IN THE FOREFRONT SPREADING LIGHT
"In the Forefront, Spreading Light"
more on "Born In Blood"
or - should we say
more on John J. Robinson
The May 1992 The Northern Light, publication of the Northern Masonic
Jurisdiction Scottish Rite, regularly reviews books with Masonic content, the
reviewer being Thomas W. Jackson, 33, more familiarly known in Masonic circles
as the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
In this issue he reviews Dungeon, Fire and Sword: The Knights Templar in the
Crusades, by John J. Robinson, and he closes with: "It does not involve
Freemasonry, although it provides a good preface to Born in Blood. For those
with an interest in history, and specifically medieval history, reading it is a
He then uses this review as a springboard for further comments on Born in
Blood, the reason being explained in his first paragraph. And we quote:
The first book I reviewed when assuming the position of book reviewer for The
Northern Light was Born in Blood by John J. Robinson. I asked specifically of
the editor that I be permitted to submit this as my first review because my
opinion was different from that of some of my colleagues who reviewed this
I have reviewed no book since that has generated as much response as has
Born in Blood. In my review I questioned some points of accuracy as well as some
conclusions, but I found the book to be highly stimulating and recommended it
to our members as being worthwhile reading. As a result of the review, I
encountered a number of readers who disagreed with this conclusion and
recommendation. Since that time, some have commented that I was, to the
opposite extreme, a little harsh with my review.
Of a far greater concern to me was the immediate negative reaction which the
book generated in many Masonic circles, not with its quality or content but
because it presents a theory which disagreed with the accepted origin of the
craft. I was much dismayed by this almost bitter type of negativism the book
generated. There can be little value at any time in attempting to close the
door to knowledge, and whether we agree or disagree, accept or reject, the
written word is knowledge. I was amazed to learn that there were actually
members of our craft who proposed putting Born in Blood on a prohibited reading
list. This book was merely offering an alternative theory.
It is my opinion that Mr. Robinson, as the author of Born in Blood, has been
one of the greatest forces to hit the Masonic fraternity in at least the past
50 years and perhaps longer. Fortunately for Freemasonry, the impact has been
a positive one. Disregarding those of our membership who disagree with the
theories promulgated by Mr. Robinson pertaining to our origin, any impact that I
have been able to observe has been to our benefit.
Since I reviewed the book, I have had the opportunity of speaking with Mr.
Robinson on a number of occasions. I have also enjoyed being in his company
where I have been able to sit and discuss not only the book but his feelings on
Freemasonry in general. I have never failed to experience a stimulating
discussion while sharing his thoughts.
Almost all exposure afforded to Freemasonry in recent years, either in print or
in the medium of radio or TV, has been negative. I have listened to several
audio tapes of his interviews and debates on public radio networks, and every
presentation has been positive for the fraternity. Even though the programs
have been designed to discuss the book, most calls received by the stations
were for information on Freemasonry. The only public voices normally heard are
those who object. John Robinson is one of the very few who support.
Mr. Robinson has the advantage of being able to debate our detractors as a non
Mason and, therefore, add a degree of credibility which we could not achieve as
members of the craft. With this credibility and the simple added aclvantage of a
good knowledge of the Middle Ages, John Robinson has been significantly more
capable of debating John Ankerberg, Epperson and others who have heen our most
Perhaps the reaction to this publication may be indicative of one of
Freemasonry's greater problems today -- our inability to recognize the need of
and the ability to accept change in any form. We must recognize the need for
stabililty where stability is required. We must recognize, acknowle-lge and
protect our basic philosophy and fundamental principles which have made
Freemasonry what it is.
We must also, however, be flexible enough to recognize the need to adapt to a
changing environment when it is necessary for success and indeed perhaps
survival. To look upon a theory and disregard it without consideration or
reject knowledge because it fails to fit into the accepted niche which we have
created or have had created for us is to perpetuate doom. A new concept of our
origin cannot harm us. Our history has been indicative of an inherent strength
to combat far greater threats to our integrity than a new concept of our
origin. In fact, if this theory were to be proved, it would probably be a
benefit to us.
I look upon John Robinson and the impact that he has created both within the
fraternity and upon those outside of it to be a bright light of opportunity. I
frankly have seen few within the craft with the potential to create as much
positive influence as has the author of Born in Blood.
Ed. note: We again respectfully call to your attention that Freemasonry's
Quatuor Coronati scholars are not universally in accord with our backgroun
John Hamill being quoted as saying something like: "Frankly we don't know
where we came from. " But the debate goes on and Christopher Haffner, Past
Master of Ouatuor Coronati Lodge, District Grand Master of Hong Kong and the Far
East, English Constitution, member of our Lodge, comes up with a good case for
the operative background in an article, "What do Free Masons Inherit," in the
latest Texas Lodge of Research Transactions (Volume XXVI). Also see Coil's
Masonic Encyclopedia, page 500, for more on Templar background.