Roger: Good morning, Most Worshipful Brother Dean Heinemann, thanks for joining me. The first question is, why did you become a Mason?
Dean Heinemann: The first reason was family. Grandad and Dad were past Masters of the Lodge in Cheney, and at that time that was the social place in Cheney to go, so I grew up there going to various events. I guess it was predestined that I was going to be a Mason.
Roger: Why do you remain active in the Fraternity?
Dean: It’s still family tradition, but now it’s become so much more than that. Some of it is hard to describe because it’s more of a feeling that you get. It kind of ebbs and flows over the years. I just finished 35 years in the Fraternity, and sometimes I keep going because of the relationships, the people. Not only here in Cheney, but throughout the world. Other times, it’s because of education. Sometimes it’s because I feel that I still have something to offer the next generation of Masons. It kind of ebbs and flows, but it’s about giving back.
I’m under the firm belief that I’ve been given this great gift by those who came before me, the interpretation of what Masonry was to them, and that I have a responsibility to try to bring that out in others.
Roger: In your own words, what would you describe is the purpose of Freemasonry?
Dean: Oh boy. That’s a tough one. Again, it can change, and no two lodges are the same. Which is what I found out spending 5 years traveling around our jurisdiction and the United States. There’s a canned phrase, “To take good men and make them better,” and I guess in a very simplistic way that’s the purpose, but there’s more to it than that. There’s personal growth if you take the opportunity. There’s also the history of Freemasonry, and how it intertwines with the history of our country, the history of our state, even the history of Cheney. To try to come up with a short answer of what the purpose is, that’s tough.
Roger: Being a Mason of 35 years in tenure, if there was a thing you felt Freemasonry could help you improve in your life today, what would that be and how would it matter? In other words, what could Freemasonry still do to accomplish its purpose as it relates to Dean Heinemann?
Dean: I think just the history, and talking with Masons, and discovering. We tend to read the same text, but when you interject your own background into interpreting that text it makes for some very spirited discussions. I think that’s what still mystifies but also intrigues me; how we can read the same text, whether it’s a part of our ritual or a book written by another Mason, and we can come up with different interpretations. They’re similar, but they are distinctly different in some aspects. For me that’s still the thrill, informal discussions, planned discussions on our Lodge Education Night. Yeah, that’s the thrill.
Roger: Do you think the mission of Freemasonry is different today than it was before, and how do you see that mission evolving?
Dean: Evolving. I think the most recent emphasis on civility and the lessons taught by Freemasonry, and how we can, with more than just our actions, teach those lessons to our communities has been the biggest change. I’m still waiting for it to take hold, but maybe it’s up to individual Masons to make it take hold in our communities. I see that as the biggest difference. We still need to continue to do what we have been doing, to instruct, to mentor, to educate the next generation of Masons.
We also have to make time to have fun with other Masons, with families, and our extended families, because that’s an important part of who we are. Through that you can impart lessons of Freemasonry to where people won’t even know that they’re being taught. That’s your own personal actions. That hasn’t changed, but I see this emphasis on civility and how that relates to certain aspects of our ritual as being something that’s really important moving forward.
Roger: Final question is going to sound a bit convoluted, but you have a very good grasp of the abstract, and so I am confident that you’ll understand where I’m going with this. How could you help a perspective brother whose sole familiarity with our fraternity is either, “I think my grandfather or my uncle was one,” to recognize the relevance and importance of Freemasonry today, and why our Brotherhood is just as relevant to him today as it was to his ancestors years ago?
Dean: Yeah, that is rather convoluted. I’ll try to answer it this way. The Grand Lodge of Washington has adopted the Six Step to Initiation Program, which it takes a perspective candidate through a process where they get to know Masons and get a glimpse into Masonry, and we as Masons get to know them. I would emphasize that Freemasonry is not for every man. In my committee work on the trial committee, I see it every month, that we have taken men into our Fraternity that should not have been made Masons because we didn’t take time to get to know them, to know their background, to know their clocks, their core beliefs. If we would have taken that time we would have understood that they would never be compatible with what I believe Masonry is, what Masonry teaches.
Just because a young man comes to our doors and says that, “My grandfather was a Mason, and I’m interested,” that’s not enough of an investigation to them allowed in to petition our lodges. We need to do a much better job. Even if it means that the population of Masons goes down slightly, that we lose certain lodges through consolidation or turning in their charters, if we concentrate on quality, not quantity, the Fraternity will thrive in the future. Hopefully that answered the question.
Roger: Exactly what I was looking for. Most Worshipful, thank you very much for your time, I appreciate it.
Dean: Yeah, it’s my pleasure, Roger.