Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Freemasons

This confession is from today's Archdruid Report, a discussion of health care and our loss of a sense of community. If you turn over enough digital rocks it is amazing what will turn up. Today's disclaimer: my brother Elbert is a Freemason:

"Yes, I’m a Freemason. Some years back a series of accidents clued me in to the huge role that the old fraternal orders had in structuring American communities a century ago, and in the process I also learned that the handful of fraternal orders that still survive are rapidly going under for lack of new members. The obvious response was to apply for membership in a lodge, which I did. The results have been an experience, in almost every possible sense of the word. I’ve given and received quite a range of secret handshakes, and worn some very exotic headgear; I’ve spent evenings in mostly empty lodge halls while a handful of elderly members try to remember the details of initiation ceremonies none of them have had a chance to perform in twenty years; I’ve seen old men, proud as hawks, get teary-eyed as they reminisced about the days when the rest of the community responded to the lodges and their charitable work with something other than total indifference."


Justine Valinotti said...

This is so interesting! I knew nothing about the Masons or any other fraternal order until today.

Anyone who wants smaller and more localized government could appreciate what orders like the Odd Fellows once did. In fact, it fits rather nicely into my own beliefs: I would define myself, if loosely, as a libertarian because I do not think that governments are very good (or benevolent) when it comes to people's well-being. On the other hand, I object to those Ayn Rand disciples who don't believe in helping other people. I simply don't think people should be coerced into serving other people, much less a government: People should learn the value of that from their families and other communities. Of course, families and communities aren't what they used to be...

Anyway...very interesting stuff!

Gunnar Berg said...

That is why it's more satisfying when a heathen does something good for you. It's because he or she is a good person. When a religious person does something good, you always suspect it's because they are cutting a deal for a better afterlife.