The Master's Apprentice - The Truth About Masonry

Shelby Chiles
Shriner ParadeBill Haack

My husband is a 32° Mason. His father, uncles, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, his father, and father’s father were all Masons as far as we can find in the Masonic records that have been maintained by The Grand Lodge all of the way back to the 1800s. We know he is at least a seventh-generation Master Mason; however, it could go back even further than that. The Masons are meticulous record keepers, but there was a fire in the mid-1800s in Tennesse, so we lost the trail of the Chiles men there.

There are so many misconceptions about Masonry. I remember when I met a man that was the first openly Masonic person I knew. Usually, the Shriners are the showy ones, but he had his entire truck plastered in Masonic symbols and always wore shirts that said, “Ask12B1” or something similar. I am perpetually curious, so I asked what all of this stuff was about. My friend Brooks told me just enough to pique my interest. Masons are not allowed to recruit, so men must ask a Mason in order to become one, thus ask one to be one. I eventually said, “So, it is a secret society?”

Brooks was a mountain of a man with a heart of gold, a gentle soul, who loved a good prank, but serious just the same. A booming, “NO! We are NOT a secret society. We are a society with secrets. There is a difference” came rolling off of his tongue like he had said it hundreds of times. Little did I know that in twenty years, I would be echoing his words after my husband decided to become a Mason following so many of his ancestors’ paths.

I have heard so many misconceptions since then. They run the full gamut. To name a few, I have heard about their involvement with the Illuminati, secretly running the country, only allowing Christians to be members, still being segregated, and animal sacrifices over the last fifteen years. They have even told me it is for evil and outlaws. I have been told things that I could not even imagine and I have a pretty active imagination. There becomes a time when urban legends pass a tipping point from being good attention to hurting your public impression. They have passed that threshold because Masons do not believe in self-promotion. You must ask a Mason. Well, I am not a Mason. You do have to be a man to join.

I love to make people think, so I ask if they like Shriners. Everyone loves the shrine and their funny little cars at parades. After that, I ask what they think of Scottish Rite and I hear a story of how their children’s hospital has helped someone they know. Then, I explain that in order to be part of the shrine, you have to be a Master Mason first. It immediately breaks down barriers and changes perceptions. There is one thing that runs through all of the branches of Masonry - they do everything in their power to assist children and widows for the bulk of their service projects.

When people open their minds and all of their preconceived notions begin to fall away and they ask me what Masonry is like and what its purpose is, I love to explain it because I have seen it work. Their purpose is to make men better. It is essentially metal sharpening metal. We often become a lot like those we are surrounded by, so they systematically lift one another up. There is nothing wrong with wholesome fellowship with a few secret handshakes if that makes it fun.

There are some parts of Masonry that I do not particularly care for at all. A lot of them stem from the very beginning application process. You have to be recommended by a fellow Mason, apply, pass a thorough criminal background check (they re-check everyone annually), and do an in-home interview. You receive extra points if your significant other is there since Masonry is time-consuming in the beginning, so they will need to be supportive. This allows them the time to explain the commitment to both of you simultaneously. It can also become expensive. It is not for everyone or at every time of their life.

In the next part of the series, I will outline what I deem the less desirable parts of Masonry. If you have a specific question about Masonry, please feel free to email me at

*All opinions are my own and do not reflect any of my relatives or husband’s opinions regarding Masonry.

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Shelby has lived in DFW her entire life. She has various interests and professional experience. Shelby became a published Author for the first time over thirty years ago and she has not stopped writing since.

Little Elm, TX

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