Friday, October 9, 2009

Dan Brown Explains Why He Wrote About the Freemasons

[Click the image at left for a larger image of Dan Brown's letter.]

We interrupt our series regarding Maureen Dowd’s review of The Lost Symbol to report some late-breaking news.

The publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol, provoked a wide range of reactions, judging from the comments left on the Dan Brown Facebook fan page. Many people who left comments were overjoyed, and really loved the book.

On the other hand, a significant fraction of commenters—I’ll call them ‘the star theorists’—were less than pleased. Several individuals had predicted for months that The Lost Symbol would address one or another theory regarding such topics as the line-up of Washington DC streets with certain stars, supposed charts with kabbalistic or other mystical significance encoded in the street layout of DC, the decoding of ancient mystical manuscripts associated with King Solomon, even the type of theories about ancient astronauts long linked to the name of Erich von Daniken.

But that’s not what they got.

Instead, readers of The Lost Symbol got an adventure story that was deeply steeped in the symbolism and values of Freemasonry. This bothered the star theorists no end, even though Brown had said for years that his book would involve Freemasonry.

And so the grumbling began. Some of these people said that the Masons must have ‘gotten’ to Brown somehow, to keep him from revealing the important star map secrets that are supposedly held by the Masons. Some used accusatory tones to claim that Dan Brown himself was a Mason, as though that were some kind of crime.

Well, now the mystery of Dan Brown’s choice is solved. As reported in a post on Christopher Hodapp’s excellent blog, “Freemasons for Dummies,” Dan Brown sent a letter that was read out at a gathering held in connection with the biennial session of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the Southern Jurisdiction, held earlier this week in Washington, DC. (Some of the meetings were held in the very Temple Room at the House of the Temple that plays such an important part in the beginning and at the dramatic climax of The Lost Symbol.) As I understand it, the background of the letter is that Dan Brown had been invited to address the biennial session in person, but with Dan Brown having a heavy travel schedule, a personal appearance was impossible; he sent the letter instead.

In his letter of October 6, 2009 (photo above), Dan Brown said the following, in part:

In the past few weeks, as you might imagine, I have been repeatedly asked what attracted me to the Masons so strongly as to make it a central point of my new book. My reply is always the same: “In a world where men do battle over whose definition of God is most accurate, I cannot adequately express the deep respect and admiration I feel toward an organization in which men of differing faiths are able to ‘break bread together’ in a bond of brotherhood, friendship, and camaraderie.”
Please accept my humble thanks for the noble example you set for humankind. It is my sincere hope that the Masonic community recognizes The Lost Symbol for what it truly is … an earnest attempt to reverentially explore the history and beauty of Masonic Philosophy.

This is the reason why Dan Brown made Freemasonry central to The Lost Symbol. He respects the fact that Freemasonry encourages tolerance of religious differences, that Masonry fosters fellowship and even friendship across the lines drawn by different religious affiliations. He expresses thanks for the “noble example” that he says Masonry sets “for humankind.” In a sense, by depicting this example, he is trying to improve the world.

So that’s the story, folks. Dan Brown is not engaged in some kind of rule-the-world conspiracy. I see no evidence that he deliberately suppressed evidence that would have supported or propagated the ideas of the star theorists. He had something more important in mind:

Encouraging peace in this world.

Thank you, Mr. Brown.

Shameless Plugs

Basic questions about Freemasonry can be addressed to the author, either through a comment here, or through the “Freemasonry 101” blog.

I discuss the basics of Freemasonry in my book, Freemasonry: An Introduction, which will shortly be available again through Amazon; interested readers may ask to be notified of this availability through sending me an e-mail at .

I shall have a great deal to say about Freemasonry as it is depicted by The Lost Symbol in two places:

• one of my two chapters in the forthcoming book edited by Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, Secrets of The Lost Symbol, which you can read about here;

• my own forthcoming book, Discovering The Lost Symbol: Magic, Masonry, Noetic Science, and the Idea that We Can Become Gods. (Publishers’ and agents’ inquiries are welcome!)

[The image of Dan Brown’s letter was obtained through a post, “Dan Brown and Why Freemasonry,” dated October 8, 2009, on the "Freemasons For Dummies" blog, which is authored by Christopher Hodapp.]

