Why Men Love Freemasonry
by Bro. Carl H. Claudy
The Master Mason - August 1925
The question, "Why do men wish to become Freemasons?" is of little
importance. But the subsequent query, "Why do Freemasons remain
such - why do Freemasons love Freemasonry?" is of such great and far-
reaching importance that almost every Masonic writer and philosopher
has tried to answer it; a perfectly normal procedure, as there appear to
be almost as many reasons as there are men to give them.
No answer which seems adequately to cover the whole question has as
yet been formulated.
Although the reasons given are very numerous, they fall naturally into
certain broad classes.
We are told that men love Freemasonry because it teaches the
brotherhood of man, and that man is hungry for fraternity. There is none
to question the truth of the statement, yet it seems to lack much as an
adequate explanation for the love of the Order which we find
everywhere. Freemasonry is not the only organization which teaches the
brotherhood of man. There are many fraternal orders, the teachings of
which are founded wholly or in part upon this basis. All churches teach
the fatherhood of God and, either directly or by implication, the
brotherhood of man. Freemasonry's hold upon her members is from
some quality she possesses, or service she renders, which many men
do not easily find elsewhere. As brotherhood and its teachings can be
found in many other orders, it seems inadequate as an explanation of a
Freemason's devotion to his Craft.
We are told that the hold which Freemasonry has upon men comes from
the sense of the mystic which is common to all men; that the search for
That Which Was Lost is intriguing to the detective instinct in us all; that
from the dawn of history the hunt has been a passion of men; the man
hunt, the beast hunt, the food hunt, the hunt for gold, for power, for truth,
for discovery; and that to seek is implanted in our blood. Therefore,
argue these philosophers, Freemasonry's hold upon her initiates is due
to her holding ever before them an endless search after an unknown
something of value which was once possessed and has now passed
beyond mortal ken.
But Freemasonry is but one of many activities in which man can search.
The most ardent Freemason is no more energetic in his search for That
Which Was Lost than is a churchman for that peace of God which
passeth understanding. The most ardent Freemason is no more anxious
to find the Lost Word than is the physician to discover the cure for
cancer, the remedy for old age, the fountain of youth. The most ardent
Freemason has no more ardor for his quest than the scientist in his
laboratory, the business man after material success, the pleasure-hunter
after joy. Freemasonry is but one of many activities in which the hunter
may find an elusive quarry. Inasmuch as it requires some philosophic
preparation and some background of Masonic knowledge really to
engage in such a quest, it may well be doubted if this reason is one
which affects the majority of those who love the Order.
We are told that it is the pleasure in being one of an old, old line of
brethren; that men take joy from their lodge in the knowledge that they
are brotherly kin to kings of an olden time, to workers of a day that is
gone, aye, even to Solomon and the Three Grand Masters. Undoubtedly
there is a great pleasure to be had from this sense of being, as it were, a
real kin with the departed of other times. To be lodge brother to
Washington and Lafayette must thrill any patriot; to feel that we have an
unbroken descent from our forbears of the Goose and Gridiron Tavern of
1717 gives us a sense of stability which is most pleasurable. As we go
further back in time, while the record gets increasingly scarce and
difficult to read, and becomes less and less documentary and more and
more legendary, still there is no doubt whatever that Freemasonry does
remain, to this day, the repository of the symbols and the teachings of
ancient societies which may well be as old as Solomon, or older.
Of course, no well-read Mason today believes that the ritual of the
Building of the Temple and the organization is to be taken literally. To the
informed it gains, rather than loses, from its symbolic character. But
there are thousands of earnest Freemasons who know nothing of the
real history of our Order, who devoutly, believe that the First Grand
Lodge was presided over by Solomon, King of Israel; that Hiram, King of
Tyre, was another Grand Master, and that a Third was the original of our
pillar of beauty. To them, undoubtedly, the sense of kinship with the very
ancient is a strong bond; none the less strong that it is founded on a
But a man need not embrace Freemasonry to be kin with what is old.
