Someone should have stopped me at the West Gate...

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by ctp2nd, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. ctp2nd

    ctp2nd Premium Member

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    Howdy All,

    I've often contemplated writing a synopsis of my Masonic Journey, and just as often, I have deleted it and moved on. Here, I will try to articulate how and why I feel my petition should never have been read.

    Over the course of my first 24 years on this pebble of a planet I had been informally introduced to masonry by the masonic lodge I passed frequently in my hometown, by the conversations about that lodge and its members by equally ignorant friends, and through the recognition of its emblems in small towns across the State of Texas. It wasn't until I moved in with a friend of a friend a year after graduating college that I had my first real discussion about this thing called freemasonry.

    The roommate was a Shriner and invited me to an event they were having in Houston. I, with nothing better to do and being promised a good time and free beer, jumped into his truck and headed south.

    Good time: Check

    Free beer: Check

    Some old lady grabbing my ass: Check

    Needless to say, it was a day spent with fun loving individuals that were partying all freaking day and raising a shit-ton (metric measure) of money for their hospitals and more importantly, for the children.

    I ended up inquiring, "How I might become a Shriner?" His answer, "By being a Mason."

    Pulling from my infinite ignorance I said something along the lines of, "Oh, and I have to ask like 7 times, and on the 7th time, you can tell me. Right?"

    After a laugh cementing the ignorance of my previous 24 years, I was informed of that I had but to ask to be one, and he'd grab me a petition. I did, the petition arrived, and as I reflect back, that was the first point at which I should have been stopped.

    I was interested, then, because of the partying and drinking and harmless sexual advances of some 50+ women. That was the entirety of my interest, but, my friend being the good Mason that he was, called his dad and asked that he bring a petition from their home lodge, some 200+ miles away from where we lived, whenever he was to come down again.

    The time between my request and my receiving the petition was approximately 3 months, during which time I did what all good computer geeks with an affinity for Google would do. I looked up everything I could about Masonry, Freemasonry, Masonic Lodges, Freemasons, Masonic Conspiracies, Masonic Religion, Masonry vs Christianity, Former Masons for Christ... and in all my cliff's notes worth of skimming these topics on a countless number of websites, pages, pdfs, images, ephemera, etc, I found my second reason, or set of reasons, for wanting to join:

    1) Freemasonry was either REALLY good or REALLY bad / evil.
    2) Freemasons were either regular men or a semi-secret exclusive group of men trying to take over the world.
    3) Freemasonry was either a beneficent fraternity with the goal of "Making good men better." or a religious cult preaching satanic worship through virgin sacrifices to the goat headed demon god Baphomet. (Thanks Leo Taxil).

    These three things, and I am sure several others, both positive and negative, sparked a curiosity within me and removed any doubt as to whether or not I'd fill out that petition, whatever that was and whenever I got it. Now, I do want to clarify that I wasn't interested in joining a REALLY evil, semi-secret exclusive group of men trying to take over the world while worshiping satan through virgin sacrifices to the goat headed demon god Baphomet. I was just interested that there was even the possibility that any one of those things could be true.

    Finally, the petition showed up, entirely blank except for the Lodge Information, two recommenders, and three references. The recommenders I immediately recognized: My friend and his father. The references, I had never and, to my knowledge, have never met. I filled out the petition, called Mom to get her to fax me a copy of my Birth Certificate (which sparked a series of conversations that marked my 3rd set of reasons for wanting to join), and gave it to my friend's dad to take back to his lodge (once again, over 200 miles from where I lived). I was informed that my petition would be taken to their lodge, read, and some people would call me.

    While waiting for said calls, my mother, who had asked about my asking for the Birth Certificate, talked to my Grandmother who talked to my Uncle who, as it turns out, is REALLY Anti-Masonry.

    "It's a cult." "It's anti-Christian." "Jack the Ripper was a Mason." "If you respect me as your Uncle, you'll wait until I can research this further before joining." "Your great uncle on your grandfather's side (and you know how much you loved your grandfather) quit masonry on his death bed because his preacher told him Masonry was incompatible with Christianity and his Salvation depended upon his rejection of it.", He said.

    I could literally write a short story on that conversation, but I'll save that for another day.

    Reason #3: Rebellion. Who was my uncle to tell me what I could and couldn't do? Everything he said I had seen in my searching the interwebs. I was pissed that this guy, only an annoying thorn in my family tree, was trying to scare me out of joining a group of people that loved to party, flirt, and drink beer. I would have expected the same lecture about college.

    Anyway, the calls came about a month after I sent the petition in and I answered the men's questions exactly the same with the answers I thought they wanted to hear. I must have been right, because I got a call from my roommate's father telling me that I needed to drive up to their lodge in September of 04 for my first degree. I did, I was initiated, and my journey into freemasonry was begun.

    Now, in reference to the title of my post: "Someone should have stopped me at the West Gate..."

    I knew nothing of substance about the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. My interest was initially for the partying. That grew into the possibility that something thrillin, spooky, and/or nefarious might happen in my joining said Fraternity. And to seal the deal, my effing uncle forced the most child-like reaction, "I'll do what I want!".

    Someone should have stopped me.

    My petition was from and for a lodge located 200+ miles away from home. How the hell did they just ignore the fact that there are 20+ lodges in and about my county?

    Someone should have stopped me.

    My recommenders new me, my several vices, and that I knew nothing about Freemasonry. I never met a single of my masonic references or investigators. These guys knew me as a voice with answers polished to meet their requirements.

    Someone should have stopped me.

    But, they didn't, and here I am: Past Master of two lodges, Secretary of one, Tyler of another, A certificate holder, Lodge Instructor, and "Mr. Mason" according to my wife.

