The Art of Manliness Podcast #20: Freemasonry and American Manhood with Robert Davis

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 5, 2010 · 54 comments

in Podcast

Welcome back to the Art of Manliness podcast! In this week’s episode we talk to Robert Davis about his book, Understanding Manhood in America: Freemasonry’s Enduring Path to the Mature Masculine. Our conversation focuses on the history of American masculinity and Freemasonry’s influence in shaping manliness in the United States. We end the podcast discussing whether Freemasonry is still relevant to men in the 21st century.

Robert is a Freemason himself and the Executive Secretary of the Guthrie Oklahoma Scottish Rite. Besides writing Understanding Manhood in America, Robert has also authored two other books on the subject of Freemasonry.

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hal Brown April 6, 2010 at 7:17 am

I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast. As a Past Master of a rather large Masonic Lodge, I’ve learned to appreciate the greatness of this Fraternity as well as its shortcomings. How refreshing to not hear about “the secrets” and other media hype about the organization. A salute to Brother Davis for his contribution to the Fraternity and the world.
I will pass this on to my own Lodge – I’m certain many will find it relevant to Freemasonry today.

2 Rick April 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

I have enjoyed your website but you lost me on this one. Goodbye!

3 Ben April 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

Freemasonry passes itself off as a fun gentleman’s club. The fact is that couldn’t be further from the truth. Freemasonry is not a club, rather a religion built around worshiping Baphomet, a demon. It has its own god, its own belief structure, its own chants and occultic rituals, and its own path to heaven. It’s basically a form of witchcraft adapted for men.

No thanks.

4 Reverend Cowboy April 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

Having just joined the Masons myself, and coming to this site daily for over a year, it’s nice to see the two come together. Freemasonry most definitely works against the male stereotypes mentioned both here and in the “Menaissance” post– Nicely done!

5 Chris April 6, 2010 at 10:44 am

I found the podcast very interesting and I would very much like to read this book but the lowest price currently on Amazon for a used copy is $77. Did the author mention any other places that are selling this book? Thanks.

6 Rob April 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

Ol’ Bob would be great to put me to sleep. Disregarding what he was actually talking about (interesting, i guess) his lecture was droning. Please be a better interviewer and dont let him go on and on and on…

7 Hal Brown April 6, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Ben,
I will not argue with you, but Freemasonry is NOT a religion. Neither is it exactly a gentleman’s club. Its a club, a fraternity that provides the tools to make a good man better. One of the ways this is done is encouragement to follow one’s own religion. The only requirement is belief in a supreme being, whatever a man may percieve that to be.
Men of all faiths belong to this Fraternity.
I expected this. It never fails that someone who knows nothing about Freemasonry makes this claim.
Peace and good will Ben.

8 Mike Wright April 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Although Mr. Davis made some excellent points about the state of modern manhood in general, I’m afraid Freemasonry is not the answer. The Masonic cult, founded on Kabala, is not compatable with most religion, especially not Christianity.

Men do need other men, but please keep your satanic rituals and ancient chants. That is a dark, dangerous path that has eternal consequences.

Blessings brothers

9 Andy "Chieftain" Cawston April 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

@Ben — I am a Freemason and I have no idea what you are talking about, and more to the point neither do you. Plenty of pig-ignorant anti-Freemason disinformation has been produced over the years, and you have just contributed to the vast collection.

Witchcraft for men! Rubbish. What risible bloody foolish guff! Where on earth did you learn that from?

The Lodge is very much an enjoyable place where gentlemen gather on a social basis, and it is certainly not “a religion built around Baphomet, a demon.” You ought to be embarrassed with yourself for promulgating such utter pathetic nonsense, particularly in a public forum such as this.

I wouldn’t normally expound on Freemasonry in this fashion, but I feel it is now important to defend this wonderful Institution in the face of such an unwarranted and unfair cheap attack, both for your edification and to assist others in understanding that which you clearly have not understood. And, as is the case whenever a Freemason speaks, these views are my own and they do not necessarily reflect the views of other Freemasons.

Freemasonry, as a philosophy, is all about building a man’s Character — something that is all too uncommon amongst today’s “self-improvement” ethos.

It is about developing a strong code of personal Ethics, one which can be relied upon under all circumstances; it is about telling the Truth and eschewing lies and falsehoods. It is about being trustworthy and utterly reliable, and being able to keep your Word no matter what. It is about giving of one’s self to causes larger than one’s own selfish purposes. It is about learning one’s true place in the Universe, if this weren’t already apparent, and about constantly refining and improving and perfecting one’s Character: from being rough and unsuitable to being true, well-formed and fit-for-purpose.

