At my coffee break this morning we got round to the discussion of Masons, and I'm just wondering what everyone else knows and/or thinks about them.
For my part, I grew up in Glasgow which is home to the biggest club rivalry in European football, and perhaps if you exclude South America, maybe in any sport in the world. The crux being that Rangers are Protestant and Celtic are Catholic (although not officially... anymore) and hence we have our very own mini-Northern Ireland. Growing up surrounded by this is an interesting experience and certainly hones your diplomacy skills (although I should point out that it has virtually no impact on day-to-day life for most people).
I'm not quite sure where the link comes from, but I'm guessing it's the religious aspect (I confess to not knowing much about the emergence of the Masons) but there is a strong connection between Masons and Rangers. Thus I have always had a very negative view of the Order.
Over here, the Masons is a pretty secret organisation, you have to be invited to join but it is rampant amongst a couple of key occupations - the main one being the judiciary - both the judges and the police. Indeed, it is now law that a policeman must declare if he is a mason when he givs evidence in court.
However, when I was in Montreal I lived around the corner from a big masonic Temple which had a big sign outside. Also when I was in Boston I found a temple downtown. This suggests a much more open approach, so I was wondering if the Masons are viewed as a shady old-boys network, swinging deals between themselves to protect their own interests or in a more positive light in North America?