Those Masons

Dateline: Tue 15 Sep 2009

Thanks to the careful Star reader who pointed out the cutlines/text under the "Prince Hall on parade" photos in the Star Monday.

The text read, "Prince Hall Masons marched from the Indianapolis Urban League on Indiana Avenue to Bethel AME Church for a Sunday service acknowledging the creation of the order more than 300 years ago...."

It was the last sentence that had us chuckling:

"Membership in the all-male fraternity -- for blacks and whites -- does not require a background in stonework or brickbuilding."

No kidding? As my reader said, "Naive? Clueless? Illeducated? And not only the writer, but the EDITOR.

Don't these people know that GEORGE WASHINGTON was a Mason?


Yes, young reporters/editors/copy editors: the Masons are a lodge with a venerable, storied  history. Nothing to do with stonework or brickbuilding. And no, George Washington did not do brickwork. Or if he did, it was not what brought him to the Masons.

Sigh. And "AAARGH"


jjfw [unverified] said:

"Whties?" Harmless typo, but kinda funny in an article bashing copy editors.

2009-09-15 22:11:24

ruthholl [Member] said:

Point taken, correction made.
The NYT probably has the longest and most exhaustive corrections/clarifications of any paper I've ever seen. One school of thought is that the more prolific a writer is, the more active, the more work done, the more corrections.
Mistakes will happen, and any paper of record will correct its errors daily.
As for the Masons, here's what Wiki has to say:
"Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around 5 million, including just under two million in the United States...The various forms all share moral and metaphysical ideals, which include, in most cases, a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being...
"Freemasonry uses the metaphors of operative stonemasons' tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Solomon's Temple, to convey what has been described by both Masons and critics as 'a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.'"

2009-09-16 05:44:59

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I'm a Mason, only because my dad is still, at 81, a prolific Masonic devotee. It means a lot to him. I joined on my 21st birthday at his urging and have only been back once--to his 50th-anniversary ceremony.

Belonging without working at it--violates my basic principles of civic responsibility. But honestly, Ruthie, it's about the silliest group I've ever been around. And it's still--decades later--steeped in borderline racism and conspiracy theories.

Their internal liturgy is written in code, passed from one generation to the next in verbal translation.

I'm not a young guy, and I hear my generation often question the Masons' origins and purpose. The general public doesn't know its myriad practices and history, such as the fact that Shriners are Masons of a higher order. Everyone knows their hospital work, though.

I saw the Star pic and cutline, too...and the last sentence didn't bother me, because if you're younger than, say, 40--you probably have never even heard of the lodge.

2009-09-16 05:57:30

Ms. Cynical [Member] said:

What? Nobody under 40 has heard of the Masons?

Dan Brown certainly has! (And, I'll bet most of his readers are under 40.)

I'll just bet that those who write/edit The Star are as clueless about popular culture as history (something two seconds on Google could have cured).

2009-09-16 12:31:54

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Maybe, Ms. Cynical, but the Masons, and the Legion, are dying off...literally.

Google is a decent tool. But the Masonic order, in all its levels, isn't that well-known any more.

2009-09-17 07:16:52

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"But the Masonic order, in all its levels, isn't that well-known any more"

The Masons and Shriners are about the last of the civic service organizations that sprang up in every community in the 19th century. Knights of Pythias, Improved Order of Red Men, International Order of Odd Fellows, and others, took responsibility for taking care of widows and orphans and burying the dead. (The IOOF was an English do-good organization imported to the colonies, which became independant and much larger during a cholera outbreak in Baltimore in the 1800s.)Many cemetaries are still owned and run by these organizations, especially the IOOF. The societies themselves, though, once responsible for taking care of a community's citizens when there was no other recourse, have virtually disappeared, another concession to letting government do it. The community of brotherhood and sisterhood exemplified by these organizations helped bond small towns together, and their absence is missed. The Masons are a favorite literary device, not least bcause some of the Founding Fathers were members.

Still, the witless editor at the Star, no matter how young, should have known about them.

2009-09-17 07:32:06

Ms. Cynical [Member] said:

Tom Greenacres nailed it: "The Masons are a favorite literary device, not least because some of the Founding Fathers were members."

Hence, Dan Brown's use of the trope in his latest bestseller -- he expects his readers to know the "backstory".

But, The Star's current writers and editors don't read literature (or know history, for that matter) -- that's obvious!

Naive, illeducated, "limited", clueless...I could go on.

2009-09-17 13:20:39

Star Geezer [unverified] said:

I think I've found the problem:

"Only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the United States, according to a survey released today."

No wonder the editors/reporters at The Star are clueless about the Masons. There's a 3 in 4 chance that they don't even know who our first president was!

2009-09-18 12:50:22

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