Posted on Leave a comment

Reconciling Joseph’s Magic & Masonry

There are some active Latter-day Saints who may be surprised to learn about Joseph Smith’s beliefs in magic as well as the connections between freemasonry and LDS Temples to be surprising.  Some will even deny the connection.  Is this something active, believing Latter-day Saints should be concerned about, or can these connections be reconciled?  Clair Barrus will describe how he reconciles Joseph Smith’s history which is surprising to some.

Clair:  So, when people come across uncomfortable church history truths or facts, it’s problematic because we’ve been raised on correlated history, and the internet now provides an opportunity to have unvarnished material to ingest. In the black and white paradigm in which the church presents everything: it’s true or false, it’s right or wrong, then then we have a problem, I think, or there’s a problem. It’s setting people up for a problem and a potential failure. I don’t think it will be that way several generations from now. I think the church is in the midst of trying to adjust to that. But [there are a] the scope of paradigms I don’t care for, and I think there are valid paradigms that work with Joseph Smith and all of these facts of church history that work well. But, black and white, true and false, all that, I think we need to reject that and say, “You know what?” Prophets are human, and they made some mistakes. The idea of a restoration of ancient truths–the way I like to look at it is that Joseph Smith was a brilliant prophet in that he was repurposing the raw materials of the esoteric and the questions about the divine and the mystic and the religious and he was a master at taking these raw ingredients that were right in front of him and building something better, something that spoke better to the people of his time.

So, we have this magic stuff. We have masonry. We have Christianity. I think Joseph takes these and builds something new out of them. I think that is the prophetic, revelatory, creative thing that Joseph Smith does. He builds that and then and then a little bit later, there’s more stuff that is informing him and more building blocks are suddenly visible to him and he takes those and synergistically builds something out of that, and on and on and on. It’s couched in the terminology of restorationism, restoring ancient truths. And perhaps it is, but I think that another way to look at it is that it’s building. It’s using the raw materials to build Mormonism that speaks to people, that helps them reach to the divine to answer the questions that everybody has asked from antiquity. Joseph Smith is providing potential answers for us and helping us as we seek to try to try to figure out what’s going on this planet. Why are we here and what in the world is going on? So that’s kind of how I see it.

So the Masonic Temple connection, to me that’s a repurposing of masonry into something that is more in line with the vision that Joseph Smith continues to uncover and build as he goes through his life.  This is the latest building and refashioning something from his environment into something new that spoke to those people.  And it speaks a lot to a lot of people today, and I think that’s a better way of looking at these things.

Is that how you see it?  Check out our conversation.

Clair Barrus tells how he reconciles Joseph Smith’s use magic & masonry with his understanding of how church history has been traditionally taught.

Don’t miss our other episodes with Clair!

411:  Joseph’s Magical Masonry (Abracadabra)

410:  Masonic Legends & Golden Plates

409:  Different Types of Masonry

408:  Is Book of Mormon anti-Masonic?

407:  Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family

Posted on Leave a comment

Different Types of Freemasonry (Part 4 of 7)

There are many types of masonry.  Freemasonry has broken up into several different organizations.  In our next conversation with Clair Barrus, he will tell us a little bit about these different organizations and how they differ from each other.

Clair:  So it’s a little bit complicated. So the foundational masonry is Craft or Blue Lodge Masonry, that’s the first three degrees. These other things that branch out from that are not above it. This is considered top: Master Mason. There’s three degrees and you end up Master Mason.

There’s York Rite and there’s Scottish Rite masonry. In America, different degrees would kind of get imported over from Europe where masonry was more established and would independently get started up here and there. Then as time went on, people would say, we better organize this group of degrees, and we better organize that group of degrees. So you have a building of what they called York Rite, cried even though there was another York Rite in England, but there’s an Americanized York Rite, and that’s primarily what I talk about. There’s a Scottish Rite that was more popular over there, but that was also here. They all tell similar stories. They all talk about temple. Masonry is all about temple, either temple grounds, or in the temple, itself. It can be different temples, but it’s all about temples.  In York Rite, you have the foundational three degrees, the first three degrees of Craft or Blue Lodge Masonry, it’s called. And then you have a set of degrees called Royal Arch Masonry, another set of degrees called Cryptic Rite Masonry, and another set of degrees called Knights Templar Masonry. So that’s the York Rite, and each of those sets of degrees have interesting things. I think in particular, Royal Arch Masonry and Cryptic Rite Masonry have interesting parallels with Joseph Smith, and may have been influential.