(Copyright 2009 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)


  1. Thanks Mark, for drawing attention to Dan Brown's explanation of his wish to promote religious reconciliation through his depiction of Freemasonry in TLS. As one of those who could be labelled a "star theorist", I quite understand Dan's concerns and I have similar reasons for not fully revealing the results of my research into the legacy of John Dee (as it effects the history of science, Freemasonry and the USA) until it can be viewed objectively and not used to inflame prejudices and militarism. One concern I have about your presentation of Masonry is its denial of a role for atheists in the organisation. It is all well and good that toleration is expressed for any faith but at some point there must also be a reconciliation with unbelievers (i.e. those who value skepticism as a path to knowledge). Atheists can be just as moral (and immoral) as theists and deists, and there is no doubt that high intelligence is somewhat correlated with a lack of faith in present religions. It would be a shame if Freemasonry ended up on the side of the dims in disagreements with the brights.

  2. deetective: Thank you for contributing your thoughts to the discussion here.

    In almost half a century of following the development of popular language--and I grew up in Greenwich Village when "cool" was born--no development has been more insulting than the use of "brights" to refer to atheists and "dims" to refer to believers in God. This is unmitigated arrogance. And I speak as one who is on the record as being intellectually quite bright, with the recognized achievements to match []. Skepticism as a path to knowledge is not the exclusive domain of non-believers--but that is not a topic for this blog.

    Incidentally, having taught statistics as well as research design at the university level, I am in a position to state that the research relating IQ to religious belief has serious flaws. If you will forward references to the research that has appeared on this to me (see e-mail on my home page), I'll make a point of responding to this in a blog post in "On the Mark."

    Freemasonry--at least, that which is called "regular" Freemasonry--will never accomodate to atheism, in the sense of accepting atheists as members. This is not meant as an insult to atheists, nor is it an imputation of immorality to atheists. However, the very nature of Freemasonry is as a spiritual fellowship that focuses on one's duty to God. As I explain elsewhere [], belief in God is central to Freemasonry, which tilts decidedly towards the theistic.

    Freemasonry does indeed promote religious toleration, as I document in detail elsewhere []. Although Masons may respect atheists' right to believe as they choose, I don't see that ever extending to the opening of membership to atheists. It's not a matter of imputing immorality to atheists; such an accomodation would require a complete revision in the nature of what Freemasonry is.

    I'm not sure I understand the connection you see between Dan Brown's stated concerns and your not wishing to reveal your research. As opposed to many of the star theorists, I do not believe for a moment that Dan Brown is suppressing information about their theories in his book. I do not see any evidence suggesting that he puts any credence in those theories.

    Good fortune to you in your research. It will be interesting to read it when you finally release it.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hello again Mark,

    Thought I'd followup to my most recent contact on Facebook...

    Also, looks like I'm continuing my pattern of deleting my first post here to update typos...

    I have some insights on the so-called "star theorists" you are referring to. First and foremost, those actors on Dan Brown's FB site are fewer in number than the names used would imply if one doesn't pay close attention to the writing styles. For some insights, consider who had the nickname Duke, and check the two most used first names of the "star theorist(s)" lately. The new identity suddenly popped up after I busted the prime player for everyone to see. Even several of the apparent sycophants that always chime in seem to be clones of one another.

    Another insight is that Dan Brown's book is less of a target than another "star"... Notice my handle, and notice the number associated with the desperate focus of those so-called theorists? To better understand them, contemplate smoke and mirrors. More than meets the eye is afoot there.

    It is no coincidence that they are targeting the Lost Symbol site as well as the seven stars. Someone is too arrogant and desperate to grasp that they have already fallen into a well-laid trap. They're clearly doing the bidding of others who are very desperate to prevent people from grasping certain symbolic truths associated with star symbolism. Also, they have tried to extract details from me using other false ID's, not realizing that their game was already busted. That's all for now.

    Peace to you and yours...


  5. I think all people appreciate your explanation.

  6. I always like Dan Brown books - they all are well written and fun... I think it is hard to even touch Da Vinci Code - that books was just so much and thrilling that anything as a follow-up would be somewhat disappointing... However, it was still a good read and fun like all his other work.


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