Going to CONvergence usually means I'll be spending most of my time joining in discussions of my favorite books, T.V. shows, and movies. Color me surprised when I saw that there was a panel at 10:30 pm on Thursday called "Ask A Freemason Anything".
To be honest, I expected to find two Freemasons, one of which would be elderly. And probably about six people in the audience who wanted to know if they really worshiped the devil. You could have knocked me over with a feather at the reality of this panel. About half a dozen guys, in their 20s and 30s who were Masons and another half dozen in the audience. As for the audience, there were so many people, there weren't seats for all of them.
I want to be fair and admit I have a bias, right up front. My mother was a Past Honored Queen in the International Order of Job's Daughters (a Masonic group for girls) and she was an Eastern Star. My Grandmother was also an Eastern Star. My Grandfather was a Mason. So was my Great-Grandfather on my father's side. In fact, my family is full of Freemasons. I myself am a Past Princess from Bethel #161 Long Beach, International Order of Job's Daughters.
I have friends I made in Job's Daughters who are still my friends today. It was truly a wonderful experience for me, and an organization that helped keep me grounded during a time when the rest of my life was chaos. So, my experience with Masons, and the Masonic family has been overwhelmingly positive. That's my bias. My son turns 12 this month, and I'm already looking into having him join DeMolay, a Masonic youth organization for boys.
I went to the panel to find out how active Masonic youth is in this area. I was incredibly surprised to learn that the Masons are having a resurgence around here with younger men. But I also learned things I didn't know. And I thought I might take a post and dispel a few rumors.
1. Freemasons don't worship the devil. In fact, Freemasonry doesn't worship any particular deity at all. As I understand it, the York Rite is distinctly Christian. But Freemasonry in general religiously tolerant. You must believe in something, but they don't say what that should be. It is not a religion.
2. Neither Barack Obama nor Saddam Houssein are Freemasons. Neither was Hitler. The Freemasons believe in political freedom. Hence the reasons that dictators tend to outlaw them. For example Iran apparently has a Grand Lodge operating out of the United States because they've been banned from their own country. We have had many presidents who were Freemasons, however. From George Washington to Gerald Ford.
3. Masons donate over $500 million every year to philanthropic causes. In Job's Daughter's we helped raise money for seeing eye dogs, and volunteered time in a Masonic orphanage. But Masons also have Long Term Care Centers for the elderly, children's hospitals, and so much more.
4. Freemasonry is not sexist. There is a place for women in the Masonic family. But men need their own space just like we women do. That in itself is not sexist.
5. Freemasonry is not racist. All races are welcome in Freemasonry. Which isn't to say that there has never been a racist Freemason. I'm sure there have been plenty. But it's not what the organization stands for. I always found the Masonic family to be pretty diverse.
I'm actually thinking I may join Eastern Star out here. We'll see. I'm so busy already.
If anyone had any questions about Freemasonry or the Masonic family, I'll try to answer it as best I could (not being a Freemason myself).