley. The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society. New York: Arcade, 2001.

    Margaret Jacob. Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth Century Europe. Oxford University Press, 1991

    Steven C. Bullock. Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840. Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina Press, 1996

    David Stevenson. The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590-1710. Cambridge University Press, 1988

    Henry Wilson Coil. A Comprehensive View of Freemasonry, Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing, 1973


    Julian Rees. The Stairway of Freemasonry. Surrey: Lewis Masonic 2007.


    Kirk MacNulty. Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol, London: Thames & Hudson, 2005

    ——————-. Way of the Craftsman: A Search for the Spiritual Essence of Freemasonry. Hinckley, UK: Central Regalia, Ltd, 2002

    Duncan Moore. A Guide to Masonic Symbolism. Surrey, UK: Lewis Masonic, 2009

    W.L. Wilmshurst. Meaning of Masonry, Gramercy, 1995

    Daniel Beresniak. Symbols of Freemasonry. Assouline, 2000

    Jim Tresner. Vested In Glory: The Aprons, Cordons, Collars, Caps, and Jewels of the Degrees of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Washington DC: Scottish Rite Research Society, Supreme Council, SJ, A&ASR, 2000

    Colin Dyer. Symbolism in Craft Freemasonry. Surrey, UK: Lewis Masonic, 2006.

    Arturo de Hoyos. Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma. An Annotated Edition. Washington, DC: Supreme Council, SJ, A&ASR, 2011.

    Rex Hutchens. A Bridge to Light. Washington, DC: Supreme Council, SJ, A&ASR, 2010.

    Christopher Haffner. Workman Unashamed: The Testimony of a Christian Freemason. Revised and Enlarged Edition. Surrey, UK: Lewis Masonic, 2005.

    Web Resources:

    Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry

    Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Utah
    The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon Ancient Free and Accepted Masons

    Virtual Tour: Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, S.J. Washington D.C.

    Scottish Rite Research Society

    Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle

    American Federation of Human Rights: Freemasonry for Men and Women

    Freemason Collection: Material Culture and Art of Freemasonry.

    Living Stones Masonic Magazine

    Freemason Information Masonic Web Magazine

    Lewis Masonic – Home

    Anti-Masonry: Points of View

    1. A magnificent bibliography. For the greater confidence of the unacquainted, let me mention that Arturo de Hoyos, whom it cites twice, is both a Church member of long standing and a Masonic historian of universal acclaim.

  11. Paul M: “do you think freemasonry is he most influential reason men and women don’t sit together during the endowment ceremony?”

    Rather, I suspect this reflects a tradition of separating men and women during worship found in some Christian sects. A similar practice is also found in Judaism and in Islam.

  12. jeanikins: “I still do not understand the need for yet one more belief system along with the thousands we already have.”

    Hello! I appreciated your genial remarks, and wanted to remark on this excellent point, above — just a few brief observations. 🙂

    First, I’d point out that while Freemasonry’s precise origins are the matter of some scholarly debate and lots of speculation, we believe that it has a documented history extending back to the late 1300’s, a possible history extending back to 900 thereabouts, and a legendary (read: allegorical) history that makes Adam the first Freemason. So, it might not be quite correct to characterize it as a late-comer to an already crowded field of “belief systems.” 😛

    Secondly, while I’d personally characterize Masonry as a kind of rational mystical perspective (and perhaps one of the last and greatest champions of Enlightenment Era philosophy and thought), this is not to say that it is a “belief system” in any dogmatic or odious sense. It has been frequently described as “a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbol,” where each person makes that application of the symbols most congenial to their existing religious belief.

    And finally, I would kindly note that the remarks of your friend on the plane seem at odds with words attributed to Eliza R. Snow, over a century ago. Said she: “There is method in Mormonism — method infinite. Mormonism is Masonic” (Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, New York: Tullidge & Crandall, 1877, page 75).

    A full explanation of what this means (and how it is true) would require a book. 😀

    Wishing you well,

  13. This was a great podcast. At one point George Miller mentioned that he has recently done a podcast (or was it just a blog post) with FMH about Relief Society and Freemasonry. I’ve looked for that and haven’t been able to find it. Does anybody have a link to that?

    The brother Freemasons mentioned that many books with the words “Mormon” and “Mason” in the title do a really poor job of really explaining the relationship between the two. I was wondering if any of them have already read Michael W. Homer’s book “Joseph’s Temples: The Dynamic Relationship Between Freemasonry and Mormonism”. Would it be possible for one or more of them to provide some context as to whether Michael W. Homer’s book is worth reading?



  14. I think women and men being separate in the Endowment is mainly religious. It teaches a lesson that we must be with our other in order to achieve that which was lost. We start in the washing and anointing completely alone, next we are in each others presence in the same room, and finally we join one another in the unveiling. I think the Endowment is only a substitute and that the Second Anointing is the true recapturing of what was lost. We are with our spouse through that entire ceremony.

  15. As for Homer’s book: I applaud his effort, but it falls far short. It is by far the most comprehensive and civil book to date, but is no where near the definitive piece. He is not afraid to list similarities and not try to distance one from the other, but he doesn’t weave the two together, sometimes when the data is overwhelming. I didn’t expect him to fully be able to do this as he is not a Mason, he is not trained in seeing what is in front of him. He doesn’t think that Joseph Smith Sr. was a Mason, or that masonic influence in Joseph Smith’s Junior’s life plays is important to the later story, for crying out loud.

    Another example is his treatment of the Royal Arch. He points out that the Royal Arch has veils and the Endowment ceremony has veils, but leaves it at that. He also doesn’t see the larger development that Freemasonry played into the greater structure of Mormonism such as the role of Prophet, Priest, and King and even the development of the Book of Mormon. Again, I didn’t expect him to be able to do this, this job belongs to Joe.

    The book is a good reference for many papers that have been previously published, and if you are collecting all of the books on the subject, you can do a lot worse. In the end it is worth the read, but don’t expect to see the 3-D picture in Technicolor on the subject that will be given to you in Joe’s book.

    1. Thank you Brother Patrick. If Homer hasn’t actually been through the degrees it makes me wonder how much he would really understand.

      I’ve listened to some podcasts on Mormon Expression with George Miller. Is he the “Joe” you mention who is working on the definitive book? I think George Miller would do a great job!

  16. Here is the link to George Miller’s FMH podcast. http://feministmormonhousewivespodcast.org/?s=george+miller

    At the bottom of the page are links to his Mormon Expression series on Masonry and Mormonism, which is more insightful than Homer’s book. If you haven’t done so yet, listen to his Mormon Expression series before you listen to his Relief Society podcast.

    The “Joe” who is writing the book is Joe Swick. The title is Method Infinite.

  17. This was an excellent podcast and I learned a lot! I find the concept of teaching men to be men very interesting, and certainly needed. This reminded me of a conversation I heard a few years back on NPR, between a Palestinian and a Jew, as each was the spokesman for an organization with the phrase “…For Peace” in the title. Each of them yelled at and accused the other of things. This irony was certainly not missed by the listening audience.

