Q&A with the authors of Method Infinite January 13 2023
We spoke with Cheryl Bruno and Nick Literski, authors of Method Infinite Freemasonry and the Mormon Restoration, now available from Greg Kofford Books.
Typically, discussion about Mormonism and Freemasonry centers on the Latter-day Saint temple endowment. How does your book change the focus of the discussion?
One of the biggest mistakes that is made in studying Mormonism and Masonry is to focus solely on the endowment. In order to understand why traces of Freemasonry can be seen in Mormon temple ritual, one must begin at Joseph Smith’s birth and look at how Masonry affected him throughout his life. This book gives a panoramic view of the subject and really does change the focus of the discussion.
Freemasonry was ideologically and symbolically everywhere in eighteenth and nineteenth-century America. Is it reasonable to assume it would also be present in the early elements of the Restoration?
Freemasonry was ubiquitous in nineteenth-century America. Though hard to believe today, the Craft was part of the cultural landscape, and virtually everyone had some understanding of its general principles and structure. Still, it is interesting to see how some of the early historical accounts about the first vision and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon put them into a Masonic framework.
Where does the title of the book come from?
Edward Tullidge ascribes the following quote to Eliza R. Snow: “There is method in Mormonism—method infinite. Mormonism is Masonic.”
What Masonic elements that were used to help usher in the restoration are still present in the Church today? Do they still hold the same importance?
Many elements of Mormonism that church members think are unique to Joseph Smith in fact have roots in Masonry. These include the concept of restoration, plates of gold that were hidden up and then found, the Grand Council of Heaven, the eternity of matter, the chain of belonging, dispensation heads, and oath-bound rituals to impart greater light and knowledge to those seeking to progress through degrees. Latter-day Saints may be aware of Masonic handclasps and symbols, including aprons, squares, and compasses, but do not always realize that Masonry also includes three distinct knocks, five points of fellowship, endowments, and many similarities of wording found in the temple. Method Infinite gives insight on these similarities and why they were of interest to Joseph Smith. Modern Mormonism has lost the significance of many of these elements, and therefore, they have declined in importance and many have been removed from our ritual.
What do you want readers to take away from your book?
We hope that the book will teach readers that Freemasonry had an effect on Mormonism from the very beginning, and is not just limited to a few resemblances in the temple. But more than that, we hope to ease the anxiety many have felt over Masonic influence in the founding years of the Church.