I had an uncle who was a member of the Free Masonry.  We were related by marriage, but I admired him greatly and wished that I had spent more time with him during my formative years.  When I was old enough to visit relatives by means of a bus ride to the far side of the city, I visited him and my aunt.  They had three children – two were older than me and the third was significantly younger.  The older girls, and I were as close as brother and sisters – they had no brother for a while and I had no sister, so it worked out very well.  My grandmother was the baby sitter for us all, including two other children in the neighborhood and an additional cousin.  You can say that there was a house filled with children. 

For a child related to a Free Mason, there is not much to know other than that he was my uncle, he had a nice car, he bought new cars for my aunt.  He had an upright posture and was thought to be an intellectual.  There were a few self-made intellectuals in the family, those who had come from Mississippi and taught themselves how to read and learned mathematics by means of their own tenacity.  But my uncle was educated formally.  He was the high school star basketball player who was cool enough to get one of the most attractive cheerleaders.  He had a rather sophisticated decorum in public, dressed well – like a business man, and spoke to me as if he expected me to know things that I didn’t always know.  He was the one who taught me how to write a cover letter and resume.  He gave me tips on interviews.  He told me to get into sales because salesmen who were well developed were priceless in the business world. 

From what I saw in him, he was the perfect father like figure and I sometimes wished, in a sense, that I could have traded places with my cousins to have access to his knowledge and resources.  The only flaw that seemed to exist in him was the fact that he was not a practicing religious man.  This flaw was pointed out by the other family members, often elderly who did not have a nice home in the good part of town, a car for themselves and the spouse, with a classic Rolls-Royce in the garage.  His response to those critics stuck with me until this day.  “Most people believe what they do, because they are told to believe it in some way or another.  A true man forms his beliefs from research and experiences.  When he forms a belief, he knows it and it becomes a part of his soul.”

It was an interesting take on religious minded people.  I came to understand that my uncle did believe in a higher deity, in fact, he could not have been admitted into the brotherhood if he did not believe in such.  What he understood was that the religious teachings and practices over time have undergone changes and evolutions.  These metamorphoses of religious dogma have done very little, if anything, in improving the human experience.  In his line of thought, a vote of confidence in a religious practice and minister was ill-advised when there were fraternities of committed brothers pledged to do for society what the church failed and continues to fail in doing. 

When I was in college, he took a special interest in me.  During winter break one year, I was hired to work for him at the convenience store he owned and during another winter, the night club that he owned. During those times, we had a lot of one on one discussions that touched on philosophy, government, and the economic structures that support the country.  Needless to say, at 20 years old, I learned a lot, but what was most interesting was that he admonished that I research and learn for myself. He encouraged me to stay in school and to take the angle that the most important thing that I can get out of college was the ability to learn.  For him, the ability to teach oneself was the most important skill that one could learn form school.   

It was many years later when I heard about the horrific rumors and dispositions that was held of the Free Masonry.  I was then interested in joining with hopes that I would become a member before my uncle died.  I visited a lodge on the Northside of Chicago and go to know the members.  They allowed me to join them for dinner and hang out to bond with those who were interested and those who were already initiated.  They were open, warm, and friendly men.  They were interested in my business aspirations and skills.  Yet they were elderly “bad” people.  While visiting and sharing, I saw nothing more than a fraternity of men pledged to support each other and build a network of business minded men.  There is very little to be said about a group of men who conduct their business in secrecy.  What tends to happen is that those who are excluded begin to speculate, make assumptions, and accusations; all of which, I’ve come to understand are generally highly exaggerated.  I wrote the Enlightened Titans as a secret society built much on my impressions of the Free Masonry, however, for the sake of driving the plot and dramatic effect, I conveniently entwined the fears and conspiracy theories that are popular regarding them. 

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