May 06, 2005


After Jane was called a Mason by those who wish to discredit her, one of her readers pointed out that 1) there are lodges of people who call themselves Masons and yet are co-ed or all-female; these are not generally recognized by the majority as true Masons, and 2) there has been a mixed reaction to the Order of the Eastern Star, with British Masons a good deal more skeptical or negative than U.S. Lodges.

I have no first-hand knowledge of this issue, but my family's history is intertwined with Things Mason, so it might be appropriate to comment.

My grandfather was a Shriner and either a 32nd or 33rd degree Mason, depending upon whom one speaks to. Some cousins tell me they are skeptical about the 33rd degree version of the story; it's apparently very rare for this to be granted at all. Let's just say the exact ordinal is a little hazy, but he was way into it.

My grandmother, his wife, was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, and I believe a female cousin on his side is as well: she appears to be even more gung ho about the Masonic culture than her husband is, though she holds the belief that females cannot be Masons.

My mother was a member of Job's Daughters, and her younger sister was in the Rainbow Girls.

When my mother took her first long trip away from home she was 16; she was traveling by bus. This would have been in 1952, ten years before I arrived on this planet. As my grandfather drove her to the bus station he told her that if she ever got in trouble or needed help in any way, she should look for someone with a Mason ring, and get help from him.

That is interesting to me: my grandfather was essentially telling my mother that there are some strange men you can trust. If I have a daughter would I ever tell her that she could always trust someone she met through, say, Twelve Step programs? No: there are a lot of crazy people in Twelve Step programs.

But I feel good that there is an organization out there that engenders that level of trust. I like the notion that once in a while there's a way to guess which people might be decent human beings.

At present my aunt wears my grandmother's Order of the Eastern Star ring. I like that. Someday I'll probably wear it myself. It's pretty, and it reminds me that underneath all my family's problems and neuroses, there is a thread of decency, a concern for Doing the Right Thing, at least most of the time. It's nice to think about that every now and again.

Posted by Attila at May 6, 2005 11:27 PM


Well put! As a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and York Rite Knight Templar, I can attest to the fact that we Masons are far from perfect as individuals (especially this one!), but at least TRY to hold up the ideals of service, fairness and generally ethical dealings with the world in our lives, regardless of whatever political, religious, ethnic, national, or class background we may have.

Posted by: Mikal at May 8, 2005 04:51 PM


When I looked at the original context of the "Mason" slur, I understood it better.

Militant Islam, like all ideologies based on intolerance and envy, HATES Freemasonry because it brings together men of different religious, political, ethnic, national and class identities as individuals committed to common ethical goals. This subverts the divide-and-conquer strategy of resentment-based politics, so naturally they can't stand us, and use the "secret society" slur to whip up suspicion against us. (Actually, our "secret" rituals have been publically "exposed" for centuries; the true mysteries of Freemasonry lie in the ineffable experiences that brothers go through in the initiatory and lodge processes, as well as in our commitment to protecting each other's individual confidences, murder and treason excepted.)

For haters, paranoiacs, and politcal extremists, Freemasons have a very high International Bad Guy status. It's right behind that of -- you guessed it -- THE JOOOOOOS.

Posted by: Mikal at May 8, 2005 05:02 PM

Well, there's the Trilateral Commission ;)

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 8, 2005 07:10 PM

Funny how you find people occasionally with very similar backgrounds. My grandfather is a 33rd degree Mason with all the hooha that goes along with it. My father is a 32nd degree. Me, I'm a Catholic living in a generation that absolutely could care less about fraternal organizations after college and believes that by the time our children are in their 30's, there will be no more Elks, Moose, KofC, or Masons.

Posted by: Short time reader first time poster at May 9, 2005 07:35 AM

No mooses? That would be sad.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 9, 2005 09:23 AM

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