August 25, 2010 § 2 Comments
As one of my blog posts today, I thought I’d do something a little more research heavy to make up for my more reflective posts of late. I decided to look into a topic from my Statement of Goals post – freemasonry. Mind you my conclusions here are by no means exhaustive, it’s more like I’ve taken what I’ve found and distilled it down to a few key points.
Freemasonry is a bit of an elusive subject for someone who isn’t a member and doesn’t know any members personally. I started off, for general knowledge, on the freemasonry wikipedia page (which told me next to nothing, really) then ended up on a journey into websites for local lodges, pages advocating women in freemasonry, and applications to join.
The background knowledge I came up with told me that freemasonry was established around the 16th or 17th century (sources disagree) by a group of Stone Masons. The group later began accepting members who weren’t actually stone masons, which lead to them being known as “Free Masons”. Freemasons have Grand Lodges, and those rule over smaller local lodges. Freemasonry began in England, and its neighboring Scotland and Ireland, and was brought to the British colonies in North American in the early 1700’s.
Today’s Masonic lodges are split up often by community, but also by interests, professions and hobbies. Freemasons generally only accept men, and those lodges that allow women membership are not recognized by the mainstream lodges. Most lodges only accept members over 18, and those lodges that I’ve seen that accept women only accept those over 25 (basically, I’m screwed for another 5 years).
Facts I’ve seen across the board:
-Freemasonry is *not* a religion
-Freemasonry works to improve the character of it’s members
-Freemasons are charitable (many give to hospitals, children’s charities, etc)
My favorite things about Freemasonry:
–You have to ask to be a member. I can’t tell you how much I like this concept. This means no pushy proselytizing or advertising, and there’s exclusivity. This also means that to be a member, you have to take initiative.
–Secrecy. In the age of the internet, social networking, and the iphone, it’s hard to keep anything a secret (and no one seems to want to!) but I think keeping secrets is a lost art worth reviving. The idea that “what happens in the Lodge, stays in the Lodge” is something I respect, and I’m sure that adds to the bond between members and their sense of inclusion in the group.
–Follows no particular religious beliefs. I love this. For a while, I had thought freemasonry was a Christian thing. Not so, apparently, and that’s a relief to me. The fact that freemasonry can be experienced by anyone of any faith adds so much more to its validity as a path to intellectual growth and understanding.
–It’s in my town! Not kidding, there’s a masonic lodge practically in the center of this uber-conservative, white bred, snobby town. I’m amazed. I don’t know what they practice there, but I’m impressed it exists at all. Was sad but not surprised they only accept men. What a shame.