Shining City on a Hill

Was America What Francis Bacon Had in Mind?

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Medieval European Crusaders who traveled to Constantinople, Cairo, and Jerusalem established a renewed interest in Old Testament stories especially the legends of the Temple of Solomon and King David’s friend, the Phoenician King Hiram. This early Renaissance of the culture of Jerusalem gave birth to the Brotherhood of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon (also known as the Knights Templar), who became enthralled by Middle-Eastern Masonry and Science. Centuries later, the Italian Renaissance renewed interest in ancient art forms, Hermetic teachings from Egypt, and the Middle East. In the 1800s, Napoleonic expeditionary forces in Egypt returned to Europe with an entablature of artwork, architectural and technical design that created a new Egyptian fashion throughout Europe—and yet another Renaissance. The term means a ‘rebirth,’ but, a rebirth of what?

The Egyptians participated in their own rebirth of culture and science during the Old and New Kingdoms. Many of the noted Greeks, such as Solon, traveled to Egypt around 500 BC to learn that, during a prior Golden Age—what might also be called: the Age of Atlantis—their country had been a great nation. All of these ‘renaissances’ involved advanced astronomy, building ideas and technologies as well as ancient ideas of a special relationship between Heaven and Earth. The Egyptians, it was well understood, had claimed that their country was built in the image of Heaven. Later, Plato, and still much later Giordano Bruno, had discussed the creation of a city whose citizens lived in such a state of such perfection that all of mathematics, geometry, and proportions were displayed in the ordered design of their city. In this way the city would teach ‘goodness and righteousness’ to its citizens. The influence of such ideas was far reaching indeed.


The Rosicrucian Invasion of America

The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (the Rosicrucian Order) was conceived, it is widely believed, by Sir Francis Bacon. Bacon’s titles included: Eminent Imperator of European Rosicrucian’s, Knight of the Rosae Crucis, Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, and Lord Chancellor of England under James I. The names and titles of Bacon were arranged within the text of The New Atlantis, and his symbols are found in the watermarks of the original paper. In the highest position in the British government, he was often a secret representative for many high officials. Indeed, Bacon is credited with assuming the guilt—what some would call ‘taking the fall’—for some of these influential and highly positioned persons, including the king himself, in order to protect the realm—at least in appearance—allowing it to function normally and to run smoothly. When he wrote The New Atlantis, led by the “disciples of Soloman (sic)” Bacon had visions of a utopian state in America. Under the assumed name Christian Rosenkreutz (Rose Cross), he wrote, it is said, the seminal Rosicrucian text, the Fama Fraternitatis. Likewise, there is much evidence that Bacon, at the very least, assisted the ‘playwright’ Shakespeare. The writing craft, after all, was a lowly occupation in which the nobility could not indulge. Most importantly, Bacon planned a virtual invasion of America in 1693 by a select army of Rosicrucians from many parts of Europe. These members of the Brotherhood arrived in Philadelphia in 1694 where they established many of the original educational institutions of the United States. Upon Bacon’s death, an extraordinary assemblage of the European elite, nobles, scholars, and politicians appeared at his funeral, attesting to the great extent of his influence and the scope of his movement in the world. Bacon’s use of the Brotherhood of the Rose, or Red Cross and the mention of The House of Soloman had indicated a direct connection with the Knights of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. A rose, it is said, was suspended from the ceiling at all of his secret meetings; meaning Sub-Rosa–what was said under the rose was not to go any further. Later, The Red Cross was depicted on Templar vestments and appeared on the sails of the ships of Columbus.

  1. Spencer Lewis, the late nineteenth century Rosicrucian Imperator for North America and a descendent of Meriweather Lewis of the Lewis & Clark expedition fame, writes that the ‘order’ declares its purpose is to instruct mankind to be attuned to the mighty forces of the “Cosmic or Divine Mind, and Masters of matter, space, and time.” The Cosmic Mind is a major tenet of the Hermetic cosmology of the Middle East.


Temple of Heaven and Earth

The Rosicrucian ideal of the Temple of Heaven and Earth arrived in the American colonies with Puritans, Huguenots, and the Quakers of William Penn. Each held widely divergent beliefs, but all agreed in their aim to establish a utopia here on Earth. They all wished to reform religion by returning to ancient Hebrew traditions of God’s covenant with a special people of his choosing—not only to build a new temple, but to build the spiritual and eternal New Jerusalem, which, in a new millennium, was to come down from heaven.

