In my last article entitled, Fighting City Hall, I'd one Brother drop me a note
that I was too pessimistic; that I was describing the rift between the old-
guard and the young-guard with broad strokes. He contended the problems
I was describing was geographical in nature and unique to "Dixie" (the
southern United States). While I admit I talked in generalities with a couple of
specific examples, I received numerous e-mails from Brothers around the
world who supported my argument. No, I do not believe the problem is
unique to Dixie but, rather, a universal problem facing all jurisdictions.
The following is a sampling of the e-mails I received. The identities
of the authors have been omitted to protect their anonymity.
I enjoyed your "Fighting City Hall" article. A similar situation
occurred in Manitoba recently when the Grand Lodge library was being
renovated. The Grand Librarian was relieved after trying to bring our
antiquated library up to date. The changes he was trying to implement
were considered too radical.
I have contacts in England and they tell me the same thing is going on
there - Lodges are forming underground regardless of permission from
Grand Lodge! Imagine that!
FROM WASHINGTON STATE
While our Grand Lodge is very much a forward thinking organization, some
of our Blue Lodges, Scottish and York Rite, and Shrines all suffer from
one or more of the maladies brought forward in your article.
There is an old saying that you catch more flies with sugar than with
vinegar. Sounds like some Masons are up against a well entrenched group
of men who like the climate at the top of the mountain and most likely
will pick their successors. But there are forward looking men in the
crowd as well.
I'm now speaking from personal experience, and giving wise council. Be
a diplomat, lead them in the direction you want them to go, and let them
take the credit, feed their ego if that is what it takes. Rivalry only
hurts our craft. Abe Lincoln may have said it first, "A house
divided can not stand." A Johnny Reb by the name of Allen Roberts
also used those words.
FROM NEW BRUNSWICK
We are going through a similar situation here in New Brunswick. A real
power struggle between the Grand Master and wannebe power brokers who
brag they can elect or deny an office to anybody they choose. There is
a movement underfoot to keep the Deputy Grand Master from reaching the
Grand East and they're trying every dirty trick in the book.
City Hall can be taken on. City Hall can be forced to obey the rules
the same as everyone else. It just needs someone to have the intestinal
fortitude to take them on.
FROM DIXIE (THE SOUTH)
I have been reading your recent articles with much interest. Our
fraternity has contributed so much to freedom and change within our
society. It is distressing that it now seems to have adopted some
of the methods it has resisted throughout history. Sad to say but the
future does not look bright.
FROM NEW MEXICO
One of the things I discovered as a Past Master of my lodge in
Albuquerque was that you can have fun in lodge and keep all the tenants
of Masonry intact. Once you start having fun, the grouches either leave
or start enjoying lodge. I shut one old grouch up when my Chaplin
called and said he had been driving over eight hours direct from
Denver Colorado (440 miles) and still had to drive home to change
clothes to attend lodge and, therefore, would be a little late. This
would have resulted in him driving another 70 miles. 35 miles past the
lodge and then 35 miles back, then an additional 35 miles home after
lodge. He said he was in shorts and flip flops. I told him to just
stop by the lodge, no matter how he was dressed. He attended and wore
the Chaplain's robe. The old grouch complained to me how the Chaplain
was dressed and I told the grouch that I would rather have the man and
his heart in lodge, than to have his cold fancy suit in lodge.
Sometimes you need to bend to the wind like a tree as opposed to
breaking a limb off by being too rigid.
FROM DIXIE (THE SOUTH)
I don't know if I fit in with the old guard and know I don't fit in with
the new ones. I'm 49 years old and been a Mason for 27 years.
I've not attended lodge in my hometown in years. When I first
transferred down here, I attended every meeting. Still, I was treated
like an outsider and had no fellowship at all. Same ole, same ole. Eat
a snack (alone), open lodge, read the minutes, bills, take up a
collection, close lodge and go home.
