Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Since I am only an Entered Apprentice I am not allowed during stated meetings, since they are opened and closed in the Master Mason Degree. So, I have felt somewhat disconnected from my brothers. During the degree they emphasize that you are a Mason, and you are charged to ever act and walk as such, yet I am excluded from all stated meetings, unless they open the meetings in the EA degree. What difference of what business can be conducted during the separate degrees is beyond me, but in my short time since being in the Craft my selected lodge has only open lodge business in the Master Mason Degree. A certain brother only refers to me as a candidate and not as a brother, a term that reminds me of a pledge in an old college fraternity system.

Back to my main point, I was more excited about being in the lodge room with my brothers than the actual memorization/regurgitation. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the memorization is the best way to go as an introduction and learning of the Craft. If I had done a One Day or only needed to memorize the Obligation than the subtle nuances would have been lost that so much of the beauties and teachings of Freemasonry that it would come across more as hokey play, than a sacred ritual.

So I did my best and fumbled a few times during the examination. I have read some blogs where they just cruised, but the subtle words started to get to me and I was having a hard time not inferring other oaths I had taken in my life (My service to country for instance). Still, the brothers voted and I passed, so now I will nail down the next two parts for my next examination. I don’t want to rush this process, as I am afraid I will miss something, yet I want to move forward as quickly as possible, so I guess I am contradicting myself a little.

Conferring the Degree/ Memorization

So on the 12th, I was nervous, but not overly nervous as I knew that I wouldn’t be humiliated or anything of the sort. They put me in a room and had me listen to an honest to God analog tape, on an old tape recorder the kind that my father would use when he was going to grad school. So I sat and listen to the tape which explained how I should prepare for the evening. It seem to fit, the old tape playing in this old building and being prepared to enter the worlds oldest fraternity. I don’t know, maybe I read too much into these things, but really the tape did relax me, if for nothing else for it’s familiarity and it’s no frills approach. I won’t speak much of the degree itself, but I was annoyed as the brother that was acting the part of Worshipful Master messed up my name at least a half of dozen times. There was two of us that were getting the degree conferred that night and he got mine and they guy before me names mixed up (He kept call me brother Devin). It felt, I don’t know unprepared. The lodge room itself is nice, but the roof is leaking because it’s an older house, and the carpet was faded, but it took nothing away from the ceremony itself, the only degrading part was the WM messing up my name over 12 times, it was getting to the point that I thought that he was doing it on purpose (it wasn’t our regular WM, it’s another guy from a lodge that shares our lodge, but that is another story). After the degree was completed, I knew I wasn’t done, but hadn’t fully comprehended what I had gotten myself into. Brother Garland came up to me afterwards and asked me when I was available during the week. I told him I cold meet when ever after 5:00 pm. He wanted to meet at the lodge to start what he referred to as my instruction. During my searching and reading on the internet I knew that there was a controversy regarding what was refereed to as “One-Day Class”, I really never understood what the controversy was about. See in my college fraternity we had pre-I week then we had the actual initiation ceremony. Pre-I week was meant to build brotherly love then initiation was an all night event that was more of a game than any real moral lessons. When finished, the next morning you were a full brother no longer an Associate Member. So after further discussion it was revealed to me that I have to memorize three parts, and recite them in open lodge. After some internet searching I found that most states no longer require the full memorization, some just require the obligation, others have varying forms of memorization, mine requires it all, breakfast, lunch and dinner. So the following Thursday I sat down with Brother Garland and we started the learning process. When he first recited the questions and answers in it’s entirety I took comfort in the fact that Texas gives you a year to pass your EA examination. I am a better audio learner than reading, so the fact that there wasn’t note cards, or printouts of what was required didn’t bother me too much, some of the brothers in my lodge said the process wouldn’t be as tedious if they just had something written down they could study from. Still between my travel schedule/holidays and being an overall slow learner it took me a good two solid months before I had the first part passable. So they scheduled my examination of the first part of the EA degree.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Applying to be Made a Mason

During my time on active duty in the Air Force I was investigated and granted a Top Secret Clearance. During this investigation the FBI shakes your family tree and go hunting in the closets for skeletons. This process can be nerve racking, but seeing that the Masons put together an investigation committee of three people to write up a report on you over a period of 28 days, you have to wonder which came first the chicken or the egg? Still it was nothing new, and so I filled out the application form, and honest every question. I got to a bizarre question asking if I ever committed an act that was “gravely immoral” or something along those lines. When I was younger I got drunk and slashed a tire, yeah something stupid. But I thought it was better to just be honest about it then to blow it off as another empty form. I read on the internet, some Lodges would reject my application for this simple fact, and I thought to myself “if they reject it, then it was never meant to be.” So I filled it out, and I moved on, I was called by the investigating committee and they wanted to meet at the lodge. We had a good meeting, they asked about the incident and said they didn’t feel it was reason to disqualify my application but if the members of the Lodge choose to reject it based on that fact, there was nothing they could do about it, I just told them “It’s better to come clean with this stuff now, then for it to surface later.” If the brothers rejected me, then so be it. After 28 days (right after Thanksgiving) I got an e-mail saying that I was accepted and that they wanted to confer the degree of Entered Apprentice on 12 December 2006.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Part II – Picking a Lodge/Tuesday Dinner

