When seniors John Jacobi and Jonathan Janssen arrived at Dordt College in the fall of their junior year, the last thing they expected was getting caught up in a conspiracy theory. But merely a week later, they, just like many others before them, were browsing the far reaches of the internet and building their own tinfoil hats.
Stemming from an excited conversation between two roommates, Jacobi’s investigations began when senior Juan Benitez told him about the influence of Freemasonry in Paraguay, Benitez’s home country.
“He said that they are really shady over there and everyone knows it,” Jacobi said. “Like, firefighters went to a Masonic Lodge to put out a fire and there was a skeleton on an altar in the front. But then, he told me about the Masonic stuff at Dordt.”
The “stuff” of which Benitez spoke were the stained-glass windows on either side of the BJ Haan Auditorium. On the west side is a stream of white letters that read “In thy light shall we see light” (taken from Psalm 36.9 KJV) with a white symbol next to them. On the east side is a single Latin word – “PHOS” or “light” – encased in a black, double-pointed oval reminiscent of the shape of an eye.
Jacobi, after some investigations of his own, told Janssen about his findings.
“I didn’t really take any of it seriously until the thing happened with José,” Janssen said. “That was when I started to wonder if something was actually going on.”
The took took junior José Benitez – also from Paraguay – on a tour of campus, at which time they pointed out the white symbol on the west side of the BJH and asked him what it looked like.
“Masones…?” said José, clearly alarmed. “What is going on? Why is that on there?”
What José spotted was the symbol of the Freemasons, a secret fraternity of stone masons dating back to the late 14th century which has been the subject of endless scrutiny and criticism by concerned parties worldwide since the 18th century. One such party of interest to the Dordt community is the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), which split from the Reformed Church in America (RCA) in 1857, citing the RCA’s allowance of its members to join the secretive Masonic society as a major reason for dispute and eventual separation.
The idea grows more disturbing when one realizes that “In thy light shall we see light” is a phrase that is specific to one relevant event: the initiation of a new member into the Masonic brotherhood. Here they are said to receive the “light” (read: “phos”) that is offered to all members of the Freemasons.
These symbols are instantly recognizable in Paraguay, which led senior Paola Alonso to sleep with a knife underneath her pillow when she became aware of the BJH windows, according to Juan.
Continuing the search out from the BJH, Jacobi and Janssen arrived at The Gift sculpture on campus. Underneath the figure’s foot is a blue slate with several conspicuous symbols engraved on its face, including an eye with rays of light shining down from it and an hourglass with an angel wing and a devil wing on either side – intriguingly, many of these signs have direct ties to Masonic symbolism.
On the other side of the figure are four pillars, one standing and a bit weathered, and the other three trailing away, increasingly beaten down as they go. Underneath the figure is a pillar that is still being formed. Incidentally, within Masonic symbolism, a broken pillar stands for a fallen leader. Three broken columns. Three past presidents of Dordt. One standing pillar. One current president. One future column. One future president? The math seems to add up.
And, of course, with a simple widening of vision, one will notice that The Gift is in the shape of a triangle within a brick inlay. Setting aside the obvious allusion to masonry brought about by the use of brick (a suspiciously ubiquitous material on Dordt’s campus), the triangle is also chopped off at the top, making it resemble the pyramid on the back of the U.S. Dollar Bill – a symbol often tied to Freemasonry and other secret societies.
Jacobi’s and Janssen’s search eventually led them to the local Fruited Plain Café where their barista, Dordt junior Jennifer Allen, heard of their findings and alerted super-senior Chris Geels – who ran home and returned with a box full of Masonic sashes. According to Geels, around 30 masonic robes and sashes were found when the costume shop had cleaned out its stock in the previous spring.
And the Dordt Theater Department confirmed that they never, nor would they ever, have performed anything requiring that great an amount of identical costumes.
“My entire body had chills running through it,” Janssen said. Jacobi said it was “super freaky.”
Where does this investigation lead? Dead ends and laughs at each turn. And yet, the sashes sit, testaments to the truth of Masonic influence at Dordt. Attempts to trace the sashes tied them back to a Lodge manufacturer that provides for a Masonic chapter based in Modesto, CA – the same location of many Dordt benefactors, including Henry and Henry Van Klaveren, who sponsored a $1 million “campus beautification” program in 2011 primarily consisting of the new clock tower.
And who taught them to be so generous with their funds? As an archived Voice edition on their program proclaims, “That education began under the leadership of former Vice President for College Advancement Lyle Gritters and Development Representative Harold De Wit in the mid 1970s. Gritters and De Wit were raising money for Dordt’s first major fund raising campaign—to fund the chapel, today’s B.J. Haan Auditorium.”
Still wondering why you should care about Masonic influence creeping into Dordt College, that school that you call your own? Do a quick Google search on my name. Open your eyes. Stay paranoid, my friends.
This article was taken from the Zircon issue of The Dordt Diamond