"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

3 Minutes With Brent Morris

The Washington Examiner features a "3 Minute Interview" with S. Brent Morris this week:

Morris is a cryptologic mathematician and author and expert on Freemasonry. He is the D.C.-based managing editor of the Scottish Rite Journal of the Supreme Council.
What is Freemasonry?

It's a fraternity, in the term of Delta Sigma Phi at college, or the Moose Lodge, or the Knights of Columbus. We've got about 1.3 million members and 10,000 lodges in the United States.

Aren't a few presidents and other notable people Freemasons?

Fourteen presidents have been Freemasons. Gerald Ford was the most recent. George Washington was a Freemason, as was Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette and Henry Ford. Harry Houdini was also a Freemason, and so is Richard Dreyfuss.

How did the Freemasons develop such a mysterious reputation?

The original Freemasons were a trade guild, and the earliest lodge minutes we have, from 1588 in Edinburgh, Scotland, they are reprimanding one of their members for hiring a non-lodge member.

But by 1717 in London, it's gentlemen who are running the lodges, they are not working with their hands or in connection with the building trades. One of the great mysteries of the history of Freemasons is just what exactly happened to cause this transition.

Is there a secret handshake?

They had secret means of identifying each other, like secret handshakes and passwords. That is because they had to travel to do their work. If you are going to maintain any kind of union consistency of tradesmen and craftsmen, you have to have a way to identify members.

Any truth to the Freemason conspiracy theories?

You read stories that we are trying to infiltrate the government and run it for ourselves, but that's not true. The reputation is a whole lot bigger than the reality.

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