Monday, November 5, 2007

Who Can Be A Mason

It is ironic that we (The Craft) spend a great deal of time discussing membership. A bit too much really. When you are facing the community to shuck and jive for membership, your back is to the door and little is done for the enriching of the members in some lodges. Herein lays the danger of the membership drive.

Here is the little piece of irony for you irony addicts. We spend a whole lot of time in parking lot discussion after lodges has concluded discussing just who should be allowed to be a Mason. We go back and forth discussing different reasons a man or woman should or should not be made a Mason. Yet, some miscreant shows up with a petition and $20 at the door of some dying lodge and boom…he is a Mason. Heck, three days later in some places, he might just be a Shriner. I digress and this particular topic is not the focus of this piece of literary genius…or mad ramblings, word smith how you would like.

I had an interesting conversation the other day that got me to thinkin’ which is different than caused me to muse. It started with the question, “Can a Wiccan be a Mason?” Well, I stood shivering from the light chill that always precedes the rush of bright red blood to my face when I am not completely sure how to answer a question. I went with the most scholarly of answers and one that bought me a little time. I said, “Well, that depends.” The sneaky son of gun immediately followed with, “On what?” and I was back at square one.

I thought about the Wiccan service I had seen and could not think of anything out right that would stop a member of this community from being a Mason. I thought of fact that the founder of the Wiccan faith as we know it was a Mason. I thought of my conversation with a neo-pagan who believed in a single God that manifests through different aspects of nature. I said, “It would depend on if the man fit the qualifications and I proceeded to pontificate upon the aforementioned in the eloquent pros of someone who was not quite sure himself.

Then someone said, “What about the ritual sex that Wiccans participate in, having sex out in the open in nature and all that.” I have to admit, I have heard of some groups that practice ritual sex, but had not heard that the Wiccans do this. So I mused a bit and tapped my foot a little hoping to buy a scant of time that my mental juices could pick up to more than the trickle that I normally experience. I asked, “How about a group of people that participate in a cannibalistic ceremony where they symbolically tear at the flesh of their G-d and wash it down with a big thirsty gulp of the god man’s blood so that they can become one with their Deity?” Of course it was immediately agreed that this group should not be made a Mason. Then one of my fellow word smiths recognized that I had described, although much differently than normal, the Christian act of communion.

I did not describe it as such to offend, but to cause reflection. We all see things a bit differently from our personal perspectives. It would be different if someone said, “Can a man who has ever had sex in nature be a Mason?” Well, for a lot of 16 year old boys parking at the local park on prom night would be immediately excluded. How about a religion where a man and women make love to consummate the most beautiful act and power act of nature which is creation?

The point being is that it is all in how you say it sometimes. I am not promoting some sort of Wiccan agenda as I am not a Wiccan and down really know that much about it. I do believe that labels are a foolish mechanism for exclusion even when people choose to label themselves. Because a man says that he is a Christian does not mean that he is a good man. He might still drink too much, lie all the time, and beat his wife and kids when he gets home from work. Conversely, the neo-Pagan man completely devoted to G-d, family, and country who earnestly follows the precepts of his religion, lives a moral and upright life, and seeks admission into the Fraternity is the better choice in my estimation even though the public portrayal of his faith is a bit “scary” and conjures up people cloaked in black stirring a caldron of steaming brew.

I think that we meet with the man, get to know the man, LISTEN to the man when he talks of his faith. Then make a decision on whether to admit such a man based on a totality of the circumstances and labels be damned.

Can a Christian be a Mason? Most would answer sure. Should we be so quick? It is not about religion little “r” really. It is more about the man’s inner belief systems and whether he can practice tolerance of those belief systems of the man he will call a Brother.

It is easy to say, “To each his own.” It is Masonic to say, “This man, with whom I do not share a particular religion with is my Brother. I respect his path to G-d. I will fight for his right to have such a path.”


Tom Accuosti said...

“Can a man who has ever had sex in nature be a Mason?”

Grrr! I have heard similar arguments come up in the course of discussing whether or not homosexual men should be allowed to become Masons.

My question back is always: Since when did a person's sexuality have anything to do with the "essential qualifications" that we always address beforehand?

We ask if a candidate has a belief in a Supreme Being. We ask if they are of legal age, and if they are willing to take obligations to the fraternity - none of which having anything to do with sex (except for one, which is really more about fidelity and trust).

Sometimes we ask ourselves the silliest questions.

Houston A.W. Knight said...

This was a very interesting post...


S. Hill said...

Those of Monotheistic faiths tend to not bother to learn about the faiths of others. This is true even in Masonry. The hegemony of Monotheistic faiths is as such that it is completely unnoticed that there are entire orders open only to Christians. I am the Secretary of my Lodge and still find myself reminding other Brethren and Fellows that a Hindu is just as valid as a Baptist in the eyes of Freemasonry. I am a Wiccan and a Mason. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Bull Jones said...

As a life-long Wiccan I was bothered by his very question for many years. Freemasonry was something that I wanted to be a part of all of my life as was my Father, & Grandfathers as far back as I can document. My Faith, however, is even more precious to me!

Eventually, in my 47th year I petitioned my local Lodge, (in the SOLIDLY Christian state of Alabama no less!). After a complete investigation which included interviews with my family and our admissions about our Faith, I was deemed worthy and brought into the Lodge.

I will not lie and say that all are exactly comfortable with me, but I continue forward as an upright Mason and as an ambassador of my Faith.

It should be remembered that Freemasonry is a World-wide Fraternity with members of ALL faiths supposedly welcome. Sure, here in America the norm is Christianity and the Holy Script is most likely a Holy Bible. As a Wiccan I am strong enough in my Faith to not be threatened by this. My brethren should be strong enough in their brotherly love to not be threatened by my presence in Lodge.

And, thankfully, they are not.