    So I have 2 questions:

    It is common practice in the LDS church that if you have a difficult issue to resolve, through prayer, that you might go to the Temple first to get yourself spiritually in tune. I am a Ward Clerk and I see our Bishopric members doing this frequently. Would LDS Freemasons turn to the Masonic ceremonies to get themselves more in a spiritual state, prior to praying about something?

    Also, I saw a documentary once on Freemasonry, and I heard an explanation of there being 3 general categories of evil in the world. I have never been able to find this again, anywhere. This was not particularly in the “doctrine” category, but more of a general way of looking at life. The 3 were these: evil caused by anger, evil caused by greed, and evil caused by ignorance. Did I get this right? Is this a teaching in Freemasonry?

    Thanks for your comments.

    1. Hello, Terry:

      “Would LDS Freemasons turn to the Masonic ceremonies to get themselves more in a spiritual state, prior to praying about something?”

      While I personally encourage folks to rely upon those same sure guides that have proved to be traditional spiritual anchors for Latter-day Saints, it is also true that the Masonic ritual has provided insight and encouragement to me during difficult times in my own life. It has reminded me of the values I hold, upon which all good decisions are made. Further, I confess that when I have had private access to the lodge room, I’ve there meditated upon the ritual, and have prayed at the altar for inspiration to choose what is right. I treasure such moments.

      “Also, I saw a documentary once on Freemasonry, and I heard an explanation of there being 3 general categories of evil in the world. . . . The 3 were these: evil caused by anger, evil caused by greed, and evil caused by ignorance. Did I get this right? Is this a teaching in Freemasonry?”

      The idea of the “Three Great Evils” is an important one in Masonic ritual, where they are symbolically depicted as “assassins” or “killers.” What the Three Great Evils are, is up to every Mason to decide for himself. However, different Masonic writers have suggested the identification of these Three Great Evils variously, providing food for thought for Brothers to arrive at their own understandings. The one constant Evil (likely because it is so clearly indicated in ritual) is Ignorance.T he others are described as Fanaticism and Tyranny (or sometimes as Despotism and Tyranny), or perhaps Anger and Greed, as you suggest.

      Assuming my own list (smile), let’s look at each in turn:

      The “ignorant man is the slave of his emotions, always ready to follow the cleverest orator and believe in the most corrupted logic. All forms of tyranny are nourished by ignorance” (Hutchens, Bridge to Light, 288). As Latter-day Saints are taught, the Glory of God is Intelligence. Only through the overcoming of ignorance through the aquisition of what is metaphorically represented by the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences can we hope to make a moral, social, intellectual or spiritual ascent. The acquisition of Knowledge is at the very foundation of the gentlmanly life. It increases our tolerance for a variety of views and perspectives, and improves our ability to enter The Great Conversation by enabling us to better weigh and evaluate those arguments of which it is comprised.

      In Freemasonry, the emphasis here is on spiritual tyranny, the outward manifestation of which is intolerance. “[The Spiritual Tyranny] presumes to decide for man his earthly and spiritual fate. It promises, and when promises fail, it threatens; when threats fail, it excommunicates and attempts to make its enemies an anathema to their friends and families. It seeks, by division, to conquer the hearts of men that they may serve its ends and cooperate in the preservation of the institution rather than the preservation of its teachings which may themselves be sublime. . . . ‘The Great Order naturally revolted against a Church wich demanded of its members an absolute surrender of the reason as well as of the will (Pike, Legenda XIX-XXX p. 157)'” (Hutchens, 289).

      “Despots seek first of all to control men’s actions. Fast on the heels of such success comes the attempts to control men’s thoughts. Propaganda replaces education and freedom of the press becomes a conspiracy against a well-ordered society. War becomes a tool of distraction, facing a nation outward that it not see the corruption within. Great sacrifices are demanded in the name of patriotism but the end is only the sacrifices and the distractions they create. The despot conjures up phantoms that they may be feared and fought instead of him” (Hutchens, 289)

      Concerning this, Albert Pike noted:

      “It is but a few hundred years since a new Truth began to be distinctly seen; that MAN IS SUPREME OVER INSTITUTIONS, AND NOT THEY OVER HIM. Man has *natural* empire over *all* institutions. They are for him, according to his development; not he for them. This seems to us a very simple statement, one to which all men, everywhere, ought to assent. But once it was a great new Truth…. Once revealed, it imposed new duties on men. Man owed it to *himself* to be free. . . It made Tyranny and Usurpation the enemies of the Human Race. It created a general outlawry of Despots and Despotisms, temporal and spiritual….this Truth had the Omnipotence of God on its side; and … neither Pope nor Potentate could overcome it” (Pike, Morals and Dogma, 23-4, emphases in original).

      I would also point out that to oppose these Three Great Evils brings us to a fourth: we war against Vice:

      “To assist in this great work is the noblest enterprise in which human virtue can engage. It is the nobler because it promises only labor and danger, with little expectation of any other reward than the approval of one’s own conscience, and that of such Brethren as love the truth; with that of God, from whom Justice and Truth emanate” (Pike, Legenda XIX-XXX, p. 161, as quoted, Hutchens, 290).

      “The arms wherewith to war against Tyranny, Superstition and Ignorance, are Knowledge, Virtue and Love, and Charity for mankind (Pike, Legenda XIX-XXX, p. 161).

      Now, I hasten to add that these are opinions of men reflecting on the meaning of Masonic ritual. You are not obliged by your tenure as a Mason to accept these explanations. You are always free to consider the great symbols of the Brotherhood and derive from them such meanings as seem correct in your own mind. But at the very least, these remarks are intended to raise the level of your thoughts. They should verify for you what Lon Tibbets so eloquently stated in his remarks: Freemasonry is not trivial.

      1. Thank you for your response to my questions. This is very enlightening. You have also exposed me to the fact that there is much literature out there, written by Masons themselves. If I can get to that literature, I will.

        Alas, I am limited today with my time, or else I would reply with much more.

        I will share with you however (and the other readers) a unique opportunity I found myself in at the age of 11 or 12. I’ve not heard of any other person who had such a story as mine. Seems I got an early start on the journey to avoiding “ignorance.” I believe what happened to me was a step towards my later finding the church.

        This was in the days of the Apollo missions. Great days! I was frequently visiting the library to find books and pictures about space travel. Somehow, I came across a book on the shelf titled “How to Know When People are Lying to You.” Interesting! — I took it home. This was a book about clear and logical thinking. All the Latin terms for logical errors, the types of Sophistry techniques politicians and advertisers use, etc. were included in that book. Particularly much was said about the fanaticism and the errors of the McCarty Era. So I got a good dose of “clear thinking” or “critical thinking” at a very young age.

        I am so grateful for that! It caused me to be very watchful about emotional manipulation. “The Great Conversation” that you refer to starts, I think, with clear thinking. I wish a lot more people could be exposed to the literature I was.

