(photo by Aphexlee)
For those of us who don’t really know, can you summarize what the freemasons are all about?
Freemasonry is the largest fraternal organization for men who believe in a Supreme Being in the world. More or less.
Is it true that the Freemasons secretly control or maintain a portion of the real control over the United States Government?
It is true that many of founding fathers and patriots (Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Revere), US Presidents (Truman, Ford), Supreme Court Justices (Warren, Marshall) , et al are or were Freemasons, and many of the government buildings were laid Masonically. The influence is undeniable. The Boston Tea Party was carried out largely by Masons, for example. You see many facets of Masonry carried over into our system of government — one person, one vote, secret ballot, executive term limits, even the oaths of office have similarities.
But that said, Masons don’t run the world as if we were a secret cabal. It just so happens that many of our members are accomplished men, which includes politics but is hardly limited to it. Harry Houdini was a Mason. Duke Ellington was a Mason. John Glenn is a Mason.
Why did you decide to join the freemasons? What is their purpose?
I decided to join because I saw a glimpse of a world I liked. Its a great group of men. God became a huge part of my life a few years back. It seemed like something I could do to make myself better, to meet new people, to network, and to serve God and to do some good!
What kind of good things do you guys do?
We work with charities for veterans, kids with disabilities, organize blood drives. Sometimes we also get together and just hang out as a group.
How do you become a Freemason? Is it hereditary? Are you chosen?
Neither (though many fathers recommend their sons, but that’s normal.). The answer is: To be one, ask one.
You may see guys driving around in cars with Masonic square and compasses on their bumpers…sometimes you’ll also see a bumper sticker “2B1ASK1″…that’s what that means.
Was the initiation in any way homoerotic?
The initiation was not homo-erotic, dangerous, or in anyway bothered me. It was one of the pivotal moments of my life, however, and therefore was very unique and like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Can you tell us more?
Not without revealing something I swore I wouldn’t.
What are the requirements to become a Mason? What are deal-breakers for membership?
You have to be a man, free born, over 18 and believe in a higher power. Atheism is a deal breaker for sure.
Why can’t women join?
Its tradition. Women can’t join because they never have. I agree its strange, especially nowadays. But I kind of like the fact that its something men can do and women can’t…so sue me.
Are there any non-Caucasian men in your group?
Good question! In my lodge, no. I come from a very white area. I am very liberal in this regard, since I came from a large and diverse city. I am a white man and would have no issues with any man of good standing of any color joining. Due to the age of the men that are Freemasons these days, however, this isn’t a popular notion. I’ve heard tales of high up Freemasons having to force lodges to admit black members. This pains me a lot, that an organization I love could be this narrow minded.
In order to become a mason do you have to have something to offer? For example a lawyer would be more likely to be accepted than someone working in McDonalds.
No. I am a younger guy, no college degree, and I didn’t have a job when I joined. They looked past all that and accepted me.
So once you are accepted into the organization, what do you do after?
We have a “regular communication”, which means once a month we get together for “regular business”…which usually means doing the things we do as Masons — planning charity work, planning social outings, planning or delivering degrees, voting, etc. Sometimes we’ll have a guest speaker. We also review the bills (reality…someone’s gotta pay the electric bill).
The rest of the time it’s actually doing what we planned — like putting together care packages for our troops overseas, or going to ballgames, stuff like that. It’s as much social as anything else.
What are the perks?
There have been quite a few benefits. The central purpose of Masonry is “to make good men better”, and that’s accurate. Our degrees, of which there are three, roughly correspond with the stages of life — entered apprentice (child), fellowcraft (adolescent) and Master Mason (a man). Each degree teaches profound lessons — which have not changed in hundreds of years — and you can spend a lifetime contemplating the deep meaning behind the symbolism and allegory. I have certainly learned a lot about life and manhood, first going through them, and later delivering those degrees to new brothers.
