Thursday, April 19, 2012

BusinessWeek: France's Freemason Phobia


American Masons just don't have to deal with the kind of fears our European brethren seem to generate. In fact, we mostly don't see what the hubbub is all about. Joshua Levine in Business Week has an article today on why the French as a nation fears Freemasons.

From France: Where Freemasons Are Still Feared:

Magazines and newspapers all have stories they run in one form or another, year in, year out. The details may differ, but the stories are largely the same everywhere, striking universal chords of sex, health, and money. A few of these perennials, however, don’t travel. They drill deep into one country’s psyche while everyone else scratches their heads and says, “Huh?”

In France, the story that keeps coming back is about Freemasons. It’s everywhere. Most big French magazines run at least one big Freemason cover a year. Books dissect the “state within a state,” to borrow from a recent title. Blogs abound.

“France has several of these marronniers—chestnuts,” says Alain Bauer, former grand master of France’s Grand Orient lodge and president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Masonic liaison. “There’s real estate prices and there’s how to cure headaches, and then there’s Freemasons. The ultimate French magazine story is a Freemason with a headache who’s moving. We don’t like these stories, but at the same time, we love them, because they make us feel like we’re still important.”

Huh? Yes, Freemasons: the old fraternal order known in the U.S. for the Masonic lodges that dot American cities, musty reminders of an era when Masonry stirred the American melting pot. Or for the arcane Masonic symbols engraved on every dollar bill. Or on a sillier note, for the Shriners in their red fezzes. (The Shriners were founded in the 1870s to add a little levity to regular Freemasonry. Mission accomplished.)

4 comments:

Jim Goltz said...

Maybe mainstream American media doesn't fear Freemasons, but try spending any time on the darker recesses of YouTube.

(Of course, I could be misled by the higher levels of Masonry. Apparently it goes all the way up to the 360th Degree.)

E C Ballard said...

French or American, we're all reptilian!

Seamus Stimpson said...

Since I work at the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia (headquarters of the GL of PA, of which I'm also a member, Columbia Lodge 91 (I'm also a member of the GL of AF&AM of CT, Madison No. 87)), I can tell you that the french tourists, when not masons, are the second most paranoid of the tourists we get.

The most paranoid are the russians. I understand the context of their paranoia (Catharine/Nicholas era propaganda) but it's ultimately frustrating as they rarely seem to believe me. They, weird as it may be, ask questions such as; "What major media corporations do you own?"

Such questions are so absurd (considering how small the GL of Russia is. mind you, of course, they ignore that). I am tempted to answer "Pravda" (one of their major media outlets ) as a joke, but I was told by a russian Freemason (one of three that I've ever met ), cryptically, to not joke with russians on such matters as they'll not get it and only become more suspect.

As for the french, once, if they are decent with english, I explain to them that there are so many obediences that not all of freemasonry can be blamed on one grand lodge, they seem to understand the situation a little bit more. Furthermore, when I point out that European freemasonry is so much more "secretive" due largely to WWII and Hitler/Other Fascist power's suppression of freemasonry, they get it. They get it quick. Sadly, it seems many in europe fail to realize that we have been the focus of so much suppression/tyranny.

All the same, when it's explained to the french, they seem to get it. I tell them that, though I don't mind the Grand Orient of France or La Droit Humane, they are not recognized/considered legitimate by my GL, and they, at least on the outside, understand the complexities of it all.

Fascinating to see it brought up since literally come face to it every day (at least, tues through friday).

Yours, Fraternally,
Seamus S.
Columbia 91 (GL of F&AM of PA)
Madison 87 (GL of AF&AFM of CT)

Jim K. said...

The plain fact of the matter is that people will believe what they want to, and anything that contradicts their little preconceptions is ignored. There is no need to waste breath in correcting the opinions of people, it only frustrates you and makes no difference to anyone else.