[Square & Compasses]

Why did you become a Freemason?

Message-ID: <57e.2e0a6ca.3206dd39@aol.com>
From: Stephen C. Bair <SCBRoslyn@aol.com>Reply-To: SCBRoslyn@aol.com
To: masonry-ask@mit.edu
Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2006 01:50:49 EDT
Subject: Why I Joined Freemasonry

Why did I join Freemasonry?

What attracted me to Freemasonry?

What did Freemasonry offer me that I did not find in other societies? I'm afraid if I were writing to Chris McNeil, I would have to say that those are questions that I am pondering at this very moment as I approach the conclusion of my first year in Freemasonry.

"...if I were responding to Chris McNeil, I would have to say that as of now, I get absolutely nothing from Freemasonry."

I joined Freemasonry because of what was presented by the organization itself as reasons to join; fraternity, camaraderie, and the idea of "making good men better". I have to honestly say that I've found none of that, to this point.

All it has been the entire time is meeting, degree work, meeting, degree work, meeting, degree work, and so on. There has been almost no socialization, no one ever sees anyone outside of these occasions, nothing presented to me that makes me feel that I am surrounded by men who, though they seem like they are good, are making themselves (and myself) any better.

The meetings are inane, pointless, and involve nothing of an intellectual or spiritual nature that help me to consider life or the problems that we all deal with. They are usually centered around someone talking about Freemasonry in other countries or profiles of Freemasons from history. I was recruited to help with this degree work that involves two more nights a month; one for rehearsal and one for the ceremonies. This last aspect is completely uninteresting to me and entirely too time-consuming. I couldn't care less how to hold the sword correctly or what to say at a specific time, or anything like that. None of this helps me gain further "light" as they always talk about, make me a better person, or help me to become a better person.

In fact, I often walk away from these gatherings of usually more than three hours any more saying to myself, "Wow, was that a colossal waste of my time."

"No one ever calls... just to talk or do something outside of the structured times."

I mentioned these things, albeit in a kinder fashion, in passing one night to one or two of my "brethren", who promptly turned around and spread word of my "discontent" to others. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by people who responded (in annoyed tones) by telling me that if I thought we should have gatherings outside of the formal meetings and ceremonies, I should be in charge of it or join other organizations under the Mason umbrella that were more geared toward social and informal gatherings. This was a complete cop-out on their part on two levels. First, I feel that this is an aspect that should already be in place, not generated by some new, inexperienced member.

Second, I'm not asking for a traumatic change in the "business as usual", merely to augment it. After all, many of them have families and outside responsibilities. But to make meetings and degree work their whole reason for being and NEVER do anything outside of it doesn't make much sense to me.

Additionally, this attitude completely contradicts what was presented to me as a reason to join. I don't really know any of these guys. No one ever calls or invites me to call them just to talk or do something outside of the structured times.

Therefore, if I were responding to Chris McNeil, I would have to say that as of now, I get absolutely nothing from Freemasonry.

There is, however, a small positive to my story. I'm transferring to another lodge as of September to see if this is more of an indictment of my present lodge than Freemasonry in general.

If it turns out that the problem is my current lodge, as is my hope, I will willingly continue my journey in the order happily. If it turns out that what I have been experiencing is the essence of what Freemasonry is all about, I will quickly sour on it and leave.

Stephen C. Bair
Roslyn, Pennsylvania

Message-ID: <20060806062948.7r6t652g5y1w8004@webmail.mit.edu>
From: A Page About Freemasonry <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
To: SCBRoslyn@aol.com
Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2006 06:29:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Why I Joined Freemasonry

dear Bro. Bair,

Thank you for that very frank response and assessment of Masonry. I hope you can inspire your lodge to change, or can find another lodge more to your liking.

It isn't fun to read, but I do respect honest such forthright criticism, and will put your letter up online. Maybe a number of Masons will see their lodge in a new light and your words will incline them to some changes in how they do things.

I've always seen our ritual as the foundation of the lodge; lodges that neglect it will always wonder why nothing else they try stays in place. But of course no one can live in a house that has only a foundation, as your experiences clearly demonstrate.

fraternal best wishes,

-- Gary L. Dryfoos
A Page About Freemasonry
now at http://MasonryPage.org/

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