Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tired of the “Should the Shrine Split?” Posts Yet?

It seems that most bloggers everywhere are tackling the controversial subject of should the Shrine split, since I started in Masonry a year ago. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks their solution is right.

I’ve read every excuse for people that think the Shrine should split, most of them seem to come from somewhere not so Masonic. For instance, the fact that the Shrine was founded by Masons wanting to have more fun than could be had in the Blue Lodge, then let them leave the Blue Lodge. Well, the same could be said then of the Grotto which was founded 19 years after the Shrine, but has the same basic philosophy. If this is the case, then why am I not seeing a once a week post about how the Grotto needs to split?

Others don’t seem to care for their aggressive recruiting style, going to raising of a members just to shove a Shrine application at them after they are taught the word. Again the same could be said of the York Rite and Scottish Rite in America. It isn’t unheard of a Candidate being given an application to either rite while still learning the FC catechism. This wasn’t the case for me, but it isn’t unheard of. Still, I don’t hear about calling for a split from either rite (well sometimes I hear people talk about the Scottish Rite, but that seems to be more about rivalry than anything).

The Shrine has been accused of lobbying for all the way in one day to serve its membership needs. On the Philalethes mailing list there has been multiple discussions about this, the Shrine isn’t the only lobbyist behind the perceived need to do these classes, and honestly all the way in one day has been going on since the beginning of documented Freemasonry, well before the formation of the Shrine.

Now, to be fair I’m not a Shriner, and I don’t have a desire to be one either. The Shrine aspect of Freemasonry wasn’t why I joined the world’s oldest fraternity. Still, you can’t deny that the Shrine has its roots in Freemasonry and depends on quality members that hold Masonic principles dear to be such a successful organization.

The Shrine, like everyone else in Freemasonry is trying to find answers to the questions facing its organization. The inflated bubble of membership of the 1940s is leaving them to answer some serious questions, just like the blue lodge. I don’t think the answer is as easy as “Split or not to split”.


Anonymous said...

It's not about you or me if this split happens. The real losers will be the children if nothing positive comes out of it either way.

Aaron said...

The Shrine is doing what it has to to halt its decline. The way things are going they appear poised to halt the decline next year or the year after, perhaps even turning positive. If State Grand Lodges and local lodges were so proactive there would be far fewer problems for them.

Sure, we can't recruit, but we can aggresively engage the community. We can host events, concerts to raise money for you name it, create scholarships for high school students, host history and spelling contests, and on, and on. Many lodges however, slumber.

Anonymous said...

As I posted on another Web journal, such a split would require Masons to essentially divorce themselves from their own brethren. Much easier said than done. Then again, most of the men from my Lodge who are active in the Shrine are also very active in the Craft Lodge.

Some Lodges might lose membership to the Shrine, if it were to split off. But those guys are likely only active in the Shrine, attending Blue Lodge rarely -- if ever -- and paying their Lodge dues to retain good standing. Even then, those men might still keep their Lodge dues current for the sake of duty (or simple nostalgia).

On the same token, many Masons might demit from the Shrine, especially since the hospital endowment is approaching the $1 billion mark. Let's face it: Freemasons made the hospitals what they are through work in the Shrine; however, the hospitals could carry on were the Shrine to disappear entirely.

I do not want the Shrine to split from Masonry.

- Ben R.

Wayfaring Man said...

I would love to see the Shrine split from Masonry. If we look at things dispassionately, I think we can agree that what little that ties the Shrine to the Craft is quickly evaporating. When is the last time most jurisdictions have seen more than a token Shrine presense at BL? Sure, there are four-five guys who are active in both (but prolly more active in BL than Shrine in my lodge) for many small lodges, but by and large, the Shriners have no interest in our functions. They don't attend. They don't know the work. They don't know their BL brothers, and what's more, I think they do not care to know.

So we in BL give of our time and trouble to bring these men into the "vestibule of the Shrine" and we never see them again. We do get their dues, however. Cold comfort. On a recent investigating committee for a future Imperial Potentate, the fellow asked me quite innocently if when he reached the 3rd degree of Masonry "is that we we get to ride the mini-choppers?"

I explained to him that George Washington and Ben Franklin had both decreed that Master Masons could only be members of the equestrian unit, and that you had to be Royal Arch before you got a small motorcylce or a mini-car. Well, no, not really, I'm just kidding. But I did explain to him that motorcycles really didn't have a lot to do with Masonry on the esteric level. I don't think he got it, though. He just kept on talking about "big boy's toys." Whatever that means. I didn't start talking to him about the orders of architecture, as I figured the Shrine would loose a potential Grand High Rabban if I did.

But seriously, in light of these kinds of interactions that are becoming increasingly common, it seems clear to me that removing the BL requirement would be beneficial to both organizations. The Shrine could recruit whomever it liked without having to worry about an up/down vote in BL, and BL would save a lot of money on oil changes and little tiny tires for all those mini-choppers.

As for the Grotto. I don't think there is one guy under 83 in my jurisdiction who belongs to the Grotto, but if there is, I haven't seen him show up in Lodge with 23 petitions in hand demanding we put on a one-day class before the next Shrine initiation (without offering to help in any way, I might add). Kind of like how your teenage daughter expects her car to be insured so she can get tags for it, but hasn't a clue that you have to pay for the insurance.

If that Grotto guy does show up though, I will welcome him into the lodge and remind him of the word we're opening on.