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Is the impact of Freemasonry: real or imagined?

By:
James E. Bungard
Junior Grand Deacon
James E. Bungard Junior Grand Deacon

Perceptions:  a definition

  1. Use of our senses to acquire information about our surrounding world (factual perception)         
  2. an attitude or understanding of what is being observed or thought (interpretation)
  3. Perception is nothing given, it is a dynamic interplay between observation and interpretation
  4. Perceptions have per definition a constructed character.

Robert Fludd’s depiction of perception in 1619 regarding perceptions of Freemasonry is as follows:

  • viewpoints taken outside the fraternity in the public domain, based upon real events and

attributions (hetero-stereotypes)

  • viewpoints taken within the fraternity, based upon experience, self-attributions and reaction upon the outside perception, brought from inside to the outside public domain (auto-stereotypes)

A Good Story

A young man passed a pawnbroker’s shop. The money lender was standing in front of his shop, and the young man noted that he was wearing a large and beautiful Masonic emblem. After going on a whole block, apparently lost in thought, the young man turned back, stepped up to the pawnbroker, and addressed him: I see you’re wearing a Masonic emblem. I’m a Freemason too. It happens that I’m desperately in need of $25 just now. I shall be able to repay it within ten days. You don’t know me but I wonder whether the fact that you are a Freemason and that I am a Freemason is sufficient to induce you to lend me the money on my personal note.

The pawnbroker mentally appraised the young man, who was clean-cut, neat and well-dressed. After a moment’s thought, he agreed to make the loan on the strength of the young man being a Freemason. Within a few days the young man repaid the loan as agreed and that ended the transaction.

About four months later the young man was in a Lodge receiving the Entered Apprentice Degree he had not really been a Mason when he borrowed the $25. After he had been admitted for the second section of the degree, the young man looked across the Lodge room and saw the pawnbroker from whom he had borrowed the $25. His face turned crimson and he became nervous and jittery. He wondered whether he had been recognized by the pawnbroker. Apparently not, so he planned at the first opportunity to leave the Lodge room and avoid his benefactor. As soon as the Lodge was closed he moved quickly for the door, but the pawnbroker had recognized the young man, headed him off and, to the young man’s astonishment, approached him and greeted him with a smile and outstretched hand.

Well, I see you weren’t a Freemason after all when you borrowed that $25 the pawnbroker commented.

The blood rushed to the young man’s face as he stammered, No, I wasn’t, but I wish you’d let me explain. I had always heard that Freemasons were charitable and ready to aid a Brother in distress. When I passed your shop that day, I didn’t need that $25. I had plenty of money in my wallet, but when I saw the Masonic emblem you were wearing, I decided to find out whether the things I’d heard about Freemasonry were true. You let me have the money on the strength of my being a Freemason, so I concluded that what I had heard about Masons was true, that they are charitable, that they do aid Brethren in distress. That made such a deep impression on me that I presented my petition to this Lodge and here I am. I trust that with this explanation you will forgive me for having lied to you.

The pawnbroker responded, don’t let that worry you too much. I wasn’t a Freemason when I let you have the money. I had no business wearing the Masonic emblem you saw. Another man had just borrowed some money on it, and it was so pretty that I put it on my lapel for a few minutes. I took it off the moment you left. I didn’t want anyone else borrowing money on the strength of my being a Freemason. When you asked for that $25, I remembered what I had heard about Masons, that they were honest, upright, and cared for their obligations promptly. It seemed to me that $25 wouldn’t be too much to lose to learn if what I’d heard was really true, so I lent you the money and you repaid it exactly as you said you would. That convinced me that what I’d heard about Masons was true so I presented my petition to this Lodge. I was the candidate just ahead of you.

We must always remember who we are and what we represent as Freemasons.  Our apron is a badge so emblematical of purity and all perfection. It is an ever-present reminder of a of “purity of life and rectitude of conduct” a never-ending argument for nobler deeds, for higher thoughts and for greater achievements. 

Brethren, society’s perceptions surround us in some way, shape or form, always be mindful of this. Wear your apron as best you can. It was presented to you without spot or blemish in the hope that the record of your life and conduct would reflect back on this pure and fair emblem. Wear it with pleasure to yourself and honor to the fraternity.

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