Masonic Education for All

I’m not certain how often this is noticed, but I do tend to write about topics that either rub me the wrong way or rub others the wrong way. What can I say? Apparently, my writing motivation is just wired that way. Fair warning, this is a bit of a rant.

Recently, an acquaintance started a Masonic Education group. I think that this is a wonderful thing. Freemasonry tends to be a very large topic, and has a lot of nooks and crannies, sometimes the meaning of one sentence can be teased out for hours on end. I think that’s great. Any sort of intellectual conversation that is friendly, and makes you think, and challenges what you know and believe should always be encouraged in my opinion. It’s a wonderful way to further the community, as well as a great way to help people understand things in ways they might not have¬†thought of before.

That being said. I will never attend the education group. It has nothing to do with the people running the group, or that I disagree or dislike the topics being discussed, or even that I simply don’t have the time. It’s because I’m not allowed.

Now, as many of you know, I am okay with not being allowed to become a Mason. I would simply like something similar for myself. Separate but equal. The only thing missing is the pedigree; alas, that is another post altogether.

However, I am a firm believer that Masonic education should be for everyone, both Masons, and non-Masons, as well as for men, women, and everyone in between. As it stands, Freemasonry supports this idea as well. UGLE has made a number of positive statements about the existence of the women’s Lodges. The Master Craftsman of the Scottish Rite is open to absolutely everyone. Many Annual Communications have Masonic Education breakfasts that are open. The first year that I attended an education breakfast, I was told that they would have to double-check that it was okay. When I got the go ahead, I was the only woman there. The following year, I was very happy to see other women attending.

I think that the thing that bothers me the most, is that not allowing open communication and education on Masonic topics is only furthering the issue of miscommunication about Freemasonry, not only online, but also in Lodges, and relationships. Turning inward and denying others something as simple as education hurts not only those you turn from, but also Freemasonry as a whole.

I would love to have a time where I could have an intellectual conversation about things like the symbolism used within the degrees. Yes, I understand secret work could not be discussed with non-Masons, but secret work is a very small portion of what Freemasonry is really all about. Discouraging interested non-Masons from conversing about Masonic educational topics often leads to disgruntled Google searches, which usually links either directly to ritual work, or a lot of misinformation. Education should be freely used and freely given; there are some topics that have a proper time and place, but that does not mean that someone should be denied completely. Get out there and educate yourselves!

 

What do you think? Does your Lodge or Masonic community have an education group? Have you ever attended? Why or why not? Do you think Masonic education should be for anyone who’s interested, or more regulated?

Other news: Be on the lookout! The Mason’s Lady will be featured on the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (SRNMJ) Blog later this month! I will be sure to link to it when it is posted.

Any questions or comments can be asked below, or at TheMasonsLady@gmail.com. Have a lovely month!

What Masonry Isn’t

Every so often, I get a concerning email. It’s usually from a wife or girlfriend, who has some concerns about Masonry. However, often these worries are something a bit above my pay grade. I wanted to take some time to talk about these concerns in general, and talk about what Freemasonry isn’t.

Freemasonry isn’t a secret society. If it was, they wouldn’t be in parades, handing out candy and driving little cars. They wouldn’t be giving speech therapy to kids, or have pediatric hospitals with their name on it in bright red letters. You wouldn’t be able to find out basically whatever you want to know about Freemasonry with a quick Google search. Instead, it is correct to say that Freemasonry is a society with secrets. As I’ve said before, these secrets are ways of recognizing each other through handshakes, words and phrases.

Freemasonry doesn’t want to take your SO from you. It is taught in Masonry that your obligations to your family, your work, your God, come first. Freemasonry is not out to steal your SO from you, even though it may feel like there is something going on in the Masonic family every night of the week. If you feel that your SO is spending too much time on Masonic stuff, say so to them. They might not recognize it. If you feel that you continue to have issues, I would recommend going and speaking with each other and a moderator, so that everyone can ensure they are being heard and understood. I would not recommend bringing the rest of the Lodge into it.

Freemasonry isn’t a religion, or anti-religion. In fact, it’s the opposite. In order to become a mainstream masculine Mason, you must profess a belief in a higher power. (Depending on your jurisdiction, the wording may be different, some say higher power, some say God, etc.) A lot of ritual and stories told within Masonry are based on Judaeo-Christian teachings; that is, a lot of things used within Masonry ritual is taken right from the Bible/Torah. That’s not to say a Pagan or Muslim cannot become a Freemason, anyone who meets the requirements can become one. There’s a lot of talk about there being a “Masonic Bible”, you can read more about that here. There did used to be issues between Catholics and Masons, and although Catholicism may still deter people from becoming Masons, there is nothing that is stopping a Catholic man from becoming one. All of this being said, there are some Masonic auxillary groups that require the members to specifically be Christian.

Freemasonry isn’t/doesn’t __(insert conspiracy theory here). There’s a million conspiracy theories out there about Masonry. That they control the government. That they are secretly lizard people. That they control politicians. That they control celebrities. That there’s such a thing as a 99th degree Mason. That they have some secret power or ability that only those that achieve the highest level degree are privy to. There’s a million out there. Allow me to assure you, most all of these have no foundation of truth. (The only one I can think of would be the politician one, in the 1800’s a lot of politicians were Masons. That’s how/why the Anti-Masonic party was founded, which later became the Whig party.) I’ve watched these guys struggle to organize a pancake breakfast; the idea that they run the government is laughable.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself. There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about Freemasonry. Arm yourself with knowledge. My first recommendation (beyond here!) is Brother Hodapp’s Freemasonry for Dummies. I’ve read this cover to cover, and it is always the first book I use for reference. (Sadly our signed copy got lent out and never returned.) It’s probably the most dog-eared, highlighted, annotated, bookmarked book in our collection. The great thing about this book is that it has an extensive resource section in the back with recommendations for more places to look on specific topics. Funnily enough, another great resource is Wikipedia, there’s quite an extensive section on Freemasonry. If you need help for information on any specific topic, don’t hesitate to contact me.