Friday, October 31, 2008

We’ll Grind That Axe For A Long Time Part Deux – Halcyon Lodge Revisited

Here we are approaching the holidays, soon Thanksgiving and Christmas advertisements will flood our collective minds as we are facing a looming recession, and one out of four home owners loan is worth more than their property.

A year ago the Masonic blogging community was all a buzz about the cessation of Halcyon Lodge #498 from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, while brothers and on lookers where starving for information, very little was released by either the band of brothers of the newly formed Halcyon #2 or the Grand Lodge of Ohio, after a while the case subsided as other Masonic misdeeds came to light (Grand Lodge of West Virginia has been a big one). Late last night in one of my sleepless wonderings, I notice that someone left a comment in a post that was written a little less than a year ago on this blog, he wrote:

Read for yourself the FACTS of the accusations. Seek the WHOLE truth! Find the puppets who were used by former brothers to front thier bogus chairity.

Typos a side, the individual peaked my interested from that I went to the blog of Vox De Maat, which appears to be a blog set up by an anonymous blogger to combat both the boisterous nature of the supporters of Halcyon #2 and the silence from the Grand Lodge of Ohio. The blog itself has only three posts, but the most interesting of those posts is the blogger did a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) on the case and was given an exact copies of the charges filed, in it we get the perspective of the incident from the Grand Lodge of Ohio, something that has been lacking in the diatribes and internet ramblings.

This post is not meant to cast disparagement on the GOUSA, but rather to shed further light on an on going conflict, and to better understand the situation. Anonymous bomb throwing will not see the light of day, reasonable debate and disagreement will, so play nice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Didn’t Ask, But I Though I Would Tell You Anyway

Recently on another Masonic Blog the author asked a group of select individuals on how to save Mainstream American Freemasonry from Extinction, by making you Grand Master of an American Jurisdiction for 5 Years, and what would you do. This has intrigued me, and I have thought about it off and on, and want to write something about it. While I wasn’t asked to participate in that particular blog, I do have my own my blog, so why not use it?

To begin this I would say that I have been from one side of this country to the other and have visited Masonic Lodges in between, and what works in Santa Fe, New Mexico might not work in Alexandria, Virginia and for that I give your rule number one, if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it. Bottom line if a lodge is bringing in new members, having a positive impact in the community, teaching esoteric work, or whatever than there isn’t a justification or a reason to mess with the way that lodge is doing business. That being written, there would be some changes that I think could help jump start Freemasonry in the 21st century.

Offer up a choice of blue lodge types: I think that anyone that has been a Master Mason for six months knows that there are vast difference between lodges, even within a Masonic District, I would like each Masonic District to have at least three types of lodges available, Traditional Observance “like” Lodges, 20th Century Traditional Lodges, and Community Outreach Lodges. Traditional Observance “like” Lodges would have a heavy emphasis on ritual and esoteric work, would meet in dark suits or tux have table lodge once a month, and require papers written by it’s members. 20th Century Traditional Lodges, are the lodges that most people think of today, with an emphasis on fellowship (fish fry’s, pancake breakfasts, etc) is proficient at the ritual, and does small charity events. Community Outreach Lodges while meet all of the tenants of a Masonic lodge do extensive work in the local community and other Masonic charitable organizations.

I believe a key in to attracting quality candidates is giving them an option to choose which lodge meets their needs, all potential candidates who are serious about joining Freemasonry would be briefed on each lodge and encouraged to visit each type to find which Masonic journey route they would like to go. Some candidates want to join the same lodge that Father or Grandfather joined, and that’s fine, but we want to give everyone a choice in the type of lodge they would join. Far be it for me to say that only one kind of lodge is the only way to save Freemasonry.

Now living in a state like Texas and realizing that there are large rural areas that can hardly support one lodge let alone three, I refer you to rule number one, and would allow the members of that lodge to decide their best route given their membership (again, it’s about choice and the choices the brothers want to make).

Celebration of your Lodge’s Heritage: In the race to cure “Masonic World Hunger” (MWH) most have forgotten the little things that build pride and attract membership, that’s the foundation and the beginnings of your lodge. I don’t care if a lodge was founded in 1797 or 1997 it has a unique story of brotherhood and leadership that needs to be celebrated both within the walls of our temples and in the local community. That is why I would dedicate October as a month that all lodges celebrate their founding and telling the story of how they came to be, both within a tyled meeting and the community at large.

Encouragement of Younger Brothers Involvement @ Grand Lodge: A common theme that we get in our fraternity is why we aren’t attracting good men anymore, one of the factors in my mind is that Freemasonry in America has become an aging institution that isn’t putting it’s best and brightest and younger members forward, instead we rely on retired lawyers, judges, and doctors to be our face. While that brings a sense of stability, it isn’t doing much to attract men in their 20’s and 30’s. We need to celebrate our younger members, their professional achievements and have them be actively involved @ the Grand Lodge level. I am not saying that after a guy is raised slap a DDGM badge on him, but there are plenty of ways to encourage involvement at all levels, without being a Past Master, this can encourage something other than the old grey hairs we see in our local newspaper.

Community Work with Other Masonic Organizations: To help build relationships and ease tension I would work with The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Texas in a joint Community Outreach program to positively impact a community hit by disaster (hurricane, draught, etc). This would be a partnership between two non-profit organizations with one common goal, the relief of our common man. This would hopefully lead to both sides of the aging organizations to realize that they are not in competition with each other for membership and start to heal scars that were brought by the past. We have already recognized each other; why not work together in the areas that we have commonality.

These are the initiatives that I would feel would help our Fraternity, would it solve “Masonic World Hunger”? No, but giving brothers and candidates a choice in their Masonic experience is a key component, along with showcasing younger brothers and having a positive impact on the community beyond raising small amounts of money, but giving time and labor can have a lasting impression.

Just my thoughts, but as always I welcome yours.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Falling Off the Masonic Blogsphere

Your blog gets to a point, it gets to a point when you don’t have the drive to update the blog at all, it’s a lack of interest, a falling out, or a life event, for me it’s the last one.

I found out last month that I have been plucked to go to Afghanistan in April of 2009 as part of the NATO group, things have been a whirlwind since then. I am not a contractor doing this for the dollar, I am actually going to be making less over there with the tax exemptions than I do in my day job. While April is far away, it seems awful close given the training I need to complete and personal matters I need to take care of before I leave. It also has significantly shortened my cable tow, for instance I was in Fort Collins, Colorado this week there are two lodges here, one of them is the Collins #19, which meets on the third Wednesday. Normally this post would be about my visit, but not this time, my wife came with me and it just seemed more important to spend the evening with her, than to visit a lodge, I notice that this is a reoccurring theme in my life right now.

Still, I think that it is times like this that I need to keep Freemasonry closest in my heart, it’s lessons are most valuable now, then when things are going as expected, and for that I am eternally grateful. This morning after finishing my work early I read and commented on the Masonic Blogsphere, and it wasn’t like I missed a beat. People are still talking about West Virginia, why we aren’t attracting quality members, the decline of membership, etc. Still, it brings a comfort that brothers across the world are worried about such matters, and trying to take action to fix it.

So if you read this far thank you, this was a boring post, not about Prince Hall, or the York Rite, or whatever, it is a real part of my life, that has spilled over into my Masonic Travels.