What Shall Masons Read?
W. O. Junbins, M. D. & N. H. Greenland
ENTHUSIASTIC neophytes, after listening to the work and admonitions of Freemasonry, are confronted with the question: "What shall we read to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with the ethics of the Fraternity?" They look around, make inquiries of the Craft, especially of senior members, and sometimes get the desired information, but too often are told that the Manual of the Lodge is the only literature they have ever seen bearing upon the subject. Or they are told that Brother A. or B. is thoroughly posted in the ritual, and they had better take lessons of him. Meeting with such obstacles on every hand, in their researches after hidden treasures, they are soon disconcerted, and too often their embryotic enthusiasm is "nipped in the bud" by a premature frost, and the sunshine of future development is unable to resuscitate it.
Young Masonic minds are in an active condition; better qualified, more apt and willing to receive instruction than weary operators, fatigued and exhausted by delving in the quarries, where they have borne the sunshine and heat of the day, therefore, they should promptly receive proper assistance in discovering and obtaining the " beacon lights" of Masonic literature. The wheat must be sifted from the chaff that no deleterious particles may take root and develop into unprofitable plants.
Every lodge should possess a library, selected by competent brethren, and kept under the supervision of a trusty Librarian.
The Master's admonition to the newly-made brother to be a lover of the arts and sciences should go further, and advise him to give attention to moral and religious science, so that he may attain and possess all the virtues which tend to make men valuable members of society. It should impress upon his understanding the landmarks of the Fraternity, and imbue it with divine teachings, so that his mind, unfolding in manliness, shall be actuated to extend its researches far into the realms of history, science, and philosophy.
The Masonic magazines and papers published in this country contain nourishing dainties, worthy of the most exacting intellectual epicures. Lodges, as well as brethren, should subscribe for them, that they may be within the reach of all. The Masonic reader becomes a better member of society, his brain and heart thus receiving a stimulant which makes man shine with a divine light.
I would admonish the young Mason not to adopt the custom of studying the Ritual to the exclusion of all other Masonic teachings. I am aware that there are many Masters of lodges who stand in need of this admonition, as they never have studied anything Masonic beyond the Ritual, the Trestleboard, and the Constitution and Regulations of the Grand Lodge, and are not even thorough in them. No Mason should accept of the responsible position of Master of a lodge, unless his reading has been extensive and his mind thoroughly cultured in moral and religious lore, that his admonitions may be heeded and productive of good.
The Bible — the noblest gift of GOD to man — should be mental and spiritual food for us by day and night, for in its pages we are taught the great principles of Freemasonry, and if we obey its precepts we will become living examples of what GOD intended we should be. Let us not despise nor neglect the Holy Writings, for the golden truths taught therein make them the greatest of Masonic works, and the best attestor of the divine origin of the Fraternity.
The arts and sciences should be studied. Geometry, that science which treats of the "relation of properties, and measurement of solids, surfaces, lines, and angles," should be diligently studied, that we may be able to 'work and receive Master's wages. The pages of ancient history have recorded much, pointing directly to societies having like secrets and requirements to those of Freemasonry, while Mythology, ever ready with its mysteries, shows us various scenic representations of mythical legends, pointing directly to societies and religious institutions of the Middle Ages.
Every Craftsman should possess an Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, which should contain a complete synopsis of Masonic literature. Such a. work is indispensable, and, as a work of reference, has no equal.
In conclusion, I would admonish every neophyte to cultivate a love of literature; to visit Masonic libraries; to purchase those Masonic books best suited to his taste and thoroughly study them, as thereby he will enrich his mind with knowledge that will be beneficial in all his subsequent life.