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!