[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: April 2002

Message-Id: <3CB38093.000003.09203@Ronald Wagner Jr..attbi.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 20:00:19 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: questions about masonry

My husband is involved in the military, where several of his peers have approached him about joining the Masons. His reasons for wanting to join are so that he can network and get a good job and get out of speeding tickets (he says lots of police are masons and don't give tickets to their brothers). He says that the Masons give lots of money to charity and help out their members and members' families, but at the same time, it is a top secret organization. I can't help but get a bad feeling about that. If they are so honorable, why the big secret?

Also, I have read that Mason feasts turn into big parties where everyone gets drunk. As my husband is a recovering alcoholic, I am concerned about the pressure for him to drink. Would he be shunned if he were to drink water in place of alcohol?

The last thing I have a question about are the dues. If a new member was unable to afford the dues, would he still be allowed to join? Money is tight and we have two babies, who I think of first and foremost. My husband on the other hand, is ready to fork over any amount of money and forget his children. He thinks in the long run, he'll make enough money by joining the Masons that it won't matter that he spends money on dues now.

Please help me to clear up my confusion, or my husband's distortions, about the Masons.

Thank you,


From: <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: questions about masonry
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2002 01:29:53 -0400
} My husband is involved in the military, where several of his peers have
} approached him about joining the Masons.  His reasons for wanting to
} join are so that he can network and get a good job...

Your husband has been completely misled about Masonry. Every candidate swears that he is coming to Masonry out of a sincere desire to serve and help his fellow man and NOT out of any mercenary motive or desire for advancement.

If someone in my lodge started trying to "network" and expected to find jobs and such through Masonry, we'd be disgusted with him.

} and get out of speeding tickets (he says lots of police are masons and
} don't give tickets to their brothers).

I don't know where you live, but I don't know many Masons who are policemen here, and if I was stopped for speeding by one, I think he might give it to me worse since I was a Mason and should know better than most people to obey the civil laws.

}  He says that the Masons give lots of money
} to charity and help out their members and members' families,

Masonry does a lot of work for charity, but that doesn't mean handout to the members. If a member got sick or hit a bad patch, the lodge might be able to help in some small way, but we're not an insurance society.

} same time, it is a top secret organization.  I can't help but get a bad
} feeling about that.  If they are so honorable, why the big secret?

Masonry is absolutely not a "top secret organization". Masons wear the emblems of the lodge proudly, and our buildings are prominently marked. There are web-site like mine, hundreds of them, and many books about Masonry. The only things we keep secret are some "signs and tokens" we use in our ritual -- those date back to the middle ages when travelling stone-masons used passwords and such to prove that they were trained and skilled, since they didn't have union dues cards and fax machines and telephones back then. All of our teachings and ideals and such are public and have been printed many times.

} Also, I have read that Mason feasts turn into big parties where everyone
} gets drunk.  As my husband is a recovering alcoholic, I am concerned
} about the pressure for him to drink.  Would he be shunned if he were to
} drink water in place of alcohol?

That's just not true. There is usually no alcohol at our dinners in Massachusetts. When I was visiting in England, the lodges there meet for a formal dinner that might include cocktails ahead of time, and bottles of wine on the table for those that wish it. But someone who doesn't drink could order club soda from the bar, or nothing at all, and no one else would care. Here in Massachusetts we sometimes (maybe once every year or two) a "table lodge" where wine is served with dinner, but there is alway grape juice or fruit punch for those who prefer.

There are never never ever "big parties where everyone gets drunk." One of the lessons taught early on in Masonry is temperance and self-control. I don't know where you're reading or hearing all this, but it just isn't so.

} The last thing I have a question about are the dues.  If a new member
} was unable to afford the dues, would he still be allowed to join?  Money
} is tight and we have two babies, who I think of first and foremost.  My
} husband on the other hand, is ready to fork over any amount of money and
} forget his children.  He thinks in the long run, he'll make enough money
} by joining the Masons that it won't matter that he spends money on dues
} now.

As I said, your husband's idea that Masonry is a "good investment" financially is ridiculous. Yearly dues around Boston are in the $30-$60 range, and the one-time joining fee is usually somewhere between $90-$200. Those numbers could be very different in other parts of the country.

One thing that is repeated over and over in our ritual is "without injury to myself or family" -- it doesn't seem like your husband understands that.

} Please help me to clear up my confusion, or my husband's distortions,
} about the Masons.

From your description, if accurate, it doesn't sound like Masonry is what your husband is expecting or wanting, and that he isn't someone who would benefit from what Masonry actually is. Based on what you're telling me, he may want to reconsider his ideas about joining.

I hope this has been a help.


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| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA (PM)
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|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."
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