Yes I did!
The Free Masons have always been a wacky bunch in my mind. Funny people who probably have funny handshakes and hide themselves in the mysteriously funny buildings that have almost no windows. That and I figure they control the world and its money.
Last weekend I noticed the Amsterdam area Free Masons carried out a mini-media blitz to get the word out that they were having open information days where anyone could come into their lodges and ask mason-people questions. It was 3am and there I am watching the replay of the local news as I ponder what will become of my life once I am unemployed. I jumped out of my seat – FREE MASONS, I’M THERE!
So after being turned away, strangely enough, on the weekend. Last night I took a bunch of people from work with me and we visited with the main free mason lodge in Amsterdam. Yup.. it was us and the brothers. Even the grand cleaver was there.. maybe.. I mean I think.
First impressions: for a building that is so impressive on the outside, especially with the little ornate details around windows and doors, inside the building screamed of MEN. As in, brown, yellow, brown, colors, old brown furniture, and yes… lots of old men.
As we walked in the door, all the grand poobas and junior poobas seemed insanely friendly. Every single person doing that very Dutch thing where they shake hands and tell you their full name… as if I’m going to remember every mason-boy from the mason lodge.
Hmm.. I’m being mean. These guys deserve better than this. They were so dam nice it was kind of nice when it wasn’t creepy. A really kind ex-school teacher from the middle of nowhere (Drenthe) Netherlands came to sit next to me. Didn’t ask me much of anything. Let me ask all the questions I wanted.
Unfortunately the answers were all either lame or lame. Why aren’t women allowed? Why don’t lodges have windows? Are you political? Are you a sect? Whats with the dollar bill? Do you control governments? Are you racists? Do you parade around in robes and swords?
No matter what the question, the answer always seemed to lack something. Every other answer was “you give your own meaning to what you do here” or the most common answer “no we’re not, we don’t, we won’t”. Even the dollar bill explanation was vague and wikipedia could probably explain it better.
In the end we got to sit in their temple room, which was like a funky planetarium with astrological symbol thingies on the walls. I felt like Leonard NiMoy’s voice would start at any moment and explain the universe. but instead they fed us more crap about symbols and self improvement and knowing yourself. Bah.
One interesting factoid, apparently the Heineken family were or are masons. They built or acquired the bulding for the Masons. And get this. the red star in the Heineken insignia: masonic symbol! AAAAAH!
All in all, a hilarious and perhaps enlightening exprience. I tried to keep my distance from the recruiting types, ate lots of cookies and drank my share of apple juices. Free Masons know how to party. Sadly they didn’t allow me to take pictures or video, and even sadder, they didnt give the full tour so I didnt get to touch a certain book on the shelf and get whisked away to their secret room of torture.
You’ve won this round Free Masons! But I’ll be back. (no I wont)