For me it was a couple of different reasons. First would be that the Masons (and Shriners in particular) are very well respected where I grew up, in a small southern farming community with a lot of the older generation. They were well known for helping out people who were in trouble or down on their luck and supporting the community. When I told my parents I had friends who were Masons and I was thinking about joining, they literally came up out of their seats. Its probably the only decision I've made with my life that they were actually excited about. My mom would talk about the Shriners helping out people who needed medical aid (either helping provide financial assistance or taking people to the hospital if they had no way to get there) and how they would usually work in the next county over to keep things low-key. They were more interested in helping their neighbors than any glory.What made you interested in joining?
- service club aspect?
- business connections?
- feeling of brotherhood?
- the history and mysticism?
- friend or relative who had been in it?
- flattery because it's by invitation only?
Its actually very flattering and humbling to know that there's people who consider me to have the type of moral character that the Masons are so known for back home.
The second reason is that I really missed the camaraderie of being in the military. There was a bond there, a shared experience. Since you have a lot of Masons who are military, police, firemen, etc. it was a good way to reestablish that part of my life that I was missing (probably part of the reason I stuck around Bragg after I left the service).
BTW, your last point there is off. There is no invitation. Masons aren't allowed to recruit. Someone has to approach and ask about becoming a mason. Then the applicant puts in a petition and is voted on by the members of the local lodge he is petitioning to join. The saying goes, "To be one, ask one". No one will ever be asked to join the Masons. We can talk about masonry, but we're not allowed to actively recruit.
The other branch is the York Rite. Both of them, as well as the Shriners, have their own official webpages.How do higher up people decide which branch to go into (I think it's Scottish Rite and ????)
It really depends on where your interest lies. Each has its own way of doing things and new things to learn. Sometimes it just comes down to location. I would like to do Scottish Rite myself, but the closest is a 2 hour drive away. York Rite is local to me. Also, the 'higher up' thing is something people get confused about. There is no degree higher than 3rd Degree Master Mason. Each masonic group you join after that may have their own degrees, but they're more about showing how far along you are in learning the teachings of that group rather than 'moving up'. The best way I can think to describe it is that its not a vertical climb through a bunch of higher levels. From Entered Apprentice to Master Mason is vertical. Once you become a Master Mason, it goes out horizontally. Am I making sense here?
LOL! The fez is a Shriner thing. I think I've said before in another thread, the Shriners are all about having fun while supporting a good cause. If you can't laugh at yourself for looking goofy in a fez, you may not have the sense of humor most Shriners seem to possess.Do you feel funny about the possibility of wearing a fez one day and do the fezzes come with those fancy hat boxes or are they sold separately? (I was at a funeral of a Mason guy and was quite surprised that everyone had hat boxes!) Who manufactures fezzes?
The hat boxes usually have to be bought separately. Their not that expensive and its a good to lug around the fez without it getting damaged, so most people buy them. Not sure who manufactures the fezzes. I'll have to get back to you on that one.
The Masons want people of good moral and ethical character in their ranks, the kind of people who stand by their word. For that reason, its something I've never really felt the need to worry about. There's stories of course, but who know? Its not something I ever intend to have to find out.Why the dastardly threats of things that will be done to people if they tell Mason secrets? Do people kind of laugh at the over the topness of them or do they feel quite serious about it? Are there any teeth behind it? (Like "accidents" that seem to happen to those that tell).
There's meetings. Some very, very boring meetings.LOL! Usually budget related stuff (paying bills, scheduling dinners and charity events, any old business?, any new business?, etc, etc.) After that, its a lot of the 'coffee with your buddies' type of thing.What do you do at meetings other than initiate new people? Is it sort of like attending a meeting, or more like going for coffee with your buddies?
Camaraderie. Being able to help others. Learning new things. Having people you can talk to when you need advice.What are the perks of being a Mason?
The motto is: Taking good men and making them better.
Most of the things you learn are about ethics and morality.
If anybody wants to join solely for some ulterior motive, don't bother, that's not what its all about.
If you search on Co-masonry, there's some lodges that allow women. I don't think any of them are officially recognized by the fraternity though. A lot of what I've seen from the wives is that they're happy with the Eastern Star if they decide to join. The Shriners encourage the wives to participate and the group just seems to be a bit more intertwined to me. I think the Shriners really have the most fun and are the most laid-back out of all the groups.Have any women lobbied to be part of it, or are they content with Eastern Star etc spinoff organizations?
In the MBTI personality type way? Haven't paid that much attention. If we're just talking general personality traits: People who have strong morals and ethics, hard-worker types, people with good hearts who'll help others when they can.Are certain personality types more attracted than others to this group?
No, you keep all of your stuff. You really don't have to formally quit, you just stop paying your dues. There's a small yearly membership fee to help support the lodge. Its a nice gesture to let somebody know you're not going to be participating anymore. Unless you really messed up and were expelled or suspended from the fraternity, you can always rejoin later.If you decide to quit, do you have to formally let anyone know, or do you just not attend anymore? Do they make you turn in your stuff?
Depends on your area. I've heard anywhere from 18-25. There's a lot of old guys, but don't let 'em fool ya, they've got some sharp wit.How old do you have to be to join? Is it mostly old guys?
There's some younger people coming in, which is good to see. I think I'm one of the youngest in my lodge at 28.
Ragashree did a really good job of answering this one. Not religious. Freemasonry is considered "A system of morality". It doesn't matter if you're Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, etc., you just have to have a belief in a higher power. Talk of religion and politics are actually not allowed in lodge. I think that's because its a highly personal matter and Masonry promotes brotherhood and nothing ends relationships quite like differing views on politics and religion. That's my take on that part of it though.Would you consider your organization religious or no?
The only part of Freemasonry you have to be a professed Christian for is if you decide to join the Knight's Templar in the York Rite.
The apron has its own symbolism, but the easiest explanation is that it came from the ancient stone masons from which Freemasonry arose.What's up with the aprons?
Alrighty! The sun is coming up and I need to be going to bed. I hope I've helped answer any questions you've had. I'm running a little short on sleep at the moment so if there's anything that you'd like me to elaborate on or clarify, don't hesitate to ask.
EDIT: Please forgive any spelling or grammar mistakes in this post, I'm a wee bit sleep deprived at the moment.