The churches have a much more traceable history than has
Freemasonry. So has science. Mathematics was old when Hero of
Alexandria and Euclid lived and wrote. The geologist can make anything
human seem as of yesterday. Allowing full value for the "pull" which her
antiquity makes upon the hearts of her sons, Freemasonry must search
further and dig deeper to find the reason which holds so many, many
men to her banners and makes their love for her something beyond their
There are numerous lighter, more personal reasons why many Masons
love their lodge. Some, because it is a gathering place of good fellows.
Some, because they find it helpful socially or in a business way to
"belong." Others, because it provides an outlet for man's love of
ceremony. Still others, because it gives entertainments, picnics, ladies'
nights, free feeds! Many love Freemasonry as they love a dozen other
fraternal orders, because it gives them a chance to "dress up," to wear a
sword, to win a title, to be invested with a show of authority. To many
men Freemasonry is the antidote to an inferiority complex!
But no such reason made George Washington love the gentle Craft, or
caused sturdy old Ben Franklin to devote his time and talents to being
Grand Master in Pennsylvania. And no such reasons actuate the larger
proportion of the membership.
The reason which binds in a common love the man in Calcutta and the
man in London, the man in Hong-Kong and the man in Boston, the man
in Colon and the man in Madrid, must be something much more
fundamental than any of these.
The writer has been eighteen years a Freemason, has written
several books dealing with Masonic subjects, has been and is now the
wielder of a couple of Masonic editorial blue pencils, and has read a
reasonable amount of Masonic literature in the pleasant task of
endeavoring to supplant an abysmal ignorance by a small amount of
knowledge. These facts are mentioned with no idea that they provide him
with the right to speak with authority, but to serve as a background
against which he may set forth some conclusions regarding the real,
inner reason as to why Freemasons love Freemasonry with a love which
has been the amazement of the profane world for generations.
The most profound fact which any mind can know is God.
It is necessary that the reader accept this statement as a fact, for the
time being, regardless of his personal convictions, if this argument is to
be developed to its conclusion. It has been said that "man is incurably
religious," a statement which puts a truth in rather ambiguous language,
since few men can agree on what religion is. It might be less confusing if
it were said that man is incurable in his longing for God.
This is true of all men; the atheist and the non-believer, the criminal and
the light-minded, the sinful and the lawbreaker, are all incurable in their
inner longing for God. Many of them do not know it; yet many of them
have proved it in moments of stress or danger. The most determined of
atheists will pray on his knees if his first-born is dying before his eyes;
the most hardened criminal goes to his execution with his eyes asking
comfort of the spiritual comforter whose hard duty it is to try to help him
out of this life into . . . what ?
The vast majority of men are neither atheists, non-believers, criminals,
light-minded, sinful, or law-breakers. The vast majority of men are
honest, truthful, law-abiding, hard-working, good citizens. Even those
who embrace no creed, go to no church, read no religious books, want
God. It is as natural for a man to want kinship with God in his life as it is
for him to want air, or food, or love, or children. He cannot help it; his
whole racial history commands it; his very nature demands it.
Where does a man find God? Everywhere! To some He is in nature;
some find Him in the church. Others look for Him in the Bible or the Holy
Books of other faiths. Some seek Him in the laboratory and some
through the telescope. Some find Him in the stars, and others in the
microbe. The common, everyday man finds Him in humanity and in
charity, relief, pity, mercy, hospitals, the Red Cross. "One touch of nature
makes the whole world kin" is really "One touch of God makes the whole
world kin." The earthquake in Tokyo which called so many dollars
instantly from America; the starving children of the Near East who lived
because of pity in America, were examples of that "touch of God" which
makes us all one family.
The Masonic lodge in particular, and the fraternity in general, is built
upon the idea of, and erected to, God. Not any particular god; not the
god of the Christian or the Hindu, the Jew or the Parsee, but just the
ideal of Deity.
