[Square & Compasses]

Why did you become a Freemason?

"Steven M. Hudson" <steve.hudson@prodigy.net>

Why Do I Want To Be A Mason?

November 9, 2000

What inspired me to ask about being made a Mason?

My first exposure to the Masonry was from my Grandfather, and then later, my father. My Grandfather was made a Mason in 1955, and my father entered the Shrine in 1970. When I was younger I certainly intended to follow in their footsteps. However, because of growing up in the South and not having much interaction with other Masons, I had erroneously formed the idea that Masonry was only for 'devout' or 'fundamentalist' Christians like my Grandfather, or else was a social body like the Shrine.

I had been somewhat of a fundamentalist myself in my teens. However, I went through a real crisis of faith in my twenties. I abandoned Western religious thought altogether, believing that, if I were to have a relationship with God, I was not likely to find it in 'the faith of my fathers'. About the same time, my father let his membership in the fraternity lapse. He had moved to another town and his home lodge closed so he just drifted out. So, the subject fell off of my radar with him for awhile. I moved away and it never really came up between us. I was sad to be 'breaking the chain', but felt I was showing intellectual integrity, so I just let it go. Besides, I'd never really liked the red hat anyway.

Metaphorically and spiritually, I went to the East. I studied Zen and Taoism and began to build a new concept of God based on his 'bigness' and his 'inclusiveness'. I learned and believed that 'the god that can be named is not the true god'. I knew God was real, but learned that my ideas of Him had been very small. I began to feel free of my traditions and began to be free of some of the guilt and shame I had learned as a child.

I studied bit of Hinduism, bits of Sufism, bits of paganism. I studied things I had been taught were Western 'heresies' such as Gnosticism, the Kaballah and the Gospel of St.Thomas. I especially liked studies of the history Western religion such as Karen Armstrongs 'The History of God'. These type of books helped me understand that, for the most part, religion was something Man invented to explain the feelings he had about God, rather than something God invented for Man.

I also studied psychology -- especially the works of Carl Jung and Alice Miller. I learned the MBTI and read about synchronicity. I was especially captivated by Jung's analysis of speculative alchemy and the transformation of the soul. I saw how the ideas of the subconscious and emotional programming could explain any number of ideas from the 'numinous' to the the workings of 'faith' and 'magick'. Still, I felt a great restlessness, as if I wasn't settled. I had a nice theory which explained nearly everything, but I was missing some experience.

In my fiction reading, I began to see references to the Masons, but always in such bizarre forms that it was almost unrecognizable. I read 'Foucaults Pendulem' by Eco and the 'Illuminatus trilogy' by Robert Anton Wilson [and Robert Shea -- ed.]. These books were 'romantic' in the sense of the idea that some of the traditional ancient wisdom had been preserved in esoteric orders. But of course, they are highly fictionalized and of no more validity that "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a guide for space travel.

Then a few years ago I happened to see the Sean Connery/Michael Caine movie "The Man Who Would Be King". It's a great yarn and again has little to do with real Masonry. But there was a scene that, for some reason stuck in my imagination. In an early scene, Rudyard Kipling asks Michael Caine where he comes from and where he's going. Caine replies something to the effect of "I'm coming from the East and heading to the West to find 'That which was lost'." I knew this was something Masonic, but I puzzled over what it could mean.

It really stuck with me and seemed to speak directly to me. Certainly I had traveled to the East, and still felt like something had been lost. I ramped up my study of Western 'religious' thought and, given the movie's theme, also included some marginal study of the Masonry. One of the amazing things I discovered was the inclusiveness of the Masonic tradition. I discovered I might still be able to be 'me' and be a Mason. And, I might yet find some spiritual traditions to help me in my quest to be the best man I can be.

I studied for a few more years and then I decided. I must find out for myself. I must 'seek that which was lost' -- my Western spritual traditions, my family connections and my connection to the God of my fathers.

I entered my petition and began to interact with Masons on the internet. I spoke with my father and he told me of his nostalgia for the Craft. (He's also now seeking reaffiliation.)

Through this, I have come to have absolute confidence that the Masonry offers me a path towards my goals and a set of supportive traveling companions. I'm ready to travel back to the West.

(c) 2000, Steven M. Hudson, Candidate & EA2B Jerusalem Lodge #49

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