Masonic Mystique

The square level and plumb of Blue Lodge tradition

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The Masons are an organization with roots dating back to the Middle Ages.

Masonic roots in the local community date back to 1973 when Walt Harrison and Roy Creach opened the Blue Lodge.

Yet, despite a resurgence of membership worldwide, rumors of mysterious rituals still circulate.

This is due in part to Hollywood's somewhat inaccurate portrayal of Masons, according to Dan McEuen, the youngest member of the Blue Lodge.

He was chosen in January by his fellows to be Master of the Lodge.

"The big secret is there is no big secret," McEuen said. "Life is mysterious and Masons are no more mysterious than that."

The original masons were the castle and cathedral builders of Medieval Europe. Because of their skills, they were not beholden to, or held as, the property of the landed gentry and they traveled. They were educated in the trade "secrets" of geometry -- concepts a peasant could not grasp.

The phrases "on the level," "a square deal" or someone gets "the third degree," are all Masonic terms.

By trade, McEuen is a mason; in popular vernacular he is a professional contractor.

The Masons are open to men who believe in God, whatever their profession, said Robert Rusch, a past master of the lodge and member of 54 years.

Masonic service is a family tradition for McEuen men. Dan is a fourth generation Mason and studied seven years to achieve his current leadership role.

The average age of men at the lodge in Payson is 69.

"That's because I joined; I threw the curve off," McEuen said.

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The current Masonic Lodge officers are Jim Bradley, Dan McEuen, Forrest McCoy, Harold Plues, Richard Skogland, Ray Thompson, Bob Townsend, Bob Rusch and Mark Peterson.

Undaunted by age and inspired by family, he has plans to lead his fellow Masons in the continuation of good works in the local community and the world.

"We are about setting a man on a path and giving him the tools to learn more about himself, his God and his country," he said.

There are many different Masonic traditions including the Scottish Rite and the York Rite.

The Shriners, perhaps most famous for their funny hats, miniature cars, and more importantly, children's hospitals that are open to any child, represent another Rite.

The Order of the Eastern Star is a Rite for husbands and wives.

The Masonic Lodge in Payson follows the Blue Lodge tradition, so named for the blue ceiling that represents the blue canopy of heaven. Its members may, through study of Masonic traditions, and acknowledgment of obligation and commitment to God and community, obtain three successive degrees. The degrees are "Entered Apprentice" then "Fellow Craft" and lastly "Master Mason."

Within the lodge, each man must answer for himself: "how might I distinguish myself through my own merits and abilities."

"Masons give $2 million dollars a day, seven days a week, to charities around the world," McEuen said.

In the three decades since the lodge's inception, local Masons have hosted essay contests for scholarship money; participated in holiday parades for fun and parades to commemorate veterans; disadvantaged children benefit from their annual Clothe-a-Child program; in 2004 they started Books for Bikes, a program that grants young readers bicycles.

Of course, many people in the Rim Country who are not Masons have sunk their teeth into barbecue beef at the lodge's annual June fund-raising event.

"This community is a wonderful exception to the dying spirit of volunteerism across the country," McEuen said.

Membership in the Masons and other service clubs present a way to give back to the community and the world.

"America is a 230-year-old Masonic experience," McEuen said. "Take a look at the dollar bill. Read the Declaration of Independence."

McEuen characterized Masonic membership as a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.

While to some "veiled in allegory" and the use of symbolism might sound secretive, in reality, according to McEuen, Masonic studies draw a man to introspection about the world around him.

The compass is a tool an architect would have used to draw circles and measure small distances.

The symbolic allegory to Masons means "We circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds to all Mankind," said Richard Skoglund, past Master and Mason of 20 years.

"When you ask a Mason what the organization is about and you get a hesitation, it is because we concern ourselves with things that are hard to put into words; we are at the frontier where language fails," McEuen said.

"I don't want to sound exclusive or elitist, but this is not for every man."

The Payson Masons F. & A.M. #70 meet at 7 p.m. every Tuesday at the Masonic Lodge located at 200 E. Rancho Road, next to the fire station. All local and visiting Masons are welcome to attend. For further information call Dan McEuen at (928) 474-0360.

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