Monday, November 26, 2007

EA Dream

I had an interesting dream last night, in which I was about to take the Entered Apprentice degree. I don't believe I've had any Masonic dreams before, at least none that I remembered.

You'd expect that a dream about an initiation ceremony would concern itself with the actual ceremony, but that wasn't the case. For me, it was all about the preparation. It's all a bit hazy this morning, but key details were:
  • I was expecting to change into the one-sleeved, one-legged getup, but to my dismay the lodge had no such garments, and I was told that I'd have to just undergo the degree in my boxers and t-shirt.
  • Having dutifully stripped to my undergarments, I was asked to step out of the lodge for a few moments, which was inexplicably in a labyrinthine shopping-mall type complex that was totally unfamiliar to me.
  • My parents were in some sort of assembly in a nearby room, and greeted me enthusiastically as they left. I had the impression that they had been watching a "So someone in your family has decided to become a Freemason" presentation, kind of like the pamphlets new petitioners get.
  • When the time came for me to go back into the lodge, they flicked the lights on and off intermission style. It was at this point that I realized I was lost, and I kept trying fruitlessly to find the entrance to the lodge. The sense of urgency grew with each wrong turn and dead end, until finally I woke up from anxiety/frustration.
My armchair analysis, point by point:
  • Clearly, a variant on the classic "naked in front of class" dream.
  • Big labyrinthine spaces have always been a pretty common dream element for me, which is probably why I liked Doom and Quake so much.
  • At Thanksgiving my grandfather asked if I had been initiated yet. My dad, aunt, and brother were within earshot, and I felt vaguely uncomfortable. As excited and supportive as Grampa is, I think that deep down I'm still concerned about other family members' impressions of this whole adventure.
  • I'm anxious about either slipping through the cracks or not being able to make another EA degree ceremony as happened back in September.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Soooooo.... How did the whole Masons thing turn out?

My good friend J. and I have known each other since 9th grade. My family moved away after 10th grade, but we stayed periodically in touch by letter through the rest of high school and early college. We lost touch for a few years in the mid-nineties, but when I looked him up again and dropped him a line via e-mail we picked up the threads quite naturally, and in many ways our renewed e-mail correspondence was just like the messages we used to exchange on local BBS systems in the late eighties.

Nowadays it's pretty common for several months to go by between e-mail exchanges, and there's never any reproach or apology necessary... as with the first email, we just pick up where we left off.

Our last exchange this year was back in June, not long after I petitioned my lodge... I told him why I had decided to join, citing most of the reasons listed in early posts of this weblog, and I was curious to see what he thought. The idea of joining a fraternal/service organization is "not his cuppa," but he understood what I'm looking for and was very curious to see what my experience was.

The other day I got a very brief e-mail from J., simply saying

Soooooo.... How did the whole Masons thing turn out?

I was a little bit chagrined to have to tell him "I'll let you know when I find out!"

It's interesting how perspectives and priorities change - over the last month or so I have been preoccupied with the purchase of my first house, and as a result I have withdrawn from obsessing over Masonic minutia, going back to something more like my perspective as a total "outsider" early this summer. That's not to say that I'm not still very much looking forward to joining... just that most of my mental energy is going somewhere else right now.

The recent news about Halcyon Lodge #2 (Formerly #498 under the G.L. of Ohio) is very interesting. From a Masonic perspective, I think it's too bad that the brothers ultimately felt that they had no choice but to sever their ties from the Grand Lodge. I also think it's too bad that the only thing critics of the split seem to have to say is, "If these men would just be good Masons and listen to their Grand Lodges then they wouldn't be discontented!"

What I find even more interesting, though, is what the whole situation must look like to a total outsider who has no stake in Freemasonry. I mean no disrespect to the brothers of Halcyon #2 and wish them great success in their endeavor, but you have to admit that a profane who has seen the beloved "Homer the Great" episode of The Simpsons would immediately point out that Halcyon #2 has pretty much just established the Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers.

Friday, November 2, 2007

On to November

It's hard to believe it's been about five months since I began reading up on fraternal/service organizations. It didn't take me long to zero in on the Freemasons, and five months later I'm still positive I made the right decision, especially after hearing my father and uncle talk about their brief experiences with the Rotary (My dad joined briefly while living in western New York in the 1960's or 70's, and my uncle thought about joining in southern Connecticut) and the Lions (my dad was a guest of a member at a few Lions club meetings in southern New Hampshire in the 1990's).

Apparently the Rotary had a policy where missing a meeting or luncheon meant having to pay extra fees on top of your annual dues. Similarly, what my dad saw at the Lions club was the singling out and ridicule of anyone who had missed a meeting or two in front of the whole assembly. My dad didn't spend long with the Rotarians, and never even bothered to join the Lions with the kind of attitude he saw there.

Disclaimer: this is obviously a second-hand and a very small sampling of experiences with the Rotary and Lions clubs. However, of all the complaints I have heard about the Freemasons, absentee fines and the harassment of infrequent attendees were not among them. While it may be true that the currently low annual dues make brothers value their membership less (which in turns leads to people paying their dues but not attending lodge, or drifting away altogether), I can't imagine wanting to belong to a club that hits me with a fine if I can't get to a meeting one week, or razzes me about it the next time I show up.

Hopefully things in my district will get back on track after October's official visits and installation of officers, and I'll get the chance to take the first degree I missed in September. I know it will be worth the wait.