Last week in Georgia, the Grand Master, Douglas McDonald, issued an edict with the endeavor to change their adultery provision to additionally read, “Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline.”
I’m afraid there will be more of this. Brethren should consider that they have all probably been sitting in lodge with homosexuals since the day they became an EA. I strongly encourage Masons to check their state’s code and take steps to remove these provisions. I’m no gay activist, but we live in different times now, and the Supreme Court has spoken on the subject. Like it or not, such rules may subject us to lawsuits, and I humbly beseech Grand Masters not to act rashly because homosexuality conflicts with their own personal views of morality. We have had thousands of gay members since our beginnings, almost entirely without incident or without bringing disgrace upon the Craft. What someone does in the privacy of their own bedrooms is none of our business, as long as they don’t bring their politics into the lodge room.
Hodapp also reports on the Grand Lodge of Tennessee attempting to expel a Gay member.
What an utterly embarrassing day it is for Freemasonry in the state of Georgia. An angry day. We are a non-religious educational institution based on Brotherly Love for our fellow man. Tolerance is a key tenet of the organization. A man’s character is all that matters. Not his race, his personal religion, his wealth or social status. And certainly NOT his sexuality.
Yet, our deeply religious Grand Master just shoved down our throats (pun intended) an edict that bans a homosexual from becoming a Mason on the basis that it’s moral sin under God. His version of God. There was no debate, no unanimous decision. There wasn’t a statewide call for this action by the brethren. It was issued like an executive order in the very last month of his term. He opened Pandora’s Box and I certainly gave him an earful of which I’ll probably be reprimanded for or worse. But I will not sit idly by without raising my voice.
This is what scares me about these Ralph Reed-type religious far-right wingers in our country. I believe in separation of church and state. I joined this institution specifically because religion and politics (two of the most divisive subjects of mankind) are strictly prohibited from being discussed within a lodge. And with one man’s actions, now all GA Masons will be painted as backward ass bigots.
Weight and volume are very important. Two evenly measured weights on a opposite pans of a scale and you have a perfect balance, so long as your equipment is calibrated correctly. Add more weight to one pan and incrementally the scale will move towards which ever side the heavier burden is applied.
Extrapolate this idea into a larger arena where the medium that surrounds the moving weight is fluid, and with the Newtonian force of gravity, the material closest to, and bonded tightest to the weight will move with it, in effect causing an avalanche of sorts, or at least a heightened shift of position.
Perhaps you could say its an Alchemy of sorts, the transmutation from one thing into another, from one state to another. Neutral buoyancy to weight displacement. From Lead to Gold, or perhaps in this instance, from Gold to Lead.
Its quite a paradigm shift in the way things have been to the way things are to be. What I mean by that is apparently, without much fanfare, the Grand Lodge isn’t just rolling out a few changes for 2010, they are rolling out a battalion of them, for what seems to be for the purpose of improving Pennsylvania Freemasonry and the lives of its members. All said, in their introduction site, the changes are (by category):
Membership Recruitment Members May Selectively Invite Good Men to Join
Three Black Balls Are Now Required to Reject a Candidate
One Day Masonic Journey: October 30, 2010 (at 13 locations and with YR, SR, and Shrine)
All-Star Teams Will Confer District-wide Degrees
An Unlimited Number of Freemasons Can Be Made in One Day
Senior Recruitment Program
Lodges Awarded for Membership Growth and Retention
Membership “Call ‘Em All” Will Continue as “Call to the Craft”
Dues Can Now Be Paid By Credit or Debit
Lodge Notices Are To Be Distributed Electronically
Masonic Ritual Members May Learn Our Ritual From Printed Manuals That Will Be Monitored Closely And Never Used in Open Lodge
Certified Brethren Will Receive a Proficiency Award Pin
Opening and Closing of Meetings May Be Shortened
Grand Lodge Governance District Deputy Grand Masters May Now Serve 10 Years
Some Masonic Districts Will Be Eliminated and Realigned
A Masonic Congress Will Be Held in February 2010
A New Due Process for Suspensions and Expulsions
The Legal Structure of Grand Lodge Will Be Assessed
New Software Will Simplify the Lodge Audit Process
Committee on Masonic Homes Meeting Change
The Dress Code for Masonic Meetings Is Relaxed
On Image and Visibility Open Installations of All Symbolic Lodge Officers
Electronic Guide Will Provide Tours of the Masonic Temple
Masonic Villages Adopt-A-Resident Program
Lodges Will Conduct Monthly Community Service
Members Will Commit A Weekly Random Act of Kindness
Members Will Support Our Military Through “HELP FOR OUR HEROES”
Lodges Will Raise Funds to Support Our Masonic Villages
Masonic Youth Initiatives Will Be Supported By Lodges
On the page from the PA GL, they provide a brief explanation of what each change represents, and the hole that it seeks to fill, and while I am having a hard time understanding (agreeing?) with some of them, I have to say that the approach is an inventive and bold addition of weight to a scale that has long been un-moved by any form of change.
