So, just a personal aside before we begin. I know I’ve been gone a bit, I had surgery on my foot, and thinking straight enough to write while on painkillers is exceedingly hard. But! I am shooting for a 2nd and 4th week posting schedule, so hopefully we will get back on track. In addition to this, I’ve been mulling around the idea of putting together a book! It’s very much in the beginning stages at this point, I don’t even have a rough outline beyond what’s in my head at this point. If you have any topics or suggestions you’d like to see in a book on the topic of being an SO of a Mason, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, I know that this has happened to you. Someone asks you to hang out on the night of a Masonic event. The exchange usually goes something like this:
“Unfortunately, we have something going on.”
“Something fun I hope?”
“Well, it’s a Masonic dinner, they can be kind of fun.”
“Yeah, you know like a Freemason?”
Queue you trying to explain what Masonry is in a sentence or two, to someone that probably will still have no idea what it is that you’re talking about, or, to be honest, might not even care. So, what should you say?
To be honest, often I still have no idea. When I find myself in this situation, I tend to stumble over myself, and often leave the other person thinking about men chanting in robes, or share way too much about the organization.
Give them a frame of reference
Most people have no idea what a Freemason is, and that’s understandable. Oddly enough, however, almost everyone knows what a Shriner is. I would imagine this is due to their marketing and advertising that Blue Lodge tends to avoid. Even if I say “Shriner”, and I still get a blank look, I usually follow that up with “the guys in the little cars in the parade”, “Shriner circus”, or “Shiner Hospital for Children”, and then they know who I mean. I usually follow it up by saying that every Shriner has to be a Mason (as long as you’re not in Arkansas), but not every Mason has to be a Shriner. This is usually a satisfactory answer to what a Mason is.
Keep it concise
Truth be told, most people are just asking to be polite. The answer that you give them probably does not greatly affect them in any way. The hard part is summing up Masonry in a short, simple yet complete answer. There are so many aspects, and it can mean so very many things to so many different people. Usually, I will go with the standard of, “It’s a philanthropic adult fraternity.” This answer satisfies most people, and yet, every time I say it, I feel like its not quite right. It doesn’t quite encompass Masonry as well as it could. To be honest, I’m not sure what the correct, complete answer is. If you have a better one, please do share!
Share additional information, but only if asked
This is probably one of the things I have the hardest time with. When someone shows interest in Masonry, or in a related organization, I can get a little over excited, and talk to them a bit more about it than they really wanted to know. That being said, there are people out there that do want to learn more about the organization(s), so you should be prepared for that. Brush up on your general knowledge (Freemasons for Dummies!), or at least know where you can send someone to learn more – the Wikipedia article is decent, and your local Grand Lodge’s website is always a great resource. It’s fine to not have the answer to someone’s question regarding Freemasonry, but be sure to find out, or direct them to someone who can answer their question. Since Masons don’t actively recruit, word of mouth is the only way to get new members!
Hopefully this will help next time someone asks, “What is Masonry, anyway?” If you have any answers to this question that you use, please share them!