Who or what are the Freemasons, and what do they do?
Back in the 1990s when the Internet was still new, I spent a lot of time on my dial-up connections randomly surfing the web. At some point I started looking into the various conspiracy theory websites, and was fascinated that nearly all of them mentioned that mysterious group called “The Freemasons.” This was a surprise to me; at the time I had considered Masons to be grandfatherly types who held meetings in dusty old buildings. How could they be part of such seemingly unrelated conspiracies alleged to be connected with NASA, the CIA, Area 51, UFOs and alien bases, One World Government, the New World Order, the British Royalty, the secret Illuminati, and dozens of other groups?
Some time after a friend of mine joined the lodge in Southington, Connecticut, he mentioned that I might be interested in coming down to meet some of the guys. I was skeptical; why would a 35 year old guy want to join a groups of geriatrics? He assured me that most of the members weren’t much older than he was, and that they were all a great bunch. I came down to some semi-public function where I watched a lot of pomp and circumstance, and heard a lot of speeches. No, not my cup of tea.
But a few years later I gave it a second thought. I spent a lot of time researching on the Internet — not in the conspiracy groups, but in the groups where Masons, themselves, hung out and chatted. After lurking for several months, I started joining in the discussions, asking questions, and generally learning a lot about the fraternity; that is, except for the most basic question: What are Masons, and what do they do?
After almost half a year of getting to know Masons around the US — indeed, around the world — on the Internet, I applied at Friendship Lodge No. 33, and was accepted. In the fall of 2001, I actually became a Freemason.Now I could finally begin to answer that question.
Not long after joining, I was asked to be an officer. At the time, I thought it was like being an officer at the PTA or the Condo Board; you show up, help with bake sales, and then a year later you step down. It wasn’t until the day I was installed that I learned it was a 7 year commitment. “No way,” I responded, “I’m never going to be able to memorize all those passages for the degree ceremonies!” But I did memorize them, and over the next few years, I got to know a lot of great people along the way.
In 2006, I was installed as the Master of the lodge, and a few months later I started a blog as a way to have an online calendar of events. But eventually I took those down and started posting little essays about the events themselves, my thoughts on Masonry in general, and my thoughts on what I saw happening in our fraternity as an organization.
Over the years, I’ve been pleased to meet even more Masons over the Internet, and some of them have asked to use my essays for their own newsletters and trestle boards. And I’m always pleasantly surprised when, upon meeting a new Mason in a lodge, he tells me that reading this blog was one of the reasons that he decided to join. I try to stay away from the esoteric questions and just concentrate on my own, personal journey.
I’m hoping that if I keep at this long enough, that I’ll be able to answer the question I originally asked.
Thank you for reading.