No one has ever called me or had any contact with me. Frankly, they
couldn't care less if I attended the meetings or not. I'm not one of
the homegrown nor influential men at the lodge.
My wife asked my why I keep paying my dues every year but don't go to
lodge. She was really disappointed when not one single Lodge nor a
Brother Mason even give us any info to relocate to their area. Much
less an offer to help.
We are still planning on relocating to the mountains this spring. I will
go to the nearest lodge wherever we move and just hope that I fit in and
people will receive me with a warm welcome and not a cold shoulder like
they have here.
I just finished reading your article, "Fighting City Hall."
First, you had a good analogy between the mainframe and PC mentality.
Where I work, that battle rages on. Anyway, getting to the subject
at hand, it is a very nasty battle but one that must be ended. Ours is
an organization based very deeply in tradition. That is what makes it
so appealing in many respects. However, we can keep our identity while
adjusting to the changing times. I joined DeMolay in 1972. I joined
Masonry in 1978. I was a junior officer for two years before I left the
line and discontinued attending due to the pompous attitudes and
demanding manner of our predecessors. I would not leave the fraternity
due to my belief and commitment to it. This was not always the case
with some members. I simply waited until a time when I felt the
attitudes were better. I served as Worshipful Master in the
1990's. Being in my 30's, I still did not get the respect of some of
the older Past Masters that the office should dictate. I have
subsequently served as a District Education Officer and District Deputy
Grand Master. The Past Masters who were troublesome to me and other
youthful Masters have moved on. Some have moved out of the state. Some
have demitted to more accommodating Lodges for their "needs." Others
just quit coming. Those of us who remain use these members as an
example of how not to treat the younger members. Unkind as it seems, we
must use them as a benchmark to understand what will work and, more
importantly, what is detrimental. We now have a very good flow of young
members and a young line. We are trying to set the example that
everyone is vital and no thought or idea is unwelcome.
FROM DIXIE (THE SOUTH)
I am a new secretary at my Lodge, where we have had our share of "that's
the way we have always done it" and where various agendas have been
carried out in the ten years since I became a Mason. We will see a bit
of this in the next few months as we debate legislation to come up at
Grand Lodge, and various factions battle it out. You are right about
the statements against individuals ľ we saw that in the Grand Master's
election two or three years ago.
All Lodges face problems of retention, especially of young members and
while we have 430 or so members, we have the same problem at our Lodge.
Our expenses continue to rise.
I look forward to more of your writing. It is good, and it is needed.
I fully agree with the statements about the "old guard." I was raised a
Master Mason in my Lodge in the early 1990's and became Tyler shortly
thereafter. I remained at that post for nine years. While I was a
member of this Lodge, I saw several ways that we could have made
ourselves more visible and ways of gaining new members. However, the
"old guard" didn't want to make any changes. After awhile I gave up and
obtained a dual membership with another Lodge. After a year, I dropped
my membership with my mother Lodge. My current Lodge is very active in
town and continues to grow. I'm proud to be a member, knowing they are
open to new ideas and in working closely with the community.
FROM DIXIE (THE SOUTH)
I remember a situation a couple of years ago where our Lodge was
notified of a Brother from New York who was dying of brain cancer. His
daughter contacted the Lodge and told the Master that he wished he could
sit in Lodge one last time before passing. Our Worshipful Master
contacted the Brother's home Lodge and received an e-mail from the
Secretary who extended fraternal greetings to the Brother and a brief
report on the Lodge's activities. The Master then took two other
Lodge Brothers to visit the dying Brother at his home (he was
bedridden). To his credit, the Master went to the Brother, closed the
bedroom door for privacy, and opened Lodge. Although the Brother was
very sick, he perked up noticeably. The Master read the note from his
home Lodge, talked with the Brother and asked if he had a message for
his home Lodge (which the Master dutifully conveyed). The attending
Brothers then closed the Lodge, thanked the daughter (who was outside),
and left. Two weeks later the Brother passed away. Shortly thereafter,
the Master received a note from the daughter thanking him for visiting
her father and commented that although she didn't know what the group
had done, her father's disposition had picked up as a result of the
visit. She was grateful for the group's efforts.
