Friday, December 30, 2011

Being the Bad Guy Right Before 2012 – Traditional Observance Lodges

Last post of 2011; not that I had a great plenty of them for reasons that don’t need to be repeated. I have to state again that I am starting to enjoy Freemasonry again; I am enjoying reading article after article. I enjoy learning/researching about things long gone and current events. I enjoy serving my lodge.

Now to the subject at hand, in 2008 I was a true believer of the Traditional Observance (T.O.) Lodge or European Concept Lodge, in which the men would dress appropriately, emphasis on education, research, and ritual and of course no more fish fries. Now in Texas this would fly in a couple of places (College Station for one), but they aren't allowed to be called Traditional Observance as the Grand Lodge does not recognize the practice, also some of the TO “ritual enhancement” are not part of our blue lodge degrees which are strictly controlled.

That local hurdle aside, there are lodges in the major metropolitan areas that are European Concept like, formal dress, emphasis on education and good meals. They generally meet once a quarter or once a month at most may have 20-25 members most of whom are active, sounds great doesn’t it?

Sorry, they are nothing more than Past Masters clubs, Past Masters that have taken over a charter of a dying lodge, invited their other Past Master buddies to join. They rarely rotate any of the chairs, never put on degrees and seem to be at times a glorified supper club. If a poor fool stumbles in off the street they are directed to a regular blue lodge, and if someone like myself comes around, I am directed to come back after I sit in the east.

Now as you are reading this and you are a Mason, you might be thinking “Still, that really isn’t a real T.O. lodge”. But, I disagree.

Most TO Lodges that are under dispensation are generally nothing but District Deputy Grand Masters, Past Grand Masters and Past Masters. If you go to any of them that maintain a website it’s pretty clear to see that out of the thirty members 90-95% are Past Somethings save a couple of members that are most likely Masonic legacy’s in some form or fashion. Now to a certain extent you really need these DDGMs, PMs, etc. because they have the experience and to some extent the political clout to start a brand new lodge or transform an existing one, but for them to be the majority of their membership doesn’t seem to be doing much for younger Masons.
A conversation I had with a member of a TO lodge in a jurisdiction that allows TO lodges that I was passing through had a conversation that pretty much went the following way:

Me: “So why have you started a TO Lodge?”

Good Brother: “Because we want to provide a more enriched Masonic experience and a full ritualistic experience”

Me: “How many men have been initiated, passed and raised here?”

Good Brother: “We passed one on the request of his brother (meaning relative), who is a member but none here.”

Me: “Do you plan on initiating your own? Has anyone petitioned?”

Good Brother: “No”

At this point I realized that TO Lodges may come across like the old sayings of the south in the 50s and 60s “You are welcome to visit, just don’t plan on staying”.

So how is this promoting to keep younger Masons involved in Freemasonry? Is it to motivate them to get in the line-up at their regular lodge, get in the East, sit for a year as a Past Master In-Training, so they can join a Traditional Observance Lodge? Are TO and European Concept Lodges nothing more than degree teams and supper clubs?

I am not asking these questions to be a jerk, after all my travels I just don’t know what these lodges are doing to keep younger Masons involved, younger Past Masters involved, absolutely, but a regular brother?

Before anyone claims sour grapes, realize that I am asking these questions and challenging this for the good of our beloved fraternity, not to be a dissident, spoiled sport, or jerk. Anyone who knows me personally knows that, I am asking because I think that are some huge holes in the execution this concept, and they need to be addressed, challenging it will in the end will only *hopefully* make it stronger.

I look forward to your slings and arrows. ;)

-Bro Vick

Friday, December 9, 2011

Developments in the GLoT & MWGLTPHA

Was contacted by a few folks, developments from this past Grand Lodge session for the Grand Lodge of Texas A.F.& A.M. and the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas Prince Hall:

"The Committee on Fraternal Relations recommended a delegation meet with their counterparts in the MWGLTPHA and hammer out the wording of the "compact" for both bodies to adopt. Apparently the PH GL wants it to be pretty restrictive, as in having to go through the Grand Secretary to get permission to intervisit. And they seem to be pretty adamant about not wanting to allow dual memberships."

The above is about as to the point as anything else I got, so I thought I would quote it.

As this develops I will be sure to update this blog.

-Bro Vick

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quick House Cleaning Note

On the right I put a widget that will track what I am currently interested in researching in Freemasonry, if you would like to exchange information with me, please feel free to contact me offline.

-Bro Vick