"I thought I'd get your theories, mock them, then embrace my own. The usual." -House

Dear 100 Hour Board,
Is it true, after all, that Joseph Smith was a Mason also ?? If so, did he join them before or after the Endowment was revealed ?? Could you explain this issue ? Thanks !!
- Tio Tony

A: Dear Uncle Tony,

True, with no dishonor in it. Whatever stigma you might attach to joining the Masons today (not that there needs to be any) apparently did not exist back then. During Joseph Smith's time Freemasonry was the premiere fraternity group, and it was very common in those days for honorable men to associate with them. Their numbers have dwindled lately. [Within the last month or two Misaneroth did a nice piece on the downward popularity trend of the Freemasons and similar groups, props M.] Also, yes, one could make a strong argument that the Prophet was associated with the Masons prior to the official institution of the temple endowment.

Whenever the Lord dispenses upon a people the sacred blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood he consecrates a holy place, a temple, for their discharge. As you know, these sanctuaries provide both ordinances and instruction necessary for our salvation. The Lord's authorized earthy stewards, the prophets, are welcome to aide our understanding of the beautiful blessings of the temple through the inspired introduction of symbols relevant to the time period in which we live. If it so happened that our Prophet, Joseph Smith, upon reception of the Lord's revealed will, saw fit for any Masonic object, item, image, etc., to be had in the temple as a symbol for higher truth we are so much more blessed by the additional insight.

In any event, I'm getting the vibe that you somewhat question the divine authenticity of the endowment because some of its components may be associated with Masonry. Remember this: once we're inside the temple's holy confines our similarities with other institutions end regardless of our superficial commonalities. Even if our ceremonies were exact copies of the Masons' or anyone else's we have two things that make all the difference: The true Spirit and the proper authority. Everything in other churches from ornate pageantry and costume to boistrous dancing and shouting is an attempt to fabricate one or both of the two. People yearn for the presence of the Spirit but it simply cannot reside with them on a permanent basis. Thankfully you have the opportunity to someday, if not presently, enter the temple and patiently search its mysteries under the guidance of the Spirit. Line upon line, you know. "It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God . . . according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him . . . until it is given unto [them] to know the mysteries of God until [they] know them in full" (Alma 12:9-10).