Letter to the Editor for Dec. 21, 2017

Fellow freemason glad to see Washougal lodge host public ceremony

Having relatives in the Washougal area, I was very glad to read the Camas-Washougal Post-Record’s “Secret society to unlock doors” (Dec. 14, 2017). The article spoke of the local North Bank Masonic Lodge No. 182 inviting the public to its 106th installation of local lodge officers on Dec. 16.

I, myself, am a fifth-generation freemason. The spirit of fraternalism runs in my family. I tend to call Masonry a “friendship society,”since that is what it is all about: men from all walks of life coming together in peace and harmony. The various lodges confer ethical lessons step-by-step. And those steps are called “degrees.” Technically, there is no degree that is higher than the Third Degree of Master Mason. However, two major branches, such as the York Rite, confers upon a man the distinction of being a Royal Arch Mason, Cryptic Mason and Knight Templar Mason {for those masons who like history and are Christians and who are interested in the history surrounding how the Crusades preserved Christianity). The other major Rite is the Scottish Rite, which confers the fourth to 32nd degrees. I am a member of both Rites. The 33rd degree is purely an honorary degree bestowed for longtime signal services to the fraternity or community.

I joined Masonry in Kansas at age 18. Today (Dec. 14), as I type this, it is my 54th birthday. It takes a special type of organization to keep a man interested for 36 years and counting. My late dad was a member 52 of his 87 years and he even visited masonic meetings in Washington state — a feat that I haven’t done (yet). I have visited lodges from Deadwood, South Dakota down to New Orleans, Louisiana and every state in-between.

One nice thing my dad would often tell me: “Jimmy, where you find masons — you find friends.” How true. I commend the lodge at Washougal for hosting their public installation of officers. I hope that non-masons put aside their biases that they may have heard in fictionalized movies or books. There are no conspiracy plots in Masonry. The purpose is succinctly put: “To make good men, better men.” We are a fraternity, not a religion. Everything is on the level and our solemn promises are made upon the Holy Bible (or sacred book of the candidate who joins). However 99 percent of the time, I have seen it done using a real, conventional Holy Bible. A large number of the ethical lessons refer to the era around the time of the construction of King Solomon’s Temple and the stonemasons, who eventually “accepted” men of other trades as members. One reason so many men like the masonic lodge, since we are “Ancient, free and Accepted Masons,” is that it’s a place where brotherhood transcends the ages. I took the same solemn vows my great-grandfather took — to be a good citizen and do right by my family, fellow man, country and honor almighty God. All are worthy pursuits.

James A. Marples, Longview, Texas