But, this change isn’t without its detractors, and a website has already been published to argue the counter point to the Grand Masters plan, billed as Pennsylvania Masonic Restoration. While I respect the civil dissent, I have to say that the call to arms may be premature given the nature of the changes the Grand Lodge is trying to implement.
On the 21 Century Renaissance site, it is easy to see the large one day class as BIG CONCERN to an otherwise interesting program and a potential affront to what has traditionally been Masonry the way its “always” been, which is clearly not the case. Not that one day classes have ever been the norm, the process of Masonry today is an evolved process that had a beginning that came from something else. It evolved, and this one day mass raising is another step in that evolution for better or worse. And, I’ll be open here, I have my own misgivings as to the intention of the one day class process, but taken in parcel with the other items, it becomes an easier bitter pill to swallow.
Some of what I do like in the program:
Three Black Balls Are Now Required to Reject a Candidate:
This is a good way to break a singular majority in a solitary vote. Harmony in the lodge still needs to be met, but giving live or die power to one brother may be to much power in one place.
Dues Can Now Be Paid By Credit or Debit:
This is a fantastic change that really brings things into he 21st Century.
Lodge Notices Are To Be Distributed Electronically:
Another great system/operations update.
A Masonic Congress Will Be Held in February 2010:
This is a great idea and something FmI and Time Bryce have advocated to see for some time. Perhaps this will lead up to something National.
Lodges Will Conduct Monthly Community Service:
This is a Great program, and my guess is that it will be another hard pill to get down. Not that there isn’t a level of charity within the membership, but to be told to do is it quite different than doing it out of will and love. an interesting idea, however, is the opportunity it gives to lodges to explore what that charity looks like, from donating lodge rooms to Boy Scout Troops, hosting voter polling locations, or any other creative measure to give back to the communities from which the membership comes from.
Members Will Commit A Weekly Random Act of Kindness:
This one escapes me, but I like the idea of it. It has a definite Pay It Forward appeal to it.
Personally, I have some concerns for these items, but I’m sure they are being implemented with the utmost caution.
Members May Selectively Invite Good Men to Join.
One Day Masonic Journey: October 30, 2010.
An Unlimited Number of Freemasons Can Be Made in One Day.
Senior Recruitment Program.
All of these are cause for some alarm, but as I mentioned, to enter into the 21st Century Renaissance, we enter into a period of change, just as Europe did in the post Medieval Renaissance.
Members May Learn Our Ritual From Printed Manuals:
This one concerns me too, in that it would be the first state (to my knowledge) to openly WRITE what had here-to-fore only been given in written cipher. Despite the warnings and admonitions, the content will be copied and distributed no matter the level of governance and audit processes. And if not lost in the original content, photocopiers and scanners are very easy to make use of these days (though I do have some security ideas for how to safeguard the material).
All in all, I say lets see what these changes have in store for 2010. The concerns being what they are, the changes do seem to have the over arching growth and good will of the fraternity in mind.
At first blush, the 21st Century Renaissance seems to be mind blowingly radical, but really, the alchemy is in putting into play the ideas of best practice to bring its large membership in the modern age. Hopefully the ambitious shift of their weight shift will be a good one and something others will adapt too and continue the Renaissance of the 21st Mason.
This week, I was lucky enough to attend the South Dakota Grand Lodge session in Sioux Falls. I say that I was lucky because I got to see a lot of fantastic Brothers that I had not seen in a while and meet Brother Chris Hodapp, the author of Freemasons for Dummies.
Nothing terribly exciting happened during the course of the weekend. The items that we voted on were extremely mundane, but the recurring theme of the weekend seemed to be: How do we make Freemasonry the prominent and relevant organization it once was?
