Freemasonry has a long history in the United States. Many of our founding fathers, including Washington and Franklin, were Masons. Freemasonry traces its earliest origins from the masons who built King Solomon's Temple. The guild of masons started a ritual that has been carried down to modern times. The actual people who built the great works were known as Operative Masons. Since there aren't too many Operative Masons around anymore, during the Age of Enlightenment, Freemasonry decided to admit other members who weren't in the trade. These non-professional masons were known as Speculative Masons. The Masonic Fraternity admitted only men who were thinkers – men who would add to the general knowledge of the world. To many men joining the fraternity, the purpose was to gain more knowledge and inspire self improvement. Lodge meetings were full of fruitful discussions where they observed, sought, examined, contemplated and meditated on new facts or knowledge by experimenting and analyzing with what was already known. They exchanged that knowledge with each other, much of it in allegorical form.

Lodge meetings were roundtable discussions where participants were given facts and asked questions, drawing them into speculations. As always, the important issues of the day were speculated upon. The main purpose of this exercise was to improve speculative thinking. Newly raised apprentices and members were not immune from questioning, being forced to use their minds in a speculative manner. The intellectual give and take at those meetings drew outstanding minds towards Freemasonry. In fact, Benjamin Franklin modeled his Junto Club after the lodge discussions. He wanted to associate with speculative men who wanted to pursue knowledge and discuss it in a passionate manner.

Lodge meetings were a place where men learned to subdue their passions, and the discussions were very civil. There was no need to shout down opposing viewpoints, in fact they encouraged disagreement. Disagreement, as well as a well as a clever, well-reasoned rebuttal, was a highly prized commodity. The Freemasons recognized that one man glimpses the truth only partially. But, by speculating with others, one can see more aspects of the truth of any situation — if one will listen with unbiased respect and eager curiosity to hear another's point of view.

Ken Smith writes:

My perception is it's a businessmans' outfit. Not known for divergent opinion. On the other hand, a local group calling themselves Blue Masons accepted working people. I know this because a telephone company installer came to the house once wearing a lapel button which I inquired about and it turned out it was identifying the young fellow as a Blue Mason. He invited me to put in an application upon learning of my interest.

I did not do that because my history includes things quite unusual in regards to character profile, employment history, and other pertinent information, all of which generally dooms my applications for just about anything. I found I can be a member of political parties quite easily, they accept applications accompanied with money from just about anyone. One other thing about this, I found myself on DailySpec!

Alan Millhone remarks:

Old time Masons were operative in the fact they actually did masonry work as well as being a member of the Masonic fraternity. Today's Masons are speculative in that they no longer lay the stones and apply the mortar, etc. I have been a Master Mason, Belpre Lodge #609 F&AM, for about 30 years, and my father before me belonged for over 50 years as did my grandfather and his father.





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