Monday, April 28, 2008

First Mormon Utah GM: MW Bro Glenn Cook, 137th Grand Master

First LDS Grand Master in Utah: MW Brother Glenn Cook at the Utah Grand Lodge.(Photo from Deseret News.)

In an article on the March 29, 2008 issue of the Deseret News by Carrie A Moore, entitled "A Mormon Mason: New Grand Master is the first in a century who is LDS", she reported that:

"It's been nearly a quarter of a century since Freemasons in Utah rescinded a 60-year ban that prohibited Latter-day Saints (LDS) from joining their fraternity. And while many remember the religious division that had characterized Freemasonry in the Beehive State from pioneer times, Glen Cook believes he is evidence that things are changing among his Masonic brethren.

"Cook, a Salt Lake criminal defense attorney and Brigham Young University law school graduate, is believed to be the first member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be elected grand master in Utah in nearly a century, overseeing the activities of several lodges around the state and looking to make the group more open to public understanding.

"During a recent tour of the Masonic Temple in downtown Salt Lake City following his installation in February, Cook said there are definite misconceptions about Freemasonry in Utah, particularly among Latter-day Saints, "but there's also some reality there as well."

"Cook said the fact that membership requires belief in a supreme being and a willingness to make obligations to fellow Masons through Masonic rituals and symbols that bear some limited similarity to LDS temple ceremonies also foster a misunderstanding of what the fraternity is, and is not.

"There is no question that elements of the (LDS temple) endowment and Masonic ritual are similar," Cook said. "The question for faithful Latter-day Saints is whether that makes a difference. I tend to be a rather concrete thinker."

"For those who accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and believe he actually saw God and Jesus Christ in vision as a precursor to restoration of Christ's ancient church, "then the rest, I would suggest, should be a corollary" of that belief.

"I think sometimes we spend too much time worrying about issues that don't really matter to our salvation."

"Nothing in LDS faith or practice precludes Latter-day Saints from becoming Masons, he said, though family and church obligations may limit the amount of time Mormon men can spend in other pursuits like Masonry.

"Freemasonry should be an adjunct to your faith and not a barrier to its exercise," Cook said.

"The "Encyclopedia of Mormonism" addresses questions about the faith's view of the fraternity, noting "the philosophy and major tenets of Freemasonry are not fundamentally incompatible with the teaching, theology and doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. Both emphasize morality, sacrifice, consecration and service, and both condemn selfishness, sin and greed. Furthermore, the aim of Masonic ritual is to instruct — to make truth available so that man can follow it."

"The ritual resemblances between the two "are limited to a small proportion of actions and words," according to the encyclopedia, and "where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of meanings is different."

"Cook said he sees signs within the Utah fraternity that a new openness is developing toward the community at large, and toward Latter-day Saints in particular, evidenced not only by his recent installation in ceremonies that were open to the public, but also in a willingness to acknowledge the faith in ways it hasn't previously been recognized.

"I think those three things really signaled to me the change that has come about. ... I think LDS culture has changed, and that today, civic activities are not inappropriate."

"As for what he plans to emphasize during his term as the 137th grand master of Utah, Cook said he will focus on the fraternal tenets of brotherly love, relief and truth.

"I find Freemasonry to be something at which to marvel, to be something which I view in awe," Cook wrote in a recent message published in a fraternal newsletter. "In a world in which men war and shed the blood of the innocent based on race, ethnicity and tribe, we have united ... without regard to the color of a man's skin, caring only about the tenor of his heart."

"In short, Masons "are men who try to lead moral and upright lives. They contribute significantly not only on a private basis, but in a public way" as well, he said, noting they fund Shriner's Hospital for Children, help with arthritis research and other community causes.

"It's the place where I've found friends, men who have cared for me and my family and hold the moral values that I hold."

To read full article please click Deseret News above or here.

(Via email by WBro Allan M. Lacson, PM,Teikoku 19,Okinawa 118)

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