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Freemasonry, Religion & Spirituality: Forcing Change Examines the Lodge

October 9, 2012

“Masonry is a quest. Not a material quest, but a spiritual quest, a mystic quest. Not only an individual quest, although as individuals we strive to learn and achieve, but basically a group quest.” – Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry.

The above quote is quite startling, and it begs the question: What lies at the core of Freemasonry?

The latest edition of Forcing Change tackles this sensitive subject, and takes you on a personal journey; from a dicey lake crossing on a deflating air mattress, to the dusty texts of Masonic philosophers. Through it all we endeavor to find out: What is the role of Freemasonry in terms of religion and spirituality?

Every village, town, and city seems to have had some Masonic connection. If you’re observant, you’ll see Lodges, temples, and monuments from coast-to-coast. Scores of men have bent their knee in the “building with no windows.” Furthermore, the role of Masonry in Western history reveals a significant influence, including the founding of the United States of America.

In trying to grasp all of the above, we examine the writings of Masonic historians and scholars. We also publish the exact number of Freemasons who signed America’s prime documents, accessed through old Masonic Service Association documents. And along the way we touch on my own experiences with the Lodge.

Here’s the opening section of this edition of Forcing Change

Examining Freemasonry: Part 1 – The Question of Religion.

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“The water was a bit choppy, the air mattresses were leaking, and the boat traffic was oblivious to two low-lying objects bobbing in the waves. But our destination was so close. Another 500 feet to doggy-paddle, and we’d land on the mysterious island.

The evening before a group of church youth – myself included – had canoed to the west side of a wooded isle in Lake Metigoshe, a State Park and recreation lake that bridges North Dakota and Manitoba. Here, on the far side of the island, was a strange sight; two blue pillars, a series of three-five-and-seven steps, a star embossed in the landing and other symbols imprinted in the staircases, and a well-trod pathway that disappeared into the forest. Docking our canoes, we followed this trail to the interior where an opening in the trees revealed an altar, mortared stone chairs, and a prominent symbol: the Square-and-Compass with the letter “G” in the middle. After poking around for a few minutes, we left, perplexed by what we had found.

Early afternoon the following day, with all the canoes taken by others, a young friend and I dragged a couple of limp air mattresses from our tents. We changed into swimming trunks, mouth-inflated the mattresses, and struck out under a hot summer sun. Over 1400 feet later we waded through the reeds to the wooded shoreline, trudged through the underbrush and poison ivy, and spent the better part of the afternoon exploring this peculiar place. Then, returning to our now-flat mattresses, we re-inflated and paddled back to camp.

After supper, with my back glowing cherry-red, I had the chance to ride with a local park warden in his patrol boat. The warden had docked close to our tent site, so a group of us boys decided to walk over and talk with the officer. The result was an early evening ride-along, a chance to enjoy a cool breeze while the warden zipped from boat to boat, checking for life jackets and fishing licenses.

Pointing to the mysterious island now in the distance, I asked the officer, “What’s the story with that place?”

The name, he explained, was Masonic Island, and it was a meeting place for Freemasons. Without missing a beat the warden stated that Masons are people of importance. Many American presidents had been Masons, along with prominent business leaders and police officers. “And if you want to advance in business or government,” he pitched,” “then you need to join the Lodge when you reach the age of majority.”

I was sixteen years old at the time, yet the experience stayed with me. It was my first encounter with the Craft…”

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To read the entire 21 pages edition, Examining Freemasonry: Part 1 – The Question of Religion,” go to www.forcingchange.org and log-in today!

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