Thursday, March 26, 2009

We Have an Image to Maintain

Of all of the weird behaviors people exhibit related to the subject of Masonry, the one that has been fascinating me lately is this really weird, sort of upside down negative reaction that some people seem to have when they learn that the Masons are having an open house, or that there's a book called Freemasons for Dummies, or whenever a Mason is interviewed for a newspaper article. What's with the people who make snarky, yet somehow vaguely disappointed comments like, "Pfft! For a secret society they sure make their buildings easy to find!" or "Secret societies aren't as secret as they used to be!"

It's as though they would rather have their sinister, mistaken, pop culture preconceptions about the Masons proven true! Aww, man! You mean the Masons aren't a sinister cabal who control the weather and eat babies? What a ripoff! I was really hoping that they'd send their minions after me to kidnap and brainwash me after stumbling on this sekret knowledge of theirs!

Public perception has been on my mind lately because of the impending state-wide open house we will be having on Saturday in Massachusetts; as a lodge ambassador I'll be one of the Brothers tasked with hanging around the Lodge from 9:00 to 3:00, greet visitors, and attempt to explain what the heck it is that we do. My goal is to formulate a description that contains enough of a concrete explanation that will spark the interest and imagination of the right sort of man, but to be oblique enough about everything else to preserve a sense of mystery and (dare I say it) exclusivity.

But alas, if you storm into our lodge expecting us to confess to keeping the metric system down, or fluoridating the water supply, you may find that your sense of mystery suffers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just in time for the Open House

I just finished watching the "Secrets of the Freemasons" tabloid documentary that the National Geographic channel produced a couple of years ago - while actually fairly factual and not as ridiculous as the programs put out by the Discovery and History channels around the same time, they sure lay on a lot of sinister music (I'll have to talk to our lodge organist about that, he doesn't play anything nearly that spooky) and just about every sentence in the narration begins with, "Some people believe," or "Conspiracy theorists believe," or, just to mix it up a little bit, "There is a general consensus among historians that the Masons were not behind the French revolution, but some conspiracy theorists believe that the Freemasons were involved."

Nevertheless, as someone who will be greeting the general public at our open house this coming weekend, it's probably worth watching all of these things, since that's where a lot of people may have gotten their information.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Late to the Party

I finally got around to checking out The Setting Maul podcast (link goes directly to the podcast feed - you can also go to and so far I'm quite enjoying the Brothers' take on things.

I soured on a lot of internet-based Masonic discourse a while ago because so much of it is polarized and fraught with hyperbole... nothing is ever accomplished because the positions taken are often so fatalistic: either Masonry has been irrevocably ruined, or there's absolutely nothing wrong with it, and that's that.

The Setting Maul, at least the first few episodes I've listened to, is reality-based - that is to say, it acknowledges the frustrations we often encounter in Masonry, but rather than railing on about whose fault they are or how crappy it is that things are in such a state, the Setting Maul folks talk about ways to deal with some of those realities. The refreshing thing is that a lot of them start with ourselves: looking in our hearts and thinking about whether any of the problems and/or solutions lie within, rather than just pointing fingers. And even if there's not always a solution, it's nice to commiserate without quite so much drama.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hello from DrupalCon DC


Hello from DrupalCon DC! On the off chance that anyone (other than Trevor) who reads this site also happens to be a Drupal developer and here at the conference, send me a tweet @MrAndyChase and let's set up a BoF session.

Otherwise, please enjoy this photo from the House of the Temple, which is surprisingly near my hotel.