[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: August 1999

From: "Shane Blanton" <blantms@mail.auburn.edu>
To: <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
Subject: What to tell my wife?
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 15:18:53 -0500

Gary,

My name is Bro. Shane Blanton. I am from Caldwell Lodge #502 F&AM in Heflin, Alabama. I am getting married and I do not know what to tell my wife. I am Southern Baptist and she is Pentacostal. We both attend the same church now and she is having a problem with the secrecy of Masonry.

I have told her nothing other than we are a fraternity that does public work and charity work. She wants to know all about the organization and I do not know what to tell her. She thinks that there should be no secrets between man and wife. I agree with that statement, but yet I no the three obligations that I took. I feel pulled both ways. It will not harm my marriage if I don't tell her, but she would feel better knowing and I would feel less strain if I knew what to really do. Thank you for your help...

Thanks

Shane
<shane-pam@mindspring.com>


To: "Shane Blanton" <blantms@mail.auburn.edu>
Subject: Re: What to tell my wife? 
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Fri, 20 Aug 1999 15:18:53 CDT."
             <000701beeb49$395ba580$8d75cc83@dual300.ar.auburn.edu> 
--------

Dear Bro. Shane,

Good news. There is a ton of info at my web-site that should help you out.

First of all, in case she's worried about any of those 'devil worshipping Masons' pamphlets that people run across in church bookstores and stuff, there are some links from my web-site that will help:

  • "Anti-Masonry dissected" which is another Mason's web-site, with some good answers to those kinds of accusations
  • "What is Masonry?" -- some good articles on what Masonry is from a number of points of view.
  • "Letters Page" -- a few people have written recently with questions about Masonic secrecy, including one from a very suspicious fiancee (March 1999).

Next, YOU should be sure to make yourself as educated as possible about Masonry. This includes knowing the difference between what you promised to keep secret and what you didn't. The signs and tokens of recognition you learned for each degree are your secret. The exact workings of the degrees are your secret. But the contents of the lectures, what they are about, is not secret. The lessons of Masonry, and the interpretations of the working tools aren't secret. For instance, you can tell her what you learned about: the common gavel, the 24-inch gage, the trowel, the level, the plumb, the compasses, etc.

You can and should learn about, and tell your wife about, the organization of Masonry: what is a lodge? what is a grand lodge? what does the master do? what are his "powers" and responsibilities? how is the grand master chosen in your state? what does a grand lodge do? what is the history of your state's ritual -- what version do you use and what versions does it descend from?

Does your grand lodge publish a "trestleboard"? That is a printed version of the "exoteric" or "not secret" sections of the lodge ritual. If they do, you can read her sections from that, and answer he questions about them.

Two books that both you and your wife can read: "The Craft and Its Symbols" by Allen E. Roberts, and Carl Claudy's "Introduction to Freemasonry" (The Claudy book is wonderful, but unfortunately it's been out of print for awhile.)

If you offer all this information, and she is still upset because you won't tell her the "secret" grips and tokens of recognition, ask her honestly why she wants to know them? You understand that they are:

  • keepsakes from the days when our operative brothers needed to verify the education and experience of a newly-arrived foreign craftsman,
  • symbols of the trust Masons place in each other to share heart-to-heart troubles, questions, and advice,
  • tokens of recognition that allow one Mason to visit foreign lodges

Unless you wife wants to pretend to be a Mason to visit another lodge, why does she need those few tokens?

} She thinks that there should be no secrets between man and wife.

Really? I expect that married life is going to be quite an education for you both. There will ALWAYS be secrets between you:

You will ask, "did you like the card my mother sent us for our anniversary?" and she will think "it was a cheap and crummy card that looked like it was picked out of the discard bin at the drugstore at the last minute." But instead she will say, "it was so sweet of her to remember us when she has been so busy."

Your wife will ask you, "How about Aunt Harriet? Didn't I tell you he was a character?" and you will think, "What a stuffy old hen. She didn't say four words all night that weren't a put-down of someone or something. I can't believe she's the one I've been hearing all those funny stories about. And what horrible breath! It smells like she swallowed an unwashed weasel." But instead you will say, "I don't think I've met anyone quite like her. I'm sure that to appreciate her as much as you do I'll have to get to know her better."

Neither of you will call these "secrets" of course. You will think of them as small acts of charity to preserve the harmony of the home. And you will be correct, they are. But they are also secrets.

You might ask some of the other married members of the lodge if they had similar problems, and ask if their wives might be available to meet with yours to talk about this issue, and Masonry in general. Your wife should understand all that Masonry can do to help and strengthen families, to put this matter of "signs and tokens" into perspective. In fact, your lodge could put together a program presenting a lot of this information for all the wives and families. You're probably not the only ones who would appreciate this material.

Finally, if your wife just absolutely cannot stand that you know some small words and tokens that she doesn't, and she understands what they are for and still doesn't care, then in the interest of family harmony (remembering that every promise you ever made in lodge was conditioned on "without injury to myself or my family"), then you just might have to demit (resign) from your lodge. She will be losing as much as you are, but she won't know it.

Please let me know what happens.


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| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| PM: Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA
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