        Well, I’m just sharing. Thanks for everyone’s insights!

        1. Terry:

          “‘The Great Conversation’ that you refer to starts, I think, with clear thinking.”

          Thank you for your remarks! Yes, I agree that this is where we begin to meaningfully engage The Great Conversation. The allegorical use of the Seven Liberal Arts and sciences in Freemasonry is a hint of encouragement of areas we may wish to study as our own time and effort may allow. This may lead you to other books, such as the one you mention. I believe my own start with these kinds of books was Nicholas Capaldi’s How to Win Every Argument: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Next was Sister Miriam Joseph, The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric. And so on!

          If we put stock in the Masonic instruction, then we should form a plan and move foreward with it. This is entirely in keeping with the LDS emphasis on provident living (https://www.providentliving.org/?lang=eng). However, Masons would emphasize that it is not the responsibility of the Lodge to actually provide you with these tools; rather, it is the responsibility of the individual to “build by his own square,” so to speak, according to his own needs and capabilities.

          I wish you well on your own journey, Terry. Feel free to contact any of us here with further questions, should you have any.


  18. I also enjoyed this podcast. I wrote and told Dan this privately, but I will say it here as well for Patrick, Joe, Lon, and George. I personally think this was Dan’s best podcast yet, and a large part of this was the guests. Maybe it was direct, or maybe it was subtext, but it was one of the most solid and mature conversations I have heard concerning the current conditions or situation we (LDS church, priesthood quorums, and men) find ourselves in. Thank you for being willing to talk more plainly. I always hope our quorums will be brotherhoods of learning and service, and it never feels quite that way. I have made some very good friends to be sure, but the depth and complexity of a real body, more often than not, isn’t present.

    As I listened, I don’t recall the word ever being used directly, but it seems like the Masons have a real sense of being, or striving for, impeccability. I appreciate that, and it probably speaks to why the few Masons I have known personally have lived a more authentic life. I also see this concept in the LDS temple rituals and scriptures. In my mind at least it is more “be ye therefore impeccable” rather than “be ye therefore perfect.” The abuse of and the fear of owning one’s power are the same thing, manifested differently. The right use is a delicate point in the center. Do you feel this is also something that is contained in Masonic teachings?

    There is a Masonic Lodge, #141 if memory serves, down in the U-district and I walk by it several times a week. I always look for the chance that anyone might be coming in or out so maybe I could visit for a little, say thanks as well (I understand they do some work for the ROOTS shelter in the neighborhood). I don’t even know if that’s allowed, but I would ask anyways. The area can be just a little rough sometimes, but there is a real feeling of centeredness and peace that is palpable outside of the lodge; and if you didn’t look hard you wouldn’t even know the lodge was there.

    re: the separation of genders in the endowment. This might be too many ritual and ritual process courses while at university, but it seems to me that the separation symbolically represents the duality of temporal life, and it is using gender as one way of representing duality. Usually we gather as one body before the actual session, and often don’t realize that even this is part of temple experience, so the separation is marked and pointed. Everything after our separation, both in the seating arrangements, and the fall in the narrative, is aimed at teaching us how to live in a dualistic world in a manner of oneness. Or, at least that’s one way I see it.

    Thanks again for the interview and for the time you have spent responding here. Also, thanks for the reading recommendations. It is going to be a spendy summer.


    1. Hello, Ron. You said:

      “As I listened, I don’t recall the word ever being used directly, but it seems like the Masons have a real sense of being, or striving for, impeccability. I appreciate that, and it probably speaks to why the few Masons I have known personally have lived a more authentic life. I also see this concept in the LDS temple rituals and scriptures. In my mind at least it is more ‘be ye therefore impeccable’ rather than ‘be ye therefore perfect.'”

      This is a very good observation, and in my opinion you have hit the point bang-on. In my view, one of the fundamental aims or goals in Freemasonry is to live an impeccable life, in every area and on all levels: emotionally, socially, spiritually, and morally. This is no easy task, and, frankly we may not always meet the goals we have set for ourselves. Nevertheless, Masons should stive to be –and be seen as– men of high integrity.

      Ron: “The abuse of and the fear of owning one’s power are the same thing, manifested differently. The right use is a delicate point in the center. Do you feel this is also something that is contained in Masonic teachings?”

      Absolutely. The 32nd Degree of the Scottish Rite is called Prince (or Master) of the Royal Secret. That secret isn’t so because I can’t tell it to you; I certainly can: it is the secret of the Universal Equilibrium, which your own remarks above touch upon. The secret, then is in the mastery of the thing, and not merely its name. Men have discussed the various aspects of the Royal Secret, addressing not only the points you mention, but also its other implications. “As Masters of the Royal Secret we must: perform our duties to God, our country, our family, our brethren and ourselves; achieve equilibrium in our lives and attitudes, always recognizing that within all men is a minute ray of that Divine Intellect which created the universe; remembering that in man is God, and that man is indestructible and immortal”(Hutchens, A Bridge to Light, 322-23). And, to master this in fact is “To become both priest and king, like all those who before have been entrusted with the Holy Doctrine and the Royal Secret, [and] to exercise dominion over ourselves with wisdom. The priest is a symbol of divine wisdom, and the king, of divine sovereignty” (Hutchens, A Bridge to Light, 320-21).

      Thank you for your challenging and interesting question.

      1. Joe, Thank you for the replies.  Yes, that is the lodge I was speaking of.  

        I appreciate your observations and the quotes you provided.  I am going through the local used book shops for some of the books you suggested, I would like to read more from A Bridge to Light.  If I don’t find it I will order a new copy, but I enjoy used books with other peoples notes and/or highlights more.  Besides, you never know what else you will find as you hunt, or so I tell my wife when I drag her along.

        About three and some years ago it started to become very apparent to me that my life had been heavily influenced by the tradition of Freemasonry and Masonic thought and teachings.  My granny taught me to find one good book and live it.  I think I was still in junior high when I started reading James Oliver Rigney, Jr., pen name Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time), and as it happens he was a Freemason.  If I made a good observation it is only because he taught me where to look.

        In another tradition, a practitioner of Freemasonry would come very, very close to being considered a hollow bone.  Thanks again for your time, suggestions, and the conversation.

        1. Hello, Ron:

          Of course in several other traditions, Freemasonry would be dismissed outright — i.e., “it stinketh!”

          Me? I prefer the FIRST and in my mind the best response: “there is yet marrow in the bone.” This has deep allegorical significance, both for Masonry in general, and for Mormon Freemasonry in particular.

          Okay. I’m being unduly cryptic. Go here: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/MADHAVAN_HiramicLegend.html

          Read the section on “The Legend of Noah.”

          Another recommendation: Carl Claudy’s “Introduction to Freemasonry,” generally published in three small volumes — on for each degree. This is something I quoted from in the podcast.

          1. Joe, “Me? I prefer the FIRST and in my mind the best response: “there is yet marrow in the bone.” This has deep allegorical significance, both for Masonry in general, and for Mormon Freemasonry in particular. … Read the section on “The Legend of Noah.”

