What is at stake in the argument over how influential Freemasonry was to the American founding? What if David Jones is right in suggesting that America really is a Masonic Experiment? I think if that question is brought to the fore and discussed, everyone will then be able to consider the evidence as to the facts more calmly. There seems to be a certain anxiety at work in the discussion that is muddying the water.
For myself, I cannot imagine anything more natural than that rich and powerful people would conspire together to protect their riches and power, at least, once each has accepted the fact that he can't have it all himself. I also think we naively believe that having the external forms of democracy in place preserves us from the machinations of power that seeks to covertly manipulate them. But how worried should I be by this possibility, this inevitability?
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Mammon have always been at odds. If I want to belong to the Kingdom of God then I must make that choice, build my house on the foundation of rock, and wait for the storms to come. The weapons of our warfare are the same as they have ever been. Even if the Trilateral Commission or the Scottish Lodge or the Politburo or (God forbid) the Roman Curia were in power behind the scenes, it's not ultimately those poor sots we should worry about. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers who, though still prowling and roaring about, have been dealt the death blow by the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. No longer need the fear of death hold men captive for Christ has come shattering its power, as the Byzantine Troparion declares.
The danger comes, I suppose, in the form of schemes of pretended truce between God and Mammon that suggest we don't really have to make a choice after all. I think this is a very common temptation for Americans. Truth, Justice, and the American Way make a very alluring package. We want to do good, but we also hope we'll do very well.
I cannot help thinking that with Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans we have witnessed God's Judgment on our country, not in the sense that the bad guys are getting their comeuppance (on the contrary), but in the sense of a Parable that reflects back to us what is really going on all around us all the time in our land. The rich leave the poor behind and take law and order with them because their only purpose is to protect the rich anyway. (I think there is more the Parable can teach us, but that's the most obvious lesson.)
What difference, then, does it make whether there is a real conspiracy of Masons or simply the Invisible Hand working through our individual acts of greed and indifference? Isn't the answer the same?
For our part, let us put on the whole armor of God. Let us love one another and the poor in our midst. Let us seek the Truth, and defend it when we are given the grace to find it. Let us be conformed to Christ and him crucified. So doing we will unleash a force that the Masons, or the Illuminati, or whoever, will find difficult to manage.
Joel I. Barstad, Ph.D.
St. John Vianney Seminary, Denver, CO
Earlier posts on this topic include the following:
Freemasonry and America, Part II
Freemasonry and America
The American Dream