Today I’d like to share a personal story with you about why I left Freemasonry several years ago.
If you follow me on YouTube then you may already be familiar with this story and, if so, then this post is unlikely to present you with any new information. That being said, I realize that vlogs aren’t everybody’s cup of tea and I feel that the lessons that this story imparts are very important.
My Early Masonic Journey
When I first joined Freemasonry more than ten years ago there was a law here in Texas that only Master Masons were allowed to sit in stated meetings. My attendance was still expected at each meeting but instead of sitting in the lodge I would sit in the dining room with a mentor who would teach me my catechism.
The mystery about what went on behind closed doors was very alluring to me and this led me to work very hard to learn my work. I was allowed to memorize all of my work for each degree in a very short amount of time and within a few months I went from initiation to Master Mason and after I turned in the work for that degree, I was finally able to sit in a stated meeting.
I don’t remember what was discussed during my first meeting but I know it consisted of opening, reading of minutes and communications, old business, new business, fundraising, and then closing. Imagine how quickly my excitement and enthusiasm melted away when I realized the first time I sat in lodge was going to be nothing more than a business meeting.
“Imagine how quickly my excitement and enthusiasm melted away when I realized the first time I sat in lodge was going to be nothing more than a business meeting.”
I was very disappointed but I gave my lodge the benefit of the doubt. I wasn’t ignorant to the fact that there would be times that we’d have to discuss business so I told myself that maybe I just had the bad luck of my first meeting falling on one of those days. So, I kept attending but it didn’t take long to learn that business was the norm and not the exception.
In fact, aside from the opening and closing of the lodge, there was nothing that made our meetings different from those of any other organization. Herein lies the problem: I didn’t join Freemasonry because it was like other organizations, I joined it because I believed it was something different.
“I didn’t join Freemasonry because it was like other organizations, I joined it because I believed it was something different. “
This went on for several months. I would go to lodge anticipating something more than was delivered and be disappointed. We would open, sit through the reading of the minutes, listen to local and Grand Lodge communication, discuss the upcoming fundraiser (or the fundraiser we just had), pay the bills, and close the lodge.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I even visited several local lodges during this period and this practice seemed to be the norm. Raise money to give it away in our name. I began to feel as though I was a member of a Gardening Club that never did any gardening.
I remember vividly the moment I made the decision not to come back. We were preparing for our brisket fundraiser and I was lifting packages of bottled waters off of a dolly when a few thoughts occurred to me.
“This is just a service club! All we talk about and do is fundraising!”
“What was the point of all of that memory work and ceremony if this is all that we do?”
At that point, I realized that my Masonic experience was not authentic at all. The Masonic fraternity is very old and we talk about things that are even older than that. We have very strict membership requirements (or at least we used to). Learning the catechisms and advancing through the degrees is a lot of work. There seemed to be some kind of a disconnect between what who we were supposed to be and who we really were and it was at that point that I made up my mind that I would never be back again.
So here’s a spoiler: I eventually came back to the fraternity and I’ll be writing about my return in my next post.
If you’re wondering why I feel that my exit (and eventual return) to the fraternity is important enough to write and talk about then you wouldn’t be alone because I wondered the same thing when I originally made my YouTube video at the beginning of this post.
After I made this video I quickly realized two things:
- There are a lot of crazy people out there. Some people have some seriously deranged conceptions about Freemasonry!
- My experiences were not unique and a lot of brothers have left the fraternity for the same reason.
The most important thing (at least that’s relevant to this post) is #2. If we can’t retain members then maybe we should be asking ourselves why? Granted, I understand that 100% retention would be difficult, if not impossible, but if you have countless good men who walk away from the fraternity for the same reason then should it not give us reason to pause and consider our practices?
Tell me what you think! Have you had similar experiences with your lodge? Leave me a comment either here or on Facebook and let’s have that discussion.
See you in the next post!
Thank you for sharing. I can understand your perspective.
