Do You Have a Degree?

Roger A. Kessinger, 32*
P.O. Box 160, Kila, MT  59920 (406) 756-0167

Published in the New Age Magazine (Scottish Rite 
Journal)  June 1987


"Do you have a degree?" I was recently asked at a 
businessmen's luncheon.

Now I was known as a "runner" in my day.  Meaning, I ran 
as soon as I received my high school diploma. So I was 
ready to tell my colleague that my parents did not want 
me to amount to much in life; that I had to support my 
neighbor's widow and 14 kids; that my dog threatened to 
leave home-anything not to admit that I did not have a 

But then a strange thing happened. As I was ready to 
respond that I did not have a degree, a reflection of 
light from my Scottish Rite ring caught my eye. 
Wistfully thinking, I casually replied: "I have several 
degrees. " "Oh, what did you major in?" my colleague 
asked. "Philosophy," I replied. "Where did you attend 
school?" I thought that my game was over when suddenly I 
spoke out and said, "It was a self-study course 
sponsored by the oldest educational institution in the 
world: S.U."

"S.U.?" he said, as he squinted his eyes in full 
concentration. "I can't seem to place that." "Solomon 
University! " came my confident answer. Not wanting to 
appear uninformed, he quickly inquired: "Why did you 
choose philosophy?"

"Because philosophy is the study of the source and 
nature of human knowledge, " I replied. "It includes the 
sciences, liberal arts and religions, yet it often 
transcends human understanding. Sometimes, it is a path 
to God."

Interested, his questions persisted: "Well, what exactly 
did you learn while studying at Solomon University?"

I doubt that he expected my lengthy reply: "I learned 
that man is no idle phenomenon in the universe; that the 
universe itself is not dead; that an omniscient Creator 
oversees and imbues it and everything within it with 
life. "I learned that there is nobility to the human 
drama; that evil appears to get the best of good but 
that God is just, and truth prevails; that for every 
thought and action, there is a corresponding reward from 
a benevolent Creator; and that for hostile acts, there 
is retribution. "I learned that man's justice is 
sometimes a mockery but that God's justice is swift and 
supreme. "I learned that the human race was no mere 
accident and that God is not an abstract thought, but a 
Being as alive and vital as the very air that we 
breathe; that ignorance is darkness and wisdom is light; 
that tyranny of the mind is an oppression as insidious 
and destructive as tyranny of the body; that the soul is 
immortal and beyond man's power to corrupt; that man 
alone has free choice; that liberty demands tolerance 
and vigilance; that God is within man and not without; 
that the true Temple is Man; that God reigns supreme and 
has no adversaries; that the wise will practice faith, 
hope and charity; that love is the supreme law but that 
self-defense is also one of our obligations.

"I learned that throughout time, man has been chained by 
false priests and political tyrants; that man is free to 
soar into the sublime heights with the angels.

"I learned that there are those who would rob youth of 
their manhood to serve their own wicked ends and that 
there are those agencies at work endeavoring to corrupt 
the good and glorify the base. "I learned that God will 
bless and nourish every laudable undertaking; that 
materialism has its rightful place in man's life but it 
should never become the usurper; that despotism has 
risen in all ages, in all civilizations, and that it 
must be slashed and destroyed before it attains its 
odious ends; and that there exists a school of 
instruction thousands of years old sponsored by God and 
His adepts.

"I learned that grammar allows us to speak kind words to 
our fellowmen; that rhetoric enables us to spread God's 
message of love; that logic teaches man that God is 
impartial in His dealings with mankind and that He is 
eminently just; that by arithmetic, we can count our 
blessings, subtract the faults of our fellows, multiply 
our good works, and divide our fortunes; that astronomy 
shows the relationship of man to man, man to the 
universe, and man to God; that music reveals to us how 
to blend discord into harmony; and that geometry proves 
that divine laws laid down by The Great Architect-the 
macrocosm-can be comprehended and applied by man-the 

Astonished by my answers, he softly inquired, "Well, how 
many degrees do you have and how long did it take you to 
get them?" Again, looking at my ring and seeing the 
precepts of fraternity, liberty and equality, I 
answered, "Thirty-two degrees-in one year."

"Thirty-two! " he exclaimed, which captured everyone's 
attention at the far end of the table. "I'd give 
anything to have 32 degrees and to learn all of what 
you've studied in one year. But how can I do it?"

"You can," I said as I smiled and handed him a petition.