Clair:  So, can I tell you about Cryptic Rite Masonry?

GT:  Yeah.

Clair:  So Cryptic Rite Masonry comes from the word crypt. The rituals and the myth of Cryptic Rite Masonry has to do with Enoch, the prophet Enoch and mount Moriah, which later is where Solomon’s Temple would be built.

Clair:  Now let’s fast forward to Royal Arch Masonry, which is really the story of masonry in about 600 BC.   [This is] about the time that the temple gets destroyed. There are temple ruins. Some people come, going through the temple rubble, masons find a stone lid, which is the lid that Enoch had created, which is the entrance to the cryptic temple. They open up that stone lid, they descend down into there, and there they find the Ark of the Covenant. There are actually nine chambers in this underground temple, and the Ark of the Covenant. So there’s a missing piece of the story. We don’t know how the ark got in there, but it does. This ought to sound familiar to Indiana Jones fans.

GT:  Yes, I was just going to say [that.]

Check out our conversation….

Clair Barrus introduces several different types of masonry.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Clair!

408:  Is Book of Mormon anti-Masonic? (Barrus)

407:  Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation (Barrus)

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family (Barrus)

Posted on Leave a comment

Is Book of Mormon anti-Masonic? (Part 3 of 7)

Historian Dan Vogel said the Book of Mormon was very anti-masonic in one of my previous interviews with him.  Cheryl Bruno disagreed with that notion, saying the Book of Mormon was anti-spurious masonry.  I asked Clair Barrus to weigh in on this issue.  What does he think?

Clair:  There are two forms of masonry, according to George Oliver, who has some fascinating parallels with what Joseph Smith’s Mormonism, in that there’s a spurious masonry, and then there’s pure masonry. The story goes clear back to the time of Adam. Well, God is the original Mason, and he architects the universe, and then he creates Adam.

GT:  So this is a Masonic tale that you’re telling me, right?

Clair:  This is a Masonic tale, yes.  Then he creates Adam and then he tells Adam the true Word, the ineffable word, which is kind of the secretive name of God. He tells Adam, the word.  It’s called in masonry, the word or the ineffable word. Then Adam passes that down, almost kind of like priesthood. He passes it down through his genealogical lines. It goes clear down to the time of Solomon and they end up with it and then and then they lose it. Long story short, the keeper of the word gets murdered and they lose the word and it’s lost. We’ll talk about this word here in a bit. But Cain breaks off and creates a spurious, evil, bad, misappropriated masonry, and he starts this line of adulterated masonry, spurious masonry, if I understand it, right.  I’m oversimplifying, and I hope Cheryl’s not shaking her head, going, “Oh man, Clair’s kind of got it right.” But, this is not my area of expertise.

GT:  When we post this, she can weigh in on it.

Clair: She can weigh in on it, yes. But that’s generally speaking, correct. So now you go to the story of William Morgan, 1826. He is going to publish an exposé of masonry. The masons supposedly freak out. William Morgan goes to jail in Canandaigua just a few miles south of the Smiths. Joseph Smith, Sr. happens to be serving time there for some debt. I think it is debt related issues. Then, later, the Masons bail out William Morgan. When he steps out of jail, they arrest him. They take them up to one of the Great Lakes. They toss him in, so the story goes.  We don’t know the details, but this is kind of story that percolates out.

GT:  The thing that always bugs me is our founding fathers were masons. George Washington was a Mason. I believe Thomas Jefferson was a Mason, like everybody was a Mason. The Constitution used a lot of Masonic principles. So it’s interesting that in 1791, when George Washington is the president until, I don’t remember exactly the year that Andrew Jackson was elected, probably 1828, I believe.

Clair:  Something like that.

GT:  Somewhere around that timeframe. So we go from the founders of our of our nation are good masons to this William Morgan murder, and now they’re public enemy number one.

Clair:  It was an overreaction. Sure. These masons were upset about William Morgan trying to expose their Masonic secrets. But the overreaction was bad and that happens in in the world all the time. Overreaction is often worse than what they’re originally reacting to. So in the Book of Mormon, you have this anti-Masonic stuff popping up.  There’s two ways to interpret it. It’s either anti-masonry, or its anti-spurious masonry.

Check out our conversation….

Anti-Masonic postcard

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Clair Barrus!

407:  Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family