Stuck in the closet…

May 12, 2014

I visited Freemasons’ Hall again a couple of weeks ago, this time with my younger son, Sami. It was a weekday so everything was open and we had hoped to catch a tour… Like his brother, Sami seems quite interested in this weird thing that his dad’s into and was willing to come along. I also wanted to see if my books were on the shelves in the shop yet…they were which was nice (and for a very good price, too…it’s definitely the place to buy them if you’re in the vicinity.) I didn’t get to speak to Kevin, though…he was in the middle of receiving a large delivery and looked busy…

Sami and I decided against the tour in the end as we were a bit pushed for time. so we went and had a look round the museum. We looked at all sorts of stuff…I showed him a Past Master’s jewel from my Mother Lodge in Nairobi and he was fascinated by outfits and swords from some of the Orders beyond the Craft. At an exhibit showing an all-seeing eye within a triangle, he told me that Jay-Z makes that triangle with his hands and looks through it with his left eye…’That’s Masonic,’ he said. And amid his usual jokes about devil worship (‘Have you met the devil yet?’) we talked about Freemasonry in general, women in Freemasonry and – I think for the first time – I told him what a Lewis is…and that he is one. I think it was the first time either of us had ever considered the implications of that idea…a strange, but good, moment…

It was echoed a short time later in the Temple itself. We managed to catch up with the tour for a few minutes and were infiltrated into the Grand Temple by one of the very kind lady security guards. A large group of visitors was being given a talk by a very enthusiastic gentleman who, rather embarrassingly, interrupted his spiel to welcome us…as we were leaving at the end of the talk he looked at Sami and asked me, ‘Is he a future Mason?’ I wasn’t sure what to say…

Which all left me thinking…wouldn’t it be ironic/funny/strange if Sami ended up becoming a Mason, not because of his dad who is, let’s face it, old and boring, but because of someone like Jay-Z, who’s young(-ish), cool and interesting. I’ve said it before, but the future of Freemasonry rests in the hands of those who are Masons now. We’re not going to get young people interested if we don’t explain what it’s all about. The secrecy that may have been necessary once is necessary no longer and if Sami can say stuff like ‘That’s Masonic,’ to Jay-Z looking through his hands, he also ought to be able to say ‘That’s Masonic,’ to every act of kindness and generosity and charity done by a Mason who’s ‘out and proud.’

And then, Jo and I were in a pub deep in the fastness of Dartmoor the other day. A small pub. A pub where the bar was no bigger than a very small living room (actually, smaller…) and we overheard a man, nodding towards the window, say ‘There’s a Freemasons’ meeting later.’ Of course, my interest was piqued. I had visions of a Lodge-room upstairs in the pub and of Masons arriving from all over the moor, coming together to share their love of the Craft. As we were leaving, I asked him what he’d meant. He laughed. It was a joke. Someone had arrived with shorts on and their knees showing. It was one of those ‘rolled-up trouser leg’ jokes about Masons. No. He had ‘views.’ Masons had damaged his business, prevented him getting promoted, ruined the British car-manufacturing industry (the Masons and the Unions, apparently. Together? I wondered!)

I left, slightly bemused, but also hurt, I suppose, by the idea that something I was so passionate about was held in such low esteem by someone. I know it’s the case that Masonry is not always seen benignly and I do understand why…but, still, it hurts.

So what can we do? Again, forgive me if I quote from my own book:

 

“‘It should be understood by every Brother – and made clear at an early stage to every Candidate for Initiation – that membership of the Craft is not to be used as a means of promoting his personal or business advantage.’

-Points of Procedure

 

It is no coincidence that the thing the outside world most suspects us of is the very thing against which we must be most on our guard. It would be so easy to fall into the trap of treating our Masonic Brethren differently, of saving the best in ourselves for them. It is natural for us to feel a particular affinity with those who share our rites and there is no shame in rejoicing in the Brotherhood that Freemasonry brings us; but we must not lose sight of that most profound teaching of our Order: that all humankind is one family under God. Our treatment of every individual within the greater family should be such that it could not be bettered even when directed to the interests of a fellow Mason. We should not seek to raise our Brethren above humankind but should seek to treat all of humankind as our Brethren.”

 

So, Jay-Z…if you’re a Mason, come on out…we need you… if you’re not, why pretend knowledge you don’t have? Instead, why not try to discover the true secrets of Freemasonry: the open heart, the understanding of true Brotherhood…

We’re not responsible for all the evils in the world and we’re not the only force for good. Like any other organisation, we have members who sometimes let us down…but if we can just take pride in what we stand for, we can be part of helping to create the better world that is so desperately crying out to be born.

Let’s try…

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