Freemasonry has a similar tenant as improvisation does. The history, impetus, and origin are often speculative; even university professors cannot quite pinpoint fully, all that is Freemasonry. With no head of the modern Fraternity in America or around the world, much of Freemasonry is indeed speculative.
A word I never heard until I joined the Fraternity is esoteric. It’s a word that simply means exclusive or only known to one or a select few. While we have a written catechism and ritual to follow and by-laws to conduct Lodge and Grand Lodge business, the remaining parts are esoteric. No authority truly holds any of the so-called ‘mystics’ of the Fraternity true, so it’s left to individuals to write about our history, heritage and lore based on their own interpretation of it. Sure, we have facts such as which US Presidents and other notables were Masons and it is a matter of fact as to who founded Shriners and Scottish Rite and where the first formal Lodge was built in England. However, the meaning of the rituals and more are subjective. I wrote several months ago that the secrets of Freemasonry truly lie within the individual. I submit the same is true for the essence of Masonry.
There is often talk amongst Brothers as to who does what and how much. What does it mean to be a Mason and at times, are you ‘Masonic’ enough? We have a progression line to Worshipful Master but there is an almost life meter in some circles as to the who, how, how much and why as to the motivation of some Brothers. Service and civility are a hallmark of the Fraternity yet the work itself unfortunately can come second to who did it and how much.
I am a lifelong member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We believe our relationship with God is one on one and only faith not works can lead to salvation. The same I believe applies to Masonry. Your belief in a God is enough for us, whether it’s Allah, God or Yahweh, your relationship is singular. Only when humankind gets involved do things get awry. Masonry is no different.
My membership to the Lodge and the Fraternity is mine alone. I can read, write and study Masonry but what I put in to it is the Lodge is up to me. No one else. I can choose to be pragmatic like a good Treasurer should be or deep in Masonic Education. No matter my cause, initiative or sustained membership, I determine my path. No one else. In fact, we are encouraged to wander with no specific path. Anyone who tells you otherwise or questions your motives should check the original petition.
There are many reminders contained in our modern lexicon that come from Masonry: ‘getting the 3rd degree’, ‘squared away’, ‘level set’. The one we can do away with is ‘have you paid your dues?’
Bro. Nicholas Wennerström, 32 is a Master Mason out of the 1st NE District of Illinois and Treasurer of Libertyville lodge #492. He is also a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago and York Rite Chapter 41 in Waukegan. He is a father of two boys and devoted husband and currently suffers from Benjamin Buttons disease.