Friday, September 28, 2012

#68- Freemasonry

Logo of Free Masonry
He told me that they were weird and mystical.  Something about them kicking people out of churches to do cloaked rituals during funerals.  They were clandestine.  They are masons of Freemasonry.

This is my first memory of what is know as Freemasonry.  That guy was a acquaintance of mine in high school.  He spoke of his ex-girlfriend's dad who was in this weird thing called the "Masons".  It left a spooky mark on my mind.

I think a lot of people associate mystery and cults with images of men in black robes holding candles and descending into cavernous places to carry out macabre business.  This was my image of what a Mason was based on what the guy had said.

Years later, my aunt and I were watching a daytime talk show and she told me of a woman who had escaped her husband's grasp and came to church to give her testimony.  I remember my aunt saying that the husband later converted from being a Mason to a Christian.  Thus at this point masonry was a decidedly negative thing.

After 9/11, the world changed.  After the dust had settled all manners of conspiracy theories rose.  It was around that time that I started to read David Icke's book called "The Biggest Secret".  Around that time I also became acquainted with "Behold a Pale Horse" by Milton William Cooper.  I was mostly intrigued and enamored with Icke's book.  I had never read such a book in my life.  Freemasons played a huge role in the plot of that book.  I started to see the world in a whole new way.  I was afraid and tried to spread the message of the book.  Most of my rants fell on deaf ears.  But I asked more questions and kept my eyes and ears out for clues that confirmed or denied what the book was saying.

As a young soldier in my Army National Guard unit, I found myself among many Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) that were Freemasons.  One of them was my squad leader.  I was intrigued and afraid at the same time.  I wanted to find out what would make a person align themselves with an insidious organization like the Masons when they seem to be such "good" people.

Staff Sergeant Ochoa, my squad leader, and I spent some time together in a fox hole during a training exercise.  I snuck in some sly questions about his organization while trying to seem indifferent and unaware of their evil plot.  He saw right through me.  He told me things that I have never heard before.  Everything he told me seemed guarded and cryptic.  It was just enough information to tease me and pique my interest.

Is this the "mark of the Beast"?
I eventually bought a book called the "Hiram Key" by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas that was going to give me the inside scoop on the Masonic group.  It was one of the few books that I brought with me when I was stationed in Iraq in 2003.  It was very informative and transparent.   At that time I was very skeptical of whatever Masons said because I felt that they were going to mislead the uninitiated no matter what.  I didn't get a chance to finish the book because I gave it to another soldier as a gift.  I gave it to him because the things I learned were overwhelming and destructive to the things that I was raised to know or believe.  It was during that same time that I met another sergeant from Texas that was a Worshipful Master (leader of his Masonic lodge) and was willing to answer my questions.  I'll never forget his smile as he "threw signs" at me and I didn't know what he was doing.  I decided that the only way that I'd get the full understanding of the fraternity is by joining it.

In 2004 I visited 2 Mason lodges.  The first one had a bunch of geriatric men in the upper middle town of Miami Shores.  I felt like I stepped back in the 1950s.  The leader told me bluntly that I would not fit there and I agreed.  The whole thing must have lasted about 3 minutes.  I didn't let that initial experience deter me.  I found another lodge in the "hood" next to a Nation of Islam mosque of all places.

This is my vision of what weird cults dressed like and do.

Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam
I stepped in and made my inquiries on the process to be a mason.  I was told to come back at another time.  I came back at the instructed time and was asked a bunch of questions.  There was a fee to get in and an initiation process that I had was not ready for.  In one evening I went from a curious skeptic to a Master Mason.  The whole evening was like nothing I have ever been through and it left an impression on me in several ways.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

#67- The Secret

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to show a lady friend of his around Miami.  They had come down from Orlando where she was visiting him all the way from Sweden.  She was from a Colombian or Venezuelan background and was very beautiful.  I got her a room in a nice motel overlooking Biscayne Bay.

I spent some time with her and got to know her a little bit.  She loved to travel and had a strong vision for her future.  On the day she was leaving we decided to go to a Barnes and Noble book store.  On our way out she surprised me with a small book called "The Secret".  I remember the book having a beautiful jacket and it was very appealing to the eye.  Eventually we said good bye.

When I went home I flipped through the book to see what it was about.  It was very attractive and glossy but it wasn't dense with content.  So, I put it away after browsing through it.  A few days or weeks later at work I overheard a co-worker of mine talking about the movie "The Secret".  The words caught my ears and I told her about my run-in with the young lady and the book.  My co-worker agreed to make a copy of the movie for me.

A few days later in the evening, I decided to watch the movie.  It was as slick and glossy as the book.  The movie was quite captivating.  It featured a list of authoritative looking people who basically discovered a "secret" of the universe.  Basically, if you really, really, REALLY, wish for something YOU will get it.  Perhaps this is too simple of an explanation but that was what I got out of it.
Swedish Flag

It reminded me of a theme that was featured in one of my favorite books, "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo.  I gave this much thought.  I didn't want to be closed minded about what was presented but I was pretty skeptical; or so I thought.

To my right laid a stack of mail that I had been procrastinating to open.  In those days money started getting tight as the economy was deteriorating all over the nation.  For some reason I decided to go through my mail that evening after watching the movie.  It was then that I discovered a letter claiming that I had won some sort of lottery for a small sum.

I was elated and read the letter over and over again.  I started to feel that the movie may be on to something after all.  I thought of money often in those days.  This may have been the thing I was waiting on.

I read the letter one more time.  OOPS.  There was a deadline to claim the money and it had passed just a few days ago.  I decided to press my luck and cash it just to see what would happen.  My rationale was the following:

1.  If the date had passed they would not honor the check.
2.  If they did honor the check and found the date then I would lose nothing.
3.  If they gave me the money then I would wait a few days before spending it.
4.  If after a few days I heard nothing from no one then I would spend it.

I went ahead and cashed the check.  It was only for a few thousands and at worst they wouldn't cash it or I would give it back.

My sister happen to work for the bank where I do business.  Somehow the conversation came up about my incredible stroke of luck.  As soon as I told her the situation she quickly told me that I had be had.  She knew of these scams from working as a teller etc.  She told me that the people who issued the money would invade my account and then clean me out.  At the time I didn't have too much money in that account but she said this was of the utmost importance and that I needed to close the account.

I already had been the victim of fraudulent activity in my bank account so I took her warning serious.  As soon as I had the time I went to a branch and explained what I did.  Eventually the matter was settled before any harm was done to my money.

There was damage to my ego and pride however.  How did I let myself get sucked in by this movie?  Wasn't I smart enough to see through this?  Wasn't I a critical thinker?

Months or years later I heard a conversation on a Christian radio station about "The Secret".  Apparently it achieved somewhat of a cult status in the eyes of the host.  He was warning Christians not to dabble with it.  He compared it to Harry Potter.  I thought that was ridiculous but some Christians buy into those things.

I also almost got taken by the "The Secret".  I don't know who the book's recommendations worked for but I am not one of them.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming.  Every now and then a person may get lucky.  But I think that work will have to be done in order to achieve success both great and small.

The Secret book and DVD
This story was told in order to demonstrate that critical thinking can and should be used every day in our lives.