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Views expressed in the articles, etc., published in Pharos are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views or opinions of Silas H. Shepherd Lodge of Research No. 1843, F. & A. M. of Wisconsin, its officers, or any other Masonic body. Furthermore, authors are solely responsible for the authenticity of their sources. Grateful acknowledgement is given to these authors for permission to reprint them here.

I wonder how many of us know what it is.

Recently we initiated two men in my home lodge. I was asked to give the "picture

lecture." I used to be very good at it, but I hadn't done it in 35 years. It took quite

an effort for me to brush up on it as I had trouble sorting out the logical sequences

and cadences of the tenets and the points of entrance. I was struck by a sentence I

had uttered many times long ago: To be good men and true is the first lesson taught

in Masonry.

(A surprise awaited me when I got to the Lodge the evening of my performance.

The Lodge had moved 3 months earlier, and they didn't know where the pictures

for the picture lecture were. The Master asked if I could do the lecture without

them. I had never done it, nor had I ever seen it done; but being systematic allows

me the freedom to be flexible. So I said, "Certainly I can do it without pictures!"

(At the appointed time, I escorted the two brothers to two empty seats in the north

just opposite the altar. From there they could see everything in the Lodge, which is

what the lecture is mostly about. Except that they couldn't see the ornaments or the

movable jewels, and that I couldn't always tell where I was in the lecture, the

whole thing came off flawlessly.)

Again, I wondered how many of us knew what the first lesson taught in Masonry

is. At the refreshment stand after Lodge, I asked some of the brothers, "What is

the first lesson taught in Masonry?" One of the brethren admonished me to be

careful, because there were two entered apprentices present. I said I'd just told

them a few minutes ago.

Is it not strange? We put the brother through his initiation; then we explain the

forms and ceremonies of the same; then we tell him all about the lodge's form,

supports, covering, furniture, ornaments, lights and jewels, how situated and to

whom dedicated. Then we come to the "tenets of our profession" and, explain how

Masonry unites men of every country, sect or opinion; and that relief of the

distressed is a duty incumbent on all Masons. What have we been doing for the

last hour if not teaching him about Masonry? Only now do we get around to the ."

first lesson in Masonry! 

be good men and true is the first lesson taught in Masonry. This is

something he can go home and tell his wife! This is something he can go out and

tell his friends! This is something he can go to church and tell his priest!

We tell him this first lesson taught in Masonry an hour after he has knocked upon

the door of the Lodge! Then we don't ever tell him again! Not in the posting, and

probably not in the counselor program. If this is the first lesson taught in Masonry,

surely he ought to know about it before he moves on to the second degree. But if

he survives to receive a 50-Year Certificate, he may never hear it again!

Moreover, the section from which this was taken - the Tenets of our Profession:

Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth - are equally things to which a newly made

brother should be able go out of the Lodge and proclaim to the world.

By the exercise of Brotherly Love, Masonry unites men of every country, sect or

opinion.

Every country! Americans, Britons, French, Germans, Japanese, and

dozens of other countries. Masonry unites us without anybody

corresponding to a Pope. Every Grand Lodge (and our Grand Lodge

recognizes more than a hundred!) is independent of every other. They are

all bound together by nothing more than mutual recognition. Most change

their leader - the Grand Master - every year. This makes it impossible for

Freemasonry to be guilty of having the power it stands accused of.

Maybe the reason Masons occupy many places of high visibility is because

Masons are good men and true. Certainly, not all the seats of power are

occupied by Masons - not by a long shot.

Every sect! Go to whatever house of worship you choose - as Masonry

teaches we should - but all you'll ever meet are men of your own faith.

Masonry unites men of all faiths!

You must be a veteran to belong to the American Legion or the VFW (as

indeed I do!). Masonry unites veterans and non-veterans alike!

Except for atheists Masonry has no enemies. In the sense that some faiths

choose to have us as enemies, Masonry does not reciprocate. Masonry does

not view them as enemies.

Every opinion! Democrats and Republicans! Even Socialists, if they

believe in God. And God knows how many other opinions. Masonry unites

us all, Democrats, Republicans, whatever your opinion, whatever the issue!

Masonry not only unites us, it conciliates true friendship among men who would

otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. Such as the two newly made

brothers, formerly strangers, who sat together listening to my lecture that evening.

Why do we wait until the newly made brother has been worn down by the events

of the evening to teach him the first lesson taught in Masonry? And why do we

never bring it up again?

Oh, and one more thing: Why are the tenets we teach in the first degree different

than the ones we teach in the third degree? (Brotherly love, relief and truth vs.

Friendship, morality and brotherly love.)

THE FIRST LESSON TAUGHT IN MASONRY

BY
David P. Hullinger
June 6, 1998

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