No man can be a Freemason unless he believes in God, for no man can improve his Character unless he is held accountable to a higher power than himself: a power that that serves the greater good.

No man can become a Freemason unless it be as an adult and of his own free will. Masons do not recruit non-Masons: in order to be a Freemason a man must ask to join. From there he is fully informed of what he is about to get himself into, and he is always free to change his mind. Nobody is forced to join and,, more importantly, nobody is kept as a member against their own will.

A Freemason is never asked to do anything or to commit to anything illegal, or immoral, or contrary to his first responsibilities to his family, his employers, and his Country. Freemasons are encouraged to strive to be model citizens and good fathers, husbands, friends, colleagues, and members of their community.

And, as a welcome side-effect. Freemasonry is about learning all about Leadership and how to conduct one’s self in an orderly and respectful manner. It is a Fraternity in the truest sense of the term, and the friendships and social bonds that Freemasons develop last a lifetime and survive all manners of trials and tribulations.

It is also one of the very few Institutions that remain which only permit men to join. Some people see this as a mysogynistic throw-back to days long best forgotten, others see it as a part of its antiquarian charm. It’s actually neither: it is a practical recognition of the fact that men are different to women. We tend to think differently, we reason differently, we learn differently, we communicate differently, and we relate to each other differently. And we interact with each other differently when there are women present.

Men are neither better nor inferior to women, we are merely equal but not identical. We like it that way and we see no need tor this to change. Ever. And so Freemasonry is one of those things that men do that women do not.

Men are made in God’s Image, and because we are imperfect this gives us an onerous responsibility to improve and to aspire to His high standards. Freemasonry is one of many practical aids that help us, as men, to achieve His high calling. In this sense it is a valuable aid and supplement to, and not a replacement for, one’s Religion — which is an entirely separate matter altogether, to kept private and not discussed amongst Freemasons.

Politics, too, is a private matter which is similarly not discussed amongst Freemasons: so much for these Conspiracy theories! It’s a bit tough to plan World Domination and the New World Order when politics and religion are among the few subjects that are banned from Lodge!

Freemasonry is “a guy thing” and it is still OK to be a man , even in today’s effete, effeminate, self-indulgent and sissified world. Real Men are Freemasons, and Freemasons are Real Men.

It is entirely fitting and appropriate for Freemasonry to be a subject of discussion for “The Art of Manliness”, and I think this podcast was a brilliant idea.

That is all.

10 Nathan Bendel April 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm

@Andy – Excellent points brother. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

@Mike, Ben, and Rick – It seems to me you’ve been misinformed by the plethora of inaccurate information on the web. Before becoming a Freemason, I spent 8 years researching the organization. For a while, I also believed that Freemasonry was an evil cult. After a while I began to separate truth from fiction and fairy tale from reality. One of the websites that assisted in this challenge was http://www.masonicinfo.com. That site is dedicated entirely to dispelling the myths about Freemasonry. I’ve been a Mason for 4 years now and I can assure you, none of the things you have been led to believe are true. I am a Christian as well as a Mason and have found no reason to believe the two are not compatible.

If anyone has any questions about Freemasonry, you can email me: nsb at sysninja dot com

11 Derek April 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

What is so funny about Christians is that they hold up the Founding Fathers as paragons of Christian virtue, while at the same time condemning as Satanic the organization that many of them belonged to. You can’t have it both ways I’m afraid!

PS-Check out this crazy Satan worshipper!

http://wideshut.co.uk/images/host/images/08744505411027935415.jpg

12 Thomas L. April 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm

The “principles [of Masonic associations] have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.” – Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI
(see: http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/masons1.htm )

I assume all men of good faith will agree that there’s nothing manly about sinfulness.

13 George April 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

@Andy : Being a Mason myself, I can say you have it pretty much to a T.

@Thomas : Masons and the Church have a long history of not playing well with each other; more so on the part of the church. However, the only true connection that freemasonry has to the church in modern masonry is that to be a member you must find belief in a supreme being. So devout Catholics; god. You are not shunned for being of any religion. Freemasonry isn’t a religion. It requires you to believe in a god because what else would you have to fear for committing a wrongful act against freemasonry if you didn’t believe in god. If you are a god-fearing person, then you probably aren’t a scumbag.

@ All : Don’t go purely by what you read on the internet. If you are curious, ask a Mason. It might even be something you are interested in.

Good day fellow brothers.

14 Adelaide April 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Gentlemen,

I’m not going to debate whether or not Freemasonry is a religion or not. I’m simply going to offer some information to any Catholic men reading this. Catholics cannot become Freemasons. Although Freemasons do welcome Catholics, the Catholic Church does not allow it’s members to become Freemasons. It is a grave sin and can lead to ex-communication. However, a great Catholic men’s fraternity alternative is the Knights of Columbus. It is a Catholic-only, mens-only fraternity that is approved by the Catholic Church. It’s quite wonderful. Cheers!

