I figure it’s about time to share an important part of my identity at 47: I am a Freemason. For most of you, that’s not necessarily interesting or of note; for some, it is likely a badge of dishonor. For a few men, I hope it’s a sign of Brotherhood. I would like to share a bit about this sub-culture with you as I think it is a good use of my time and attention.
When I was first made a Mason, I was shocked to find out that the values of a centuries-old organization were so appealing that, on the spot, I realized that I was born to be a Mason. As I am decidedly not a joiner, this was a major surprise. And although I am not currently active in a Lodge, I still read, think upon the lessons, symbols, and men that have made me a better person.
Question at the Door
Q: Who comes here?
A: Mr AB, a Free man, of good report, and well-recommended.
Freemasonry is about the never-ending pursuit of the Light. This Light is Enlightenment, as in The Enlightenment. We value morality, education, knowledge, insight, wisdom, and Charity. And Liberty. That’s a very important one – we are all Free men.
The American Revolution was planned by many Masons meeting in and around Boston in pursuit of these values, and they helped shape this country’s legal and philosophical systems. And although it’s become a very conservative Brotherhood in many states as the fraternity has pulled in fewer, less-educated members, there is still a spark of the true Liberal spirit that remains.
We have lessons, stories, rituals, and procedures that use stories from the Old Testament as a cloak. A central theme is King Solomon, the building of his Temple, and its perfection. There are just three levels in Masonry – Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason – as each class of stone masons was employed in building the Temple. All other degrees beyond these three come from associated Masonic organizations such as Scottish Rite and York Rite. The Shriners are one of the most well-known Masonic organizations, but there are others – Order of the Amaranth, Order of the Eastern Star, Royal Order of Jesters, etc. And there are a number of Masonic bodies for children, mostly to inculcate an interest and understanding of Masonic values so that when they are older, they become lifelong members.