After about a couple months of pondering I went ahead and actively sought a Lodge in my area. Now, it was no easy task finding a Lodge, there are 24 in my city, and you really can’t tell one from the other, besides the name. I found one that’s name struck me, and was in an area that the wife and I are considering moving to, even though there is one near my house, it’s above a hardware store and looks near abandoned. So I left an e-mail to the secretary. He called me back and was grumpy as all get out; he said that they have dinner or sometimes food before their meeting on the second week of the month. So I took a chance and went. When I showed up, I will admit I was intimidated. There were maybe three guys around my age everyone else was much older and not appearing initially to be that friendly. Mostly it was my perception, but let’s face it, old people can be standoffish with anyone under the age of 50, others were very nice and friendly. I remember being comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. It’s bizarre; I figure that I owe it another shot before trying out a different lodge. I went a second time and things didn’t appear to be as uncomfortable as before, and while it was my second time at the lodge, it felt more comfortable and almost familiar. I came to feel a level of familiarity with the lodge that made me want to continue to attend there and be apart of this lodge. My nervousness aside, it was a place that I could see myself a member of, and decided to get an application.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Part I – The History

Part I – The History

I have been blogging since 2000, not the oldest on the internet by any means, but have been doing it for long enough that it has become a part of my life. I have another blog for my day to day life, and in there I will make brief mention of my Masonic journey. But, I know those people aren’t interested in reading post after post about my Masonic journey, and my frustrations and revelations.

Revelation part won’t be documented, but I want to talk as much as I can about the process, members of my lodge and my fresh eye perspective on a lodge that was chartered in 1915 with 281 members.

My grandfather was an active Mason, he wasn’t a member of any of the associated rites or a Shriner, he was a blue lodge man. He attended blue lodge meetings and enjoyed their brotherhood, but never felt it necessary to go beyond the first three degrees. As a child my parents divorced when I was seven the first three years after the divorce a lot of time was spent with my maternal grandparents. My mother went back to school to learn typing and other skills necessary for the work force and she was given sole custody of us. My father had very limited visitation of Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings (I still to the day can’t figure this one out). So the majority of my time was spent in my grandparent’s house. My great uncles were all jewelers and Masons, and so they would periodically give my grandfather rings, cufflinks, tie tabs, etc as birthday presents and what not. He would wear them and I never understood their significance, nor really thought to ask. Actually at the time I thought it had something to do with his Realtor dealings as when he retired from being an Automotive Engineer became a realtor to pass the time and earn some extra cash.

It wasn’t till I was 17 that I found out that Masons was a fraternity, it was that year that Grandpa received his 50 year certificate and went through the ceremony with his brothers in attendance. He was so proud of that day that he would talk about it for the next six months. I guess his attitude toward the Masons intrigued me.

My grandfather died when I was 19, and it was painful to go through, because it did feel like I lost a father of sorts. He was stern, all about business, but he had a gentle side that when it came out, made me enamored with him. I had no intentions of being a Mason, and when he died it was honestly the last thing on my mind. Sometimes I read of men that when their grandparent or father dies, the next week they rush out to be made a Mason, and that was far the case from me. I didn’t really have a good understanding of my relationship with God and the last thing I needed to do was join a lodge of old judgmental men, I was 19, I needed to make my own mistakes.

So time passed I went to college @ age 21 and majored in Electrical Engineering, joined a fraternity (Lambda Chi Alpha), and during that time felt like it fell flat on the brotherhood and building of men and was more about partying and women. I guess I wanted that Masonic bond I perceived my grandfather had, but went to the wrong place to find it.

After college I joined the military as an Officer and Communications Engineer, again thoughts of fraternity and joining the Masons was the last thing on my mind. I was traveling all over the world and serving my country. Then two events happened to me that led me to the Craft. The United States Air Force decided that it only needed half the people it currently had in my career field, and I was in essence laid off, for no other reason than my commissioning source (Officer Training School). In August of 2006 my grandmother died. When we cleaned out all of my grandmother’s belongings we came across all of my grandfather’s Masonic jewelry that was given to him over the years. The flood of memories of him wearing that came to me and I really wanted to take them back to Texas. I again, didn’t think about joining, but my idiot cousin didn’t care and most likely they would have ended up at Goodwill, and it seemed such a shame. So when I got home, I started to try to do research on the internet, and went to the place any good 21st century man does, and consults Wikipedia. That not being enough information about the history or what Freemasonry is, I went onto the infamous “A Page About Freemasonry” which was geared more towards current Mason’s, and had little information on the past and seemed more geared towards if you wanted to join, what to do, and a whole lot of information on what was referred to as “One Day Classes”.

Looking around more I saw that the internet was full of people that hated Freemasons, people that were members and adored freemasonry, but didn’t like its current state. So I went to a half priced bookstore and bought a book about that author’s version of Freemasonry. Now, every person that’s a Historian who is a Freemason has their own version of history. From it being from the start of time, to those that believe it really wasn’t organized till 1717, still this book was decent, and the author had enough humility to admit when the lines were blurred, or at the most, fanciful. After reading it I was ready to take the next step, and contact a local lodge. I guess reading the rich history, coupled with my family’s involvement made me want to take that next step and see a lodge.