Wednesday, June 23, 2010

5 Reasons Why I Joined the Freemasons

I asked Brother Matthew to write something on the subject of anything that came to his mind. He has written a very well-thought out piece. Thank you Brother Matthew.

I couldn’t tell you what specifically prompted my interest in Freemasonry two years ago, or what spurred me to actually join early this spring. I think I just knew I needed an overhaul, and Freemasonry’s business was “making men better!” But I can give you the five reasons I ultimately joined, and made one of the very few totally good decisions of my life.

1. Friendships

I’m 32 years old, and part of a generation that was tagged pretty early on (probably deservedly so) for being slackers and man-boys, but even we have to grow up sometime. I was the second of my good friends to get hitched, and within three years all of us had wives. Some of us even have kids. What none of us had anymore, it seemed, was time for each other.
It’s no one’s fault. Even man-boys grow up, get careers, move away, have families, etc. but what can be so unexpected is when you finally carve out a free evening in your schedule and suddenly realize you don’t have anyone left to spend it with. And frankly, making friends at 32 is hard. Joining a lodge almost instantly gave me about a dozen fun, interesting friends, and about six million more whom I haven’t yet met.

2. Charity

I am not a charitable man by nature. If I’ve got money in my pocket, I’ll hand it out freely, but that’s because I don’t really value money. Giving anything of me has been almost an anathema. But though my sense of charity is underdeveloped, my sense of guilt does double-overtime.
I may be selfish, but I’m not dumb; I realize that living in service to others is how one truly learns to live in service to oneself. Freemasons don’t just write checks; they serve.

3. Ritual

I was raised in a mostly secular home; we never went to church. But more than that, we never really did anything religiously. Our holidays were inconsistent; we had no traditions to speak of, no yearly vacations or barbeques; we never said Grace, or had favorite bedtime lullabies. It was life devoid of ritual. Ritual is important, though; it’s how we remember. I don’t mean the memorization, I mean ritual is what keeps us, and what keeps our history, personal or cultural. It’s daily exercise for your soul.

4. The Bling

I have to admit to a certain retro-raconteur streak in my personality. I’ve always loved classic Mad Men-esque manliness culture. Couple that with my love of badges and accessories, and I was pretty much meant to be a Mason. No, it’s not the noblest reason to become a Freemason, but it is an aspect and connection to our history.

5. Good Things Deserve to Survive

There are some institutions in this country and this world that are…well…institutions. They’re good things. They do good things for their members and their communities. Damn the society that lets them die thinking they’re too out of touch, or too old, or too rigid. They’re not. They’re the sum of their members. My lodge is filled with young, fun, wise men and recovering man-boys. Freemasonry is helping them do that. Freemasonry is not going to die on my watch.

Those are five pretty great reasons, but the best part is that when I got in, there were dozens more: leadership training, exposure to diversity of race, religion, and politicals, education… Really, it can all be summed up in one word: light.

We’re a much younger generation than who is usually perceived to be a Mason, but that’s our strength. Yes, there is an age gap in a lot of lodges. There weren’t too many Baby Boomers who took up the apron, but that is indicative of our strength. Many of us are drawn to fraternity and Masonry without simply following in our fathers footsteps, but because of the reasons above. But how many young men and new dads have these thoughts and don’t know anything about Freemasonry? Sadly, it’s almost all of them.

We can’t ask them to join us, but we have to remember that we are truly not a secret society. Wear your lapel pins. Get one of those tacky car magnets your grandpa had. Go bowling with your Shrine or Grotto brothers and wear your fez, damn it! Talk about us to anyone who will listen. Let people know that we’re out there and that we are anything but irrelevant. We’re brothers.

Matthew Gallagher is a freelance writer in the Twin Cities, the head writer of Transylvania Television, and a proud Master Mason of Braden Lodge No. 168


burntloafer said...

Very nice post, Br. Matthew.

I would add that for me there is a real value in learning from men who come from every age group and every walk of life.

Diversity is strength, and meeting 'on the level' is essential to this learning.

I value the ritual for it's almost Zen-like quality; once the opening is done, the outside world and worries are set aside.

My religious background is almost the opposite from yours in that, as a kid, I had more religion than I could stand. Since there are so many religions, and almost no one agrees on which one is the 'right' one, it is good to leave that stuff outside, beyond the Tyler, as well.

We are fortunate to have a great group of guys at W.M. Nick's lodge, and from what I have seen from our travels, other lodges are
similarly composed. Traveling has been a lot of fun.

Cardo said...

Great post Matthew,

I think those points apply to most of us.

WM Johnson, first congratulations of the East(been away from the online community for a bit) and an excellent way to get other Brothers contributing outside of the Lodge room.

Unknown said...

Brother Matthew,

You hit the nail on head for me with your description of social life after 30.

As recently raised 3rd Degree Mason, I was discussing motivations for become a Mason with a Brother before participating in a recent Masonic funeral, and my words to him were:

"In your late teens you have your school friends, in your 20s, most, have their party friends, in your thirties, they fade away, gone but still friends, and have your family--a blessing, but not enough for a well-rounded life."

For me becoming a Mason was about growing socially, joining a group of men that gathered formally to conduct Masonic business and then informally as friends and associates, connected by bonds the strength of which I could not have imagine before before my degree work.

Great writing.

Geoff Jackson said...

Loved this write up from Brother Matthew, so many true and valid points :)