15 Greg Elliott April 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm

As Mr. Andy Cawston, and every brother of the Masons knows, Freemasonry is NOT just for men only. Eastern Star is for the women and there is a chapter/branch for the children. It’s a family organization. I’m a non-member, but a Union Master Brick Mason and I know many fine members of this great fraternity (my ex-wife has been a member since childhood). Masonry is a wide and spanning subject. Be careful how you speak of ANY Mason. My trade is one of the very oldest job’s on the planet, masons take great pride in our accomplishments over the centuries in helping you have better conditions at your job. In building structures that will stand the tests of time in every corner of the planet, for the betterment of the occupants and not our selves. Much like what the Freemason’s attempt to do at every meeting. Building better men (members) for your community, that can stand the tests of time (life). The ever watching eye sees all of us. Members and Non-members. Gregory Elliott journeyman bricklayer, International Union of Bricklayers, Local 4 Chapter 11
2B1-Ask1

16 Greg April 6, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Great program. Br. Bob is a bright guy. I don’t think you can separate the idea of the American male masculine from the development of Freemasonry.

17 Jeff April 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Real men don’t do the right thing because they’re afraid of the consequences; real men do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Fear of the almighty is, frankly, childish at best. Fear of punishment from a god is no different than “wait til your daddy comes home.”

I freely and fully admit that I don’t have all the answers. I am greatly bothered, however, that so many use a fear of some eternal punishment as the reason behind the choices they make. I would rather do what I can to make my small corner of the world a slightly better place, regardless of reward for being right, or punishment for doing wrong.

18 Anthony Osei-Tutu April 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Wow, such strong opinions. That’s good. I am a Catholic mason. If I had to choose between the two, I would choose Catholicism in a second. I never see why I would have to though since they’re both totally different. To me it would be like choosing between socks and pizza. I dream of the day when the my Church realizes it has errored in its opinion on Freemasonry.

As to what Masonry offers to the study of Manhood. Masonry tells each man to seek out the true definition of manhood, and to judge himself by a standard of Virtue.

There are four cardinal Virtues, (Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude). Of these four Prudence is the one that shapes all the other ones. Prudence, the ability to make sound decisions, is the Key Virtue.

Virtue comes from the Latin word, Virtus. Virtus means Strength and/or Manliness. So we can see that Prudence is the foundation of all Manliness.

19 Andy Cawston April 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

(again, as a Freemason these are my own personal views, which may/may not coincide with the views of Freemasonry as a whole; I am speaking in my private capacity and not on behalf of The Brotherhood.)

@ThomasL — what you say is true: there is nothing manly about sinfulness. Fortunately, there is nothing sinful about being a Freemason. If there were, I would not belong to it.

@Greg Elliot — Certainly, the Order of the Eastern Star is a fine organization which is designed to cater specifically for women, and it appears to be quite popular over there in the US. Its members, being female, aren’t Masons and neither would they claim to be.

There are some organizations that pretend to be masonic which do allow women to become “masons”. They are not “regular” in any sense of the term, their members are not Masons, and nor are their organizations in amity with Freemasonry.

@Jeff — your sentiments about “doing the right thing for the right reasons” are admirable, and I take it from your comments that you are probably an atheist. I believe it is an over-simplification to conclude that those of us who believe in God and who are accountable to him do so out of fear of everlasting punishment.

I’d like to think we do so for many of the same reasons that you have given: because it is the right thing to do. As well, we serve God because it is a pleasure to do so: in so doing we are exercising our Free Will in making a choice, and by doing so we are in a small way a reflection of Him. In much the same way, every stone and tile in a beautiful cathedral is a direct reflection of the Architect that designed the building.

God thereby becomes a standard to which we are accountable to: we either reflect His ideals properly, or we are flawed and need to correct and improve. Fear of punishment doesn’t really enter into this equation at all.

@Adelaide — you are mistaken. Catholics can and do indeed become Freemasons. I know this for a fact because I know Freemasons who espouse Catholicism as their Faith. Freemasonry does not bar Catholics from joining.

What you probably meant to say is that Freemasons are not permitted to be Catholics because The Pope believes Freemasonry to be a sin. Freemasons who become Catholics are expected by the Church to renounce Freemasonry, and Catholics who become Freemasons do so on peril of excommunication if they are “found out” by their priests. That is, as I understand it, the true state of affairs.

(It does give me pause to wonder whom the The Pope believes built the Vatican and all those Catholic cathedrals and churches and other church buildings during the Middle Ages, if not Masons. In which case I can only wonder at his reasons for objecting to our Brotherhood. No matter, he does object and that’s his prerogative.)

