References to Freemasonry in popular culture range from the vitriolic to the innocuous. Far more often they are merely misinformed allusions from which Freemasonry faces a far more insidious threat; that of being marginalized, trivialized, and fictionalized. Most of the references noted on this site are harmless, simply pointing out that Freemasonry has played a role in our society; some are humorous, yet some are disturbing in their associations.
Masonic references in the writings of Robert A. Heinlein
Science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein (1907/07/07 - 1988/05/08) was not a freemason.1 A full survey of his forty-plus novels has not been made so no conclusions can be drawn as to whether or not the following references indicate a consistant theme in his work.
RETURN TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
Subplot dealing with a stolen Shrine fez. New York : Ace Books, The Berkley Publishing Group, 1988 . pb 388pp.
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. New York : Ace Books, The Berkley Publishing Group, 1988 . pb 388pp.
I Will Fear No Evil
"You've noticed the fezzes around town all dayexcursionists up from the Shriners convention in Luna City." [p. 88.]
"That fezz and the presence of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was a happy coincidence." [p. 91. [p. 341.]
I had felt uneasy about wearing it, first because I am not any sort of a Freemason, much less a Shriner, and second because it was not mine; it was stolen. [p. 127.]
Jinx and Ace exchanged glances; then Jinx offered me Masonic recognition signs. That's what I assumed they were. [pp 128-30.]
Richard Aimes later recognizes a crowd of fake Shriners:
How did you know they were not Shriners? That's easy.; Shriners are middle-aged and paunchy; these studs were young and tough. Combat ready.
Unrelated to the subplot about returning the fez, by the end of the story, Richard finds himself being recruited by the Time Corps, whose logo is a worm Ouroboros and motto is "making order out of chaos."
For many readers of Heinleins books, a reference to the Shriners would not automatically suggest a link to the freemasons. Shriners though, are required to maintain their masonic affiliation.
I Will Fear No Evil. Robert A. Heinlein. Berkley Medallion Books, New York: 1970.
"Counsellor, your point is well taken. I think I can truthfully say that I have never allowed fraternal bondsincluding Shriner, which you and I areto affect my behaviour on the bench--"
Judge McCampbell to Jake Salomon. [p. 204.]
"I note that you are a Shriner, so am I. Care to comment on the fact?"
Judge McCampbell to challenging Councellor. [p. 341.]
Its Great to Be Back!
Allan MacRae exclaims to his wife, after being told they can return to their old home: "Looks like we're in, kid. Members of the Lodge." [p. 318.]
Future History Stories : The Past Through Tomorrow. Robert A. Heinlein. New York : A Berkley Medallion Book, 1967. Its Great to Be Back! copyright 1946. SBN : 425-02738-4.
If this goes on—
Heinleins If This Goes On— is a science fiction novella set in a future when the USA is controlled by a religious dictatorship. Told from the perspective of a young temple guard who joins the rebels, the story recounts the overthrow of this dictatorship by the "Cabal." This secret fraternity initiates its members into degrees, binds them to secrecy with solomn oaths, teaches them passwords and pass grips, meets in tyled lodges and is overseen by a Grand Master. Freemasonry is never mentioned but the details could only have been taken from a masonic ritual book.
Heinlein is not on record as claiming to be a freemason, so one must assume that one of the many published "exposures" came into his hands. Some of his phrases sometimes demonstrate an ignorance of contemporary lodge practice, while others suggest a deeper knowledge than would be found in a published "exposure." His use of a tyled lodge as a war room would be repugnant to masonic readers, much more so, the basic premise that the masonic organization, as such, would take an active role in political action.
The following quotes detail the major references:
Revolt in 2100.Robert A. Heinlein. The New American Library (Signet Book), New York: 1954. [Copyright, 1939, 1940, by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Contents: The Innocent Eye: An Introduction by Henry Kuttner, "If This Goes On", Coventry, Misfit, Concerning Stories Never Written: Postscript.
"Do you seriously declare, upon your honor, that, unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by mercenary motives, you freely and voluntarily offer yourself to the service of this order?"
We each answered, "I do."
"Hoodwink and prepare them." [p. 31.]
"-of your own free will and accord?" "-conform to the ancient established usages-" "-a man, free born, of good repute, and well recommended."
"Vouchsafe thine aid, Almighty Father of the Universe. ...love, relief, and truth to the honor of Thy Holy Name. Amen."
And the answering chorus, "So mote it be!"
Then I was conducted around the room, still hoodwinked, while questions were again put to me. They were symbolic in nature and were answered for me by my guide. Then I was stopped and was asked if I were willing to take a solomn oath pertaining to this degree, being assured that it would in no material way interfere to that duty I owed to God, myself, family, country, or neighbor.
I answered, "I am."
I was then required to kneel on my left knee, with my left hand supporting the Book, my right hand steadying certain instruments thereon.
The oath and charge was enough to freeze the blood of anyone foolish enough to take it under false pretenses. Then I was asked what, in my present condition, I most desired. I answered as I had been coached to answer: "Light!"
And the hoodwink was stripped from my head.
It is not necessary and not proper to record the rest of my instruction as a newly entered brother. It was long and of solomn beauty and there was nowhere in it any trace of the blasphemy or devil worship that common gossip attributed to us; quite the contrary it was filled with reverence for God, brotherly love, and uprightness, and it included instruction in the principles of an ancient and honorable profession and the symbolic meaning of the working tools thereof.
