GUTHRIE — The statewide organization representing about 250 Freemasonry groups in Oklahoma is preparing to deal with curiosity that may be sparked by Dan Brown’s latest novel, "The Lost Symbol.” Jim Tresner, a longtime Mason who serves as the Oklahoma Grand Lodge’s publication’s editor, said pamphlets and brochures have been prepared to give out to people who wish to know more about Masons, and the lodge’s Web site also will include additional information for the inquisitive. He said the lodge also has an informal speaker’s bureau that will handle any requests for speakers to share information about the fraternal organization. Tresner said he expects Brown’s book to draw interest to local groups because that’s what happened after the release of Brown’s two previous books, "The Da Vinci Code” and "Angels and Demons,” and the 2006 movie based on "The Da Vinci Code.” Also, the two "National Treasure” movies (2004 and 2007) starring Nicolas Cage created widespread interest in Masons, Tres-ner said. He said the lodge found the attention to be a good thing, spurring an increase in membership and opportunities to educate the public about masons. "There’s been a 70 percent increase in petitions (to join) since ‘National Treasure,’” Tresner said. Tresner said he read Brown’s two previous books and enjoyed them. He said he is as curious as many others about how "The Lost Symbol” will characterize masons or whether the fraternal organization will even be mentioned. It could be great, "or it can be a catastrophe if he says ‘those no good so-and-sos,’” Tresner said, laughing. "You just never know. I wish I knew.” Tresner, 67, said he’s not surprised that people connect Masons with religion because there is a connection. He said this is reflected in one of the Masons’ standard symbols of a square and compass with the letter "G.” Tresner said the "G” stands for geometry and God. The square stands for virtue and morality and dealing with people in a forthright manner; think President Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal domestic program that promised to be fair to all. Roosevelt was a Mason. The compass symbolizes the importance of controlling oneself and keeping oneself "in due bounds.” You cannot be a Mason and an atheist since a belief in God or a "deity of some kind” is one of the membership requirements, Tresner said. Thus people of different faiths can be Masons. Tresner said his lodge group includes two Muslims and a Buddhist. "Freemasons deal with this life, and we tell people to go to their church to deal with the afterlife,” Tresner said. "We do believe a person’s spiritual growth is important, and a lot of symbolism in Masonry deals with a person’s spiritual quest for enlightenment.” Meanwhile, he said men are beginning to join masonic groups at a younger age, a phenomenon that has puzzled leaders, although they are happy with the additions. Tresner said he is from a family of Masons — his father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were all Masons. He became a Mason when he was 21. However, he said, most Masons join at a later age; 10 years ago, men joined the group at age 45 on average. Today’s average is 28. "We asked many petitioners why they want to become Masons, and they say they want some fraternalism. They want some time with men, and they like the fact that this is a group of men who will support them no matter what,” Tresner said. "This is a fraternity, after all.”
VideoTo watch a video interview with Jim Tresner, go online to Today’s Paper on NewsOK: newsok.com/theoklahoman
To learn moreFor more information about the Oklahoma Grand Lodge and affiliated groups, call 282-3182 or go online to www.gloklahoma.com.