As you have said, the Knights of Columbus is a fine Fraternity for Catholic men, and they do alot of good work.

@Anthony — Well said, Brother!

20 Julio April 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm

At the risk of placing myself in the central point of a flame war, on the topic of Catholicism and Masonry:
1) Catholics become irregular — and subject to excommunication “ferendae sententiae” (if they get caught) if they join freemasonry (CIC 1374) yet, at the same time
2) Freemasonry as targeted by the Catholic Church is a very different beast (no pun intended) than freemasonry as known in the US. I am quite certain that others in this forum can add data to refine this but, very broadly it goes as this: Scottish tradition is non-partisan, and requires belief in a supreme Being; French tradition permits atheists inside it, historically, has had a very intense political involvement, and, arguably, played a part in anti-Catholic persecutions (e.g. Spain ir Mexico in the 19th and early 20th centuries). US freemasonry is mostly of the Scottish tradition.
As a Catholic in the US I wouldn’t join Freemasonry out of general principle — if you don’t want to follow the rules don’t play the game. Yet, for the US, I wouldn’t call the Spanish Inquisition in Catholics to join a lodge. As right now, it is more a normative issue (like eating fish) than a really moral one (say, adultery). In other countries it may be a different issue.

21 Adelaide April 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

@Anthony Osei-Tutu: Reasons Catholics cannot become Freemasons. It’s rather long and a bit dense, but it provides a lot of info and understanding.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09771a.htm

@Andy Cawston: I did indeed say that Freemasons allow Catholics to join, but I also noted that the Catholic Church does not allow Catholics to become Freemasons. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some Catholics from joining the Freemasons. Excommunication is the penalty for a Catholic who joins, whether or not he is “found out.” Excommunication is not dished out by a priest that discovers a Catholic is a Freemason. A man excommunicates HIMSELF. A priest can only declare what has already happened. So he is no longer Catholic if he is a Freemason, even if no one else knows. Fortunately, he can be a Catholic in communion with the Church if he goes to confession and quits the Freemasons.

Also, whether or not Freemasons built churches is a moot point. It is the organization that the Church denounces.

Please understand that I’m not writing this to attack you or anyone else here, or Freemasonry in general. I am simply supplying information for the Catholic readers of this wonderful blog. Whether you like it or not, or agree or not, Catholicism and Freemasonry are incompatible. You must choose one or the other. If you decide to choose both, then you have chosen Freemasonry and are no longer a Catholic. Thems the facts, take em or leave em.

Brett, sorry to put a damper on your post. I really do love this site, and I think a men’s group is a great idea, which is why I encourage Catholic men to join the Knights of Columbus or Opus Dei or another such organization. Cheers!

22 Dan April 7, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I have a great grandfather who was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite mason and a Rabbi and I have been interested in the brotherhood since I spoke to him about it as a child. I was a founding father of a college fraternity, and want to continue in an organization that mirrors such things.

My viewpoint on this whole religion argument is thus: Freemasonry teaches brotherhood and personal betterment, as well as giving praise to a creator being, however you may personally view that power. Most Religions seem to teach adherence to strict laws and continually have mortals (who break many of those laws themselves) condemning others for arbitrary things that don’t even affect them.

23 Matt A April 7, 2010 at 11:30 pm

That was an excellent interview, Brett. I always enjoy the podcasts, and this was one of the best. Robert Davis is a great man with an incredible amount of knowledge.

24 Eric D. April 8, 2010 at 5:58 am

I just discovered this website and I was bragging about it to some friends at my parish, but now I have to caution them. freemasons and the Catholic Church have absolutely NO common ground and every Catholic man should steer clear of anything that promotes the freemasons. http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_le13hg.htm

25 Ivan Durakov April 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

Anyone care to respond with a “Christianity and American Manhood” article? If we’re going to bring religion onto these page, let’s bring more than just freemasonry, and give everyone a fair hearing.

26 Sergio Vega April 8, 2010 at 8:56 am

To all those who are arguing on the subject, I must say i do agree those of you who have instructed others in not believing everything they have read on the web about Masonry, but I will say this.
My great grandfather was a 33rd degree Freemason, and what I witnessed in his days of being a mason, I saw many things that did not sit well with me. I am aware of what those who become members have to go through, as I study Masonry myself so that I may distinguish myself from those who only read the info they have on the web.
As of my studies of the occult as well, I see many similarities between the two. To those of you who are a part of lodges, I encourage you to study the dealings of the occult and you will begin to see what I see that takes place.

