square and compass, freemasonry, S&C, freemason information

Ancients Versus Moderns

Lynn stepped outside of the lodge building to have a cigarette. It was a cold winter night, the temperature had dipped below freezing and there was snow on the ground. The entire town seemed to be silent. There was no wind and the light from the full moon was reflecting off of the snow and softly illuminating the world around him. The cold air on his skin was refreshing and the beautiful scene made him feel at peace.

This peace was a welcomed feeling. Lynn had joined this lodge because they brought in Masonic historians and lecturers quite frequently. This evening’s speaker has chosen to expound upon the origins of Freemasonry. In particular, he had discussed the histories of the Ancients and the Moderns and had attempted to prove which Masonic movement was the “true” Masonry. The subject had produced a fairly heated discussion among the Brethren who believed that they were experts on the issue. Lynn hadn’t wanted any part of it and so he made a point to escape for a few moments before dinner was served and further discussion ensued.

What made the subject somewhat bothersome to him was that he wasn’t unfamiliar with the argument. Lynn had read several papers and even a couple of books on the history of Freemasonry. He had read works on the subject which had been written by a plethora of authors. Some of those authors were Freemasons and others were not. He had found it frustrating that the only conclusion that he could develop was that the number of theories about the origins of Freemasonry was directly proportional to the number of authors that created them. Only one thing was for certain: the jury was definitely still out on the subject.

Lynn puffed on his cigarette and stared at the red light which was being emitted from its end. Then he looked up to see the blue glow of the moon highlighting the white stones which composed the lodge building. The building was well built and all of the stones were nicely hewn and sat square in the edifice. The structural integrity of the lodge building seemed to be a monument to the solidarity of the order which it represented. A visual manifestation of the fraternity which it housed.

Lynn thought about the men that had built the lodge. He wondered how they had raised the money to construct it. He thought about the time that it took to quarry and hew the stones and assemble the structure out of those perfect ashlars. He wondered what men had been employed in this noble and glorious undertaking. How did they learn to perform their craft so proficiently?

Suddenly, he had an epiphany.

It didn’t matter how those men learned their craft. Some had probably learned how to construct such a building without any formal training. They had went to work for a mason or a carpenter early in their lives and had learned through experience. Perhaps some were professionally educated and trained and had earned prestigious degrees in their particular vocation. Regardless, they were able, they were competent, and they were experts. Their education did not matter, but the product that they were able to provide did.

“Maybe it doesn’t matter how the Brothers before us learned to be Masons or who was responsible for teaching them,” he thought, “maybe all that matters is what the institution has become and what it represents now.

Lynn put out his cigarette and reentered the lodge building. He noticed that he was a bit peckish and wondered what they were serving for dinner.

Posted in The Euphrates and tagged , .


  1. Ah! Perfection achieved! This argument is only carried forth by those seeking to promote, rather than improve, themselves. Freemasonry is what WE are. The past Freemasons might not have accepted a Black man into Lodge or recognized Prince Hall as legitimate, but I do and so do all other Freemasons I know. Learn from the past, but be not bound by it

  2. Another great article! As my grandmother used to say what is done is done. It matters not how I got someplace. I could have taken the train, arrived in an automobile or taken an airline flight. The point is I am now here. Who cares how I got here?

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