After the excesses of Oliver Cromwell in Ireland, during England’s interregnum, the name ‘Puritan’ became synonymous with religious fanaticism and extreme intolerance against even co-religionists, such as Quakers, Anglicans, and Baptists. Witness the execution of Mary Dyer and the Boston Martyrs for not renouncing their Quaker beliefs. Puritans called themselves ‘the Godly.’ They disapproved of religious celebrations such as Christmas, Lent, Easter, and the spring Maypole. They restored theologies in which even Adam and Eve were seen as depraved sinners. Their role was to become ‘a chosen people’ predestined to build a ‘New Jerusalem’ in America—as Winthrop called it, ‘A city on a hill’—a phrase later echoed by Ronald Reagan as ‘a shining city on a hill.’ They were to live strictly by divine law and to restore, among other things, the ideal of the Sabbath dedicated to reading and learning about their faith. Everything, though, was to be carried out in moderation because, ‘Overdoing is undoing.’ In the early nineteenth century, French diplomat, political scientist, and historian Alexis de Tocqueville in his Democracy in America wrote that Puritanism has remained the firm foundation of America.

Like the Inquisitors of the Roman Catholic Church, Puritans did not hesitate, however, to demonize, punish, and even execute deviants—all the while advocating religious freedom, declaring friendship toward Native Americans, and denouncing slavery. The term ‘Puritan’ was ultimately replaced by the word ‘Pilgrim,’ as inspired by John Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress, suggesting ‘seekers in quest of God and the truth.’

The main tenets and beliefs of Puritanism were:

That the many branches of Christianity needed to be reformed by looking back to the ancient Hebrew traditions of ‘a chosen people enjoying a special covenant with God to prosecute His Will in the world.’

A belief in ‘millennialism,’ that Christ would return in glory to judge and reward his flock. Their saying is, ‘we are not quite there yet’—since the time of this event is unknown.

Puritan spiritualism included the belief that all members were capable of being ministers and could read and understand the Bible, by themselves, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This tenet certainly reflects the ancient Hermetic notion of the Cosmic Mind and its connection to the microcosm of the human mind.

Because of the spiritual nature of the world, though, there existed the possibility that wicked demons might mislead the people, a fear that led to the infamous Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts.

The concept of the ‘Temple of Heaven on Earth’ originates in very ancient, even megalithic, astronomy, which many believe was, itself, the legacy of a Golden Age and a priestly science of physically connecting geographic places on Earth with the motions and cycles of the Sun, Moon, and stars. Many sacred sites, like England’s Stonehenge and Avebury, were virtual celestial observatories, centering upon a place where cosmic and earth energy intermingled, thus, consummating the union of celestial and terrestrial forces in one place. All this was coordinated by sight lines with a geocentric perspective. Once all the observations of the priestly originators had been marked and completed, it was as if Heaven had been floated down upon the Earth. This, then, consummated the marriage of Heaven and Earth. The astronomical alignments acting upon the natural and cosmic energy portal truly created a sacred and powerful place ultimately connecting with the entire universe. Both priests and assembled persons became conscious of this holy phenomenon through the knowledge of cosmic and terrestrial principles.

These ancient priest/scientists reasoned that through the synchronizing of astronomy, physics, and the energy of Earth and Sky, they had achieved a direct communication with the Supreme Being. Indeed, from Machu Picchu to Tiwanaku; from Tikal to Chichen Itza; from Stonehenge to Giza; from Angkor Wat to the Temple of Jerusalem; this understanding was exemplified in the supreme mystery of ‘Temple’ practice, found in great astronomical energy centers all over Earth. We now recognize that the ancient Hebrews were themselves such astronomers and lived alongside and among astronomical cultures such as the Phoenicians, Chaldeans, Babylonians, Egyptians, and the Sabaeans of Harran. The tradition of having a close and intimate relationship with God through the action of the holy site is certainly a powerful aspect of Jewish and ‘Golden Age’ cultures.


Events in Ireland & England

Puritans in America, England, and Ireland became ‘Pilgrims and Quakers.’ This name-change was necessary because of the excesses of the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland (1649–50)—doubtless one of the darkest hours in the history of that island. Oliver Cromwell’s title was ‘Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.’ A self-righteous, self-proclaimed messenger of the wrath of God, Oliver Cromwell was a religious zealot and extremist of the worst sort, who came not only to punish the Irish for their rebellious nature but to chastise them for adherence to the Roman Catholic faith which, as he saw it, sorely needed to be ‘purified.’ Cromwell enforced the Irish Penal Laws, which disqualified Roman Catholics from holding ownership of land in their own country. As his army swept through the country, his stalwarts were rewarded with large holdings of the finest agricultural lands. His saying to the Irish was that they could go to ‘Hell or Connacht (the inhospitable rocky Atlantic side of Ireland).’ He was often reprimanded for his holocaust-like massacres of unarmed civilians; but proclaimed his actions to be ‘the righteous judgment of God.’ Oliver was a descendent of a sister of Thomas Cromwell, a minister of Henry VIII. In the 1630s Oliver converted to Puritanism believing that he was on a ‘divine mission’ and styling himself as the ‘Moses of Puritans.’