27 Joseph April 8, 2010 at 9:48 am

I used to support this blog without reservation. Goodbye iPhone app, goodbye blog link, goodbye Facebook fandom, goodbye RSS feed.

28 Zach April 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

I can’t believe how upset people are about this. The site isn’t the “Christian Art of Manliness” or “Catholic Art of Manliness,” so don’t be surprised if something on here you don’t agree with.

I’m not a Mason, but I’ve researched the movement a lot during my undergrad thesis. A lot of the stuff that Christians have to say about Masonry is a bunch of crap. Like one commentor noted above, many of the Founders of the U.S. were Masons. There are Masonic motifs on our currency and in our capitol’s architecture. Many of the meetings that helped establish the government occurred in Masonic lodges. So according to the logic of Christians, George Washington and Ben Franklin were devil worshipers.

And I understand the disagreement Catholics have with Freemasonry. It’s part of their doctrine, but guess what? The Knits of Columbus is just a Catholic friendly version of Freemasonry. Some Catholic priest back in 1882 (over 100 years after Freemasonry was founded) saw the benefits of a fraternal organization gave to men (like Freemasonry and the Odd Fellows) and decided to start the group. It mimics Freemasonry in a lot of aspects. Special titles like “Supreme Knight,” advancements called “degrees” (just like Masons), symbolic rituals that go along with those degrees (just like Masons), special clothing worn by members (just like Masons).

So Catholics, quit the bitching. If it weren’t for Freemasonry, you wouldn’t have the Knits of Columbus and your cool pirate hats.

29 Kyle F. April 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

I think posts like these are beneficial in separating the wheat from the chaff as far as readership goes. If the discussion of a men’s fraternal organization is so offensive it makes your unsubscribe from the whole site, you really had no business being part of something called the Art of MANLINESS anyway.

As Zach says very well, this is not a religious site. And Freemasonry is not a religion. So why demand that it align with your beliefs?

I would highly recommend that these offended brethren read one of my favorite AoM articles:

http://artofmanliness.com/2009/12/01/amusing-ourselves-out-of-our-manhood/

Here’s the best quote:

“The Narrowing of Man’s Worldview

Whenever we have a controversial post here on AoM, I’m always dismayed by one kind of comment: the person that announces that because they disagree with or don’t like the article, they are unsubscribing from site. Now I’m not dismayed by these kinds of comments because I’m worried about the fate of AoM; the site is doing just fine. No, I find these kinds of comments alarming because of how indicative they are of a more general and wholly disappointing cultural trend. They vividly reveal the way in which many men in today’s society truly believe that the world revolves around them.

Unsubscribing from a blog because you disagree with a single article absolutely befuddles me. In what universe could any publication whether it be a blog, newspaper, magazine, or television show possibly produce daily content that exactly aligns with one’s own interests? And the more important question is, why would you want it to?

During the early days of the internet, the web was heralded as a new kind of forum, a place where the free exchange of ideas would be unrestricted and people could interact and engage with all sorts of opinions and views. Unfortunately, what has happened is that the internet has instead been used to form narrower and narrower communities, smaller and smaller niches of like-minded individuals who enjoy having their preconceived notions confirmed and their egos stroked.

Such an approach to life would leave our forbearers rolling over in their graves. Whether in the French salons or the American juntos, men of old actively sought out the opinions of those who disagreed with them and used these interactions to have a spirited but respectful debate about the issues. Traveling lectures were some of the most popular sources of entertainment, and a speaker would be allowed 3 hours to make his case. Another speaker would then be given the same amount of time to give a rebuttal. People did not leave after the speaker with which they agreed had finished; they equally relished hearing the counterargument. They understood that the intellect is not built simply with the things we are already preconceived to like, and that that which infuriates us can be just as good, sometimes even better, for the mind.”

30 Chad April 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Freud? Jung??? Two of the least credible names in psychology.

31 Shmikey April 8, 2010 at 6:02 pm

@Zach, I hate to burst your know-it-all bubble, but the KofC were founded to secure the lively hood of immigrant Catholics who were in need of financial support. It is nothing like Free Masonry. It’s purpose is to encourage Catholic men in faith and charity.

32 Shmikey April 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm

As a Catholic, I understand that we have a disagreement here, but the problem that the Catholic Church has with Catholics being Free Masons has to do with the idea of relativism, and the Church see that the idea of everyone having their own idea of who God is as repugnant in light of the Gospel. I am not going to stop reading this blog just because of something as silly as this, but I take what is good, and know better than to get worked up about something as silly as this.