            That was a real treat. I hope I offered no offense in framing my observation (and compliment) in the manner I did.  It was taught by [Frank] Fool’s Crow that hollow bones are pipelines that connect the Great Mystery (Wakan Tanka) and the community together.  It is inner work that creates a hollow bone, not only in a persons overall life, but also in the present moment.  This bone is filled with a ‘new’ marrow of a very different nature. So indeed, there is marrow yet in hollow bones, and it is a lasting marrow.  It might be we are speaking of the same thing. 


          2. I had a few thoughts yesterday, but first I need to make a correction. It should read Frank Fools Crow and not Fool’s, and I see now it was my phone that decided to make that change somewhat arbitrarily.

            This is for anyone: Don’t google hollow bone and expect to find a good definition. Like freemasonry most of the information one has to wade through online is of lesser value or incorrect. It is one of those terms that takes time in the anthropology or spirituality sections of a good (usually campus) library. Or, spending some time with local indigenous Elders in your area, which has it’s own value in and of itself. 

            And my question to Joe or any of the Masons in this thread: Joining and participating probably requires a lifestyle where you are not moving every few months (career), would you say that is true? As a brotherhood, it seems trust would be the foundation of that relationship, and trust does takes some time to develop. That question is something I have thought about over the last few years. 


          3. Ron,

            I am replying to “Joining and participating probably requires a lifestyle where you are not moving every few months (career), would you say that is true?” Wow! I cannot imagine moving every few months. Just finding housing and updating your address and drivers license must be constant battles.

            In Indiana, a man is supposed to reside in the state for a year before joining a lodge. It may be different in other states. If you want to become a Mason, don’t let your constant moving stop you. You can join when you land in a state with a shorter residency requirement.

            It generally takes at least three months to become a Master Mason. In Indiana, the Grand Master has a special class once or twice a year that enables a man to become a Master Mason in one day (one very long day). A similar arrangement may exist in other states.

            Once you are a Master Mason, it does not matter where you live. You can attend a lodge anywhere in the world. When you enter a lodge, you truly meet brothers, even if they have never seen you before.


  19. I wonder if anyone knows any history behind a book called “The Relationship of ‘Mormonism’ and Freemasonry” by Anthony Ivins. I have a copy of it, and glued inside the cover is a letter from the First Presidency (Hebert J Grant, J Reuben Clark, David O McKay) addressed to my grandfather. It doesn’t really say anything about the book except that it’s presented in loving rememberable of the author. Any idea why?

      1. Hello, M:

        I believe that Ivin’s book was largely a response to Sam H. Goodwin’s published writings, critical of the Church. During the 1890’s through the 1930’s, Freemasonry was experiencing significant growth in Utah, and Goodwin (1862-1951), a Congregationalist minister and Past Grand Master of Masons in Utah, was seeking to justify the continued exclusion of active Latter-day Saints from Utah Lodges. The initial rationale was that Mormons were polygamists, but by the 1920’s this was no longer true. Denying entrance into Utah Lodges of those Mormon Freemasons made in other jurisdictions was also problematic, and seemed to many to be not only unfair but outright unmasonic.

        Goodwin’s publication of Mormonism and Masonry: A Utah Point of View made a strong 9-point case for the continued exclusion of Mormons from the Lodge. His arguments were troubling for many Mormons — particularly, I think, his argument that Mormon Temple ritual amounted to “clandestine Masonry.” On the other side, Freemasons were troubled by Goodwin’s observation that it was a common LDS belief that Freemasonry was nothing more than a secret combination handed down from Cain, and authored by the Devil.

        While Masons are generally disinclined to exclude a person on the basis of religious belief alone, Goodwin’s “web of interconnected arguments” was persuasive, and formed the basis of the exclusionary policy enacted in the mid-1920’s and that continued into the mid-1980’s.

        As a response to Goodwin, Heber J. Grant formed a committee, with George F. Richards as the chairman. One of the tasks of this committee was to revise the elements of LDS Temple ritual which had been exposed by Goodwin, and which corresponded to Masonic rituals. This included what Lattter-day Saints know as the “Oath of Vengeance.” A number of changes were made, and the LDS “Oath of Vengeance” was subsequently removed.

        Ivin’s book was part of the Church’s response to Masonic claims. While in his day, it represented a high-watermark of LDS treatment of Freemasonry, many of its claims are at odds with modern scholarship. Several of his claims are simple apology, and he was not familiar with the precise content of Masonic ritual, so could not answer Goodwin’s argument that LDS Temple ceremonies were copied from Freemasonry. Today, this book (and Goodwin’s book) is interesting historical reasons, the actual argumentation and history he lays out is seriously flawed. Neither Goodwin nor Ivins — nor the various books resting upon their researches or conclusions — should be accepted without heavy doses of skepticism.

        The reason for the dedication of the book is that Ivins died between the completion of his work, and its publication — which was commissioned by the First Presidency, specifically to answer Goodwin’s claims.

        Michael Homer discusses Ivin’s work. Frankly, I would far prefer that one read Homer’s book, Joseph’s Temples, than either of these polemical works of a bygone age.

        1. Very helpful, thanks. How widespread was the distribution of this book? Is there a particular reason my great-grandfather would have been sent the book?

          1. I believe that Ivin’s book was the equivalent of carpet bombing with pamphlets.

            There was a time when the title was ubiquitous in the Church. Sam Goodwin’s book and subsequent publications on the subject had a very wide distribution both in and out of Utah, and the Church wished to make sure that Ivins’ response was within easy reach of those who had questions.

            About a decade after Ivins’ book, E. Cecil McGavin’s slimmed-down title, Mormonism and Masonry, became the “standard response” to questions about Freemasonry for members of the Church; it was enlarged in about 1956, and is still widely available. Even at this late date, Sam Goodwin’s work was a concern: McGavin’s very first chapter is entitled “False Accusations,” and leads with Goodwin’s claims, followed by numerous critics and their negative opinions. While there is some interesting material here, I’m afraid I can’t really recommend either of these titles. They give entirely the wrong impression of what Masonry is; they also both incorrectly describe the historical relationship between the Masonic Fraternity and the LDS Church. And, while Sam Goodwin is a better writer, his arguments today are flawed (and that is being generous to our Past Grand Master).

            While I am sure that on both sides these works were created with the best of intentions and for reasons that seemed right to their authors, they are not to be trusted as guides to this subject.

            I will say that all these works are easily available online in .pdf format or as webpages. Caveat Emptor!

  20. I am really enjoying this podcast. I listened to most of it today and will finish it soon.

    I am a Past Master and an LDS elder. There are several members of my ward that are in my lodge, but I am the only one that is active in both.

