Boston’s role in the American Revolution has captivated my imagination since I moved to the Greater Boston Area almost sixteen years ago. Visiting historic sites and going on countless Freedom Trail walking tours has delighted me. And I’ve come to think of key figures like Abigail Adams, James Otis, John Hancock and Paul Revere as people I actually know.
Yesterday John and I went to Paul Revere’s grave marker at the Old Granary Buying Ground to attend a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of his death. What a thrill! The ceremony included fife and drum music, a color guard from the USS Constitution (wearing period uniforms), three of Paul Revere’s descendants and the ringing of the bell (a bell Revere had cast) at King’s Chapel. Oh yeah, and remarks from the Masons of Massachusetts’ 89th Grand Master.
Prior to the program, my optimistic husband tried to soothe me with the thought that many men joined the Masons simply to advance their standing in the business community. They didn’t really get into it. We assured ourselves that, since Paul Revere was a Puritan, that must have been the case.
Not exactly (as a friend of mine says during his segments on Paul Revere in his Freedom Trail walking tours). The Grand Master told us that Revere served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts between 1794 and 1797.
I left the Granary feeling the same grief that I felt when I first learned that my beloved Abigail Adams embraced Unitarianism later in her life. I so want to imagine these people who founded our country to have been solid Christians, but (as John Adams famously said), facts are stubborn things. My Revolutionary heroes have tragic flaws.
Last night I thought a bit about my sadness over Paul Revere’s involvement in Freemasonry. Although it disappoints me, it also reminds me to worship only Jesus Christ. I can appreciate — and even admire — Paul Revere, Abigail Adams and the others who took part in the efforts leading to America’s Independence. They can still be my heroes. In some respects, dear Abigail can continue to be my role-model. But the Lord uses my knowledge of their false beliefs to protect me from idolizing them. For that kindness, I worship Him.