33 kafkaBro April 8, 2010 at 9:59 pm

A different perspective:

Hi Brett,

Sorry that your post turned into a flame war. I’ve got a conjecture that I haven’t seen mentioned among the comments. I’ve noticed that joining men’s clubs such as the Freemasons are mentioned a lot on this website. I do agree with Brett, that it is important to for men to have their own personal space. I disagree that this space is shrinking to a level that we should be concerned about. Personally, I think that as long as cars and computers exist and men are CREATING (hyper link to the fantastic consumerism article here) by modifying and fixing, you will always have the workshop or the garage. Freemasonry is mentioned as a way of taking back the male space. From what I’ve read, AoM describes Freemasonry as a good atmosphere for men to get together and has certain techniques for person development.

Though, Freemasonry presents itself as a system for personal development, I feel that this is a generalization that people seem to either take for granted or contest. Why are we contesting or supporting Freemasonry in general? Personally, I think it is naive to think that the entire Freemasonry organization is a certain way. I’m sure that the character building capabilities and the type of people that are members would vary greatly from lodge to lodge. In fact, I would hope that the personalities would vary, if they didn’t I would tend to think that such an organization was a cult.

Personally, after joining a fraternity and having a negative experience dealing with frat drama and group think, I am not going to anchor myself down to a social group anytime soon. For me, fraternities are an artificial structure that causes tension and drama. However, I have seen similar rigid structures work very well in a spiritual context, for example during a session of zen buddhist meditation and during a Catholic retreat. However in both instances, I had to great fortune of finding a religious center with staff who really spoke to me.

Freemasonry in general is probably not statistically different than men in the US in general. I would say that anyone suggesting they are better or worse than the rest of the US are naive.

34 Eric D. April 9, 2010 at 6:40 am

Kyle F, you stated, “As Zach says very well, this is not a religious site. And Freemasonry is not a religion. So why demand that it align with your beliefs?” Freemasonry has been an enemy of my faith since its start. This is a deeply deeply religious issue with myself and with those who take their faith in Christ seriously. Just because freemasonry isn’t considered a religion doesn’t mean its not a religious issue. The fact that people have different views than I do doesn’t bother me until their views are to destroy my Church. Albert Pike can explain my apprehension in his frightening book “Morals and Dogma”.
Freemasons don’t learn freemasonry by studying. They learn from oral traditions that are passed on as one moves up the ladder. Anyone involved with freemasonry who doesn’t admit that they venerate the “angel of light” or “lucifer” is either ignorant, mislead, or a liar. There is more than enough evidence to support this from the words of high ranking masons.

35 Angus S-F April 10, 2010 at 3:02 am

Enjoy the blog. Please change the name of your MP3s from “episodeNN.mp3″ to something more descriptive like “Art_of_Manliness_NN.mp3″ so they show up as a recognizable name in my podcatcher ;-)

36 JP April 10, 2010 at 11:30 am

Brett,

Great interview! I fully intend to buy a copy of Mr. Davis’ book soon, and hope it contains his descriptions of the masculine archetypes and his views of their appearance and presence through America’s history.

There were two points I wish he could have discussed further with regard to the development of the mature masculine: the role of the church (he briefly touched on this toward the end of the interview), and the role of the military (not addressed at all). Regarding the latter, he addressed the changes to our society, specifically revolving around the Great Depression and World War 2, but didn’t discuss what role the military played for the boys (young men?) who entered the service, left their families and came back mature (or relatively more mature) men. The social competition dynamic is interesting, but for those who ended up serving a career in the military, I suspect the military played a significant and positive role in developing young men into mature men. I’d offer that regardless of our society’s changes over the last three decades or so, the military remains a place where boys become men, and very often mature men in the context of the interview.

Perhaps Mr. Davis can return for a part 2?

Warm regards.

37 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Freemasonry will always be a dodgy area. Just do a Ben Franklin though and get groups of like minded friends to meet up and improve each other, the only rule being that nobody can be of a fixed opinion about anything. That, my friends, is awesome :).

38 Scott F. April 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I feel sorry for the people that hear something they disagree with and fly off the handle. If you are opposed to Masonry then just move past this and enjoy the rest of what this site offers.

39 Dan April 11, 2010 at 1:59 am

Being a newspaper reporter I’ve covered several events where Freemasons were being honored.

Their bigoted, hate-filled statements about who wasn’t eligible to join their organization were bothersome to me, especially while people think of them as upstanding individuals.

40 Radbodo am Hoog April 11, 2010 at 6:49 am

Would you all please remember the history of the churches?! Burning and torturing people year after year. Destroying a lot and a lot. Giordano Bruno knows what I mean. Compare that with Freemasonry and their history.And don’t whitewash history. Let all those tortured people of all countrys speak to you. The churches have a lot of blood on their hands.

