This post is going to be a response to the blog post that Brother Lance Kennedy wrote earlier this month, which you can find here. If you haven’t read it then it’s worth your time to give it a peruse, particularly if you intend to read the rest of this post because I’ll be referring to it quite often.
Let’s dive right in then, shall we?
- Guarding The West Gate – I agree with this very strongly, in fact, this is one of the first posts I wrote on this blog and it covers this very topic. A lodge is only as healthy as its weakest member! This isn’t elitism, it’s being selective for the well-being of your lodge and the fraternity.
- Aristocrats Of The Soul – There are two things you can bring up if you really want to rile up fellow Masons: dues and dress; this is particularly true if brought up online where the anonymity tends to make it easy to forget we are all brethren.Here Brother Kennedy brings up the idea of a dress code and there was….much debate about this in the Facebook group it was posted in.Here is my opinion:
- I agree that brethren should dress well for lodge.
- Anytime dress is brought up someone will tell you (usually very quickly) that is the internal qualifications, not the external which matter. This is true, but the internal is reflected externally. If you don’t respect the fraternity or your lodge then, I’m sorry, but you’ll dress like it.
- Being ‘well-dressed’ is relative to a lot of things. Lodges in wealthier communities can probably require brethren to wear tuxes, which his something that would never fly in rural areas. Most lodges could require suits though.
- Speaking of suits: they aren’t expensive. I bought several from some thrift shops when I was a young (and poor) man in college, some of them still see use today. Most clothing stores have a section with suits and every man should probably have a navy or gray suit anyhow…if you never bought one because you didn’t ever see an occasion for it then now you have one, you can wear it to lodge.
- Leave The Gavel Be– I also wrote a post about this, although I didn’t spend a lot of time addressing Grand Lodge directly. The same problems that the progressive line creates in the lodge exist, and are multiplied, at the Grand Lodge level.The problem with this is that by the time you’re next in line for Grand Master you’ve spent some much time and (let’s be honest, here) money that you’re not going to want to wait several years for your turn in the Grand East.This is a good idea but there needs to be an effective way to nominate the sitting Grand Master to stay as well as an efficient voting process. I like the idea but I don’t see this ever changing, much to the detriment of the craft.
- Academic Lodges– If you ever have the time you should do some research into all the lodges which used to exist close by to where you live. If there are any small towns nearby, even if they are ghost towns or just a few buildings then there is a high chance that there probably used to be a lodge there. Any old forts or historical sites? There was very possibly a lodge there as well.The point that I’m trying to make is that the requirements to start a new lodge didn’t used to be as high as they are now and if you look at the number of lodges which were formed and demised then it really gives the impression that Grand Lodge was once more willing to take risks when handing out new charters.I feel if someone wants to start an academic lodge then let them, the worse thing that could happen is the lodge loses its charter. The best thing that could happen is that it could thrive…or maybe that would be the worst thing?
- Enter The Mysteries– A brother only receives 1 EA degree, 1 Fellowcraft degree, and 1 Master Mason’s degree in their life. It is supposed to be a solemn and transformative event that is focused entirely on the individual receiving the degree.If you can’t perform the ritual in a manner that is consistent with the manner in which the degree is supposed to be treated then don’t do it.Stated meetings aren’t the time to goof off either. You can joke before lodge and you can do so afterward as well but the moment that gavel sounds it’s time to remember what you came here to do.
- Memento Mori– Everything that was ‘scary’ got tossed out a long time ago. The symbols may still show up here and there but they tend to get glossed over. There are important lessons behind these symbols and we need to bring them back. In fact, clean the coats and brooms out of that ‘Chamber of Refraction‘ (not a typo) you put the candidates in and turn it into a place they can actually reflect.
- Tacere- If you had an organization that took every opportunity to downplay what makes it appealing, you wouldn’t expect it to survive very long but our fraternity does this every single day, it’s even encouraged!We have someone marvelous here and yet we try to make it mundane every chance we get. A society with secrets is a secret society, sorry.
- Männerbund Metaphysics– If you’re ever in College Station then go visit St. Alban’s lodge. It was one of the most enjoyable lodge experiences I’ve ever had and one of the most memorable parts of the meeting was the reading of the lodge minutes.You see, the previous minutes were passed around in the lodge before it was opened, so those who wanted to read them could. This means that there was no need to take up ten to twenty minutes of everybody’s time during the meeting to read them aloud, any lodge which practiced this would have a terrific opportunity to use this extra time for some type of Masonic education.
- Remove The Dying Appendages– A man can spread himself thin very easily and there are plenty of opportunities to do this in our fraternity. I personally have a hard enough time just making appearances at other lodges in my district and that’s just for Blue Lodge.I think sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves, both as individuals and as an organization, is to go back to the basics. Let’s get rid of all these extra organizations and just focus on Blue Lodge. I’m on the fence about Yorkrite and don’t have any experience with Scottish Rite but that’s another post for another day.
- Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is– I recently covered this here.If you want to have a good lodge then you need to have good meetings. If you want your meetings to go well then it only makes sense that you’d want to have a good meal before or afterward. If you want a good meal then it only makes sense that you’d have to pay for it.Long story short: If you want quality then you have to pay for it (and if you want a healthy lodge then you want quality) and fundraisers are not the way to go.
There is literally nothing more I can say about dues which has not already been addressed ad nauseam at this point.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this blog post and I agreed with the majority of what I read. I’m beginning to see more and more posts echoing my thoughts and feelings on matters such as these with an increasing frequency and it is my hope that this represents a paradigm shift taking place within our fraternity.
Brother Kennedy, if you ever read this post then I’d like to thank you for your very well written article. You said things that needed to be said and encouraged discussions which needed to happen, which is exactly what our organization needs at this point.