While related to and will doubtless have an impact on my decision whether or not to enquire about becoming a mason, it is not the sole inspiration for my interest in your fraternity. So, to an extent Keith is correct in saying that I would like to know more before deciding whether or not to become a mason. However, I am also genuinely interested in philosophy, points of history as a whole, along with how society has developed... it appears to me that freemasonry is interconnected with so much of our history AND our modern development... and that is the main
reason for my interest. It was only after pursuing this interest and the discoveries I have made since that the idea of joining the fraternity became something I felt I could consider. And so, I am not trying to find out 'everything' before joining... but I am becoming more and more comfortable with the idea, with the more I discover and the more exchanges I have with masons.
I am furthermore acutely aware that I will never have anything more than a theoretical paper knowledge without experiencing the Craft for myself... as you say Haydn, involvement is part of the learning curve and only part of the picture is available from the outside. If I were to receive a welcome into a Lodge similar to that which I have received here, I would be very happy
Gary, the involvement of freemasons in the establishment of the Royal Society appears to be fairly well documented... and I was surprised (although I probably shouldn't have been!) to read about Sir Christopher Wren's masonic involvement, although I understand that this was downplayed to some extent. The idea of the "free" in freemasonry coming from "free thinking" outside, as you say, the strictures of the established churches is a possibility. If you couple this with some of the ancient charges that seem to suggest aiding brother masons in protecting their lives and their property when at considerable risk and the possible to link of this to heresy - that possibility becomes very real indeed, doesn't it?