41 Sir Lancelot April 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Zach, the Knights of Columbus are no copy of freemasonry. They’re heirs of a long tradition of Catholic lay orders hailing back to the Middle Ages. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Knights of Malta among others.

42 Baron Korf April 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Here are the facts for Catholics:

The main reason Catholics cannot join the Masons or other organizations like them is because there is a ban against the secret oaths. Basically if the Masonic lodge got rid of the oaths, or made them public affairs, there would be less of a case against membership.

Now historically, the Masonic Lodge started in Europe during the so-called Enlightenment and was idealogically opposed the the pervailing governments and the Catholic Church. Regardless of which side you take it cannot be denied that for the first few centuries they were irreconcilable. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, the openly Masonic government of Mexico made it illegal to be a Catholic and produced a bloody tally of martyrs (see Bl Miguel Pro). The founders of the United States government were members and sympathizers of the Lodge and shared their distaste for the Catholics, but were far more tolerant than their European brothers.

Most of this anti-Catholicism died out in the USA, at least as a driving force. So as I said above, the ban on Masory now is a matter of oaths and secret societies. It doesn’t mean that the Masons (or other secret societies like Skull and Bones) are bad or good, but this ruling does bind the consciences of all Catholics. It may be a silly rule (it is not doctrine), but it is still a binding rule and the Church has the authority to make such rules according to the Nicene Creed which we pray on Sunday.

Any Catholic that is a member of the masons needs to quit and go to confession for disobeying the Church. From there you can try to convince the Holy See to reconsider, but I doubt they will. To do that write to the Papal Nuncio here in the USA Archbishop Pietro Sambi. As our Nuncio he is required to at least hear your grievence.

43 Ben (My first comment) April 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

As a MAN–I decide what I want to read, and I pass up what does not interest me. I don’t care if the Masons and Catholic church reconcile their differences, or they excommunicate each other. There are real men both places, and I do not/will not belong to either. I don’t believe any balanced thinking man in either organization should consider me an enemy, if I choose to remain separate.
There is a lot from this site I enjoy because it is one of very few which wants to do away with the “Dagwood and the tool-man” image. It’s the Art of manliness I appreciate for the majority of their articles. Humor is fine, but it has a limited space. Willingly setting ourselves up as weak individuals unwilling to grow and change is degrading to men everywhere. Try some “longsuffering let’s get-along,” and appreciate the things relevant for “manhood,” before attacking one another’s institutions.

44 Tubal April 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Ben,

I believe it would be best if you would listen to your own comments:

“Try some “longsuffering let’s get-along,” and appreciate the things relevant for “manhood,” before attacking one another’s institutions.”

As your first comment was an attack of Freemasons and Freemasonry as a whole.

45 Cleophus May 1, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Masonic Bretheren,
Remember your oaths, and stop this public argument regarding the craft.

46 Levi June 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Cleophus, thank you. I love hearing what I tell my Brethren as Master of the Lodge from another source. I’d love to be able to contact you and hear your thoughts, as to better inform myself.

47 Steve July 20, 2010 at 11:01 am

@Sergio Vega

What you consider the occult, I do study and have found to be the basis of Catholicism and of course Christianity. Do you think Easter only came to be because of the birth of Christ? Easter as we know it today takes many “symbols” from other religions. Even the date of Easter is based on the Spring Equinox, not Jesus’ real birth date.

I have found many similarities between the old religions and today’s Christian religions.

48 Andrew August 3, 2010 at 6:12 am

@Steve – Easter represents the resurrection, Christmas is the birth

@ Eric D. – Pike wrote “Morals and Dogma” as a scathing social comentary which also includes criticism of the church’s misdeeds as well, not a how to guide to freemasonry

49 Ken Murnane August 3, 2010 at 7:40 am

I think its funny to see people open there mouth about something they have completely no knowledge of. Becomming a free mason was the best thing I ever did.
Ben and Mike you both should become free masons so you become better men and not spread horrible rumers and you your self will see just how stupid the comments you said really are. Its almost funny but really its a little scarey to think people like you are out there.

50 Rev. William F Camp August 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

True Freemasonry was started in the 1700′s by two ministers of the gospel of JesusChrist ,Rev. James Anderson and Rev.Jean Theophle Desaguliers. For a man to be able to join he had to believe in the one and true God,and the holy bible ( KIng James ) was the only bible that could be put on the alter in their Lodges.
There are lodges that do not hold to these rules,so they are not true Masonic Lodges.
The Grand lodge of Ohio and Rockton Lodge 316 a blue lodge now allows any man of any religion (and their god ) to be a member ) The Grand lodge of West Va. issued an edict on April 19,2010 withdrawing fraternal recognition of the Grand lodge of Ohio.
I have many old books put out by the TRUE masonic orders which state the masomic order was a Christian order. if you wish to know more on this e mail me.
Not A true Masonic Lodge is a Christian Lodge. Rochton Lodge 316 and the Grand Lodge of Ohio no longer are true lodges of Masonry.

