Guy Steele suggested I should also try allowing other noun phrases, such as “two Xs”. He who makes of it a religious belief, falsifies a sentence for antithesis denaturalizes it.
Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light, and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual, or selfish Souls? 861 pages with a 216 page index. Does this seem a bit disingenuous right from the start? Let’s step back a bit before the more complete story. Some anti-Masons are also quite fond of quoting the book by John J. Confederate States of America, and a Freemason.
He was a voracious reader, especially interested in the religions and philosophical systems of ancient cultures, which he saw as having shaped the thinking and codes of morality of people around the world. As a general, he commanded neither white nor black troops, but American Indians. He studied and respected their religious beliefs. Fundamentalist anti-Masons love to condemn all Freemasonry based on the writings and philosophy of Albert Pike. They never say that Pike’s works were written only for the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Masonry, which was the limit of Pike’s Masonic authority. He was the Sovereign Grand Commander of that Masonic body from 1859 until his death in 1891. The Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite in America covers thirty-five southern and western states.
It has about half a million members, or about 20 percent of the total Masonic membership in the United States. That means that about 80 percent of American Masons have little or no knowledge of the work of General Pike. I have found that most Masons have not even heard of him. Pike’s passion – perhaps obsession – was that all men should seek knowledge, or “light. From that light came information and understanding. Some fundamentalists, however, assert that all “light” comes from Jesus, and that any other source of light is anti-Christian, even though the rest of the world continues to use expressions like, “We’ve got to bring this to light,” or, “Can anyone here shed some light on this matter? Light,” in the sense that is used by Pike, means education.
Education is one of those things that most of us think is universally approved, but the anti-Masons take Masonry to task for such emphasis on it, taking the stand that too much secular education can be damaging to a good Christian. They often fall back on the belief of their predecessor fundamentalists of generations ago, who believed that education requires no written work other than Holy Scripture. Yet that scripture itself admonishes Christians to seek knowledge, and totally supports the Masonic dedication to charity. A good summary of Masonic belief. Very few people are aware that in the lecture accompanying the second degree in the symbolic lodge all Masons are encouraged to continue their own education and to gain knowledge in the liberal arts, defined in the older context of that term as grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, astronomy, and geometry. The Masons emphasize the benefits of continuing education, even to the extent that many Masonic charities provide scholarships for deserving students on a nondenominational basis. Pike was convinced that he had benefited greatly from his lifelong studies of other religions and philosophies, because what he had learned gave him a broader understanding of all humankind.
Many of the ancient religions he had studied were gone from the earth, but he was convinced that they had made contributions to later thought and moral systems. In his conviction that wisdom would be gained by learning what others believed, and why they behaved as they did, Albert Pike poured his prodigious knowledge into written works, so that he could share that information. Today, universities offer master’s and doctoral degrees in the comparative study of world religions and in the history of religion. The course of education Pike laid out was in twenty-nine parts, to fit the Scottish Rite system of the 4th through the 32nd degrees. Rather than being taught in pedantic lectures, the information is imparted primarily in ceremonial dramas, which are usually more effective in helping the student to retain what he has learned.
Some of the critics of Masonry cite the degree work, but more find their raw material for Masonic condemnation in Pike’s writings, especially his ponderous Morals and Dogma, an 861-page volume that many Masons own, but few have read. It is not only tedious reading, but is full of Pike’s own perceptions of Masonry. Many Masons will agree with some statements, but there are others that no Mason will ever believe. Pike was a man with an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, and it is only natural that he wanted to share it all. Unfortunately, he had just one outlet that he could count on, and he appears to have wanted to find a place for everything he knew in the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite. The teachings of Masonry are simple and clear.