Freemasons universally prize good architecture

Submitted by James A. Marples
Posted 1/26/21

Dear Editor:

Having family in and near Powell, I read the Jan. 21 Powell Tribune article, “Masons ready to move.” I was delighted to see photographs of the tall and stately Powell …

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Freemasons universally prize good architecture


Dear Editor:

Having family in and near Powell, I read the Jan. 21 Powell Tribune article, “Masons ready to move.” I was delighted to see photographs of the tall and stately Powell Masonic Lodge (which I have passed by, in-person). It has been a fixture for 90 incredible years at the southwest corner of Second and Absaroka streets. My only regret is that the building is becoming too expensive to maintain with a declining membership.

The Powell Tribune article gave a good “overview,” but I think it missed a few key points. As a fifth generation Mason, this ancient and honorable fraternal order is, what I call it, a friendship society. It’s not a “secret society,” since most American Masons are proud to claim their membership in it. It’s a fraternal order that dates back to antiquity, but really gained a foothold (in its modern format) in 1700s England, when a United Grand Lodge was formed.

To describe it briefly, yet succinctly: All Masons believe in a creator, meaning Almighty God. Too many fake cable TV personalities have concocted various salacious stories (often laced with false conspiracy-theories) for their own TV ratings’ sake. Various novels have been written about Freemasonry. I usually tell my friends: Those authors are modern pulp-peddlers whose books may contain one part historical truth, then devolve into two-parts half-truths; and the rest of their novels are outright lies.

My old joke to counter this is: The average age of a Mason is about age 66 (give or take, depending on where you’re located). I sometimes joke that some Masons have trouble controlling their car after a charity pancake breakfast; so how are we (collectively) supposed to be wanting to control the world? We aren’t.

A quick synopsis: The who structure of Freemasonry is composed as a hierarchy of three basic steps; we call them “degrees.” This is not secret at all, it is based on the construction of King Solomon’s Temple as outlined in the Holy Bible. The Masonic fraternity is open and tolerant of all faiths; Christians/Jews/Muslims/Buddhists/Hindus have all joined the basic three degrees, although probably 90% of the average participants are Christians.

There are two topics that are never debated during a tyled (or closed-door) Masonic meeting: The topics of parochial religion nor partisan politics. This has been the custom for centuries, and it is a good policy to live by. As a fraternal order, our initiation is a series of step-by-step lessons in ethical behavior by “degrees.” The first degree is Entered-Apprentice; the second is Fellow-Craft Mason; the third is the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason.

I have attended Masonic Lodge stated meetings (monthly meetings) in elegant showplaces and modest buildings. However, nearly every Mason is taught to appreciate architecture and the symbolic “working-tools” used to construct said buildings.

It’s no secret that postcards of olden days used to depict a sharp-dressed man in suit and tie wearing a white leather apron around his waist. The caption might say: “Meet on the Level.” As I say, there are virtually no secrets in Masonry. The meaning is self-explanatory: to walk uprightly before God and mankind. 

Ancient stonemasons built the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. A carpenter’s level denotes being straight and on an even keel with good morals. The Masonic Hall in Powell is truly beautiful. I joined Masonry at age 18. I am now age 57. Although the “members” compose a “lodge,” a magnificent Lodge-Hall inspires by the lessons learned inside it. It is an honor to be a Mason.

James A. Marples

Longview, Texas