Rev. William F Camp
3569 Keswick Dr.
Kent Ohio 44240
E Mail WilliCa3@aol.com

51 Anthony August 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Freemasonry is an Occult religion. All you Freemasons that disagree should really read Albert Pike’s book “Morals and Dogma” You’ll find some interesting quotes about the great architect of the universe being Lucifer and also some quotes about masons of the higher degrees deliberately deceiving lower level masons.

52 Robert December 21, 2012 at 12:56 am

I realize that I’m late to the party (someone just pointed me in the direction of this blog), but I wanted to clarify a couple of points for anyone who comes along later still.

First, various popes have condemned Freemasonry but they have generally been very vague about why, saying that Masons simply “…are in a state of grave sin…” is no explanation at all. There is no Biblical standard for this prohibition, so the Vatican just blankly condemns it.

Second, the original prohibition of 1736 was issued by the _Inquisition_ — hardly a body known for its good sense (or for that matter, for being Christ-like, unless you believe that Jesus would condemn “witches” to be executed. Remember: Jesus allegedly stopped the stoning of an accused prostitute, telling her accusers “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Are popes without sin? Hardly.

The pope who issued this ban was Clement XII, a fabulously wealthy lawyer and eldest son of a marquis, who purchased his prelature from Pope Clement XI for 30,000 silver coins. During his time as pope, Clement’s Inquisitors imprisoned, tortured and killed hundreds of innocent people while he busied himself enlarging his palaces. Does this sound to you like a man who is qualified to be a moral authority or the spokesman for Jesus on earth? I certainly don’t think so. Jesus was concerned with helping the poor and vulnerable, not amassing and spending fortunes on his own luxury and oppressing the vulnerable. Why should Jesus’ statement that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven” not apply to Clement XII too?

There are really three reason why popes have condemned (and feared) Freemasonry. First, they could not abide the thought of a man swearing an oath to keep secrets that he would not reveal in confession, where you’re supposed to reveal all. Second, they feared Freemasonry’s ability to transcend the religious beliefs that usually divide men, and its treating all faiths with equal respect, rather than holding up Catholicism as being privileged above all other faiths. But the main reason is because the Church enjoyed (and still enjoys) such immense influence over society that they fear competition from any other group. And although Freemasonry is much smaller a group than the Catholic Church, and nowhere near as fabulously rich as the Vatican, the Vatican cannot afford to allow any group to challenge its authority and primacy.

Anyone who simply relinquishes their personal responsibility and their ability to make sensible decisions to an institution (whether it’s Freemasonry, Catholicism or Scientology, for that matter) is a fool and nothing one might say will shake them out of their sheep-like state. But Catholics who parrot what some VERY fallible man in Rome might say aren’t going to convince anyone else who still has a functioning sense of reason. And remember: as “infallable” moral arbiters go, popes condemned Galileo for (correctly) promoting heliocentrism because they claimed it was “against god and nature” (oops!), Alexander VI fathered at least 7 illegitimate children while he was pope, Sixtus III and Julius IV were known to have had homosexual relations while popes.

In short: while the pope is the nominal head of the Catholic Church, Catholics would be wise to not take everything he says as “gospel”; history has proved that false (and often embarrassingly so) too many times.

53 Andreas November 25, 2013 at 8:35 am

@Andy your first comment was a perfect representation of what a Masonic brother should be so well said.
In general, a lot of people don’t have the slightest idea of what freemasonry is and seem to get their information from a 1980′s National Inquirer……your duty to yourself is to educate yourself the best way you know how but with honesty.

54 Dan December 4, 2013 at 9:52 am

To expand on Robert’s point, there was a letter sent, privately but leaked, that relaxed the abosute ban in 1974. In 1981, there was a memo sent to members of clergy denying it, and reaffirming the absolute ban. In 1983, and this is key, the Catholic Church changed it’s Code of Canon Law to remove the word “Freemasonry” and similar dirivatives, formally removing the absolute ban. However, that same year, the Vatican reaffirmed the absolute ban (even though it’s not listed in the law). In 2000, Father Thomas Anslow, a Judicial Vicar, verbally indicated a more permissive and relaxed attitude. He rescinded in 2002.

Basically, what I’m getting at, is the Catholic Church has been known to change its mind on the issue several times over. We’re also talking about the current pope that, when asked about gays, he responded “Who am I to judge?” Keep that in mind, since homosexuality, as perceived by most, is written as a sin in the Bible.

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