Thursday, April 22, 2010

The 18th Century: Freemasonry & the Age of Enlightenment

The early part of the 18th century was known as the Age of Reason, for it was during this period that great advances in science and philosophy began to overcome much of the superstition found in religion. And although people were reluctant to give up their traditional Christian beliefs, they began to come into open conflict with the church over matters of faith vs. reason. By the late 18th century the Age of Enlightenment was in full play with its philosophies of equality, liberty, and justice and out of these radical new ideas and philosophies were born both the American and French Revolutions. Philosophers and poets like Goethe and Rousseau espoused these new philosophies, and playwrights such as Diderot, Beaumarchais, and Voltaire brought us comedies with the lower class servants overcoming the tyranny of the nobility, and outwitting and triumphing over their feudal Lords.

One of the most prominent and misunderstood movements of the 18th century was the fraternal order of Freemasons. Freemasonry espoused all of the philosophies and ideals of the Enlightenment and encouraged its members to pursue lives filled with integrity, honesty, and love for all humankind. However, because they were a secret society, they were often misunderstood and persecuted, most especially by the Catholic Church, whose theocratic power was slipping as the principles of liberty and equality began to take hold of Europe. Some of the most famous and influential men of the 18th century were Freemasons including Voltaire, John Locke, Haydn, Mozart, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones, and Paul Revere, to name only a few.

You can find an exhaustive history of Freemasonry at the Wikipedia History of Freemasonry site.

The following is the Mozart Masonic Cantata, Dir, Seele des Weltalls, O Sonne. 

To you, soul of the Universe, o sun.
We dedicate the first 
Of the festive songs!
O Mighty One! Without you we would not live,
From you alone we receive fertility, warmth and light!

No comments :

Post a Comment