Inside the secret world of Freemasons (via Grand Lodge of Ireland)

For as long as there have been freemasons, there have been conspiracy theories. They are the secret rulers of the world. They are in league with the devil. They look out for one another when it comes to the best jobs. Douglas Grey has heard them all before and nothing fazes him. The Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland says he even gets a kick out of the conspiracies. "They're so far-fetched," he laughs.
"I read the last Dan Brown book [The Lost Symbol] and there were definitely aspects of it I recognised as a Freemason in terms of symbols, for instance, but a lot of it is a far cry from the freemasonry I know."
Incidentally, Brown's novel is sympathetic to Masons and their traditions.
Grey -- "Dougie", as he is affectionately known -- is a 67-year-old Dubliner who has been a Freemason for 30 years. "We have nothing to hide whatsoever. The only secretive aspects of Freemasonry are the forms of recognition -- passwords and handshakes -- and that dates from the earliest days."
Since the advent of the internet, he says the conspiracy theories have intensified, and the huge popularity of fiction like The Lost Symbol has led to an upsurge in people seeking information about the masons.
"In recent years, we've had a lot of enquiries and some younger men are seeking membership," he says. "But it's important that they want to join for the right reasons. Yes, it is a fraternal society and there is a very enjoyable social aspect to it, but our main concern is with charity. And we expect our members to pitch in. We strive to be a part of the community, not apart from it."
Via The Independent (Ireland)