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Freemasonry and Its Influence on Mark Twain's Life and Work

Our objective for doing this research lies in an interest and fascination with Freemasonry and the impact its doctrine had upon the life and literature of one of America's greatest storytellers.

What exactly is Free Masonry?
Free Masonry could almost be considered the first ever fraternity (not necessarily like Delta Tau Chi from Animal House) and has a rich history and culture. Freemasonry has been around for quite some time. However its origins and purpose are hard to clarify. There is a descrepancy about where, when, and why freemasonry began. For fans of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, there are "ties" to masons with the Knights Templars; however, this has been greatly scrutinized by others (much like many other theories about the origin of Masonry). It perhaps began out of a creation of guilds of stonemasons who created "unions". Over time these "unions" of similarly skilled craftsman and their respective lodges gradually began to allow "non-craftsman" to become members. There is a heavy emphasis upon King Solomon's Temple in the Holy Land, due in part to the structure of a standard freemason lodge.

King Solomon's Temple
King Solomon's Temple

What is a Mason?[1]

In a nut shell, a Mason is member of a Free Mason lodge. These members join together to share a common bond with individuals who have similar goals and principles. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and John Hancock were all very famous Masons, all with a similar cause and purpose. Men who wish to become Masons take it upon themselves to live by a higher standard. There is an added focus on trying to become a better man, all while also focusing upon the greater well-being of others.

Secrets, Religion, and Ritual

- Like almost all fraternal organizations there are secrets that are to be kept safe with legitimate members of the organization. Freemasonry is no exception, in fact, due in part that there are many lodges spanning not only America but the globe as well, it is perhaps much more secretive. One should not be offended that there are secrets being kept, it is a "benefit" of membership in that each member is able to share a common bond with their fellow fraternity member.

- Masonry is NOT a religion, however, religion does play an integral part of Masonic teachings and practices. In order to become a Mason, a person must have a belief in God. An individual who is an athiest may not become a Mason. Mason meetings open with prayer and sometimes promote the act of praying by its members. By no means does Masonry tell members how to practice their religion. Members do not necessarily have to be Christian, for they could be like some Founding Fathers, who were deists.

- Ritual is an important aspect of Masonic teachings and practices. It is used to mainly teach values, and important lessons about Masonry or life. As Masonry has been around for centuries, the history and culture of Freemasonry is rich. Therefore, so is the ritual. Ritual encompasses the importance of the organization and is done with repetition at each meeting in order to have a continuous tradition of rememberance by the members.
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