My personal experience and reasons for leaving Freemasonry
What a sad situation. I have to be cautious, as l am not sure how your lodge fits into the U.G.L.E. pattern of being a regular lodge.
But being faced with what you have described, month after month, would drive many to leave.
There are many other lodges, and even forms of freemasonry. Not all “regular” though.
I joined the craft 50 years ago, drifted away for too many years, and was brought/invited back in 2004.
Since then l have been W.M. twice, l visit, or have until recently been visiting other lodges in my region 4 or 5 nights a week! and enjoying it.
From this, l have many “friends” or people l know, and enjoy my freemasonry.
My wife and l visit lodge socials, and she has many female friends through this social circle.
I will be interested to read what brought you back.
I totally agree with you.
Go to http://www.matsol.info for openers.
That is so sad. We do not have candidates sitting in refectory with a mentor. The best way to learn is to be in the Lodge room. The Master and Past Masters should be organising talks and demonstrations to keep the interest up. there is no shortage of things to learn within and about Freemasonry. I was lucky to be made a junior officer shortly after I became a Master Mason and went through the chairs arriving in the Masters chair in 1974. Organised Picknics, Ladies nights, visits to other Lodges.sports competitions with other lodges. The main thing is to learn who your brethren are get to know them you will find you really are part of a brotherhood who will be friends for life through thick and thin.
This is a very difficult thing to get through here. We have to run business, as an organisation. However we shouldn’t make that the mystery these men are working toward. Our lodge does not keep people out of the Stated Meeting. If we are looking at Masonry as going to meetings and going home I firmly believe we are looking at it the wrong way.
My best friends are Brother from Lodge, this is not an exaggeration, I am frequently at their houses, I painted one of them, and as payment for that service, his beer fridge always has my beer in it. We are a firm part of each others lives, not just in the Lodge Building, the Meetings are, in my mind, a way to ensure I see my Brothers at least once a week. This is what we as a fraternity as a whole need to work to, and enshrine that not only in our selves, but set that as our legacy with each new Raising.
A cursory readings of your lamentations revealed that there was no masonic education lecture being conducted by your Lodge Lecturer. Masonic education might perhaps tickled your thirst for Masonic knowledge and improved yourself in masonry. Masonry as a craft is filled with mysteries, allegories, and symbolism which no man outside of the craft may understand. Hope this unsolicitated piece of story will find its way into your mind and provide you the incentive to seek further into the world of freemasonry.
The following is a short movie about what Freemasonry is really about. It brings home the point, for which we have all jointed the Brotherhood, or should have contemplated, before joining.
“What Is Freemasonry?” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XhirrSEKjI
Please enjoy it as much as I have.
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Yes I have to somewhat agree with you. I’ve been going to this lodge im currently at for over a year now and I’m an FC. Me and couple of others should be going through 3rd degree but due to virus it will probably be post phoned till September. I hope I can make it till then cause I’m close to leaving & giving up. I dont really experience that “brotherhood” they all talk about. I found Freemasonry clicky and seems if the popular members who’ve been there many years like you then you’re in the club. As for me I feel like I’m treated as an outsider & I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that. Then there’s the business meeting, have a beer, march around the lodge routine….I’m paying $250 a year for this??
Hello. It is a difficult period for fraternal organizations to say the least. Please be patient and understand that being a Fellowcraft does not necessarily give you access to many of the projects and functions a particular Lodge has available – yet.
However, you can go online and read things such as, http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry and learn as much as you can about the craft. Once you are “raised”, you’ll find the door will be opened wider to you. My Lodge traces back to 1868. Another Lodge operating within our building was founded by Paul Revere. I reference that because you “get out of the craft what you put in to it.”
Indeed, you may find the business of running a Lodge boring, but, an engaged Worshipful Master will find a job for you once you become a Master Mason. If you are good at ritual, then he may offer you a candidate instructor position. If you are good at sales, you might be offered an ambassadorship. You may be offered a chair. Perhaps a Junior Steward’s position. There is much to learn about decorum and performing the duties of your rank. As I moved up through the chairs, I made it a point to offer my services to various committees within the Lodge.
