"You can't fight city hall" has been a part of our vernacular for
many years. Basically, it is an admission that it is futile to fight
the powers in charge, consequently people resign themselves to either
live within the system or move on. Unfortunately, a lot of people are
moving on in Freemasonry. As a small example, I recently received an
e-mail from a young Mason who is resigning from the fraternity. I asked
him why he was leaving and he enumerated four reasons:
- I just grew tired of the same routine.
- Some treated me like I didn't have anything to contribute;
like an idiot.
- I couldn't support the next 2-3 people coming into
the Master's chair.
- There is no meat to the Masonic organization any
This typifies the frustration younger Masons are feeling about the
current state of the fraternity. As a result, we are witnessing
polarization in the Lodge room and elsewhere; Old-Guard versus
New-Guard, Lodge versus Lodge, District versus District, Grand
Jurisdiction versus Grand Jurisdiction. I saw this same phenomenon
occurring in the computer field during the 1980's with the proliferation
of PC's. During this time, the old-guard maintained the mainframe
computers while the young-guard was infatuated with the new technology.
The sad thing was that both parties served a vital purpose, but
neither party had any use for the other. Inevitably, the new-guard
ultimately won out as the old-guard eventually retired. This left a
void in technical expertise for the mainframes and companies floundered.
This same phenomenon is occurring in the fraternity as younger members
feel powerless against the current regimes in Blue Lodges and Grand
Lodges. Whereas the old-guard is content with the status quo, younger
members are looking for more substance and fellowship in the fraternity.
And the two parties are not working together. The major difference
here though is that Freemasonry is a volunteer organization and one
becomes a member for life. Consequently, the old-guard maintains a
stranglehold on the fraternity. This does not sit well with the younger
members who are now looking for further light through other venues.
In my article, "Are We Reading the Signs?" I described how
some younger members are starting new Lodges that are unencumbered with
an old-guard mentality. The ritual work of these new Lodges is
excellent, they just spend less time "reading the bills" and more time
on fellowship. As a result, younger members are flocking to the
new Lodges, leaving the older Lodges to die on the vine.
As another example, consider The Rite of the Rose Cross of Gold which was started
three years ago as another venue for Masons to practice their craft and
enjoy some fellowship. According to Rose Cross organizers, the group
was organized with the permission of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.
As part of their membership requirements, a person had to be a Master
Mason and a member of both the Scottish and York Rites (this was done to
appease all of the various parties involved). Unfortunately, something
went awry over time; the Grand Lodge requested a list of their members
and, from it, unceremoniously expelled all of its members from the
fraternity without the benefit of a Masonic trial. To this day,
organizers are at a loss as to why their membership was expelled, but
this did not deter the members who subsequently went on to establish
Grand Lodge of America of Accepted Free-Masons (UGLofA) on December
If you read the web pages of the Rose Cross and UGLofA you have to
wonder what all the hubbub was about. On the surface it appears their
intent is noble and their activities harmless. Further, there is no
mention of their activities on the Grand Lodge of Georgia web site.
Nonetheless, the Rose Cross continued their activities without the
support of the Grand Lodge of Georgia. So much so, they started
additional chapters in Georgia and Alabama. Organizers claim the Grand
Lodge is continuing their policy of expelling members joining these new
chapters (also without Masonic trial). Now, the Grand Master of Alabama
is becoming concerned with their activities and is questioning why there
is a problem in Georgia.
According to a Rose Cross organizer, "We are offering a high quality
organization that provides excellent Masonic education and fun social
activities. All we are doing is giving the people what they want."
I'm not taking sides on the issue in this article, but am merely noting
the phenomenon. Frankly, we shouldn't be surprised by this activity as
it represents a classic example of the growing rift emerging between the
old-guard and the young-guard. One can only wonder if we will see more
of this in the near future.
As Masons, we are taught that if we do not like the current system,
we should work from within to improve it. Unfortunately, legislation is
often torpedoed before it even gets to a vote. If it doesn't conform to
the current policies, it is often stonewalled or sabotaged before it
gets to the floor. There are even stories of character assassination of
authors of proposed legislation. This is unsettling to younger Masons
who, instead, are opting to change the fraternity not from within, but
from without. The Rose Cross episode is but one example of this.
These are strange and awkward times for Freemasonry. We now live in an
era of highly charged politics where distrust, contempt, back stabbing,
and a lack of cooperation is the norm as opposed to the exception. This
leads to such things as censorship and political machines with agendas.
For an institution that is theoretically devoid of politics, it is
political wrangling that is disrupting the harmony and moral fabric of
When I joined the fraternity, I was taught that every Brother was
allowed to have their say, right or wrong, and allow the Craft to
decide. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. And
frankly, we shouldn't be surprised by all of this as man is a political
animal by nature. What is disturbing is the rift that is ensuing.
Regardless of our age, I always naively believed we were all on the same
Today, Grand Lodges are demanding blind faith in the judgment of its
officers. They recognize that most people are unthinking and prefer
to be told what to do and how to vote. Such abdication of the thinking
process naturally results in a Theory X dictatorial form of management
which several Grand jurisdictions are currently experiencing. Blind
faith is fine if you do not care, but unacceptable if you do. True, we
should respect our leaders, but I do not believe Freemasonry should
prohibit free-thought or free-expression.
Further, people do not want to sit in Lodge if there is going to be
constant bickering and back-biting. Life is hectic enough without
adding another level of contention. People want to leave such problems
behind. If they cannot find harmony in their fortress of solitude, the
Lodge, they simply will not attend anymore (and many are doing just that).
It is very disheartening to describe a scenario where young and old
Masons are at odds with each other. The old-guard should mentor the
new, but be smart enough not to resist change simply because "that's
the way we have done it for years." Change is a natural part of
life; change is constant. But change for the sake of change is
rediculous. There has to be an intelligent reason for implementing
change. And this can only happen if we are allowed to discuss matters
openly, rationally, and respectfully. It would seem on the surface that
censoring our younger Masons is a smart stalling tactic. In reality, it
accelerates the change process by bringing the subject to a boiling
point. Let us all hope that cooler heads prevail on both sides and
Freemasonry survives well into the future.
Down in Florida, the Department of Motor Vehicles offers license plates
to "Save the Manatees, Whales, Wild Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Florida
Panther, etc." Let us hope we will never need a "Save the Masons" plate.
After publishing the above article, Brother Bryce received E-mails from younger and ignored Masons who had dropped out or transferred to other Lodges because of the reasons discussed above. For that reason he created Page II to let the Brothers voices be heard. Click Here to go to page II.
Go To Fight City Hall II
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