Livingstone here. Click Part 2 of when to wear the ring to catch up to where we are in this discussion.
When we left off the topic was how each situation you were in would define what you reaction would be like to when you wore the ring. I left off at house of worship because it was part of a larger conversation that deserved a blog entry of it’s own. And here it is.
Different religions have historically responded differently to when they find out you’re a Mason. While Masonry and each religion is a blog entry in itself, the focus on this will be to see how one might react when they see your Masonic affiliation. And I’ll look at that in an American Masonic sense.
Religion in America and it’s relationship to Freemasonry spans the full spectrum of thought. From the Reform Jew who joins organizations like crazy and doesn’t concern himself to dogma, all the way to the fundamentalist Muslim cleric, Masonry in America spans all sides.
For this we will assume you are Christian/Diest, but we will touch on what it means to be of other faith.
People notice jewelry in a house of worship. It isn’t hard as the process is fairly repetitive and standard week to week. You sing, you sit, you listen, you chat after, and you go home. During that time, your eyes wander. I say your eyes as you can’t speak, you only touch people to shake hands before stepping in your pew and your tongue only gets involved with the wine and bread. Sure you are listening to the sermon, but you don’t always have to be staring at the preacher or minister to listen. It is common to look around during the slow moments and see the people around you. And when that happens, people will absolutely see a Masonic ring.
Maybe you can stuff your hands in your lap so no one sees, but they sure as heck will see after over lemonade and pie. During the sermon you have nothing to worry about as no one in their right mind will stand up and scream “LOOK, THERE’S A MASON!”. At least I hope not. But some churches have an energized crowd that could do that. However in my experience those churches don’t attract Masons and those in the church aren’t attracted to Masonry. So they’ll notice, keep it to themselves and when the times comes they’ll mention it. In their mind, whatever the pastor is talking about probably isn’t nearly as interesting as this person you know or don’t know who is a Freemason. Not matter what your misconceptions or conceptions are, this person has a story or is the physical manifestation of a person from the stories you heard.
It is the hope and dream they are fine with you. That they walk up to you after and say “George Washington, Ben Franklin, Henry Ford, etc. were Freemasons, that’s really cool that you are too”. Or they can say “I heard some stories about Freemasonry, what’s the deal?”. But maybe it’s my cynical nature but I would suspect the majority of the time they would confront you and say “You are in a state of sin to God!”. Not those words exactly but in their 5 minutes of talking to you before you can escape, that would be the thesis. Many Christians fear or don’t trust Freemasonry. Look at www.godlikeproductions.com. Specifically, look at what comes up when you search Mason. A treasure trove of people who fear Masonry the same way Americans feared Jews in 1910 and Gays in the 1990s. The crazy thing is, there is such a long history of Masons who believe in Jesus and have followed in the steps of Jesus with how they acted to people too. Or at least attempted anyways. And many of the accusers are sinners themselves. Yet the idea that Masons are in a constant state of sin and thus less then them is secretly appealing to many in that crowd. C’est la vie.
So wearing your ring at a church will 100% get you noticed. Its only a matter of time. How you deal with it though is up to you and something you need to seriously consider. While you may have good arguments, you are also most likely dealing with a buzz saw of people who will all agree with each other and not hear the truth. Jesus was killed because he spoke the truth and everyone preferred to agree with each other instead of listening. It’s an incredible story because it is the foundation of a progressing civil society. The people who will save us by speaking the truth will be people who the group doesn’t agree with. That element of Jesus’s story in itself will save more lives and people then any other story ever told. It is the foundation of our modern civil society.
You could say the above to whoever your antagonist is. And it may work. I would hate to sell anyone short. Christians are remarkable for their ability to adapt and change their view of things. It’s the reason the world society is so strong and progressive. A group will adopt radical ideas because other members of the group adopt it. As a show os solidarity. And because there are 2.2 billion Christians, those formerly radical ideas will spread like wildfire and soon become the standard idea. Democracy, Tolerance, Civil Liberties and such all came out of Christian societies. The scripture foundation was there and when the human element finally aligned with it, it moved rapidly throughout.
Also ask yourself why you want to wear your ring to your church. You do know there will be people who will try and isolate you. Ad much as our Fraternity is a nobel, loving, and open minded one, people as a whole will choose to see the dark side of it all instead of the good that may come from it. Why do you need to show off your affiliation? Why does it matter to you. Unless you have a strong answer, then keep it to yourself. I know my argument is essentially a fatalist one. I’m essentially telling you to self-censor your identity because of fear of retribution. If this advice was given to a young gay man or young jew growing up in the world, society would lambast me for this advice. Be yourself. You are ok for being who you are. This is what they would say. Of course there would be many elements who don’t feel that way about gays or jews, but you get the point. The difference is, Masonry is a society of secrets. Secrecy is a part of our foundation and all the elements that come with it. To tell a Mason to remain secretive is not denying their identity, but fulfilling it. You can live you entire life as a Mason and tell no one. Masonry is so much a personal journey about yourself and your relationship with God and Masonry. To have to involve the rest of the world is something that you might not even need to do. You have your Brothers to talk to and elaborate on your journey with you. You may not need anyone else.
So in conclusion, know your church. Know your people. Know your crowd. And realize that Masonry is not about telling the world you are loud and proud. But also because how you feel when you are alone, when you are away from everyone else, and when you think about what you are. So wear the ring knowing that you cannot predict how people will treat you. But know that you can predict you will be adding a new step in your journey. And that how you treat and act to people will have a constancy and a defined character that treats everyone fairly. Remember, Masons work on the Level. If you can at the very least change one mind by showing people who you work, you’ll have made all the difference.