The Masonic Trowel

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more light #100

A Lodge

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota


The Lodge
By Brother Joseph Fort Newton

A Lodge is a body of men so organized that they move and work together as if many men had but one body. The Operative Freemasons were under necessity to work together as a body because they were engaged on the same task, at the same time, under one supervision. They knew that nowhere, nor under any circumstances, could a public building be erected if each man worked alone; nor was it a mystery that they had a room for themselves, because they had to think together, decide together, know their places and designs together, and to receive at one time instructions for their labor. Insofar as they were a body of men of flesh-and-blood, working together because it was impossible to work alone, we also in Speculative Freemasonry are a body of flesh-and-blood men in an actual and literal body, and not in any abstract or unreal sense, because ours is the same Lodge as theirs.

If we say that it is a symbolic Lodge it is not because we have turned the Lodge itself into a symbol, but because we as Speculative Masons do not make the same use of it that Operative Masons did. In one sense it is impossible to put this meaning into words, because to possess it fully and for himself a man must enter into it, and become a member, and learn it by experience; in another sense it is not difficult to put it into words, though they would fall short; if expressed in words the meaning of the Lodge when symbolically used would be expressed in some such fashion as:"A Masonic Lodge was a body of men. The men formed a body in order to do their work in architecture. Craftsmen could not act adversely or independently of each other when constructing a building. This necessity for working as a body was true of Operative Masons; it is also true of any men engaged in any work. To be in association, to act collectively, for many men to be as if they were one man, is everywhere necessary in work. If you cannot sustain yourself, or give your family the food, housing, furniture, clothing, and medicine which they must have in order to live, if to have those things it is for you a question of life or death, then you must be able to work together with other men, to be in association with them, to cooperate with them, to go through the days with them peaceably and harmoniously, to be in a brotherhood with them, to lodge with them, because not otherwise can you continue to work, and without work you will cease to be.

"If any man thinks that he can be a lone wolf, if he believes that brotherhood, and fraternalism, and friendliness are Utopian ideals and luxuries of sentiment or unreal dreams, he is a moron or a fool. The brotherhood of men in work is not a dream but a stark reality, not a vision but a necessity, for without it any man would starve to death and peoples would perish. Freemasonry does not hold brotherhood, which is membership in a body of men at work, before us as a desirable but remote ideal, hanging in the skies of some unattainable future, but knows it to be a necessity, and not only a necessity but one which may even be for some men a cruel necessity, because it is an iron law of things. We are not Brothers because we hope to be but because we already are; we are not Brothers because we desire to be, but because we must be."

The Lodge itself is the form taken by brotherhood in Freemasonry, so is it also Masonic sociability. Masonic fraternalism, Masonic association, is not a frame-work or background, is not an opportunity or occasion, but is itself what these things are. In substance as well as in form it is unlike any other body of men, certainly it is not to be confused with collectivism, socialism, or communism, which are either economic or political forms of association. It is not consistent with individualism if by individualism is meant that competition in which men prey upon each other; but it is consistent with competition if by competition is meant that emulation of who best can work and best agree.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014