Also, because I enjoy the company of other good people, the relationships with my Masonic brothers has been a blessing. I have moved to different states for my job, and there is always a lodge of brothers there to welcome me to the neighborhood and share a good meal. That is true almost anywhere in the world.
How frequent and lucrative are the job connections people get through the organization?
For the amount of work that’s involved in memorization, someone looking for business connections is better off joining another organization, like the local Chamber of Commerce. I have done business deals with brothers, and they weren’t for profit, they were more like break-even deals for friends.
What do you give up by being a Freemason?
Your yearly dues.
What are your yearly dues?
It depends on your area. My lodge is pretty big but we believe in charging a bit more so we have the hard currency to get stuff done. Our building is old and takes a lot to maintain so I don’t mind…just one of the many ways we put the money to good use For example, another lodge in my area has twice the membership that mine does and can charge less. Its under a hundred dollars.
Is that $100/year or $100/month?
Under a hundred a year.
Are the Freemasons a continuation of the Knights Templar?
There are theories that the Freemasons are descended from the Knights Templar. The best book on the subject is “Born in Blood” by John Robinson. He postulates that the things that make masons masons (secret modes of recognition, meetings guarded by swordsman, etc — would confer no benefit on ancient European stonemasons (who were mostly employed building cathedrals, so the Church was their client), but would be of great value to excommunicated and hunted men like the Templars. It’s a pretty compelling theory, but there is contention about it of course. The earliest written reference is probably the Regius Poem which dates back to the 1300s I believe.
How deep of an influence has freemansonry had in todays modern society, if any?
Tremendously. But not in the way you’re thinking. Freemasonry makes good men better. If we do have some hidden agenda its to make the world a better place.
Obviously the Freemasons are not the secret scary entity they are portrayed as in movies and things…..but, do you ever find yourself thinking, “geez, I am a part of a group that controls the WORLD.”
No I don’t, haha. Although I did join because of the Stonecutter episode of the Simpsons. Its more dealing with that kind of thing from other people…its actually kind of fun. Sometimes I don’t disarm people’s suspicions about Freemasonry, though. For one, its good press. Let them wonder. For two, anyone who is going to assume something sinister about a benevolent organization without doing any research isn’t worth my time to begin with.
If asked, would you share the phrases, handshakes, signs, that it’s rumored are shared among masons? In other words, if there are secrets (are there?) do you keep them secret or is it more of a “no big deal” kind of situation?
There are secrets, which are mostly related to the modes of recognition (so we can tell who’s a real freemason and who is not) and to the degrees themselves (so that they have the maximum impact on the man receiving them).
I swore to never reveal the secrets of Freemasonry, so I don’t, and would never. But it’s a common question I get, and I don’t want to be a douche about the answer, so I just laugh it off…I’ll make a joke out of it.
It usually goes like this: Q: “You’re a Mason?!? Tell me the secrets!”. A: (whispering) “Can you keep a secret?” Q: ” YEAH!” A: (winking) “Well so can I!”
Either that, or I make up something ridiculous, like “we’re werewolves”.
In all seriousness though, I’ve had friends ask me to tell them privately, with the justification “come on, if you told me no one would ever know”. To which I’ve replied “Yes, someone would. I would know.”
Is it true about the funny handshakes?
Do you do it with everybody you shake hands with? Ever done it and the other person wasn’t a Mason after all?
Have you had any non-Masons notice this whatever and ask what it was that you’d done?
Not once. I’d be willing to bet that you’ve shaken hands with a Mason and not known it.
What political party are most Freemasons in?
Well, the two things that are absolutely forbidden as discussions in lodge are politics and religion. So of course, what do Masons talk about after lodge, at dinner? Politics and religion, just like everyone else. In my experience, it’s been more geographic than anything. Down south, they’re Republicans. Up north, Democrats. We have our share of prominent politicans from both parties, and journalists, and union organizers, and GOP fundraisers and what have you. It’s a pretty broad demographic.
What do guys think about Scientologists?