I asked him a few other questions from what he talked about above, and he was kind enough to provide some short answers. The first question is actually from "nitasmile" at
The Nauvoo Forum in the message Freemasonry and Current mormons where the subject first came to my attention for discussion. The other questions are my own:
Do any of you know of similarities between the shape of the CTR ring/shield and a simalarly shaped ring that Masons wear? Awhile ago, I worked w/a gentleman who wore a ring that had a shield w/a "G" in the middle. I asked him about it and he told me he was a Mason and that the G stood for God.
GK: As far as I know there is no relation between the CTR ring and the rings worn by some Masons which generally have the Masonic square and compasses with the letter G in the center. That motif is masonry's most visable symbol found on logdes and in a host of masonic jewelry and other related items.
Where do you think that the Mason rituals and brotherhood came from, since it didn't come from Solomon's time?
GK: Historians today, and I agree with them, say that Freemasonry
originated with medieval trade stone masons as an early form of trade union. The rituals are likely a form of passion play centered around the story of the building of Solomon's temple as recorded in scripture along with the Hiram Abiff story.
The Temple is "secret" because it is considered too sacred, but why do you think the Masons held and still hold to the secretive nature?
GK: Today, of course, the secretive nature of Freemasonry is simply a
tradition. Every aspect of the ritual and teachings of masonry have
been widely published even by masonic publishers. Originally it did
serve a purpose of protecting "trade secrets" of operative masons by
insuring that those hired to work as such were properly trained in the
How do the Masons use the Scriptures? Do they read them in the lodges, study them, or are they more placed on the alter as symbolic gesture? Do you know of any lodges that also include the Koran or other Holy Books?
GK: We use scripture in all the ways you sight above. My lodge here in Wyoming uses the Koran when raising a brother who is Muslim. Of course, lodges in Islamic nations use the Koran. In Israel the Torah is used. When I was raised, the standard works of the LDS Church were employed. The 21st Landmark of Freemasonry states as follows:
It is a Landmark, that a "Book of the Law" shall constitute an
indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge. I say advisedly, a Book of the Law, because it is not absolutely required that everywhere the Old and New Testaments shall be used. The "Book of the Law" is that volume which, by the religion of the country, is believed to contain the revealed will of the Grand Architect of the universe. Hence, in all Lodges in Christian countries, the Book of the Law is composed of the Old and New Testaments; in a country where Judaism was
the prevailing faith, the Old Testament alone would be sufficient; and in Mohammedan countries, and among Mohammedan Masons the Koran might be substituted. Masonry does not attempt to interfere with the peculiar religious faith of its disciples, except so far as relates to the belief in the existence of God, and what necessarily results from that belief." The Book of the Law is to the speculative Mason his spiritual Trestleboard; without this he cannot labor; whatever he believes to be the revealed will of the Grand Architect constitutes for him this spiritual Trestleboard, and must ever be before him in his hours of speculative labor, to be the rule and guide of his conduct The Landmark, therefore, requires that a Book of the Law, a religious code of some kind, purporting to be an exemplar of the revealed will of God, shall form in essential part of the furniture of every Lodge.
How can a Latter-day Saint, without actually joining the group, learn more about Masonry?
GK: Any good library will have a host of books on the subject. I would
suggest A Pilgrim's Path: Freemasonry and the Religious Right, A Pilgrim's Path: One Man's Road to the Masonic Temple by Robinson and Duncan's Ritual of Freemasonry by Malcolm C. Duncan as starting points.
(Jettboy note: I added both Robinson books just to be sure of the correct one)
Why do you think that teaching by ritual is so shocking to Latter-day Saints?
GK: Unlike in Joseph Smith's day we no longer live in a world steeped in ritualistic teaching. The Saints of Nauvoo, many of whom were Masons, knew well this form of teaching. We are also not a ritual based faith unlike our Catholic brothers and sisters. So, when we are presented with worship in the ritual form, be it the endowment ritual or the Catholic mass, it seems alien to us.
(Jettboy note: I knew at least one Catholic, and have heard of others, that actually weren't as bothered by the LDS Temple rituals. In fact, I remember going to a Mass on my mission and recognizing minor similarities.)
The "Grips" in both Mormonism and Masonry are rather easy to interpret. The "Signs" are a little harder to interpret. Without giving out anything "secret" about both, how can we better understand the hand gestures? What is there purpose?
GK: In masonry the signs allude to the way the hands are placed on the volume of scripture when your obligations are taken with the various degrees. They are used to show that you were raised in a proper lodge. Originally they served as a means of identifying a fellow mason seeking work.
What you ask as rhetoric, would be nice to be answered. What is the purpose of having penalties? Obviously they aren't usually taken literally.
GK: The penalties, both masonic and LDS, were what you would rather have done to you rather than violate you commitments. They were never intended as a licence to commit murder.
(Jettboy note: i.e. I would say it would probably be something like, "cross my fingers and hope to die. Stick a thousand needles in my eye.")
There were some anti-masonic Mormons at the time of Joseph Smith, what happened to them? How did they generally react to the Temple experience?
GK: As far as can be ascertained; nothing. Perhaps the best known anti-mason in Nauvoo was Lucinda Morgan, Widow of James Morgan who's death sparked the anti masonic movement in the opening decades of the 19th century. She would become a plural wife of Joseph Smith. There is no record of what her impressions were of the temple endowment.
Can you expand on the idea of the "endowment" and the "Ritual" as seperate and related?
GK: The central idea of my thesis is that the ritual is used to teach the endowment. The ritual is the presentation of the endowment. It is not the endowment itself. The ritual has and will change to meet modern needs. The endowment, however, teaches eternal ideas and commitments.
You answered the question for yourself personally, but I would like to know generally speaking why you think a Mormon would want to become a Mason?
GK: I think there is a tendency for a Mormon to center their entire lives around the Church and other church members. They are never developing any kind of association with the wider community. This is to some degree understandable; we do not wish to be put into social situations which involve activities not in keeping with our standards.
Freemasonry does not force us to make such a choice. I have been able to make association with men I might never have otherwise done so in a institution which respects and supports my standards.