But I must mention one detail that surprised me almost out of the shoes I was not wearing. When they took the hoodwink off me, the first man I saw, standing in front of me dressed in the symbols of his office and wearing an expression of almost inhuman dignaty, was Captain Peter van Eyck, the fat ubiquitous warden of my watch--Master of this lodge! [pp. 32-33.]
I said, "You sent for me, Worshipful Master?" [p. 35.]
At last came three raps at the door and the Tyler admitted Magdalene. [p. 36.]
Then I relaxed when I recognized that my hand was being gripped in the recognition grip of the lodge. [. 42.]
In the course of picking out what I must wear I managed to arrange the sleeves of the sweater in the position taken by a lodge brother in giving the Grand Hailing Sign of Distress. [p. 43.]
The department store above us was owned by a Past Grand Master.... [p. 53.]
The lodge Master got up and came around his desk to me. "Good-by, John. Watch yourself, and may the Great Architect help you." [p. 58.]
The ships door was open and the ignition was not locked--there was help indeed for the Son of a Widow! [p. 65.]
"What do you want of me, son?"
"Light." [p. 76.]
... giving thanks to the Great Architect.... [p. 79.]
You'll find a few dozen of them in the Grand Lodge here. [p. 84.]
The Great Architect.... [p. 85.]
I've known the good and the humble and the devout. But how about the man who claims to know what the Great Architect is thinking? The man who claims to be privy to His Inner Plans? It strikes me as sacrilegious conceit of the worst sort--this character probably has never been any closer to his Trestle Board than you or I. [p. 86.]
... been to lodge himself.... [p. 93.]
The place was tyled so that a mouse couldn't have got in. [p. 101.]
... Master of my home lodge.... [p. 111.]
I commended their souls to the Great Architect. [p. 112.]
Lodge that night was the grandest I have ever attended. We tyled the communications room itself, with the comm chief sitting as secretary and passing incoming messsages to General Huxley, sitting as Master in the east, as fast as they came in. I was called on to take a chair myself, Junior Warden, an honour I had never had before. The General had to borrow a hat and it was ridiculously too small for him, but it didn't matter--I have never seen ritual so grand, before or since. We all spoke the ancient words from our hearts, as if we were saying them for the first time. If the stately progress was interrupted to hear thast Louisville was ours, what better interruption? We were building anew; after an endless time of building in speculation we were at last building operatively. [p. 115.]
I learned for the first time that Washington had been one of us. [p. 115.]
However, one of Huxleys first acts as military governor--he would not let himself be called even "Provisional President"--was to divorce all official connection between the Lodge and the Free United States Army. The Brotherhood had served its purpose, had kept alive the hopes of free men; now it was time to go back to its ancient ways and let public affairs be handled publicly. The order was not made public, since the public had no real knowledge of us, always a secret society and for three generations a completely clandestine one. But it was read and recorded in all lodges and, so far as I know, honored. [p. 116.]
"To commanding general from Lodge Master Peter van Eyck: assault center bastion with full force. I will create a diversion."
"Why the center?" I asked.
"It is much more damaged."
If this were authentic, it was crucially important. But I was suspicious. If Master Peter had been detected, it was a trap. And I didn't see how he, in his position, had been able to set up a sensitive circuit in the midst of battle.
"Give me the word," I said.
"Nay, you give me."
"Nay, I will not."
"I will spell it or halve it."
"Spell it, then."
We did so. I was satisfied. [p. 127.]
We crashed through walls of masonry.... [p. 128.]
The [transport] "Jacobs Ladder" cleared the breach and the "Ark" took her place. [p. 128.]
Job: A Comedy of Justice
Freemasons speak of "the Great Architect," meaning Jehovah but you won't find that in the Bible. [p. 294.]
Job: A Comedy of Justice. Robert A. Heinlein. Ballantine Books, New York: 1984. A Del Rey Book. [hd: 376 pp.] ISBN: 0-345-31357-7
1. Personnal correspondence from Virginia Heinlein posted to Dr. Gary L. Dryfoos' MASONIC Digest (Thursday, 13 Feb 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 2): "He had wanted to join in the 1940s, but could not raise the initiation fee."
Time Enough for Love
There are three masonic references and one masonic allusion in this science fiction novel.
The protagonist, Lazarus Long, recalls dressing "as fancy as any grand master of a lodge" [p. 195] to officiate at a wedding as captain of a spaceship. He concludes a prayer in the ceremony with "so mote it be". [p. 196]
Later, he describes a private discussion with: "the lodge was tyled for executive session at the highest degree."[p. 215]
Long also has an encounter with a local law officer when he travels back to 1916:
"The local law raised one hand to wipe away sweat and gave a lodge recognition sign. Lazurus knew how to answer it and decided not to. Where was his home lodge? that's a good question, Officer, so let's not let it come up." [p. 451]
There is also a reference to "keep everything fair and square" [p. 323] and one to giving his wife "a square shake." [p. 297] A reference to "on the level" [p. 138] refers to spatial position and not to honesty.
Time Enough for Love, the Lives of Lazerus Long. Robert A. Heinlein. New York : Ace Books, 1988 [G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1973] ISBN : 978-0-441-81076-5 pb 1