    I used to read an LDS magazine called Ensign. In it there were wonderful descriptions of elders quorums. The quorums described there bore no resemblance to my quorum. In my ward, “Elders Quorum” is just the name of a class on Sundays. I seldom ever have any contact with, or even see, a member of my quorum other than the one hour on Sunday. When I became a Mason, I found an organization that worked the way the magazine articles described elders quorums.

  21. I am a Freemason and an Ex-Mormon. Both masonic and endowment rituals have different meanings. Freemasonry has fraternal rituals to make good men better. The Endowment are ordinances essential for exaltation. However, it is obvious that Joseph Smith heavily copied and borrowed masonic ritual and symbolism and incorporated them into the endowment. Through the years, the LDS Church has removed many masonic elements from the endowment. I’m not going to criticize my masonic brothers who participated on this podcast. As believing members, I think they did a good job explaining Freemasonry and Mormonism.

    1. I believe that Joseph Smith received the information to be taught in the endowment ceremony through revelation. I believe he then presented that information in a format that he had seen work very well, which is the Masonic ritual.

      1. Hello James, Scotty:

        There are a variety of ways to see the ritual similarities in Mormonism and Freemasonry. Some of these are congruent with traditional LDS perspectives, while others may be a bit more provocative and challenging.

        Scotty suggests that “masonic and endowment rituals have different meanings,” but uses the word “exaltation” to describe the aim of LDS ritual. I’d gently suggest that the word “exaltation” itself is a ritual concern of Freemasonry — particularly of the Royal Arch. This suggests to me that the relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism may be slightly more nuanced than what we might think at first blush.

        James responds by suggesting that Joseph Smith received his own unique revelation, which he then chose to present in a Masonic form. I’ve considered this idea myself. However, I’d suggest that there is some evidence that Joseph Smith’s vision sometimes involved wrestling with and responding to the great symbols and allegories of the Fraternity. Again, this hints at a more nuanced interaction.

        Finally, I’d point out that this podcast has focused on the value of our interactions with Freemasonry beyond the issues surrounding “who got what from where.” That is likely to be a continued debate among scholars for years to come.

        Far less controversial is the assertion made her by participants: Freemasonry can add to our appreciation of Mormonism, in both its ritual and practical aspects.

        Thanks for your great comments,

        1. Err. “…the assertion made HERE by participants…”

          I spell much better with a spell checker! 😀


    2. Hello, Bro:

      Thanks for your remarks. I would like to note one or two points where we see things slightly differently.

      First, you note that “masonic and endowment rituals have different meanings.”

      If by this you mean that the LDS ritual claims to be sacramental and salvific and that Freemasonry makes no such claims for its own ritual — well, that is certainly true. After all, Mormonism is a religion, and Freemasonry is not. 🙂

      You then state specifically: “Freemasonry has fraternal rituals to make good men better. The Endowment are ordinances essential for exaltation.”

      Here, I would refer back to my previous comment, but add this: “Making good men better” as a Masonic aim is not objectionable as far as it goes, but it misses the ultimate point and purpose of such work, which I would argue is very close to the ultimate point and purpose of the Mormon Temple Endowment. As stated, though, this begs the question: if the purpose is simply to “make good men better,” then why not, say, study the cello, or how to invest in the stock market, or learn oil painting, or tai-chi? Or does Masonic “self-improvement” have an additional component that we have not addressed? I’d suggest it does.

      As for what is “necessary for exaltation,” I’d point out that I learned something about that as a Mason, when I was exalted to the Holy Royal Arch, which as you know is called the Rite of Exaltation. There was considerable symbolic preparation necessary for me to be exalted.

      You further comment that “it is obvious that Joseph Smith heavily copied and borrowed masonic ritual and symbolism and incorporated them into the endowment.”

      Here, I would only note that this is a scholarly issue outside of the constraints of the podcast discussion. However, I’ve elsewhere discussed the issue of “copying/borrowing” at some length, and in the podcast shared my view that for me the Endowment represents “something old, something new, something borrowed, and its all true.” The issue is not so much the specific form, as it is the transforming power of the Priesthood — the ability to make the common into that which is uncommon.

      I was pleased to find my own perspective echoed by Paul Toscano in his recent book on the LDS Temple. Said he:

      “The expectation of LDS Church members that the endowment should be an unprecedented and unparalleled ritual revelation is naïve. It is equally naïve to assume that its . . . [construction] from elements of Masonry disqualify it as either a revelation or as a . . . sacrament. Transformation of the profane into the sacred is the heart of Christ’s teachings. Jesus’ first miracle was the turning of water into wine. It should not be an impediment to faith that a Masonic ceremony was transformed to serve a Messianic purpose or that a rite that served such a purpose for Masons was borrowed and restructured as a sacrament of the Mormon Restoration” (Paul Toscano. The Serpent and the Dove: Messianic Mysteries of the Mormon Temple [San Bernadino, CA: Merrill & Toscano Inc. 2014] 38).

      I’ve often used the Marriage at Cana, and the idea of alchemical transformation to discuss how common things may be transmuted into items of great spiritual value; it is an article of my personal faith that this is true of objects, of individuals, and certainly of rituals. Without recognition of this transforming power, Baptism is just a bath, and the Eucharist is just something to eat and drink. However, each of these may become a token through which we receive divine grace. Obviously, this requires the exercise of faith on my part.

      Thank you, Brother Scotty!

  22. This was/is an epic podcast series. I loved this podcast Dan. I love Masonry and have been looking forward to pursuing it.

    I also love the idea of how other practices or traditions supplement our Mormon Lives. Well done!!

  23. A question to whoever feels qualified: One of the places I am left hungry is for more discussion on the symbols and deep meaning of the temple ritual. There is no scheduled place, people or occasion where this can happen. If I were in charge, I would have some place in the temple where a group could gather to share insights about the symbolic meaning of this or that. There might be mentors or guides who could suggest things and then discussion could take place.

    During the masonic rituals is there such an occasion where mentors give meaning and interpretation of symbols with an open invitation to find more personal meaning as well?

    1. Regarding the LDS Temple, I expect that “discussion” about the meaning of the symbols would not take place. If your idea was implemented, we would be told the correlated meaning of the symbols with no room for questioning or individual interpretation. I had a Masonic brother tell me that he understood the LDS temple ceremony better after becoming a Mason.

      The symbols of Masonry are explained during the various rituals. Many Masons, including me, have expressed to new Masons that each time they sit through (or participate in) a ritual, they will understand the symbols better and notice things they had missed before. We are told the meaning, but it is up to each of us to find the application of the teachings in our lives.

      The mentor system discussed in the podcast works very well, as it gives one-on-one opportunities for discussion of the symbolism and teachings of Freemasonry. I am a Mason in Indiana. A regular part of our monthly stated meeting (as opposed to a “degree” ritual) is Masonic Education. The topic can be whatever interests the presenter, but it is often about Masonic symbolism.

    2. Leslie:

      I can answer regarding Mexico City, I imagine that it is different in every jurisdiction. So later the participants on this podcast can give you a better answer regarding how it is done in the US.

