What is it that attracts men to Freemasonry? The question is as old as the craft itself. I have asked myself and others this question many times. Everyone that I have asked has given me a different answer. In a nutshell, they can be condensed into just a few and I will outline them here.
There are many who seek the guidance of a superior being. Just like there are many who will attend church every Sunday, there are many who will go to lodge for the same reasons. Those brethren who come for this reason are really in two categories. There are those who attend church and it is therefore, an extension of their religious practices. There are those who don’t attend church. For them Freemasonry has become their religion. Although one needs to be careful here. Freemasonry is not a religion and has never claimed to be. But it is spiritual in nature and it this spirituality which no doubt attracts many to its banners.
Another aspect which attracts men is the feeling of belonging. For many Freemasonry is their family because of the circumstances of their lives. But there are many who are gregarious enough to want to interact with other people outside their immediate families. The bonhomie generated at the festive board held after each meeting is the attraction. This is an interesting point because the etiquette of Freemasonry forbids leaving a stranger on his own to fend for himself. One of the wonderful things about being a member is that it is possible to walk into a lodge in another state or even a foreign country and still be welcomed with open arms. Such is the nature of the craft that those who seek friendship will certainly find it.
Then there are the hams. These are the brethren who love acting out the rituals. These rituals are rich in meaning and steeped in history. Ritual gives purpose to their lodge meetings. They enjoy the perambulation around the lodge room, followed by the delivery of a mini speech that would make Mark Antony proud. They will recite text over and over until they can deliver it with confidence and precision. It is they who will put their hand up when there is a particular charge to be delivered. Unfortunately, they are a minority. Most people find the act of talking in public (even is such a closed forum) confronting.
Then there are the brethren that want to belong to an organisation which is older than any other on the planet. Freemasonic ritual claims its roots to be firmly planted in the time of King Solomon. Freemasonry itself admits nothing older than the late 16th century. But even at that age it could be argued that the craft was a pretty venerable institution. There is no doubt something deeply rooted within some of us at least, that makes us want to align ourselves with an organisation which claims an ancestry lost in antiquity.