An Encounter With The Fringe Element

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR

I suppose we've all had varying degrees of experiences with someone who thinks the Freemasons are responsible for everything from running the Deep State to Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance. On a personal level, I haven't had many, but the following account is about one encounter I had years ago with what one might call the fringe element.

Back in about 2003, I was an IT consultant to a company where word had gotten around that I was one of those weird Freemasons. One day, I'm sitting in a conference room with a couple other guys working out the details of a database design. Across the room another guy, let's call him John, was sketching things on a white-board in preparation for a meeting later in the day. All was quiet and businesslike when in walks the corporate nutball – let's call him Tom.

Tom was a piece of work. The views he openly and freely expressed made the flat-earthers look like top scientists. He bought into every conspiracy theory around and some I think he made up on his own. On top of that, Tom had a temper. One day when his desk phone wasn't working he decided to express his displeasure by flinging it across the room, which left the wires behind the jack broken and dangling out of the wall while the phone just missed a plate glass window and shattered when it hit the wall. Some of his outbursts were more mild. Apparently he didn't get fired because he was a good programmer – it was almost like he was an idiot-savant… with less emphasis on the savant part. I always found it a good practice to stay away from Tom.

John, on the other hand, was a quiet guy with a good sense of humor. We worked together on a few things and I thought I got to know him pretty well. On occasion we went to lunch together. He was charming, friendly and popular. He had, as far as I could see, only one drawback. He hung around a lot with Tom.

So while I was working with my team, Tom walked up to John on the other side of the room and they started talking at a level that was inaudible to me. Suddenly, as loud as he could manage, Tom yelled a single word – something that would be familiar to us all – the password of a Master Mason, "Xxxxxxxxx!"

On the other side of the room, the three of us turned to look at the aftermath of Tom's Tourette-like outburst. The two guys with me merely saw it as another one of Tom's Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moments; but I knew it was directed at the weird one… the goat-riding devil-worshipper… the Illuminati… me. Oh, Tom, you clever boy, you know the password. You've broken the centuries-old Masonic code. Did you find it on one of the 10,000 websites that list it, or did God himself reveal it to you? The password's echo faded, the conference room fell silent, and we all went back to work as if nothing had happened.

Out in the bullpen, John's workstation and mine were next to each other, so we interacted, bantered, and joked back and forth a lot. I never asked him what he thought of Tom's outburst and he never mentioned it. He proved to be bright and level-headed. Then one day he shocked me when he asked for a petition. I was thrilled. This young, articulate guy was exactly the kind of man we would want in the Fraternity.

I brought him one the next day. He lived too far away to petition my Lodge, but I told him I would put him in touch with Lodges in his area. I said I could not be his first-line signer since he would not be petitioning my Lodge (a rule in Missouri that has since been rescinded), but would put him in touch with someone who could do that. I also explained the petitioning process and told him he would be meeting with an investigating committee. He took the petition and thanked me.

Later that day I walked into another area of the office. There I saw Tom and John going over the petition together. That's when I realized John never wanted to join the Freemasons. What he and Tom really wanted was to see the dastardly things a Masonic candidate had to reveal about himself and agree to, in order to join the evil empire. I'm pretty sure Tom and John didn't notice I saw them dissecting the petition. Needless to say, John never brought it back to me and I never mentioned it again.

Hey, I'm a Master Mason. It wasn't the first time I'd been hoodwinked.


Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° , is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is also a Fellow and Past Master of the Missouri Lodge of Research. Among his other Masonic memberships are the St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite bodies, and Moila Shrine. He is also a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. Brother Steve was Editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine for a decade and is a regular contributor to the Whence Came You podcast. Born in Indiana, he has a Master's Degree from Indiana University and is retired from a 35 year career in information technology. Steve and his wife Carolyn reside in northwest Missouri. He is the author of dozens of magazine articles and three books: Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, Freemasons — Tales From the Craft and Freemasons at Oak Island.

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