Me: Bill, I had a great time this weekend with my Lodge. We went out to Union Park with our families and had a big BBQ. The swimming was good and the food was great. But the best time was just sitting under the shade tree and reminiscing with old and new friends.
Bill: You are always talking about your Lodge but I don’t get this Masonry thing. I never could see why a man would join. I know you get a lot of pleasure from it but I don’t see what is so special about it. I go out to Union Park with friends now and then myself but none of them are Masons.
Me: Well Bill, Masonry is more than social good times. It’s also about reverence, respect, knowledge, a helping hand and close bonding relationships. As a matter of fact it is a philosophy, a virtual way of life………ah, a method of looking at the world and yourself through a different prism.
Bill: So how does this new way of life, this different prism do for you at Union Park with all your Mason friends?
Me: Well I know where the heart is of all my Brothers, even the ones I don’t know. And that’s important to me. Someone once said that – “you are who your friends are.” My contention is that nobody is perfect and that it is possible to be led into or to follow the wrong path in life. One can get lost in superficial and unrewarding patterns of life by constantly associating with corrupting influences. I choose to surround myself with those who try to be noble and righteous and I believe that encourages me to “make something of myself” and to improve myself as a person and that is what God wants for me.
Bill: I didn’t realize how deep Masonry is. I have to say now that it sounds almost like a religion. Would you say that your Brothers look upon their Lodge as church?
Me: I am sure some mistakenly substitute Lodge for church but their reasoning is faulty and their actions bespeak of one who is lazy. Masonry has many religious people in the fraternity but the approach in Lodge is more spiritual than religious. By that I mean that it has nothing to do with sectarian dogma but everything to do with an appreciation of the Creator and the wonders of His creation.
Bill: My Pastor does not speak complimentary about Masonry. He says that I don’t need another Guidance System, the one I have right here in church has everything I need.
Me: Well Bill, church is about worshiping the Almighty Creator. Its focus is salvation, its work the improvement of the soul.
Lodge is not focused on the Hereafter. Its theme is the interrelationships right here on earth. It delineates an earthly philosophy the practice of which points you to seeking that relationship with your Creator. It sends you to church to complete the edification of the other half of yourself.
Bill: But it sounds to me from all that I have heard and of what you have had to say that you are offering a system of morality, a way of life as you call it, that teaches a certain path that should be taken to live your life. That sure sounds to me like a competing Guidance System as my Pastor believes.
Me: Look Bill, we talk about the virtues of Masonry………er, of being a virtuous person using the already established patterns of life that are universally accepted by all cultures. Masonry is the application of your creed not a competing way of worshiping. Being a believer in Democracy rather than totalitarianism is a philosophy, a way of life. But no one is calling that path a competing religion or guidance system.
Bill: I’m a little bit confused and I am not sure how to separate the two, Masonry and church.
Me: Many facets of life, Bill, don’t compete with each other they are intertwined. There is a lot of crossover here in the applications used to take this journey we call life. You can chop them up into neat little boxes but that is a separation that is artificial and does not deal with the complexity of actually living life. Try looking at what you call –competing guidance systems – as interrelated, intertwined aspects of the same discipline all leading to the same end.
Bill: So what you are saying is that while we all think that we are doing something different we are really all doing the same thing?
Me: Now you are getting the idea, Bill. Which is why a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian can all sit in Lodge together. We are all worshiping God but we are not holding a worship service. And all that we talk about in Lodge is universal to them all.
Bill: I can see why some people misunderstand all this. It takes a little bit of thinking about it to grasp Masonry’s niche in the scheme of things. But I can see now that Masonry is a universal application of all that is good and righteous in life. I would now have to say that makes it complimentary not competing. I wonder why my Pastor and others think of it as a competing religion?
Me: Because in most instances we do it so well. We end up being more influential in a man’s life than his Pastor and some Pastors just can’t take that.
Bill: So how come you have never asked me to become a Mason?
Me: Oh but I have. Not in so many words, but as you have said I talk about my Lodge quite often. That information is then there for you to act upon. We do not invite you in, you ask to join.
Bill: So when I go through the ceremonies of initiation I will come out this new person?
Bill: Just when I thought I had a good handle on what is going on here I find myself lost again. Again I am confused.
Me: The ceremonies are required so that your mind has a logical understanding of where your heart already is.
Bill: So are you saying that I am already there?
Me: Where is a man first made a Mason?
Bill: I don’t know.
Me: In his heart.
Bill: I finally, finally got it! All I have to do now is ask.