Petition Thoughts: The Interview
Steven M. Hudson, Petitioner
Jerusalem Lodge #49
Well, I had my `Masonic' interview last night, and I'm embarrassed to
say how enjoyable it was.
In my mind, I had expected something between a Senate confirmation
hearing and the Spanish Inquisition. I guess you could chalk it up to
one too many harsh elementary school teachers or perhaps entering the
military too young, but my imagination had really worked overtime on
I imagined that two very much older men, with somewhat severe
expressions would arrive at my door. They'd both be wearing 1960's era
suits -- almost the men-in-black look, but not as cool. Picture Joe
Friday with a bit of a paunch. I'd introduce them to my wife and they'd
both nod in her direction and say "Ma'am" with a little perfunctory
After drinks and snacks had been served, the older man would open his
brief case. "Well, Mr. Hudson", he'd say, "we've got a number of
questions for you, so we'd better get started. Do you swear upon your
life and the lives of the members of your family that you unreservedly
believe in the God of your childhood?"
Oh, I was prepared for this one. I'd crafted an answer that both
expressed my absolute belief in a Supreme Being but still left me plenty
of room for doubt, inquiry and growth from the somewhat limited ideas I
had about God when I was a kid. Still, I imagined the Senior Official
would simply say "I see", while the slightly younger man would take down
a few notes.
Then the Senior Official would ask "Do you have any personality
faults that would make you a detriment to our Great Fraternity? For
instance, do you believe in the theory of Atlantis or the Loch Ness
Monster? Have you ever been politically incorrect? Are you a `good'
person?". Ho boy! As a person who's spent way to much time in
introspection I could probably confess to a huge list of personal
failings. Not the least of which is my tendency to be super critical of
myself! Well, let's see, I eat too much fat, I don't exercise enough, I
have an irreverent sense of humor, I've told the occasional
inappropriate joke. I enjoy the X-Files more than is probably healthy. I
was rude to the clerk at the Radio Shack six months ago. I even worried
that perhaps I didn't have enough self-esteem, or what if I have too
"I see", said the Senior Official. "Any crimes we should know about?"
I was okay there. "I've had a couple of traffic violations but they
wouldn't keep me out for that. Right? Oh, and then there was the time I
got home from Home Depot and discovered I'd put the package of screws in
my pocket instead of the cart. But I took them back the next week. So
that won't count either, right? Right?"
"Let's discuss your financial picture. If you were to lose your job
tomorrow, how can we be certain you'd never be a burden to the Brothers
of our Fraternity?"
Yikes! Once again, I was back on shaky ground. "I can't afford to buy
a house right now, but I pay all my bills on time and I have a little
money in the bank. I have some credit card debt, but I'm saving some,
though not as much as I should. But I promise, I'll quit before I let
myself be a burden!"
"Uh-huh. One more question Mr. Hudson. Why do you feel we should let
you become a Mason?" This is the question that holds terror for those of
us who think entirely too much. On any interview, whether it's for a job
or entering a fraternity, this is the moment of truth. It's your time to
list your qualifications for the position and let them grade you. Come
up with a sufficient list of reasons and you're in. Otherwise, well, not
everyone gets the job they wanted.
"Well Mr. Hudson. That about wraps it up. We're still waiting for the
paperwork to come back from the IRS, the Department of Defense and the
various State Agencies, but we expect to let you know the results in a
few weeks. Thank you for your time." Another perfunctory smile and then
they'd be gone.
Man, did I have it completely wrong! Instead "The Interview" was just
plain fun. The two men who came from the lodge were open, casual and
comfortable. One was a little older than me, but the other was my age
or younger. Both were more than polite to my entire family and seemed
genuinely pleased to be there. Both were men I'd like to visit again.
Both men had a great sense of humor. At one point one of them asked
me "Are you now, or have you ever been an ax murderer?". I joked "Not
that I remember" and we all had a big laugh.
We discussed some Masonic historical speculation -- one of my
interviewers enjoys, as I do, the legend that the Masonry is descended
from the Knights Templar who learned the `Mysteries' from the builders
of the Pyramids. Although it wasn't specified, I got the definite
opinion that watching the X-Files was not a `failing criterion'.
They had no questions about the details of my belief in a Supreme
Being - simple belief was enough. And when I brought the subject up, we
had a great conversation that really left me feeling welcomed, heard and
respected. There was an application to fill out but it was only a
little more detailed than the petition form I'd filled out
earlier. Mostly wanting a few former addresses, some brief work history,
and the contact information for my references. The only `financial'
question was whether I knew there'd be dues involved and did I think I'd
be able to pay them without burdening my family.
Finally, before they left, they did ask me why I wanted to become a
Mason. I told them about my father and my grandfather being made a
Mason. I told them about my interests in psychology and comparative
religion. But more importantly, I told them that I believe there really
is `something' to the Masonry. Something that could help me to become an
even better man that I already may be. And because of that, I really
want to give the Masonry a try!
So, finally, the petitioning process is over for me for now. Of
course, I can't predict with absolute certainty how the ballot will come
out. I feel pretty confident, but as with many human endeavors, it only
takes one person to change the outcome. Regardless of this particular
ballot, it has been a worthwhile exercise and in many ways has been a
gift that I've given to myself. It has been a period of sometimes
uncomfortable self-examination but more often of exciting
self-discovery. And that, my friends, is my real reason for joining the
Steve Hudson is a computer programmer living in Ridgefield
Connecticut. He was born in Norfolk Virginia in 1959, but spent most of
his childhood in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated with a degree in
Mathematics from V.C.U. He received his Master's degree in Systems
Engineering from Virginia Tech. Steve has been married for 19 years to
JoAnne and has three children -- Kris (from a previous marriage) 21,
Joey 12, and Katie 5. He has studied comparative religion and both
Eastern and Western philosophy as a hobby for most of his 41 years.
Steve petitioned the Jerusalem Lodge #49 in Ridgefield Connecticut in
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