Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mark to present at the
American Lodge of Research, 4/1/13:
Mormon Temple Ritual and Masonic Initiation

This coming Monday, April 1st, I will be speaking in New York City on the topic, “Of Masons and Mormons: The Relationship Between the Masonic Rituals of Initiation and the Latter-day Saint Temple Ceremonies.” This topic has been the topic of extremely heated controversy—even violence—for much of the last two centuries; indeed, it figures into many contemporary anti-Masonic and anti-Mormon discussions, as a simple internet search will demonstrate. Very rarely has this matter been addressed by someone who thoroughly understands both Freemasonry and the Latter-day Saint (LDS) faith. However, I am both a Mason and a Mormon. I apply my fraternal and faith backgrounds, as well as my professional background in the psychology of religion and humanistic psychology, to this matter. I propose what I believe is the first explanation that fits all the facts of the case—and I will be presenting it live for the first time on April 1st. (A Facebook page for the event is here.)

Meeting Details

This presentation will be made under the auspices of TheAmerican Lodge of Research (ALR), the oldest continually operating Masonic Lodge of Research in the United States (founded 1931). It will take place at 8 p.m. within the beautiful French Doric Room, on the 10th Floor of Masonic Hall, 71 West 23rd Street (just yards east of Sixth Avenue/Avenue of the Americas) in Manhattan, New York City. The event will take place within a tiled meeting of the Lodge, and so it is closed to the general public; Freemasons of any jurisdiction in amity with the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, F&AM, are invited to attend. Such brethren are invited to attend in business suits. Admission is without charge.

(Please note: Attendees are welcome to join the officers of the Lodge, of whom I am honored to be one of the most junior, for an on-your-own dinner beforehand at 6 pm at Sagaponack, 5 West 22nd Street, just west of Fifth Avenue.)

Why This Matters

A little over 170 years ago, in March of 1842, the first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr.,  was made a Mason on sight by the Grand Master of Freemasons in Illinois. Joseph Smith was aged 36 at the time, and the Church that he organized had only been in existence for 12 years.

It is entirely possible that, by the time of his Masonic initiation, Smith had already seen several Masonic initiation rituals acted out in public by either seceding Masons or non-Masons, in connection with the preceding fifteen years of the Morgan Affair and the Anti-Masonic Episode of American history. These rituals Smith might have witnessed include the rituals of the Blue Lodge, the York Rite, and the Scottish Rite, many of which had been exposed to the public in David Bernard’s 1829 anti-Masonic best-seller, Light on Masonry.(An excellent edition of this exposure, with an extensive introduction, is available through the Scottish Rite Research Society, here.)

About seven weeks after his Masonic initiation, Smith conferred upon a small group of close associates what he called the “endowment” ceremony—as in ‘endowment of power.’ This ceremony is one of the major rituals conducted in the Latter-day Saint (LDS) temples around the world even today. (I myself received the endowment for the first time in the LDS Washington DC Temple, shown in the lower half of the image above. Of course, the upper half of that image shows the House of the Temple, the headquarters of the Supreme Council, 33°, of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S.A. Are there connections between the ceremonies recorded in the vaults of the House of the Temple, and those conducted in the LDS Washington, DC Temple? Good question.)

Since 1842, some people have alleged some sort of connection between the LDS temple ceremonies and the Masonic rituals of initiation. Did the Mormons steal from the Masons? On this question hinge all sorts of issues involving the spiritual integrity, not only of the LDS faith, but of Freemasonry itself (at least in the eyes of some people, as I shall explain). In brief, there is much at stake here for just about everyone in sight.

I hope to shed more light than heat on these important issues. Although I have previously addressed some of these matters in a video presentation sponsored by the Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry in August 2011 (now also available on Youtube), I have more material to present after a further year and a half of research, and of course the presentation at ALR will allow for questions and answers, which I expect to illuminating for all. I hope to see you on Monday evening.

Incidentally, I shall have with me at the presentation information about my forthcoming book, Of Masons and Mormons, which considers these matters at book length. (The book itself will be available directly from Amazon in the coming weeks.)

Finally, I am more than willing to entertain invitations to speak on this issue in other Masonic venues, and, for that matter, in Latter-day Saint venues as well. I am easy to contact through my profiles on Blogger, Linkedin, Twitter, through my Facebook writer's page, or through my website's Contact page.

[I must apologize for giving everyone such short notice about this event. This is a time of professional transition for me, and I apologize for letting those complications get in the way of my giving the readers of this blog due and timely notice.]

I invite you to become a “follower” of this blog through the box in the upper-right-hand corner of this page, to be informed of future posts.

I discuss the basics of Freemasonry in my book, Freemasonry: An Introduction, published by Tarcher/Penguin. (Described here, available here.)

Mark Koltko-Rivera on Twitter: @MarkKoltkoRiver .

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(Copyright 2013 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)