How to Talk Publicly About Freemasonry
30 July 23
What to say when we are asked "What's Lodge" or "What's Freemasonry"
Freemasonry has long been cloaked in an air of mystery, raising more questions than answers. We don’t exactly do a great job ourselves of dispelling them either.
In his previous article, RW Bro Allatt wrote about how it’s allowed to talk publicly about Freemasonry. Today, we look at HOW to talk publicly about Freemasonry
Our Lodges are our masonic home, and our involvement in Lodge often intertwines with our daily lives. We've discussed embracing transparency, openly expressing, "Sorry, I have Lodge," much like declining an invitation due to a wedding or going to dinner with our spouse.
Yet, with transparency comes curiosity and the inevitable question arises:
"What's Lodge?" or "What's Freemasonry?"
My observations across the craft reveal that we don't always do ourselves justice when explaining Freemasonry.
Resorting to vague phrases like "it's different for everyone", “you’ll find out when you join” or "it's charity" doesn’t answer the question and gives the impression that we really don’t want to talk more openly about Freemasonry.
Even if we do provide an explanation, such as just giving the one defined in our ceremonies:
"a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols."
This causes eyes to glaze over for the typical person, and it doesn’t actually answer the question. But as Masons, many of us don’t understand what this answer means, hence resorting to the explanations mentioned earlier.
Therefore, allow me to offer a translation of “peculiar system…” into a simple and more approachable phrase:
Freemasonry evolved from the operative stone masons of the middle ages
and is a unique way of teaching self-development lessons
through stories and symbols, each with multiple meanings.
These explanations solve the initial curiosity but often, lead to another question (which is a good thing): "What are these self-development lessons?"
True to form, the answer lies within our ceremonies, our founding grand principles of 'brotherly love,' 'relief,' and 'truth.'
Let's navigate these stepping stones.
Unites us through shared Masonic experiences worldwide, emphasizing the need for equality, but also love for each other no matter what.
Which goes beyond just the mere act of opening the wallet for charity. It's about holding each other accountable and offering mental, emotional, physical, and sometimes financial support, not just to each other but in society in general.
Represents honesty, wisdom, and the pursuit of knowledge.
Every good mystery has its secrets, or at least twists & turns, doesn't it?
But secrets are not always as cloak-and-dagger as they seem.
The way to explain our secrets is simple:
In the Middle Ages, how did the operative stone mason travelling throughout Europe from job site to job site, prove his qualifications without LinkedIn or online databases which the public could check to verify he was a licensed builder?
Enter the "secret handshakes." It's as simple as that.
Yet, what about our "secret meetings?"
Consider this - Would anyone from off the street be able to walk into an ASX boardroom when they’re discussing the financial results of the last year before they’re announced to the market? The answer is a resounding no.
Similarly, our meetings are private, but not secret in an illicit sense. And the "secret rituals?" They're not clandestine as many would think, but immersive stories where the candidate is the hero, but has never seen the script - Like the TV-Show, Thank God You’re Here.
But the reason why they’re kept private is, imagine revealing the plot twists or the ending of a gripping movie or tv show before someone has the chance to see it.
Another example would be telling the punchline of a joke, before the joke itself.
It steals away the magic, doesn't it?
For example, if you haven't seen The Avengers or Harry Potter, would you like me to tell you how the Avengers defeated Thanos or how Harry Potter defeated Voldemort?
No. You want to enjoy the story and the experience of it.
The same is for Freemasonry, I can tell you ABOUT it, but I can’t reveal the things IN Freemasonry.
Providing simple & honest answers that explain our Craft is the right approach.
Using the Avengers and Harry Potter examples.
We can say The Avengers is about individual heroes who while powerful on their own, when united in a team can defeat the greatest threat to the universe, Thanos. Or How Harry Potter, the chosen one, needs to defeat the Evil One otherwise Bad will triumph over Good.
[Harry Potter & Avengers Spoilers Ahead]