      Here we meet once a week, and every single week the apprentices and fellow craftsmen present a symbol and their interpretation of it. When I was an apprentice this was a powerful experience. Imagine instead of giving a talk once a year giving a talk once a week. Following the talk instead of having everybody congratulate you regardless of effort, every single master mason would provide very detailed and very specific critique of all the areas where my paper was enlightening and all of the areas where I omitted important detail. As one master mason told me “go ahead and stretch yourself, don’t worry about us criticizing you, even if you present an impeccable paper you will be criticized, so go ahead an out your whole heart and soul into it”. Now that I am a master in my lodge one of my main focuses is to encourage the apprentices to dig deeper, to beyond a mere academic restatement of the literature on the symbol into a deeper personal interpretation and personal application. In other words to own the symbol and make it alive for them.

      Again, this is Mexico City. It might be different in the US.

      1. Wow. Yes. Dig deeper into personal insights and meaning. I would love attending church meetings if this were the curriculum.

  24. I’m trying to listen with a really open mind and I value the good experiences and insights you all have had through Masonry. I particularly like the idea of being with people from all religions and thought persuasions in a ritual experience–the common thread being a call to goodness.

    I have a hard time though trying to fit myself into it at all as a woman. It’s sort of hard to hear about this ennobling tradition that has enhanced your Mormonism and have it be sort of irrelevant to me. Does that make sense? Do you feel it’s very significant that it be a gendered experience? How does Masonry affect your relationships with all children of God, beyond the brotherhood? How does Masonry view its relationship with women and the role of women–in “teaching men to be men” what does this mean in how women are viewed (to be protected, taken care of etc. or something else)? Do you miss not being able to experience the ritual with your wives or do you view it as something unique for brotherhood?

    1. Hello, Miriam:

      Mrs. George Miller’s response is better than I could have provided, and I agree with her. I wish particularly to re-emphasize her point that there is no “doctrine of exclusion” in Masonry, although quite obviously there is in all-male versions of Masonry a practice of exclusion with specific aims or objects in mind.

      Having said this, I’d also suggest that (as I’m sure Mrs. Miller appreciates), I have no philosophical problem at all with, say, co-Masonry; I’m just not personally a co-Mason. My spouse simply did not share my Masonic interests, although we have many other activities we enjoy together. However, I’d likely have become a co-Mason had my spouse or daughter (for instance) wished to participate with me. I believe that Mrs. Miller had similar discussions with her husband prior to his joining the lodge. So, this is a matter largely driven by choice/taste/need more than anything else.


      If this kind of thing holds an interest for you, I’d be happy to put you into contact with those who can better answer your questions on their experiences as co-Masons. However, the fundamental principles of Freemasonry are the same no matter what flavor you choose. As a good friend of mine once said: “There’s Masonry, Co-Masonry, and Women’s Masonry, just like there are men’s tennis clubs, mixed clubs, and women’s clubs. The former all practice Masonry just as much as the latter all play tennis.”

      You also ask how Masonry affects our relationships with all children of God, beyond the brotherhood. I believe this came up in the podcast, but it does bear repeating: Masons are enjoined to practice their profession broadly. At the close of the Lodge meeting, the Master addresses his Brothers with words such as these:

      “These generous [Masonic] principles extend even further, for every human being has a claim upon your kind offices. Do good unto all. Finally, Brethren, be ye of one mind; live in peace;
      and may the God of Love and Peace delight to dwell with and bless you.”

      So, whatever we do, the spirit of the same should be such that our actions would allow the God of Love and Peace to delight to dwell with us and bless us. Masons are here enjoined to fashion their undertakings with this principle in mind.

      Thank you, Miriam.


    2. Miriam- “How does Masonry view its relationship with woman and the role of women- in ‘teaching men to be men'”. Joe and my wife have both done a great job of answering your other questions. Let see if I can handle this one, at least in part. As it turn out the role that women play in shaping masculinity is a particular subject that comes up in our house on almost a daily basis. The reason for this is simple, it is the topic of my wife’s dissertation project. As it turn out, while there is an immense literature on how male expectations have a direct effect on gender markers for femininity, and there is an equally robust literature on how female expectations have a direct effect on gender markers of masculinity, there has been little to no academic study of how female expectations affect gender markers for masculinity. Without a doubt women have a profound effect on defining and, directly or indirectly, shaping masculine gender markers. This is a topic that really should be explored in depth.

      However, as my wife mentioned, there is something deeply and intrinsically profound about the lessons on what it means to be a man coming from men who swim in the same gendered water that I swim. To give you some insight into why it is fundamentally helpful for these lessons to come from a man, let me share an discussion I had with one of the Laurels in my ward. One of the Laurels told me how uncomfortable it was for the bishop to came into the Laurels’ class to give a lesson on what it means to be a woman, how women should act, and what women should wear. I wholeheartedly agreed with this young woman. Since the bishop has never swam in female gendered water, he is not likely to really understand what it means to be a young woman; and as such his advice will likely be, at least in part, off the mark.

      You further asked if I miss not being able to experience the ritual with my wife. The answer is both yes and no. As my wife mentioned, I think males need a space to discuss what it means to be a male in the absence of females. Additionally, experiencing a ritual whose design, at least in part, is meant to initiate one into youth, manhood, and age in the presence of men whom you admire and look up to, men who embody what it means to be a man, is something that is sublime and profound and in part this experience has the power to change a man. I personally feel that my own initiation would not have changed me in the way it it did if it was done in any different manner or fashion.

      I have no regrets that my wife was not there for my initiation, passing, and raising. To be honest with you, I think the experience would not have been the same if she had been there. However, that does not mean that I did not share my experience, with the exception of those parts which I have promised not share, with my wife. In like manner she has shared what she can share about her initiatory experience in her own women’s group. My wife knows my heart, and I know hers. She supports me in my noble endeavors. I support her in her noble endeavors. For me that it one of the qualities that makes me a Man and a Mason.

      1. Hi George. I think I’d like to expand on something you said just to clarify it for Mariam and anyone else reading this. When George refers to “swimming in the same gendered waters as he does,” he is referring to the overarching gender markers and codes socially assigned to those of the male sex, not just one who experiences heteronormative maleness. I know from experience (grins) that he is a heterosexual male and identifies with many of the traditional masculine gender markers. Masonry, however, is not merely for heterosexual males. It is for all men of any sexual orientation and gender identity provided that they meet the basic criteria to become a Mason. Masonry is a place where men from every walk of life can come together to meet as brothers who all have the common experience of maleness but may, in fact, have some diverse preferences in gender expression. When they say they are men teaching other men how to be men, they aren’t talking about the heterosexual patriarchal norm. They are talking about how to be the best versions of who they are as males, whatever form that may be for them. One of the beautiful things about this brotherhood is their diversity. When they discuss their gender and what it means to be in a socially coded male body, it is a profound and sacred discussion. I don’t know of many places men of all ages, races, religions, cultures, etc. can come together to talk about their existence in a sexed and gendered body, where they can hear each other’s stories and get to know men and expressions of masculinity from all walks of life. It forges unparalleled understandings of what it means to be male in the deepest, broadest, and most diverse sense possible. It encourages appreciation of this diversity as each man strives to become the best man and expression of his masculinity as he knows it to be. They are united in many of the noble and honorable attributes fostered by the Craft, but the masculine waters in which they swim, while sharing the same fellowship in the Craft and general experience of being a male in a gendered world, are truly quite vast and extraordinary. When I say that they are the best of men, I really mean that they are the best of all men, from all groups of manhood and maleness out there. There are plural definitions of masculinities, and as I said before, gender is on a spectrum. If a guy wants to know what being a man is all about, he will have a hard time finding a group that covers it in such totality.

