At the center of any lodge room is an altar.
"All the activities of the lodge take place about the altar," said Piers Vaughan, the Lodge Master.
"Now, would people talk about religion here in a meeting?" Rocca asked.
"Absolutely not," said Vaughan. "There are certain subjects which are prevented from discussing within the Lodge. And religion is one. Politics is another."
And then there are the ceremonies. Each one teaches a moral lesson related to the legend of one Hiram Abiff, the architect of King Solomon's temple. They can be a little unusual, as pointed out in a recruitment video:
"Even while blindfolded, try to concentrate on what you are asked, what is said to you, and what is happening around you. Everything will be explained to you in later sections of the degree."
"When a candidate comes in through the door, he's blindfolded because, symbolically, he is in a state of darkness," said Vaughan, "because Masonry is all about moving from darkness into Masonic light."
As for what happens after that . . . well, that's a secret. But for members, Freemasonry is about something much simpler.
"I have met a group of men that I enjoy being with," said Morris. "These are people that I go out to dinner with, we socialize together. They're guys I like to hang with. They're my friends."
For more info:
- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry" by S. Brent Morris (Alpha)
- "The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans" by Margaret C. Jacob (Cornerstone)
- The Grand Lodge in the District of Columbia
- The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York
- St. John's Lodge No. 1, Ancient York Masons
- The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
- Colonial Lodge No. 1821, Washington, D.C.
- The Philalethes Society
- Shriners International