Iowa Freemasonry is a personal journal of a Freemason in central Iowa. This blog documents my Masonic research interests, experiences, and reflections. Welcome!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Symbolism, according to H. L. Haywood

I checked out H. L. Haywood's The Great Teachings of Masonry from the Iowa Masonic Library about three weeks ago. The book is coming due now and I have to send it back to the Library. Before I do, I'd like to post Haywood's description of the significance of symbolism.

…a symbol does not exhaust itself so quickly as words. There is mystery and depth in it, an infinity of suggestiveness, an incitement to new approaches of thought…

We cannot learn the message of a symbol with a passive and receptive mind, because it is of the genius of symbolism to hide as well as to reveal. When a thing is conveyed to us in clear simple words, or in plain pictures, such as one sees in the movies, there is no need that one make a great effort of his own mind to comprehend it all; but when a symbol is put before us, and we have a reason for securing its message to us, our own minds must act, for no symbol wears its meaning on its sleeve. … And that in itself is a virtue, because many men are cursed by the refusal to use their own faculties.

Also, the symbolical character of the teaching of Freemasonry has tended towards that intellectual tolerance which is one of its glories. There can be no dogmatic and official interpretation of a symbol to compel the unwilling assent of any mind; the symbol’s message, by virtue of its very message, fluid and free. So that every man has a right to think it out for himself.

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