  25. Hi Miriam. I’m George Miller’s wife, and as a woman who is around masonry all the time, I would love to respond to your question.

    My husband and I are both fiercely egalitarian and believe in the equality of men and women. I say this because I want to make sure that what I am about to write isn’t some kind of Masonic apology but actually how it functions in my life and in the life of my family.

    When my husband first joined, I wanted to support him and we considered joining an offshoot of Freemasonry called Co-masonry. While it is not recognized by the traditional Grand Lodges of the original Freemasonry, it is basically Freemasonry for men and women together. Men and women participate in ritual and fellowship, roles of leadership, etc. When looking into it, however, I realized that Masonry just wasn’t my thing. I then looked into The Order of the Eastern Star which is the women’s auxiliary branch of Freemasonry that have their own rituals, offices, outreach community activities, etc. Many of the Mason’s wives and girlfriends belonged to this group. (It was very feminine…you get to wear tiaras!). However, again, it was just something that I was not personally drawn to myself.

    So then how do we, as a fiercely egalitarian couple, navigate the exclusion of women from Masonry based on sex alone? For us, at least, it comes down to gender and gender experience. George Miller and I are very dedicated to shifting gender perceptions for men and women so that people of all genders can be valued, have equal rights, and understand that gender is actually a social construction of behavior expectations coded along sex differences. This means that we believe (as do most scholars in my field…I’m currently getting a PhD in women’s literature with a focus on sex/gender studies) that the only inherent differences between men and women are merely biological, that men and women have the exact same capacity for intelligence, love, companionship, assertiveness, shyness, nurturing, etc., and that differences between people in these areas are based on individuality rather than sexuality, that everyone is somewhere on the sex/gender spectrum and each of us has our own set of strengths, weaknesses, talents, preferences, etc. that are not necessarily based on sexuality or gender but may be influenced by socially constructed gender at times (for instance, I like wearing long flowy skirts, not because I am inherently female, but because I actually enjoy them and like how I feel when conforming to that particular gender marker…in other words, I like feeling feminine…my husband, however, chooses not to wear skirts because he simply hasn’t chosen them as part of his gender identity and he likes the feeling he gets when conforming to traditionally coded ideals of dress assigned to men…meaning, he likes feeling like the handsome stud that he is when he dons a tuxedo or suit.)

    The reason I bring this up is that because our society tends to code the sexes differently in some ways, men and women tend to have some rather different experiences in the world. Most men probably have never felt how threatening it is to be whistled at on the street or what it is like thinking often about what you can do to prevent yourself from being sexually assaulted. Likewise, most women probably don’t know what it is like to be told by society that to be the ideal of your sex you need to be strong and not emotional or have biceps the size of bowling balls. Because the sexes are coded differently in a lot of ways by society, men and women experience society in different ways sometimes, and thus George and I feel that it is important for men and women to have a refuge somewhere where one can discuss these experiences with others who have had the same experiences. Both men and women need a haven where they can discuss their experiences in this gendered world, especially a world of gender hierarchy, where they can be supported, nurtured, and empathized with in a safe environment where solutions to the problems caused by gender difference can be discussed openly without the presence of the opposite sex.

    It isn’t so much as a doctrine of exclusion, although it is a practice of exclusion, but rather a separation of the sexes to allow men a place where they can be with each other and navigate these gendered experiences together as men. I likewise have my own women’s group that I belong to where I do the same. It is actually a non-for-profit women’s organization where we help empower, educate, and support other women. We explore what it means to be women, what it means to be ourselves, and what it means to be a part of a larger community. My group happens to focus on helping women not only find the power and beauty that comes from being women but also to heal from the pain caused by gender inequality and gender hierarchy. We help women understand that women and men are people, and that as people we can make good decisions to empower each other or destructive decisions that tear each other down. Of course, we focus on building the former and healing the latter.

    When it comes down to it, the principles Freemasonry teaches men in “how to be men” are actually genderless principles. They emphasize community, family, charity, honor, integrity, politeness, friendship, tradition, etc. At the core of their organization are the exact same principles in mine. As a Masonic wife, I am invited to many events every year. I attend the installation of officers where the families and friends of Masons taking on leadership roles as well as those supporting them in these offices can witness one of the rituals and ask as many questions as we’d like about Masonry. Masons are heavily involved in charity work so our daughter and I go to many fund raising events. They have annual picnics and other family activities like game nights, sports nights, etc.

    Masonry is a true brotherhood, but not just between men. These men are my brothers. They are family. We are all friends. We have watched each others’ families grow. We love to get together outside of Masonic functions just to have fun. I know these men to be kind, loving, honorable, and giving. If I ever need anything, I know I can count on them. They take care of Masonic widows and their families too. I am very grateful to them because they make the men in my life better people. They have high standards of behavior and would never suffer a brother who would ever abuse his wife, be involved in criminal activities, be offensive in language or a bully in behavior, etc. They teach men to be men by showing them how to be better people. They have rites of passage to take men through symbolic thresholds of self-discovery and responsibility in the organization and community.

    Women need these rites too, which is why I am involved in a group that does them. Women, however, have different gateways to step through than men in some ways. Biologically speaking, we differ from men, so the rites of passage into the community from girl to woman, from maiden to mother, from mother to grandmother, etc. are unique to our sex. Likewise, men have other gateways. Masonry takes them through many of them. As they learn the lessons, traditions, and rituals, they are brought into deeper understanding of themselves, their roles in the community, and how to be better people as males navigating this sex/gender system we have in our society. Both men and women are engaged with rites of passage in our every day lives that do not pertain to sex or gender difference, such as baptisms, graduations, award ceremonies, birthdays, etc. Rites of passage are differentiated by religion, race, education, honorary distinctions, experience, expertise, location, culture, etc. They are also split along sex and gender lines. Masonry just happens to be one that focuses on men.

    Men have a lot of negative pressures in our society that can influence their behavior and understanding of what it means to be male. Men are taught from a young age that “real men” don’t cry, are strong, are violent, are sexually aggressive, are solitary breadwinners, are the top of the gender hierarchy, etc. Masonry focuses on undoing the damage caused by these negative social pressures. They teach men how to be strong without it being at the expense of another’s weakness. They teach empathy and encourage the opening of the heart. They teach love and respect for women and their fellow man. They teach self control and self reflection. They show men how to lead without violence, intimidation, or sexism. Masons who say disparaging things about women, races, religions, etc. are reprimanded and if it persists they are asked to leave. They will not tolerate any man who abuses a child, a wife, or another man. Real men don’t use violence.

