Monday, August 27, 2007

Good friends, great meal:

The weekend after being initiated into Freemasonry, I received a phone call from K., one of my best friends. We decided to go to a great Brazilian restaurant in San Francisco called Espetus. If you like red meat, as we both do, you'll be in hog heaven there.

Something about K.: He's originally from India, but came to the U.S. about 10 years ago, got married, and lives in the East Bay. We're catching up on each other's lives, and I bring up the fact that I've become a Mason.

He immediately perks up, and starts peppering me with questions. Apparently, two of his uncles and at least one of his cousins are Masons back in India, and was interested in finding out more. He'd wanted to join Masonry for a number of years, but didn't know where to start.

I later e-mailed him some Youtube video links from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and told him to buy Chris Hodapp's book: Freemasons for Dummies, and got him in touch with our Lodge Secretary.

We also invited him and his wife to hang out at the monthly lodge dinners, and they both have volunteered at our yearly Child ID Drive at Carnaval. They didn't have to do that, but that's the type of people they are.

Obviously it made an impact on the brethren; K. submitted his application, had his investigation, and will be initiated on October 9th.

Go K!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Time to lighten the mood...

I've been writing so seriously lately about my Masonic experiences... Sometimes you just need to laugh at yourself.


P.S. - We're to blame for Steve Guttenberg?!?!?! Aw Hell, I'm outta here!

The Initiation:

The last time I showed up to pick up my application, it was at the dinner before a 1st Degree ceremony.

That guy never showed.

I was determined to not be like him.

I'd been waiting for that moment for 15 years, and now I was at the brink of it and there was a mix of excitement and nervousness. It was really cool that "D." from my post: "Getting Started," was there. He'd been initiated the month before, and was excited to watch me go through mine.

After dinner, the rest of the brethren went into the lodge room and I hung outside, waiting with the Tyler. He's a real cool guy, always has a smile on his face & talked with me, to keep me at ease.

Eventually, a few guys came out and...

=== snip ===

OK, it's all done.

You know, I've been studying Masonry for so many years, and here I am, finally an Entered Apprentice. The only thing that I can really say about it, was that it surpassed my expectations.

I can honestly say that I wasn't surprised by any of the ritual; from what I've read, pretty much all of it was spot-on with what I expected. That being said, it was an amazing experience. The only way that I can explain it is using an analogy:

Imagine that you've spent the last 15 years reading about riding a bicycle. You've read everything there is to know about balance, coordination, how a bicycle works, theories, training manuals, biographies of great bike riders, etc.

None of that can compare to actually getting your butt on a bike and riding it.

It's something you just have to go through.

Photo: 1st Degree Tracing Board - image courtesy of

The Verdict:

April 5th: Success!

After talking with @@@ and ###, respectively, I knew that it would be a couple of weeks 'til the next stated meeting.

That date came & went, so I knew that it was a matter of time until I hear from the Lodge, one way or the other. Although I knew that it was mainly a formality, I still was nervous. From what I now understand, certain Lodges (mine included) prefer that if a brother has a problem or reservations about an applicant, they should bring it up with the Worshipful Master privately. If there truly is a problem, the application is pulled.

That being said, that doesn't stop any person from dropping a black cube into the ballot at the moment of truth.

Be that as it may; it didn't happen with me. (whew!) On April 5th, I received a letter notifying me that I had been accepted, and that my 1st Degree was scheduled for the 2nd Tuesday of May.

It's funny; in the letter they sent out, they were very careful to reassure me against any rumors that I may have heard... For instance, they were quite emphatic in saying that there is no goat, and no goat riding thereof in any of the ritual.

Umm... Okay.


It then sunk in how much how much mis-information and outright lies there are out there, if they have to go so far as send letters saying 'there are no goats, nor goat riding involved with the ritual'.

I can only shake my head.

...but, woo hoo, I'm in!

The Investigation Committee:

Investigation #1:

So I ended up getting this phone call from @@@, one of the guys on the investigation committee. He asked if I there was a time when the two of us could get together & officially go through the 'interview.' I suggested going to a little café near my apartment.

We met there in the early afternoon, (I work from home), and went through some official questions that @@@ had on his paperwork. It was quite easy; I'd been nervous about it, wondering if there was anything that might trip me up. In actuality, there was none. The questions ranged from "Do you believe in a Supreme Being," to "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" etc...

The one question that I thought was odd was the question asking about my bills.

Umm... Just the regular ones...

That was strange.

Eventually, I learned that the main reason they ask that is to make sure that you're not joining to be 'bailed out' by Freemasonry. One of the coolest things that the Masons do here in California is that they have the Masonic Homes for retired Master Masons and their widows.

They want to make sure that you are looking to join the craft because you want to, and you have something to contribute (personally, not necessarily financially), not someone who's looking to 'pull one over' on Freemasonry & get something for nothing.

After hearing that, it made complete sense.

The 'examiner' asked if I was married, and since I'm not, he didn't have to meet with my spouse. One of the biggest things that they take into account is how your spouse feels about you joining. If she has any questions, they could be answered, and if she still has misgivings, that would weigh heavily on whether or not you get admitted. If your wife doesn't want you in, then you basically don't get in.

We then spent the rest of our time together talking about what made him interested in the craft, and how in his native country he met some amazing people who were Masons, and when he came to the U.S., it was a foregone conclusion that he'd join.

[As an aside: After hearing about how some lodges are "lily-white," and that some areas in the U.S. make it uncomfortable for people of color to become Masons, I find it completely heartwarming that my lodge is so multi-cultured. Almost every minority is represented, and with each of my grandparents from a different country: (American Indian, Mexican, Australian, & Italian), this place just feels good.]

Eventually both of us had to go back to work, we said our goodbyes, and we went our separate ways.

Investigation #2:

I got another phone call later that week from ###, my 2nd investigator. We set up an appointment for him to come over to my apartment a couple of days later. He came over & we sat down & and went through the paperwork, rehashing the same questions that @@@ and I went through.

Bing, bam, boom - twenty minutes and he was done.

The cool thing about talking with ###, was the fact that we'd already talked at length at one of the dinners at the lodge, so he already knew who I was & had an impression of me aforehand.

He explained to me that he, and whoever else was on the investigation committee (He gave me strict instructions to NOT tell him who the others were...) would all compile their reports and would submit them at the next stated meeting.

At that stated meeting, the lodge would vote, and if I got a 100% approval, then I was in.

All that was left to do was to wait.