First post for me!
I stumbled on this site, and I find it to be yet another very interesting and time-sucking resource that will no doubt keep me wonderfully captivated
for a long time!
I am a Freemason, and like many Freemasons who are obviously involved in this thread, I can't help but sit back and laugh at all of the misconceptions
and inferences made to make Freemasonry into something that it is not. Is there really a conspiracy at the "high levels"? I'm not at that level, so I
can honestly say that I don't know. But what I do know is what goes on at the local, district, and state levels, and frankly, the conspiracy
allegations are really just too humerous. Freemasonry, like any organization, has its noble and virtuous members and its seedy and corrupt members. Is
it because there's a conspiracy? Nah, it's more likely because we're all just human.
I became a Freemason in 2007 under the jurisdiction of the great state of South Carolina, and have since joined the York Rite, the Scottish Rite, and
several other invitational Masonic bodies. I am currntly an appointed Grand officer for the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of the State of South
Carolina, and I currently sit in the East as Master at our local lodge.
I've debated both openly and anonymously about various Masonic issues with many people including some notorious anti-Masons. It all really boils down
to this: Any genuine discussion of Freemasonry will never be accepted by an anti-Mason because the anti-Mason views the Freemason as either a
"follower" and thus is misled, or he is a "leader" and is thus intentionally misleading. So it's a classic no-win scenario for the Freemason because
from the start, the anti-Mason has preconceived (and often misguided and incorrect) views of who the Freemason is and what he represents.
That said, I offer the following information:
1. Freemasonry does not solicit.
There are jurisdictional exceptions, but by and large, Freemasons do not recruit or solicit members. If you want to join, you must ask a Mason. And
honestly, when someone asks to become a Mason, they are usually welcomed withopen arms.
2. Freemasonry is not racist.
It is true that there are jurisdictions that do not yet "recognize as regular" some predominately black Masonic orders, however the issue is
administrative, not racial. As in any organization, there are some Freemasons who are racist, however they do not represent the vast majority of
Freemasons or Freemasonry at-large.
3. Freemasonry is not elitist.
Well, I guess that depends on your definition of elitist. In the United States, the socioeconomic makeup of Freemasons is as varied as the people in
the cities they represent. In South Carolina, there are very well-to-do businessmen who are Freemasons, and there are hard-working, under-paid, and
largely unappreciated blue-collar workers who are Freemasons. I am proud to say that we are brothers all. And I'll give you one guess who tend to be
the more passionate and active members.
4. Criminal background.
How a candidate with a past criminal record is handled is typically a jurisdictional issue. In some states, any felony offense would prevent you from
joining. In others, it depends on the circumstances. Has the candidate paid restitution for his crime? Has he reformed and honestly put his criminal
past behind him? Has he made real and tangible efforts to better himself to be be a good citizen, husband, father, etc.? If he has, in many
jurisdictions, he would be accepted freely. In others, he may not. Freemasonry doesn't make bad men good, but good men better.
5. Masonic Drinking
Purely jurisdictional. In the state of South Carolina, like a previous poster said about Florida, alcohol is prohibited at any and all Masonic events,
yet I have never heard any complaints. I've also been to lodges that have full bars and freely serve to members and guests. But it's not about
drinking and getting drunk, it's about being responsible and brotherly. Prudence and temperance are virtues that are clearly taught to every Freemason
(and for those who do not know, "temperance" is not the same as "abstinence".)
Freemasonry is not a religion, though there are some who may and do treat it as such. I consider myself to be a Christian. It's one of the fundamental
reasons why I got into Freemasonry, and why I branched out to the York Rite (it being specifically Judeo-Christian in its teaching.) The York Rite
affirms and strengthens my personal beliefs. The Scottish Rite, on the other hand, takes a more "comparative religion" approach providing wisdom and
insight from many of the world's most prominent and sometimes more esoteric religions and philosophies. In any case, neither teaches that you MUST
believe what they teach, only that what they teach has deep and far-reaching historical and mythological roots.
7. Albert Pike and Morals & Dogma.
Before anyone gets their panties in a bundle, please take the time to actually read the "Preface" to this amazing book. So many take what Bro. Pike
says without even understanding the position that the Scottish Rite itself takes. (My emphasis added.)
...In preparing this work, the Grand Commander [Albert Pike] has been about equally Author and Compiler; since he has extracted quite half its
contents from the works of the best writers and most philosophic or eloquent thinkers. Perhaps it would have been better and more acceptable if he had
extracted more and written less.
Still, perhaps half of it is his own; and, in incorporating here the thoughts and words of others, he has continually changed and added to the
language, often intermingling, in the same sentences, his own words with theirs. It not being intended for the world at large, he has felt at liberty
to make, from all accessible sources, a Compendium of the Morals and Dogma of the Rite, to re-mould sentences, change and add to words and phrases,
combine them with his own, and use them as if they were his own, to be dealt with at his pleasure and so availed of as to make the whole most valuable
for the purposes intended. He claims, therefore, little of the merit of authorship, and has not cared to distinguish his own from that which he has
taken from other sources, being quite willing that every portion of the book, in turn, may be regarded as borrowed from some old and better writer.
The teachings of these Readings are not sacramental, so far as they go beyond the realm of Morality into those of other domains of Thought and
Truth. The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite uses the word "Dogma" in its true sense, of doctrine, or teaching; and is not dogmatic in the odious
sense of that term. Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. It is only
required of him that he shall weigh what is taught, and give it fair hearing and unprejudiced judgment. Of course, the ancient theosophic and
philosophic speculations are not embodied as part of the doctrines of the Rite; but because it is of interest and profit to know what the Ancient
Intellect thought upon these subjects, and because nothing so conclusively proves the radical difference between our human and the animal nature, as
the capacity of the human mind to entertain such speculations in regard to itself and the Deity. But as to these opinions themselves, we may say, in
the words of the learned Canonist, Ludovicus Gomez: "Opiniones secundum varietatem temporum senescant et intermoriantur, aliæque diversæ vel
prioribus contrariæ renascantur et deinde pubescant."
8. Considering joining.
Finally, to anyone considering joining this historical ancient order, my word of advice is to not focus on if you are or are not qualified. Do some
research. Open your mind. Pray about it. (What? You don't pray? Why not start?) Then stop waffling and go ask a Mason.
edit on 22-7-2011 by
jbarr because: some corrections