HOW MASONS ARE CHOSEN
What makes Freemasonry a fad for a time and to a certain extent a vibrant fraternity of accomplished persons up to the present? And, why is it that there are those still seeking to be admitted into the fold? What gives really? Why join a fraternal order almost as old as the sea, with its obsolete practices, ancient rituals and in a way, unscientific dogma. What are its attraction and its relevance in the modern world? How do we make sense out of it?
Freemasons are selected very strictly from a number of applicants. Screening comes in different ways. But what captured my imagination was one approach, which I consider very novel.
I don’t know if it was imposed on my application procedure but it surely makes me accomplished. According to one the lodge’s officer, they have this test of observation first. The master will gather his members and from a distance would point out at the clueless applicant. He would describe a fictional situation. Thus, assuming that all of them have a beautiful wife and strikingly attractive daughters; and, that they are supposed to go abroad to attend a month long seminar. None of their relatives can assist the family except for one: the applicant. The grandmaster would now toss the question to everyone: “Will you allow that fellow to stay in your house during your absence?”
That would start the process of voting. The master brings out his Mafioso hat. He hands over two marbles, black and white, to those around him with instruction that as he would pass around his inverted hat they would drop a marble into it. The black marble signifies that they do not trust the applicant to stay in his dwelling with his family.
The white marble means he would allow him to stay with his family during the period of his absence. This was a tough decision and I would surmise that members would rather plead deferment if only to allow them to interact first with the subject. Looks could be deceiving that it may invite expressions like what beauty queen Melanie Marquez remarked one time: “Don’t judge my brother, he is not a book!” (A pun on the quote: Don’t judge the book by its cover.)
When a period has been defined, the process is repeated and on the table the master pours the content of his hat. Members surrounding the table keenly observe. If they find a black ball among the marbles on the table, then that is the death warrant. The applicant is denied membership. Once denied, his record, that which he submitted and accomplished to the lodge will be forwarded to all lodges here and abroad, with information that the applicant has been denied entrance. That way, he can no longer apply for membership in all parts, nooks and corners of the planet.
There are idiosyncrasies in the selection process. The applicant should believe in the Supreme Being. Atheists or pagans are discriminated already, they are out rightly disqualified. The applicant’s spouse must also give her consent. For starters, he must submit a photo of his whole body. Members at the start must not suffer from any disability or some losses in his physical attributes. He should come into the Craft as a real man. Furthermore, he should apply on his own, better, if done without any recommending member like in the manner observe in Rotary and Lions Club.
There are however no mean demands from the applicant. There are even no pledges or promises to be squeezed from him. The expectations however are high. The applicant realizes that almost all those who signed the Constitution of USA were all members of the Craft. He begins to discover, probably earlier, that almost all the heroes of his country were bona fide Freemasons. He begins contemplating more on heroic roles rather than on being passive. He is oriented and pushed more on the active side of helping out and serving the people. That is already Heroism 101.
Masons were known to have been at the crossroads of change, at the vortex of significant historical times, leading and writing history, to a large extent even made an icon, a subject of respect (or disrespect), a figure held as sacred (at times, in disrepute). They were there in every historical event, some event made, others event makers.
After passing through the rigors, getting admitted and initiated, I cannot get through the thought of the selection process. In my mind, whenever meeting up close a brethren, a fellow traveller along with some friends and acquaintances, I cannot but smile at the thought that here is a familiar group but only one of them, a fellow member of the Craft, as the only person I would entrust my family whenever I am out, on furlough or somewhere else.