"Are we sure Abraham Lincoln wasn't a Freemason? It should be pretty obvious from this old photo that he was."
This was a post I read the other day from a self-proclaimed "Masonic researcher." He didn't do any research on the question, but suggested that the way Lincoln was standing, and the way the other men in the photo were holding their hands was somehow "Masonic." He "believes" Honest Abe was actually a Freemason.
My friend, with all due respect, he wasn't. If you want the facts you'll find them in the piece Abe Lincoln: Freemason Or Not. I know the facts are accurate, because I not only wrote it, but I researched it first. Wishing a thing into existence doesn't change the reality. Masonic researchers use facts. Some years ago, I actually visited the Masonic Lodge that Lincoln petitioned, and then withdrew his petition from. The story is well documented, and there is no doubt remaining. Abe Lincoln was many things, but he was not a Freemason. Had he survived the Presidency, in all likelihood he would have joined our Fraternity--that was his intention.
This is the kind of garbage I read all the time that irritates me to no end. If you're going to write, then know the subject, research the evidence, and write factually! If you want to be a Masonic researcher, you've got to open a book.
It's pretty much a weekly occurrence for somebody to contact me and ask me to look over a book, especially on Freemasonry, and write a review. I just don't do that anymore, and I'll tell you why. There is a great deal being published right now on the topic of Freemasonry that is absolute crap. It's poorly researched, and badly written. As I told somebody the other day, just because anybody can publish a book these days doesn't mean everyone should.
The last book I reviewed was nothing more than a two hundred page opinion paper on Freemasonry based solely on the authors impressions of Freemasonry. There was no research done at all on anything the author wrote about in the book, in fact, the phrase "I heard" was used over and over again. Hearing things is not research!
The author pestered me for two weeks about the review and I finally told him the truth. I didn't like the book, and I wasn't willing to write a good review about it. He was pretty angry with me, and said it was un-Masonic of me not to do that favor for a Brother. Perhaps being dishonest is more Masonic?
I spent three years writing two books--not three weeks or three months-- three years! I knew how to write, because I'd spent about twenty years at that point practicing the craft of writing. I researched those books extensively. After the chapters were written, my editor and I spent hours editing and re-editing the chapters, working on the order the chapters should be put in, and checking facts before they were published. They were successful because I'd spent a lot of time thinking about the story I wanted to tell. I spent lots of time researching the facts. I spent the time necessary to edit and polish every sentence in those books. Then I had a few experts review my manuscript before publication to see what they thought about it, and where it could be improved--based on those opinions I rewrote large sections of the books. And in the beginning I invested all this time and effort on a book I expected to sell about a hundred copies of or less.
If you want to call yourself a Masonic writer and researcher you have to do the work! Join some Masonic research organizations--they are numerous. Contact your Masonic Lodge of Research. Read! Remember that scholars spend most of their lives as students--in fact, good scholars are always students first. They never stop learning.
But most importantly, be concise and be factual. Why would you want to base your reputation as a writer on poorly written and researched material? And when you write about Freemasonry, you're representing your Fraternity. Have enough respect for this venerable institution to do your best work.
Writing and researching takes a little more time and effort than posting a selfie on Facebook.
~Todd E. Creason
This was originally posted in December 2014. I was reminded of it early this week when Arturo de Hoyas posted an amusing review of his work from a "Past Master" who claims Art's research isn't very good and he doesn't trust anything he writes. Of course Arturo de Hoyas is the Scottish Rite's Grand Archivist and Historian and and as far as almost anybody is concerned the leading Masonic researcher in the world. It's amazing the bad information you'll find on the internet. Like Benjamin Franklin once said, "never trust anything that's sourced to Wikipedia."