I am a construction cost estimator and project manager by profession. We had two significant renewal projects needing management within our community and Lodge. The first was installing new Masonic road signs as the old ones were vandalized, worn or missing. I drove to the town entrances and took photos of where the signs should be placed, did a material take-off, researched a budget, lobbied the town board of selectmen, acquired budgetary approval from the Lodge board of directors, created an installation schedule for the town engineer, checked sign compliance, ordered the signs, and oversaw the installation of the signs leading to a success for the Lodge and town.
The point was to create top-of-mind-awareness for the fraternity. Old, worn signs do not provide a good impression to potential candidates. However, if folks see new and bright signs when driving into town, they’ll have a positive view of Masonry in general. If we gain just one new candidate from this action, we’ve done our job.
We also needed to remodel our Lodge game room. The room had become a “dumpster” for furniture, old equipment and so forth. I took charge of having the old pool tables professionally broken down, junk disposed of, furniture moved, ordering new equipment, window repair, floor and paint and on and on. These types of projects will become available to you if you want them.
Think about what talents you may have and how you can contribute to your Lodge going forward. As you move up in the chairs, you will learn more ritual which will give you further insight into your own sense of leadership, morality and duty to your fellow men. Indeed, your Lodge may seem cliquish, but that may only be in part because you haven’t completed the degree cycle. The Master Masons and Officers may seem a bit stand-offish because there is ritual than cannot be shared yet. Think about it. They are trusted with Lodge secrets. This applies to life as well. If you cannot be trusted with confidential information in Lodge, what does that say about you in life? If you become an officer, do your part in helping to break the clique, if indeed there is one, by getting involved.
Lodges that thrive will welcome new ideas. Lodges that thrive will have a Worshipful Master who will always have an open door to listen to those who will come after. Be patient. It takes time for folks to become comfortable with you. Always remember you get out of the craft what you put in to it.
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My experience is pretty much the same as yours. Boring is boring and while business has to be conducted it isn’t the reason people attend meetings. All social organizations are facing similar problems but I always though Masonry offered so much to its members that we would do better. The bottom line is this, if we don’t improve membership none of our other problems matter.
I quit going for the same… actually worse. My lodge doesn’t even do fundraisers and hasn’t in years. Eat, open lodge, read minutes, pray for the sick, close lodge. Basically, eat, burp, pray for the sick and go home. When I was raised, I never received my apron. I asked the secretary wasn’t I supposed to get one and he said yes, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Almost a year went by and still no apron. That was it for me. Everyone else in the lodge got theirs when they were raised. That was enough for me. A do nothing lodge. As far as my experience goes, it was a complete waste of my time. I spent countless number of hours away from my family practicing with my mentor and at lodge. All for what?
In our lodge, the initiate buys or is gifted his apron from his proposer, seconder or a family member who may have passed on, or moved up the masonic ladder to a WM rank, or Perovincial rank, and has a MM apron surplus to his needs.
Our lodge never supplies an apron, except for use in the first 3 degrees, up until MM rank is confired. Then the new MM is fitted with his own apron!
This should perhaps have been made clear to you at your initial interview perhaps.
That’s what I’m saying Malcolm. I was a confirmed MM. Everyone else in the lodge was presented their apron once they were confirmed. All except me. When I brought this up to the secretary, he said basically “oh yeah, keep reminding me and I’ll get around to it.” I was like…..uh…. I guess if it’s not that important, I guess I’m not that important. I just wanted to be treated like everyone else. I have absolutely nothing from the lodge showing that I am a MM.
My grandfather and uncles also all received their own apron provided by the lodge once confirmed. They were provided a huge Masonic Bible. They were also provided a certificate that had their initiated, passed and raised dates.
I have absolutely nothing…
I’m done with this. So much for “where do Masons meet”