I'm going to play a game of "What if?":
What if Dan Brown's upcoming book, tenatively titled "The Solomon Key," spurs support for some controversial history or controversial interpretations of Masonry that some of the Brethren accept, while some are indifferent, and others fervently reject? Many people have been wondering what the fraternity will do to handle the publicity, in order to capitalize on it and reap the harvest of those men whom it may attract to the Fraternity.
However, if "The Da Vinci Code" has taught us anything, it seems to have divided opinions of the Christians (whose own history was the subject) right down the middle. Many people heralded the message of The Da Vinci Code, and encouraged study of Brown's, and other alternative views of their history, while many more have treated it as a heretical view, necessary to be defended against.
This disagreement had all the potential to create a schism in Christianity, except for one thing - Christianity is already schismed. There are so many churches and many of them recognize each other, but they agree to disagree on many of the finer points of their doctrine and theology.
Freemasonry, at least in the United States, is not schismed in this manner. Or, rather, any schism that exists is unbalanced, because the "regular" Grand Lodges outweigh any other competing system by an incredibly enormous amount. So what if the content of this book presents something which gains equally strong opposing views by members of The Craft? Views that some of the Brethren will welcome as a valid attraction for new candidates, and others will utterly reject as "clandestine views" (or, "heretical", as it may be.)
If this happens, will we be prepared to maintain harmony within the Lodge? Can we respect our fellow brethren, if they think things, and even encourage things different than our own personal views? Can we survive through a 50/50 split opinion on a popular and relevant topic?
I'm making no claims as to what the issue itself might be, merely looking at Dan Brown's track record, and he sure seems to know how to pull the right strings.
If you haven't already, you may want to listen to X-Oriente #005 The Perfect Storm in connection with this post, as it was part of my inspiration to write this.
Steps to the Endowment.
6 years ago
I expect the same thing to happen with "The Solomon Key" as what happened with the DaVinci Code.
It will spawn a huge media storm of books and TV specials trying to set out the 'real truth' about Freemasonry.
His book will, no doubt, point out that many famous men in the American Revolution were Freemasons.
When the TV specials and books come out, they will have to admit that this is, in fact, true.
For the general public to be made aware of the importance of Enlightenment thought (and how these ideas flourished under Freemasonry) ultimately shaped the formation of our nation is a really good thing.
Finally, when someone attempts to discover the 'truth' about these dastardly Freemasons and, instead, finds out all of the good we try to accomplish in the community that will be a welcome examination as well.
In the end, those who enjoy conspiratorial thought will continue to enjoy it. This is a kind of logic where the lack of evidence that supports your position is usually touted as evidence that they are right.
You can't combat that kind of stupidity any day of the week.
I see this glass as far more than half-full.
I have already purchased and read one book that was written to 'pre-bunk' "The Solomon's Key" and it was largely wholly positive.
Whatever new ideas/lore that this books spawns about masonry, whatever motivations it spurns on in masonry, it has to be good ad part of all lodges. Whether fact or fiction, half truths,etc. any masonic discussion has to be beneficial to a lodge. Any discussion whatsoever in lodge is good.
now about a break up of memebrs and schisms, schisms can only happen if they are allowed to happen. Meaning, why not rcognize accept all masons, under an all encompassing umbrella, as long as they follow the ancient charges, lets unite and be stronger as a united brotherhood. No one would get hurt and no one's sytem would be cheapened or mean less?
we all can get along!
Masonry has a shrouded history, embrace it and lets all move on as a brotherhood.
I just hope a schism does not form over dues not going to a GL for "recognition"
I think you stated the typical answer, which is good, and certainly has much truth to it, however, my question was specifically what if it stirs up trouble within Masonry. Within the people who are already part of the fraternity.
I will do a follow up post on the idea of regular vs. clandestine, its usefulness and the misuse of it in the next few days. Keep an eye peeled for it.
My personal view is if it spreads light and brotherhood, how can it be bad?
Where I live there are 5 major catholic highschools, run by different factions: brothers of the holy cross, jesuits, franscican monk, benedictan monks, etc. The jesuit school has the most power and prestige, yet the other schools do a fine job in education and discipline.
Is one better than the other? Is a young man worse off or damned or not "recognized" as a catholic highschooler if he goes to the "wrong" school?
Why masonry has to be so divisive, draw lines in the sand, make/order free men to make choices over an extra curricular, made up group, makes no sense?
No one mason will be harmed or tainted?
Thats how I look at it.
America is supposed to be the land of the free, so why should american freemasonry not take the same attitude?
A schism in Masonry? Funny ;-)
Seriously, we already have cadres of brothers who believe in different origns and purposes of the Craft. None of them seem to get into any heated arguments about this, and I can't imagine that Dan Brown - no Mason himself - would cause any furor from within the fraternity.
In fact, look back ten years or more to John J. Robinson's "Born in Blood". He presented a plausible and well-researched theory linking the Freemasons with the Templars. I was not a Mason when the book was published, but I have not heard of any contention from various groups of believers of that theory, and he has a lot more going for him than Brown, in terms of igniting any controversy in Freemasonry.
Personally, I'm with TC - there's no such thing as bad publicity.
The Tao of Masonry
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