When the Worshipful Master reported the visit in Lodge, many of the old
guard were appalled that the Master had opened a Lodge without
dispensation from the Grand Lodge, that it was most irregular. I don't
know, I saw it as a very kind and Masonic act. I just wish I had gone
with the Master.
FROM NEW JERSEY
I've been away from our Lodge for several years. I never felt welcome.
I came in as my friend was Worshipful Master. I was full of ideas to
bring some life into the Lodge. Well, there was a lot of political
nonsense. It wrecked the agenda of my friend as Master. I stopped
attending Lodge. While a realist, I felt that too many Brothers were
not acting like the Masonic ideal.
FROM DIXIE (THE SOUTH)
I've been a Master Mason for over 27 years and almost resigned because
of being ignored and made to feel unwelcome.
The one time that I've asked the lodge for any help was when I wrote to
dozens of different lodges from Georgia to Pennsylvania and everywhere
in-between, only asking general questions about their area because we
were thinking of relocating. A few lodges responded but I never heard
anything else from them. I also wrote to many individual Brothers, but
I did not get a reply.
We need to remember our obligations and in order to get people to attend
lodge, lodge must be interesting (not just open lodge, read the
minutes, business, then close and go home).
We need to be friendly and helpful to each other and not only to the
more wealthy or influential members.
I've not attended lodge in years. Why? Because no one cares if I come or
not. When I did attend, I was more or less ignored.
When we first moved here, I attended lodge every time it was open. At
the fellowship hour before lodge we would have a light meal (and pass
around the hat). I wasn't homegrown nor did I have an important job, so
most of the time, I ate alone. The men would shake my hand when I came
but had little to say to me after that.
During lodge, the policemen would all sit together, longtime friends
would sit together, family sat together and again, most of the time, I
When I tried to engage in conversation, I was given short answers. It
was clear that I didn't fit in.
Never has anyone at the lodge asked where I lived, what I do for a
hobby, asked me to go fishing with them, included me in on local
political talk, invited me to their house. If a member saw me in public,
I was lucky to get them to nod their head, acknowledging me.
Talk about Southern hospitality......The only lodges that responded to
my cry for help were a few lodges in Pennsylvania.
FROM THE PHILIPPINES
Your article about Fighting City Hall" is not only happening in
the United States, but I think in other jurisdictions as well. Like
here in the Philippines where the older and younger guards are not on
good terms due to ideas and actions that are not amenable to both sides.
An example of this is in one Lodge, young guards wanted the stated
meeting moved from morning to afternoon because they wanted to have
their fellowship right after the meeting, but the oldies do not want
it to be moved. So what happened? The oldies cannot convene the
meeting because they are not in quorum which is seven or more.. in
short, the younger ones are the majority and this is one of the classic
example that our fraternity is dwindling. It's right that what you have
said about that change is constant!
In my article "True Masonry", I
differentiated how Brothers interpret Freemasonry; some see it as a noble society
based on Brotherly
love and affection, and there are others who see it as nothing more
than a club governed by rules and regulations. True, rules and
regulations are needed in any organization to maintain order but there
are those who would sacrifice the spirit by which this great fraternity
was created to serve a particular political agenda. Make no mistake,
the rift between young and old in Freemasonry is about control and who
possesses the correct interpretation of Freemasonry.
Some say I am being too pessimistic about the fraternity. Frankly, I
think I am a realist who is smart enough to know you cannot treat a
patient unless he knows he is sick. No, I am most definitely not a
pessimist. To paraphrase Bro. Clemens, "I am an optimist
who hasn't arrived."
Back To Fight City Hall I
Back To Page One
No ę Copyright.
Free To Use.
All material in this site may be used
to educate everyone, Masons and
non-Masons alike about Freemasonry