Captain William Morris, a loyal Puritan in Cromwell’s army received the confiscated lands and castle of the Roman Catholic Florence McCarthy at the beautiful coastal sea-inlet of Rosscarbery in Cork, an ancient domain of the eighth Earl of Desmond going back to the 1470s. The Morris’s renamed the place Castle Salem in tune with their Judeo-Christian and Puritan beliefs. In 1656 William Morris and John Perrot, encouraged by Quaker founder George Fox, became Quakers. The American history of this period is best exemplified by the personage of William Penn (1644–1718). Born in Tower Hill, London, Penn was a regular summer visitor to his father’s estates in nearby Macroom Castle. At Castle Salem he became a fervent convert to Quakerism. Penn—whose father, ironically, had loaned the exiled Charles II 16,000 Pounds Sterling—had been granted the land on the west bank of the Delaware River, later called Pennsylvania (or Penn’s Woods). William Penn never encouraged the Roman Catholic Irish to settle in his newly founded Province of Pennsylvania which he called a ‘Holy Experiment’—but rather opened his doors to German and English Quakers, former Puritans, and Huguenots.

Fox started the Religious Society of Friends, who became, since they were ‘moved by the Spirit,’ known as ‘Quakers.’ Quakers were the progenitors of the later ‘Shakers’ and ‘Evangelicals’ and ‘Rapture’ sects. These groups strongly believe in the involvement of the Holy Spirit to ‘move them’ and guide their thoughts. Quakers advocated strong commerce and founded such banking institutions as Barclays, Lloyds, and Friends Provident banks as well as Cadbury, Rowntree, and Fry’s. Though not welcome in Ireland, Fox traveled around Cork under the protection of William Morris and the Religious Society of Friends. Fox, Morris, and Penn met and conferred together at Morris’ Castle Salem. The meeting of these three influential personages was in the neighborhood of the strongly English-Puritan town of Bandon where even the pigs—according to Irish wit—had converted to Protestantism. Fox, Morris, and Penn were all benefactors of estates and titled positions created by the Puritan rampage through Ireland among the Roman Catholics whom Cromwell detested even more than the British royalists.

In 1776, the Colony and Dominion of Virginia became the Commonwealth of Virginia, to be followed, in due course, by Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. ‘Commonwealth’ comes from ‘weal’ meaning well-being—for the common good and not in favor of a particular class. The Puritan leader, John Winthrop believed that New England could become ‘the city upon the hill (i.e. The Heavenly Jerusalem).’ He and others were men of Oxford and Cambridge in England who founded Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Education was a necessity of Puritan politics, so long as such religious freedom was Puritan freedom, and so long as education was in Puritan education and values. The year 1678 saw the publication of The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan concerning the allegorical journey of the Pilgrim from the City of Destruction (this world) to the Celestial City (Heavenly Jerusalem atop Mt. Zion). The mythical ‘Pilgrim’ in his ‘progress’ meets Evangelist who directs him to the ‘wicket gate of the divine city’ and the ‘shining light.’ He also meets the Shining Ones (Angels), the Giant of Despair, and Mr. Worldly Wise who turns out to be a false guide.

In a sense, the Quakers and William Penn’s ‘Holy Experiment’ was to be realized in the founding of the United States, the New Jerusalem and Shining City on the Hill. But, in a world of many competing ideologies and hostile religions, the Temple on Earth remains a dream unfulfilled and something yet to be achieved. The true meaning of ‘The Heavenly City’ is a sacred place where geography and sky are joined through cosmic and terrestrial forces to create the sacred atmosphere of a sacred people living in a sacred city in a sacred universe.

The Brotherhood of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon inherited the ideals of a sacred temple built by the Brotherhood of Masons from the Golden Age. The Templars brought these ideas to Europe, Britain, Scotland, and Ireland. Templars became Rosicrucians, while Puritans became Pilgrims and Quakers. Ancient ideas brought from Egypt and Jerusalem sparked the flame of religious freedom and, through Democracy in America, the dignity of the common man.


Thomas Dietrich is the author of Temple of Heaven & Earth available on Amazon.

By Thomas Dietrich