    If I, today, were to have met the ME from 2004, I would have spent a lot of time talking to him about this Fraternity that I have grown to love and her philosophy that guides my actions through life. I would not, however, have let him, in the state of preparedness that I was back then, procede.

    I would have stopped me at the West Gate.

    Sometime, I'll follow up on this post with my masonic experience during my first year as a member of the craft. From EA to Master Mason w/out ever learning a bit of the memory work except for the PDF I found out of Colorado covering the questions and answers for their EA work. I think I learned the first 5 answers, which, to my surprise, weren't the same as Texas work.

    Until then, have a great day / week / month / year / life.

    Sincerely and Fraternally,


    Tom
     
  2. Ben Rodriguez

    Ben Rodriguez Registered User

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    Beautifully written story brother! Thanks for sharing!
     
  3. MacFie

    MacFie Registered User

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    Yeah a good read!
     
  4. Bro. Brad Marrs

    Bro. Brad Marrs Premium Member

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    I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the story.
     
  5. BlueXJ

    BlueXJ Registered User

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    Excellent read. I will now be more diligent in my investigations.
     
  6. Traveling Man

    Traveling Man Premium Member

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    Okay, I have to ask: Now that we have read his masonic credentials, should someone have stopped him?
    From his rendition he was the perfect candidate for the shrine; think about it, that's the public image along with the hospitals.
     
  7. BlueXJ

    BlueXJ Registered User

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    He freely admits that he knew what answers to give so we need to look for honesty in those answers not just what we want to hear. I will try some off the wall questions about motivation and research now that I have read this admission.
     
  8. Bro. Brad Marrs

    Bro. Brad Marrs Premium Member

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    I agree. I also think motives are important, and some personality traits can be identified through fellowship, prior to initiation, such as dinners and community service. Also, just because someone is initiated doesn't mean they should be encouraged to proceed through the degrees, if their motives are determined to be questionable. As for myself, the teachings I reflected upon while learning my EA work changed my perspective, and therefore would have made the answers on my application dfferen't, but more relevant.

    I guess my point is there is no need to rush, and the more we learn about the brethren we accept, and then *teach*, the more we can help them apply masonry to themselves. Even if their initial motives were untrue doesn't prevent them from starting on a new foundation.
     
  9. Traveling Man

    Traveling Man Premium Member

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    That still being the case (including his masonic dissertation) would you have rejected him? The point being, we could make up all kinds of questions but the candidate has the proper answers on the petition. There will be a point where the inquisitor’s questions will be out of bounds. The only transgressions I can see may be related to moral turpitude and even that can be a perspective/perception call. I have seen insurance actuaries do better background investigations than done in the fraternity. On the other hand I am a member of a lodge that is under official investigation for doing to well of a job (using official state/county resources for criminal background checks).
    C'est la Vie...
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2010
  10. ctp2nd

    ctp2nd Premium Member

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    Howdy All,

    Thanks for the feedback and further discussion. I'd like to weigh in, a bit, on some of your comments:

    I would still argue, yes, someone should have stopped me (then), regardless of how good a candidate I would have been for the Shrine, Scottish Rite, York Rite, Grotto, etc. Freemasonry, to me (now), is not about the appendant bodies; it is the Appendant Bodies that are about Freemasonry. To accept a candidate with the mutual intention of his learning nothing about Freemasonry and then jumping straight into the Shrine I feel is a disservice to the candidate, the Shrine, and most of all, our Fraternity. To himself, in not spending the time to learn about the Craft and her beautiful teachings; to the Shrine, in having only an appreciation for it and their culture, but not that from which it originated; and to our Fraternity, in not having the solid foundation that several of us spend years, together, trying to shore up.

    This line makes me nervous in that Freemasonry's goal is to take "Good men, and make them Better", not to reform and save the lost. While 2004 me wasn't a "bad person, I was not adequately prepared for the construction of any moral / masonic edifices. My family has a long history in working with concrete, from pouring sidewalks, driveways, porches, and parking lots, to pouring operative foundations for businesses and residences. We spent substantial time learning about the job, studying the soil, cleaning the area for a pour, building the forms, leveling the ground, laying / tying / leveling the rebar, ... the steps in preparing for a pour were several and very important. Once the concrete arrived, we would spend a lot of time spreading, leveling, smoothing (floating), edging, etc. Operatively, the work in preparing to pour a foundation is hard, time consuming, and very particular. After the slab is poured, there is a lot of work devoted to shaping this soft and maleable mud into a worthy foundation.

    My point being: We need to spend the time and adequately prepare our candidates for initiation, for the pouring of the foundation upon which we expect them to construct their moral / masonic edifice.

    Personally, I was ill prepared and my masonic foundation was poorly constructed.

    My encouragement: Get to know a candidate and get him to know you, your lodge, and our Fraternity. Whether they, like me, knock on your door for the wrong reasons or come from a line of distinguished masons, develop a relationship with them and instill them with an appreciation for the Fraternity and her philosophy. While some may withdraw and never submit that petition, the ones who continue on will, more often than not, be better masons for it.

    -Tom
     
  11. Traveling Man

    Traveling Man Premium Member

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    I'm in total agreement. And that's part of a problem, for those that want to be members of those appendant bodies (dependant bodies). It seems like the candidates just want to be Mc Masons and get their happy meal. How many masons have we "raised" only to be never heard from again? We also are the only ones that wait only two stated meetings and then create 90 day wonders. I've seen some that must wait one year for balloting and then one year between degrees. Our numbers are falling while theres have not... coincidence? I don't know.
     
  12. ctp2nd

    ctp2nd Premium Member

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    We have to focus on the quality of the product we sell over the quantity of customers we service. Customers will naturally come to those offering good products.

    Our products are Masonic Philosophy, Fellowship, and Fraternity.
     

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