Tolstoy reigns himself in a little bit here, so we can’t tell whether he’s taking the Masons dead seriously or whether he’s poking fun at them. (Normally, it’s more obvious whether he’s being satirical or not.) So, on the one hand, you might agree with a lot of the things they say, or on the other hand, you might think the whole thing’s rubbish. And I think, in this case, you can quite easily read both from the same passage.
Which brings me to my other Freemason story. When Rachel and I were on honeymoon, we decided we’d explore Sydney (because you never really look around your own city when you live there) and we went to get a free guided tour of the Masonic Temple in the city.
The interesting part started when we went up to the reception desk and the young guy behind the desk told us that three people had been sacked that day, and he was standing in for the receptionist – but that he would be able to take us on a tour soon.
So we sat down for 45 minutes in a waiting lounge facing a glass case full of trowels, King James Bibles with Masonic symbols on them, various history books, and of all things – several cute toy penguins wearing masonic aprons!
When our young guide finally came back, he took us around all over the place, showed us strange rooms, opened creepy little cupboards with even creepier pictures behind them and constantly debunked the idea that they were devil-worshippers, a cult, etc. etc. (This guy’s reason for joining was that he found out that his cricketing hero, Don Bradman, was a Mason, so he wanted to join.)
All in all, a fascinating trip, but I had the strangest dreams all that night. For the next two days, I desperately wanted to join, just because the idea of finding out all kinds of secrets seemed quite alluring.
However, I would have had issues with the Freemasons just because of their views on God that they publicly announce (not counting the stuff that they’re rumoured to believe), so the feeling passed after a while. But definitely one of the strangest experiences of my life. I still have a second glance if I notice a Masonic ring or a tie pin.
Anyway, enough of me . . . so Pierre has had his “conversion experience” and the question now is: what kind of changes will his new-found faith bring?