Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just One Black Ball...

This week is when the Grand Lodge of Texas meets for our Annual Communication. Since the majority of people that read this blog aren't Freemasons, here is a quick summary. The Grand Lodge meets once a year to vote on proposed resolutions, to elect a brother to south to eventual become Grand Master and get a state of the union of Freemasonry in Texas. To vote on the resolutions one has to be a Worshipful Master, Warden or a Past Master. Texas holds our annual meeting the first week of December. My plan was to attend this year but was overcome by family obligations, unfortunately. Every once in a while a Grand Master introduces legislation to be considered by the voting members for consideration. This year the MW T.E. "Gene" Carnes puts forth the following recommendation:

"Rescind the Three Blackball Rule by amending Art. 1. 352, 389, 418, 420, 421425, 428, and 429. Purpose to enhance the selection of qualified candidates. The recommendation will effect reinstatements in a Lodge or the petition to affiliate with a Lodge. One blackball or protest will stop actions on joining the Lodge."

Currently if a man petitions a Texas lodge it takes three black balls for that man not be elected to receive the degrees of Freemasonry. The above amendment would make it so one ball would exclude a man from joining a lodge, a brother who wishes to be reinstated to be denied, or a brother wanting to affiliate with another blue lodge. The argument for this is that this will help ensure that the highest quality of men will be allowed through the West Gate.

Now, I think it's been pretty well documented on this blog and by those that know me that I am a Past Nothing (PN), and don't have a vote on this issue, but it does bring up some concerns. Anyone that has any long term and heavy involvement in our fraternity knows that pettiness seems to be a far to often occurrence. While the teachings of Freemasonry teach tolerance and forgiveness, sometimes men push that aside in attempt to secure their own power or personal grievances (shocking, I kn0w). My fear is that the "one black ball" could encourage this type of petty behavior.

MW Carnes is right that we must be diligent in the men that we bring into this fraternity, and that we must ensure that they will reflect well upon Freemasonry in their respected community. But a man that isn't right for Freemasonry or vice versa should be vetted in the investigation phase and a brother that feels strongly about that a man receiving the degrees would bring this up during discussions of voting, not sitting in the shadows knowing that he can deny a man the right, lights and benefits of Freemasonry, because of an inconsequential matter.

I have no idea how well received this recommendation is with the brothers, it seems from various conversations it's about 50/50 and will most likely be a close vote, I just hope it's not a short sighted attempt to fix a problem that seems sporadic at best.


-Bro Vick


Luke says Moo! said...

I just learned something new about Masonic jurisprudence. In Indiana the law is one black ball and the whole process stops. It's even in one of our lectures that the vote to bring in a candidate is unanimous for election to the degrees. (There are rules reflecting re-affiliation and becoming a plural member that allows a Master to determine if a "cloudy" vote should be retaken.)

Chris said...

I am the WM of Goliath Lodge #5595 UGLE. Our bye-laws require two blackballs to exclude a candidate. However, I wasn't immediately aware of this (my fault--I raise my hand and take responsibility).

In October we had two candidates for initiation. The ballot box was passed around, and when it got to me, there was one ball in the "No" box. Our Visiting Officer was sitting next to me, and interrupted as I was showing the "No" box with my hand on the ball, to say that we couldn't do that. Luckily the Secretary was on the "ball", so to speak, and cited the bye-laws and the VO apologised to me and the two men became Brethren within the hour.

I would hesitate to comment on the laws of another Masonic jurisdiction. But it seems odd that a rule that has worked well in the past is being tinkered with; the suspicion that there is some ulterior motive behind this cannot be ruled out.

W.Bro. Chris Hansen, WM
Goliath Lodge #5595, UGLE
but speaking for himself alone.

Mike said...

We had several resolutions this year that seemed to be 'a step backwards'. Waiting to hear how the Grand Lodge voted on the resolutions and recommendations.

Mike Sanders
Round Rock #227