There is no forcing of God upon any Freemason. So be it he believe in
Deity, he can erect His image as he pleases; an anthropomorphic God
with a white beard and a host of harp-playing angels, a Great First
Cause, or any in-between conception he pleases.
Freemasonry teaches no creed, dogma, or theory of religion. She
protests no special message given it by God in olden time, nor claims to
be a personal messenger of heaven. She offers no "facts" which must be
taken on faith, because her Masters or Wardens are divinely appointed
to be the viceroys of God on earth.
But she does surround her sons with symbols, each one of which cries
out of God. Everywhere in the lodge is a reminder of the Great Architect.
Lodges are erected to God. Initiates kneel to God. On the Holy Altar is
His Word. Once a Freemason must pray for himself. There are "threes"
throughout the lodge; three officers, three steps, three pillars, three who
met a seafaring man, three gates, three degrees, three obligations!
Three is everywhere. And three is the number which denotes the triangle
and, since the dawn of symbolism, the triangle has been the symbol of
Nothing is done in a Masonic lodge which is not reverent. Nothing is
taught there which is otherwise than reverent. Every symbol in
Freemasonry tells of God, or some quality in a man which should be
But God is not preached in a lodge. Freemasonry does not dogmatize
about God. She provides the framework, and ,he Freemason fills it in to
suit himself. She gives the symbols and the Freemason interprets them
for himself. According to his wit, according to his ability, according to his
vision and knowledge, does the Freemason read from Freemasonry's
symbols what truths of God he can assimilate.
This, so it seems to the writer, is the real answer to the question, "Why
do Freemasons love Freemasonry?"
Freemasonry leads her sons to tell themselves about God.
It is not difficult to be told about God. There are many churches; many
faiths; many religions. In all of them the devout are told of God by
learned ministers and teachers who have spent their lives in the work. To
a great many people this is entirely sufficient. But to some it is not a
complete satisfaction of the heart hunger which is deep in mankind. A
very large number of consistent church attendants and church members
are also interested and enthusiastic Freemasons. For it appears that
there are some truths about God which no man may teach another; nay,
not though his learning is great and his faith strong, his willingness to
serve most brotherly, and his abilities of the highest. Apparently, God
has implanted within the deeps of human nature - and we are only
beginning to suspect how very deep those depths may be - not only a
hunger to know of Him but an ability to satisfy that hunger through
draughts from the well of inner consciousness.
Freemasonry makes it easier for a man to call up from his nature's
depths that which his nature knows; Freemasonry makes it possible for
him to draw above the level of consciousness those faiths and those
facts which racial memories have implanted there for uncounted
Freemasonry teaches in symbols. Symbols are words in a universal
language, which all men understand partially and no man understands
wholly. The teaching and the preaching of God which comes to us all in
Bible and book, in church and school, through creed and faith, is
supplemented and made clearer by what we teach ourselves from the
symbols of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry forces nothing; there is no force used in a lodge. It is all a
gentle leading. We may follow as fast and as far, as little and as slowly,
as we will.
The symbols are there; they speak with whispers or in a voice of thunder,
-according to our wit, our knowledge, our willingness. But they never
thunder when we wish a whisper, or speak soft and low when we want
the crashing force of a great fact in our ears.
The symbols of Freemasonry are all things to all men; great for the
greathearted, deep for the wise, easy for the simple, stern for the strong,
and gentle for the weak.
Each man may read them as he will, yet can read them only as
successive steps towards God. Freemasonry leads rather than teaches.
She persuades men to teach themselves rather than to accept the
wisdom of other men. These are the reasons which make up the reason
why Freemasons the world over, be their country, their color, their faiths,
their politics, or their church affiliations what they may, love
Men love Freemasonry because she leads her sons to teach themselves
those truths of Deity which a man may tell only to himself.
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