    So as a woman, I get nothing but benefits from this group. If I wanted to join, I know co-masonry is there. If I want to get more involved in my husband’s lodge, I know Eastern Star is there. If I want to know about the symbolism or rituals, I know that the libraries and internet are there, as well as my husband and his Masonic brothers. I don’t feel left out. There are secrets but very few that can’t easily be found out. Some of the rituals I find profound, others I admit I find rather silly, but in their quest to become better people and to build a better community, the Masons are also about having fun and brotherhood so I don’t mind the goofiness that comes out of the comradery. Frankly, I love it when my husband goes out for a night with the guys. He always comes home happier and as a better person. I think having a guys night out on a regular basis is just as important as my having my girls nights out. There are just some things I can only talk about with my girlfriends and vice versa for my husband. At least from my experience, Masonry makes men better husbands, sons, fathers, and community members. They are not just encouraged to but expected to treat the women in their lives well. They even give us a night in our honor and give thanks and gifts to the wives of Masons in leadership roles because they recognize and appreciate how we hold down the fort while they are away at meetings and charity events. In my opinion, a girl can’t do better than landing herself a Mason. 🙂

  26. Dan,

    I loved this podcast. It was so interesting. When will we get the next one in this series? I can’t wait!

  27. George,

    I have been studying these connections for years and love the work that you are doing. One thing that i can’t seem to understand however is the symbolism of Satan’s Apron in the original temple ceremony. Now i know in joseph smith’s time there was this linking of masonry to antiquity and the idea of a true masonry from god and a false masonry through cain. But to me it seems like Joseph and most of the brethren loved masonry and the symbols. So i can’t figure out why they would put those symbols on satan in the ceremony. Basically any info you can tell about satan’s apron i would appreciate. Obviously i know they have gotten rid of all the masonic symbols now. Thanks. Also

    1. Hello, Will:

      A small story, which I hope will provide a little insight into this no largely-forgotten aspect of LDS ritual.

      I was Endowed in Provo 1982, some few weeks prior to my mission. At that time, I was happy to be able to experience a “live” session in the Salt Lake Temple, where I noted a few things that were highly fascinating to me. First, there was an All-Seeing Eye painted on the Ceiling of the Garden Room (as I recall). But even more interesting was the clothing of the character who represented Lucifer. This has been about 30 years ago, but left such a strong impression upon me that I clearly remember the details. The gentleman who played Lucifer had a wiry frame, but was dressed very finely in black formal attire, with a black hat and the apron you mention: made of blue silk, it was embroidered with a number of Mason-like emblems. The individual delivered his lines in a very idiosyncratic way, and the overall impression his speech and unusual body movements gave was rather odd and entertaining.

      Now, my personal involvement in Freemasonry began about a decade later, and it wasn’t until that time that I realized that the figure of Lucifer I had seen in the Salt Lake Temple years earlier was in fact attired as though he were the Master of a Lodge.

      Of course, a masonic Lodge may represent this world. Consequently, the significance of Lucifer being represented in this way became clear after some reflection: dressed as the “Master of the Lodge,” Lucifer was being symbolically depicted as “the god of this world” — i.e., he who “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

      Now, I don’t suppose any of this was meant to suggest that Freemasonry or its symbols were evil; rather, it was the adaptation of Masonic symbols for the purpose of allegorical instruction. As time has progressed, neither attiring Lucifer as the “Master of the Lodge,” nor clothing him with a Mason-like apron has continued to make ritual sense as it may have for earlier generations of Latter-day Saints, and this practice has been discontinued.

      Hope this helps!

    2. I suppose I forgot to actually mention the details of that apron you mention. I can only give you my own interpretation of the symbols, and claim no authority outside of my personal opinions here. As I recall, the apron included: pillars, which suggest to me birth into the physical world; a checkerboard square, which again reminds of the world in which we live — some squares black, and some white. This reminds me of the Carol Lynn Pearson lyrics:

      You came from a land where all is light
      to a world half day and a world half night.

      Or, perhaps more famously, of Omar Khayyam:

      Tis all a Chequer-board of nights and days
      Where Destiny with men for Pieces plays:
      Hither and thither moves, and mates,and slays,
      And one by one back in the closet lays.

      The other elements I recall was a snake or snakes, in chains. I suppose this could suggest that in the world, many people are bound by “knowledge, falsely so called.” I can think of other possibilities, but these ideas would be no better than your own, I’m afraid.

      Again, hope this helps!

  28. I wanted to thank Dan and the panelists for this thoughtful and fascinating podcast. It has spurred my husband to look into joining Masonry! He is reading up on it and feeling quite drawn to it. I am excited for him and the potential benefits it can bring to him. I was feeling a little trepidatious for how it might trigger feelings of exclusion in me, though, and I greatly appreciate Mrs. George Miller’s perspective. Thanks for sharing so articulately how you have observed, and especially how your academic studies into gender have informed your opinions. Since I have felt acutely the pain of the structural inequalities along gender lines at church, I need to carefully tend my thinking about Masonry to remind myself that it does not need to push those buttons in me (that make me feel less than, dominated, silenced, supervised, and belittled). Instead, I can follow your example and seek out my own associations with women or women’s groups that will meet my deep female needs, and then feel that our different pursuits are equally valid and respected by each other. Anyways, thanks to all!

    1. My recommendation to you is to encourage your husband to study what his priesthood really means, by doing so he will become a better man. He does not need to join masonry.

  29. Joe Steve Swick III – if you are still around to answer questions – when do you expect your book “Method Infinite” to come out? Is it co-authored with Nick Literski? I have been looking for a good basic (academic-level, not pop level) introduction to Mormonism and Masonry and while I am considering getting Homer’s book, I understand that your book is going to delve deeper and better analyze the data. It looks to me like “Method Infinite” has been close to publication for a few years now though. Hopefully it is coming out soon?

    1. Hello, Erik:

      Method Infinite is a collaboration with Cheryl L. Bruno, and expands upon original research and work done by may friend and Brother Nicholas S. Literski some years back. A lengthy proposal was simultaneously submitted to several publishers, and we have now heard back from each. Once we have made a final decision (just a few days away), we expect the final draft will be ready within the year. This is different than Mike Homer’s recent work, with significant new research and some real surprises, guaranteed to amuse, amaze and perhaps occasionally anger readers. 🙂

      Keep watching here! We will certainly tell you who our publisher is, as well as the projected publication date as soon as these can be provided. Thank you for your continued interest!

  30. I listened to the panelists very carefully. Unfortunately, they have not said anything worthwhile. They have just gone in circles finding excuses for their lack of understanding of their priesthood and priesthood duties. Very sad.

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