I watched Brothers laugh at the idea that Freemasonry was irrelevant. I watched some agree with my comments during conversations that we are in fact unimportant in society. I also watched Brother Hodapp give an excellent oration urging Freemasons to “think big.” However, this subject was never really tackled throughout the weekend. Perhaps the task of making Masonry relevant and exciting is too daunting or perhaps we are afraid to look at our reflections in the mirror. Little did I realize what was on the immediate horizon for Masonry.
Brother Hodapp made it a point to tell me that he found it humorous when my petition for membership in the South Dakota lodge of research was met with a loud clap of thunder—I found it rather funny myself. But it appears that the clap of thunder that was heard was not just a summer storm in eastern South Dakota. It appears that it was the initial rumblings of a bigger storm brewing in Freemasonry. A storm building up over the state of Georgia.
By now, you have probably read about the events occurring in the Peach State. If not, you can read them here. It was interesting to me that the issue that can make Masonry relevant was conveniently waiting for me in my email inbox when I got home. Freemasonry can become the prestigious organization that it once was by taking a stand on this issue. Every Grand Lodge should immediately remove recognition from Georgia and begin a crusade against all forms of bigotry and racism in Freemasonry. Any Grand Lodge or lodge that would not accept a non-white man or a non-Christian because of the color of the skin or the name of the God they worship must be removed from the fraternity. Prince Hall recognition must be made universal. This is every Mason’s cross to bear.
If we turn a blind eye to this issue, then we can no longer claim that we believe in tolerance or equality, we can no longer claim that we labor for the betterment of man, we can no longer claim that we are a beacon of morality in an immoral world. If we ignore these charges that clearly and specifically state that there are racists in Freemasonry and they are operating the fraternity as a segregated institution in the year 2009, then we are nothing but hypocrites.
There is one right side to this issue. There is no argument about what should happen in this situation. The Grand Lodge of Georgia must throw the charges out immediately. For those of you who say “They have to follow protocol” then they should be filing charges of unMasonic conduct against the Brothers that are calling for a Masonic trial. The doors need to be thrown open. Those that don’t believe men of a different skin color can be made Masons and those that prefer to refer to black men in lodge as n*****s must be thrown out. Its time to clean house, it is time to stand up for what is right. This shouldn’t just happen in Georgia either. It should happen from the east to the west, from the north to the south. Let us make our terms clear and write them in big, clear letters on a white sign: RACISTS AND BIGOTS OUT OF MASONRY.
Forget the loopholes, throw out what any fabricated lists of Landmarks say about interfering in other Grand Lodges, ignore any stupid codes or regulations. Do what is ethical, labor for what is just, fight for what is right.
This is our fight. This is our time. This is our chance to make Masonry relevant.
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Chris joined us on Masonic Central to talk about Freemasonry, his work as an author. In the episode, Chris noted that he didn’t come from a long line of masons, instead coming to the fraternity after attending a masonic funeral. Initiated through a one-day class, Chris swiftly joined the ranks of the fraternity climbing out of necessity into lodge leadership and into a stratospheric career in the craft.
In our conversation we dig into the success (and failures) of one-day classes and what they meant to the fraternity at the time. His story, much like the man himself, is a dynamic one.
Chris Hodapp has been a tireless soldier for the fraternity in print, as well as in his blog Freemasons for Dummies, and in lodge as one of the founders of the one of the early Traditional Observance Lodges, Lodge Vitruvian. Back then, Chris also took up the mantle of the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Masonic Society the flagship publication of the, then new, Masonic Society. Chris has made great strides in making Freemasonry accessible to an increasingly curious public.
One area we dig into is his work with the Knights of the North and their answers to Dwight Smith’s questions on the future of the fraternity: Laudable Pursuit: A 21st Century Response to Dwight Smith. That work sought to provide answers to many of the challenges facing Freemasonry in 2008 the effects of which we see in the fraternity today.
Some of the points we hit in this conversation include:
Which members are being lost (hint, hint, it’s demits and NPDs)
Origin of the Freemasons for Dummies book
The Dan Brown conspiracy craze (before Q-Anon, of course)
and, the founding of the Masonic Society
Chris was a great guest and this was a fun show to host and go back and listen to. You can find more from Chris on his website: Freemasons for Dummies blog.
Masonic works by Chris Hodapp:
Solomon’s Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C.
Heritage Endures: Perspectives on 200 Years Of Indiana Freemasonry
Deciphering the Lost Symbol: Freemasons, Myths and the Mysteries of Washington, D.C.
The Templar Code For Dummies
Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies