For the institution that proclaims no man speaks for Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of Georgia (some 40,000 members strong) took a stand and made just such a proclamation. Their pronouncement, voted upon at a Grand Lodge session, was to proclaim that neither gay men not fornicators (people who have consensual sex out of wedlock) should be allowed admission to the fraternal institution.
The ironic thing is that it seems to be based on the application of an interpretation of the “Moral Law“ which is a theme grasped closely by many who agree with this decision.
The original edict, in a document signed by the Grand Master of Georgia, states (under GEORGIA) Masonic Code 77-108 that:
Masonic Code Section 77-108 shall be hereby amended to add that: Homosexual activity with anyone is prohibited conduct subjecting the offender to Masonic discipline, so that Masonic Code Section 77-108 shall hereafter read as follows:
2015 Masonic Code Section 77-108, Adultery or Fornication
Adultery or fornication with anyone subjects the offender to discipline, but where the women in question is known by the offender to be the wife, widow, mother, daughter, or sister of a Master Mason, there is the added guilt of the breach of a Masonic obligation, and the want of chastity on her part does not excuse the offender. Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline. SO ORDERED and given under my hand and seal as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia and under the seal of the said Grand Lodge, this 9th Day of September, 2015.
Douglas W. McDonald Grand Master
Joseph W. Watson, Grand Secretary
Their entry in the October edition of the Georgia Masonic Messenger (the original link since removed, but viewable here: Masonic Messenger 10 2015 ), the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Georgia (on page 3) reads:
Masonic Code Section 71-102.1 authorizes the Grand Master to issue an Edict which would apply to a significant question or issue which may be enacted as Masonic Law by the Grand Lodge. Resting upon that authority, Edict 2015-1 was issued on September 8 declaring that a Freemason is obliged to obey the moral law and Almighty God, the Grand Architect of the Universe, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that basic moral laws are not man-made Edicts or Decrees, but spring from the eternal justice and wisdom of Almighty God; Freemasons must constantly strive to keep their integrity intact, for it is our integrity that holds our way of life together, and when integrity is lost, all is lost; that good moral character is a pre-requisite for admission into Freemasonry and a strict observance of the moral law is essential for advancement and retention of good standing within the Fraternity; and the importance of the moral law as a fundamental principle of Freemasonry is exemplified by the fact that any act by one of its members involving a violation of the moral law is a Masonic offense, subjecting the offender to discipline; and that homosexuality is contrary to the moral law. The Edict concluded, Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline.” Let us not forget that Webster’s Dictionary defines “irreligious libertine”* as a person who shows a lack of religion and is morally or sexually unrestrained.
This seems to be heavily influenced by a religious rhetoric.
The argument to the text above is that it was specifically written for Georgia Freemasons and not the broader landscape of Freemasonry in other states or countries.
So, theoretically, it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) apply to anyone other than those with the misfortune of living in the state of Georgia. Yet, to make such an edict on what they see as moral or immoral activity casts a VERY long shadow on an institution that prides itself in claiming it “good men better” or spreading the light of brotherly love in an otherwise darkened world. Is this really an issue of violating some invisible or philosophically plastic moral law? Or is it a means to apply a quasi-religious edict onto a subject that was just recently accepted as the law of the land? Is that an allowable stance for an organization to make, especially when it espouses a zero tolerance for religious and political dialog? Or, is it just another form of discrimination meant to foster a “them versus us” issue as a futile attempt to stand head and shoulders in the ranks of society.
The issue of fornication is equally puzzling given we exist in a modern age where civil society has most of the morality laws under control. With that said, its apparently not enough. Whatever the reason, it’s wrong; it’s stupid and blight on anyone or anything associated with the fraternity. Who are they to put into word and rule their disdain for the personal lives of its immediate members and the broader member community around the world to exert defacto judgment on what they do and who with?
Georgia Masonry should be called to reconcile this and be put out of the fold. To NOT disown them is to say that this act of moral social engineering is acceptable and that Freemasonry, as a body, has lost its way.
*Consequently, irreligious libertine, isn’t in the on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
BRYCE ON LIFE – It is not a frivolous gesture, but represents something significant; your word.
If you haven’t noticed, the handshake has been slowly going the way of the Dodo bird. If you watch sporting events, particularly at the youth level, you are more likely to see fist “bumps” or the slapping of hands as opposed to a genuine handshake. These variations of the handshake likely came from pop culture.
The handshake originated from Medieval times when combatants would greet each other with open hands, thereby indicating they were not holding any weapons and could be trusted. Over the years it has evolved into a single hand as opposed to both. With this background in mind, I always believed in giving a firm handshake and look the other person square in the eye. I am not a fan of limp-wrested handshakes, nor do I like a vice-grip shake denoting a contest of some kind. “Glad-handers” are those who work the room saying hello to everyone but not making eye contact; politicians are notorious for this.
When my son came of age, I taught him how to shake hands and greet someone. I believe he still offers a good handshake. These are things fathers need to pass on to their sons, and daughters as well.
The handshake used to mean something meaningful, specifically, your word. For years, a handshake was as good as a contract. Evidently, not so anymore. I have a friend who recently wanted to sell his Les Paul guitar. He went down to the local music store and negotiated a deal with the proprietor to sell it for him. Once they came to an arrangement, they shook on it. This surprised the proprietor who asked my friend, “Don’t you want a contract?”
My friend responded, “Do we understand each other about the terms?”
“Yes,” the owner replied.
“Is your word your bond?” my friend asked.
“Then we have a deal don’t we?”
The proprietor was taken aback and commented to my friend how this seemed unusual to him. Refreshing, but unusual. He claimed most of the young musicians frequenting his shop wanted some form of contract, and didn’t comprehend the concept of a handshake. I’m not sure why this is, I can only suspect the influence of lawyers. However, if you do not trust the person you are going to do business with, then it will not matter whether it is a written contract or a handshake. In my friend’s case, which wasn’t exactly a major business transaction, it worked out to be a mutually agreeable arrangement.
Back in the mid-1970’s, when we first started doing business in Japan, a delegation from Tokyo approached us to serve as our representatives. We found the Japanese to be tough negotiators, but after we came to consensus, a handshake was all that was necessary to seal the deal. We, of course, signed an agreement later spelling out the terms, but this was nothing more than a formality. Over the many years we did business in Japan, not once did we ever refer back to the paper agreement, just the handshake.
The declining value of the handshake represents another indication of the erosion of our morality. It means we no longer trust each other and are suspicious of the other person’s intentions. Some people will shake, slap, or bump anyone. Not me. If I do not trust you, I certainly will not shake your hand, just as the Medieval combatants wouldn’t. To me, I place a lot of value in the handshake. I would hate to believe that people today think of it as nothing more than a frivolous gesture or as a means to transmit germs.
Keep the Faith!
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Fred Milliken is a man who needs little introduction, least wise to anyone who has had an ear to hear the heartbeat of Masonry for more than the last 15 years. With a finger, hand, foot and toe in just about every corner of the digital space, Fred either knows what’s going on or someone who does. Never afraid of tackling the wrongs in the craft, some might say that Brother Fred Milliken is Quixote-esque in his championing of what many see to be the status quo of an immovable force. But unlike Quixote, Fred see’s the challenges before him as opportunities to inspire and inform others rather than tilting insistly at allegoriphical windmills. If one thing can be said, Fred is unafraid of Change. To the contrary, he embraces it as easily as a man takes in a breath of air. If ever there was a valiant knight in shining armor who took on every dragon beset before him, Fred would be that knight. In every instance from which I’ve had the vantage of seeing the results of his work, Fred Milliken has demonstrated that he is the epitome of a just and upright Mason. A brother to me, I find his story fascinating. I think you will too.
Greg Stewart (GS)You’ve been in Masonry for some time; what has your Masonic journey been?
Fred Milliken (FM) Well it really starts with joining DeMolay in Lexington, Massachusetts on an invitation from my lifelong friend. Here I got to see the world of Freemasonry through the eyes of Dad Advisers and through meeting at a Masonic Temple.
I entered the line and became a Master Councilor. One of the really interesting events that my DeMoaly Chapter participated in was the state ritual competition when I was Senior Councilor. Pitted against many other Chapters from all over we made the first cut, the second cut, the third cut, the fourth cut and in the runoff won the coveted state prize of DeMoaly ritual champions for the state of Massachusetts. Those skills I learned were pivotal to my success as a Master in Freemasonry. I learned how to speak before a crowd, how to memorize ritual and how to organize a Lodge.
Much later (30 years later) when I was working in Plymouth, MA, I asked to join Plymouth Lodge. I was appointed to office and went up the line. When I became Master I had five Past Master Councilors and five Past Masters from Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington install me and my officers. As Master, I invited the DeMolay Chapter from Brockton, MA, to perform the DeMolay Degree for us.
It wasn’t long before I joined Paul Revere Lodge in the city in which I lived. Paul Revere was in another Masonic District. I can remember doing the First Degree Master’s ritual on a Monday night for Plymouth Lodge and the next night, Tuesday, doing the Senior Deacon’s Middle Chamber lecture for Paul Revere Lodge. One of the first things I did upon joining Paul Revere Lodge was to become a member of the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team which performed the Third Degree in Colonial costume attaching a patriotic message at the end of the degree. All of us were required to also adopt the name of a Revolutionary War Mason. When I joined the team all the really famous names were already taken so I researched my own name. After doing some research at Grand Lodge I chose Brother William Munroe from my home town of Lexington, Massachusetts. Lexington was the birthplace of the American Revolution when on April 19, 1775 Paul Revere rode into town hollering, “The British are coming, the British are coming.” There to meet him in the early morning hours was Captain Brother William Munroe of the Lexington Minute Men who was on an all night vigil on the Lexington Common. Years later William Munroe would become the first Master of Lexington’s first Lodge and he would journey to Grand Lodge to get his charter from Grand Master…Paul Revere.
The Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team traveled … everywhere. And we were always well received.
As Master of Plymouth Lodge I brought the Colonial Degree Team to Plymouth Lodge where we performed before five different Masters and three District Deputies, one delegation being from Rhode Island. I had to hire a police officer to control the traffic, parking and the crowd.
In due time I became Master of Paul Revere Lodge and one of the first things I did was to take the Colonial Degree Team to Simon W. Robinson Lodge in Lexington. It wasn’t just a performance of the Degree Team, however. It was also the first Tri Table Lodge in the state. Three Lodges got together with permission from the Grand Master to perform a Table Lodge together. So there were three Junior Wardens in the South, three Senior Wardens in the West and three Masters in the East. We started at 4:00 PM with the degree and finished the Table Lodge at 11:00 PM on a Saturday.
But our biggest trip was one which I started working on as Master and didn’t bring to fruition until I had stepped down from the East. And that was the Paul Revere Colonial Degree Team’s longest and farthest performance to Monroe Lodge in Bloomington, Indiana. On a Friday afternoon we flew 18 Colonial Degree Team members into Indianapolis where we were met by a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana in a small bus and transported to Bloomington. After a stop at the Shrine Club for a steak dinner and welcome we were transported to the state DeMolay Chalet for billeting. The next morning we were picked up and transported to the Lodge for Breakfast followed by a bus tour of Bloomington. We performed the Degree Saturday night raising one Brother to the sublime degree of Master Mason and flew back to Boston Sunday afternoon.
Now there is a lot more to tell…but there are other questions waiting to be answered.
GS – That’s an incredible early journey, I have to ask does the Masonry you do today match what your ideal of it was before you joined?
FM – Yes and no. It does in my own personal Lodge and Grand Lodge because I have chosen them because they do match that ideal. But in other jurisdictions across the U.S.A. it clearly does not. Today many Grand Lodges are out of control and overstepping their bounds at every turn.
GS – At some point in your Masonic career, you demitted from your, then, ‘regular’ grand lodge to join a Prince Hall system. What motivated you to move over?
FM – When I moved to Texas from Massachusetts I naturally transferred from the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to the Mainstream Grand Lodge of Texas. After joining a Lodge near my house I stated to travel. I love traveling as a Mason, meeting new Brothers and sharing ideas and thoughts. About the third Lodge I visited demonstrated to me a problem in Texas Mainstream Masonry which has been reported to me many times over by Brothers in other Southern jurisdictions. After the meeting we all gathered in the dining room for some fellowship with coffee and cookies. I was having a discussion with a group of Brothers around a large table when one Brother piped up,
Do you know what the difference between Masonry down here in Texas and up where you come from is?
I took the bait and said no.
We don’t allow no niggers in Lodge down here.
Now this wasn’t out in the boondocks somewhere. This was in an affluent suburb of Dallas.
Later, a friend of mine who I had corresponded with on one of the Masonic forums was getting raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. So I trekked the 40 miles to his small town to help in his raising.
About three months later he got in touch with me all upset.
They are making racial jokes in an open tyled Lodge. I don’t know what to do. I cannot condone this outrage, yet some of these Brothers are my bosses at work, some are in my church and others are leaders in the community. If I make a big stink my life will be hell.
So I told him, keep your mouth shut and stop attending Lodge, if you want. I’ll make the big stink for you.
I wrote to the Grand Lodge of Texas and explained the situation without mentioning names or location, asking them if they would please get back to me with some plan of action to curb this abuse. No reply came.
At the time I was the feature writer on [Stephen] Dafoe’s Masonic Magazine and I wanted to publish the story there. Dafoe said that absolutely no names or locations could be used because of possible legal retaliation, but otherwise the story was a go. So the story went out.
Now somehow, who the article was directed at leaked out – but as it was just a floating rumor and could not be directly placed in our court. Finally a Brother from England wrote the Grand Lodge of Texas and demanded an answer and posted his question and answer he received publicly. Here was the response of a Grand Lodge officer who must, even to this day, remain nameless.
The respected and well known Grand Officer of the Grand Lodge of Texas said, and I paraphrase his remarks
Masons are all about toleration. We as Brothers have learned to tolerate different lifestyles, religions, political affiliations etc. Racism is just another point of view. As Masons we are obligated to tolerate this view even though we may not accept it. That’s what we are all about as Freemasons.
And that is when I demitted from my Texas Mainstream Lodge and applied to Prince Hall. Now you know the rest of the story.
GS – That’s a terrible story, with a conclusion that still seems to be playing out in slow-motion today. But I’m curious, why Prince Hall and not a Co-Masonic Lodge? Were you willing to leave Masonry all together if Prince Hall didn’t offer you up a home?
FM –I chose Prince Hall because even while in Mainstream Masonry I was outspoken for the admittance of African Americans to all American Grand Lodges. And that was what the quarrel with the Grand Lodge of Texas was all about, its treatment of African Americans. So, I thought, what better place to continue the fight than right there with many of them.
If Prince Hall didn’t take me, then I could maintain my Massachusetts affiliation and practice Freemasonry on the Internet only.
GS – Thus far, what’s your experience been like with Prince Hall Masonry? Do you find many differences or more similarities?
FM – The Freemasonry is remarkably similar. The Texas Prince Hall ritual is almost exactly the same as the Massachusetts Mainstream ritual with one word here or there changed and additional ritual added. One would not feel uncomfortable at all, ritual wise, coming into a Prince Hall Lodge from a Mainstream Lodge for the first time.
Style wise you will notice a difference. Prince Hall Freemasonry tends to be a little more religious. Christian Prince Hall Masons are vocal about Christianity and about politics. But don’t be fooled, all views and all religions are readily admitted and none are disparaged. You have to remember the history of African Americans. Back 200-250 years ago Blacks, free or slave, were not allowed to congregate except maybe in New England. There were no Black picnics or BBQs, no club meetings, no horse races and no Black Grange nor sports events. The one exception was the Black church. Here African Americans were permitted to congregate without interference. So to the church came the politicians, Freemasonry and meetings and social events of every kind. Everything operated out of the church because that is the only place Whites were comfortable letting blacks assemble.
Consequently African Americans did not, until recently, recognize a sharp division between church and state. Hence many aspects of Black society intermingled in the same venue producing a giant mixing bowl that seemed to bring all aspects of society together into one big recipe rather than to have separate distinctions.
Thus, until recently, almost every Prince Hall Freemason came out of the church. That is, he was a church member recommended by a Brother. That’s where everything emanated – from the church. African Americans do not hesitate then, when 100% of a Lodge is Christian, to express that Christianity. Who would object? The vast diversity you find in Mainstream Masonry is not prevalent in Prince Hall. But times are changing and that is not so true anymore.
GS – How So? How is it not so true anymore, from your observation?
FM – Well, when I came into Prince Hall Texas in 2006 I was one of a few White men visible in the Fraternity. Today I see many, many more Caucasians. I saw almost no Hispanics in 2006. Today I see a small cadre of Latinos. Same with Asians.
Prince Hall has traditionally been mostly Christian, Protestant and heavily Baptist and AME. Today I can point to a number of Muslims, some Catholics and some spiritual men with no organized religious affiliation.
The other big distinction that I see is that Prince Hall Freemasons meet with their female counterparts. The Heroines of Jericho (HOJ) and the Order of the Eastern Star (OES) meet in Grand Session in the same building and at the same time that Blue Lodge holds its Grand Sessions. The women are included in many local Lodge social and charitable undertakings. Both sexes within the Prince Hall Family work very closely together.
GS – So then, what bodies do you still carry dues cards for?
FM – In Texas PHA, I carry dues cards for all the York Rite Bodies and Blue Lodge. When I was in Massachusetts I was a member of the Scottish Rite and briefly a Shriner. I have not continued these affiliations in Texas because I do not have the time to belong to everything.
GS – So, let’s flash forward to more recent times. You were the appointed director of Phoenix Masonry, the on-line archive of Masonic texts, artifacts, and materials. Where do you see Phoenix Masonry going in 2014 and beyond? Any big plans you can share?
FM – Phoenixmasonry started as a website only, and one that featured mainly the old Masters of literature in the library and Masonic antiques in the museum. Even before I signed on as Executive Director, President, and curator, David Lettelier was posting my articles. The 21st century article section kept expanding after I signed on. Some “newer” books were added. Upon becoming Executive Director I turned Phoenixmasonry on to Social Media.
First it was a Facebook Page, then Twitter and lastly Rebel Mouse. After that I opened a Prince Hall Section to the website. The first thing posted in this new section was the six part YouTube video series of the William H. Upton Unity March & Memorial Dedication conducted by The Grand Lodge of F. & A. M. of Washington State and The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington State. What a great story. If you don’t know it William Upton, Grand Master of Mainstream Masonry in the Grand Lodge of Washington State recognized Prince Hall in 1898. After he stepped down the next Grand Master rescinded the recognition. In his will PGM Upton demanded that no marker be placed on his grave until the two Grand Lodges once again recognized each other and coexisted in peace and harmony. Well it took until 1990 for that recognition to occur. And in 1991 both Grand Lodges met at the cemetery and in a special ceremony installed a headstone on the grave of PM William Upton. The videos show this ceremony.
The years went by, and as we came closer to the present the Museum was transported to Utah and set up in its own special housing. David stepped down from the Presidency portending a gradual turning over of the reins to youth. And that is what the future portends. David and I will gradually fade into the background and new fresh, young blood will take over management. Where they take Phoenixmasonry remains to be seen but it will always be a place of universal Freemasonry.
GS – For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve always had your ear to the Masonic web, how did that happen? Do you have any favorite haunts on the web that you still frequent?
FM – It all started with surfing the web in the late 90s. I came upon a Masonic E-forum called Masonic Light run by Jeff Naylor out of Indiana. Chris Hodapp was one its early members. I became a regular poster and when that kind of petered out I moved over to The LodgeRoom.com run by Stephen Dafoe who was also a regular on Masonic Light.
Over time I became one of the Moderators of the [Lodge Room] site. Theron Dunn and I used to have an ongoing head to head debate. I was the first interviewee on Dafoe’s Radio Free Mason in March of 2005, something I would repeat on Masonic Central a few years later.
I joined the Knights of the North but after about a year left charging that they were all talk and no action. When Stephen Dafoe pulled out of the Lodge Room forum, his moderators took over and renamed it The Three Pillars. I bowed out from that responsibility and stuck around for awhile but ultimately the position of the site [became one] that one could not criticize a Grand Lodge no matter what it did or did not do, leading to a parting of the ways. I switched over to MasterMason.com and became a moderator but ultimately the same problem cropped up and I faded away to use my talents elsewhere.
I formed my own Masonic Blog the Beehive and merged that with Freemason Information upon invitation by Greg Stewart.
I pretty much stick to Freemason Information, MyFreemasonry and Phoenixmasonry as well as The Phylaxis Society where I am a Fellow. Facebook is now a primary Masonic Source. I don’t need to haunt any locations because people are sending me stuff all the time.
GS – So where does eMasonry stand today? Do you have any observations or insight on the pulse of the eMasonic world?
FM – Masonic blogs, forums and Yahoo groups are out. That is, they are passing out of existence.
Outstanding Masonic websites still have a following, such as Freemason Information, MyFreemasonry and Phoenixmasonry. Freemasonry on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are in. It’s an ever evolving change in tastes. Tomorrow it will be something different perhaps in an entirely different form.
GS – Switching gears here, I know that the subject or Prince Hall and mainstream recognition is very close to you. Given your position as having been in both denominations of Masonry, do you still see them as two branches of the same family tree or do you think the two have grown and evolved into their own separate entities?
FM – Both mainstream and Prince Hall practice the same Freemasonry. In this aspect they are two parts of the same tree.
But, at the same time, they are their own separate entities.
Traditions, ways of doing things, Masonic government, and the Masonic approach to society have evolved over the years into just two different ways of doing the same thing. Those on the Mainstream side that call for Prince Hall to merge into Mainstream are too late. They should have welcomed Prince Hall into their ranks when over and over again Prince Hall requested such a merger 200 or more years ago. The two now have grown apart as any society would do after more than 200 years of separation.
They are like two Christian denominations that split apart and went their separate ways. After more than 200 years apart, forcing them back together would be a big mistake.
But they can and will, when allowed, exist side by side in peaceful coexistence. And they have since the first recognition to stick permanently was accomplished in 1989.
GS – You mention the recognition that happened in 1989. Which was that?
FM – 1989 is an important date in the Prince Hall Community. It was the first lasting recognition of Prince Hall Freemasonry that stuck – and stayed – by the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.
There were other recognitions in years past that were short lived and did not last. Today 42 states recognize Prince Hall. Look how far we have come since 1989. I am proud to have taken a teeny weenie part in all that. (You can see a up-to-date list of Prince Hall Masonry Recognition on Paul Bessel’s website)
GS – With that in mind, is recognition still an issue? Was it really ever?
FM – No recognition is no longer an issue as has been proven by 25 years of peaceful coexistence in all but a few states. That Mainstream and Prince Hall Freemasonry can exist side by side in the same state without incident cannot be challenged. The brotherly love and peace & harmony among regular Masons is now an American reality.
Those 9 states that are left who refuse to recognize Prince Hall no longer practice regular Freemasonry. The race issues aside, look at the Grand Lodge of Florida’s attempt at excluding non Christians. No Prince Hall Grand Lodge, no matter how vocal it’s Christian expression, would ever do that. This separation that exists in these 9 states is no longer a recognition issue. It is now an issue over the corruption of Freemasonry into something it was never intended to be. Those 9 Mainstream states no longer practice Freemasonry.
GS – Elaborate on that. What is it you think they practice?
FM – It’s not just the refusal to recognize Prince Hall, although that plays a part. It is also the refusal to admit African Americans. I remember vividly the battle with Victor Marshall and Gate City Lodge No 2 in Atlanta with the Georgia Grand Lodge who were ready to expel a Black man who “accidentally got raised” to be a Georgia Mainstream Master Mason. It was then we learned that the Georgia Constitution had a bylaw that prohibited non Whites. Freemason Information was in the forefront of that push back. We all have testimony that when Black Mainstream Master Masons from New York visited Florida that Masters refused to open Lodge and instead held Masonic educational sessions until said Black Masons left.
It is also the refusal to admit non Christians. Such thinking, long held quietly in the breast of local Masons who black-balled every non Christian who applied, became widely exposed when the Grand Lodge of Florida expelled Corey Bryson and Duke Bass for non Christian religious beliefs. Freemason Information was right there in the midst of this fight reporting all the details.
And the third big damning characteristic of these infamous 9 Grand Lodges is their refusal to follow Masonic convention or even their own Constitutions. The Grand Masters have taken over their Grand Lodges with total totalitarian rule. They expel Masons without a trial and close down Lodges without a reason or explanation. THEY GOVERN WITH FEAR.
In civil society when democracies rig elections and ignore the rule of law, they become Banana Republics, democracies in name only. When these 9 Grand Lodges govern their Grand Lodges in the manner described above, they become rogue Grand Lodges, Freemasonry in name only.
Not only do they give the rest of us in the Masonic community who live by the book a bad name, but they exist only because we have no national Masonic identity, no set of rules that would apply to all Grand Lodges in the United States.
GS – Why do you think the 42 other states still recognize them?
FM – The rest of the 42 states recognize them because of the tradition of standing together and not interfering in another Grand Lodge’s business and because, like politicians, they know if they stand by the indiscretions of their Party members, all the other members will stand by them when they step off the reservation. The problem with this is there is no check on the abuse of power in Freemasonry. In civil society we have The Constitution and the Supreme Court. What do we have in American Freemasonry?
GS – Wouldn’t that be taking it a bit to far? Is it, after all, an “at will” association meaning that we choose to be in and a part of it Given that it’s not a part of our day to day lives, like government, do you think most members are THAT actively engaged as to want to contribute like that?
FM – There must be SOMETHING to hold American Grand Masters responsible and accountable to acceptable Masonic practices. Otherwise Freemasonry in the United States is whatever a Grand Master and a Grand Lodge says it is, and you end up with 51 versions of Freemasonry, and sometimes Freemasonry out of control. There is a difference between differences because of tradition and differences solely for the purpose of an agenda that ends up corrupting the Craft. There is an urgent need in the United States for an American Masonic identity that binds all states and all members of the Craft in one common purpose and outlook.
This need not be some cumbersome bureaucracy added onto American Freemasonry. It could be as simple as a national Constitution and Freemasonry in the United States could be overseen by existing Masonic apparatus – the Conference of Grand Masters and the Masonic Service Association of North America.
Let’s look at an analogy – professional Major League Baseball. In the 20s you had the Black Sox scandal precipitated by abuses of the owners. In addition team owners were doing whatever they wanted with no standardized practices. Finally baseball realized it could not operate this way anymore, that the total freedom and separateness was dooming the national pastime. So the owners got together and appointed a Commissioner of baseball that still exists today. It keeps all the teams operating under the same set of rules and practices thereby eliminating corrupt and hurtful practices.
Like baseball teams, American Grand Lodges should not be able to do whatever they want. Now we perhaps don’t want a Commissioner of Freemasonry but we could continue on with a National Constitution with any administering or adjudication performed by the Council of Grand Masters with the help of the MSANA. This solution is simple, not adding any bureaucracy and keeps the sovereignty of each state Grand Lodge.
GS – You make an interesting point, one I’d like to come back to someday. But, let’s shift gears here and talk about your out of lodge work in the craft.You’ve written quite a bit over the years, about a lot of things, is there any one piece, or collection of pieces (Masonic or otherwise) that stand out in your mind as ground breaking or game changing?
FM – Well, I can think of four pieces that really stand out in my mind. One is a rather obscure piece titled Ballot Reform in which I make the point that we should no longer allow one Brother to hold the entire Lodge hostage to his personal prejudices. The way out of this enigma is something for you to find out by reading it. I will not spoil it just as I wouldn’t tell you who did it before you read a murder mystery nor explain the details of a good movie you have not yet seen.
In Of Revolutions and Reforms I make the point that before you market a product you best be sure the quality is up to snuff. I also say a lot of other stuff you can read about at your leisure.
Then there are the two papers I delivered in Alberta, Canada
First was World Peace through Brotherhood where I make the claim that if the majority of the world were Freemasons there would be no war. Again there is a lot of other stuff in more than 20 pages of point making if you want to look it up.
Lastly there is the intriguing Native American Rituals and The Influence of Freemasonry. Here I point to all Native American rituals that mirror Freemasonry as having been borrowed from the White Man – EXCEPT ONE – for which there is no rational explanation of how it got here (North America) or who designed it or how it happens to resemble a Masonic degree.
GS – So, given your history and experience, what do you see as the future of Masonry? Where do you think its heading?
FM – Take a look at the progression of human communication. First there was mostly hand written letter writing. Then came the telegraph which was more a message medium than a communication one. Soon after came the telephone and we could talk, voice to voice, to one another. Then along comes the Internet and we are all introduced to E-Mail. Not long after texting became the preferred method of communication which is really a personal telegraph in everybody’s hands. And today with venues like Skype and a webcam we can do it all!
So goes Freemasonry. From Lodge meetings attended by large numbers in person we have evolved into eMasonry that is trending now towards virtual Freemasonry. Soon we will have actual degrees being conferred in electronic Lodge rooms where all can gather from their smart phone or computer and see each other in a private (tyled) room. Just as personal communication is becoming more impersonal so is Freemasonry. Lodges are lacking attendance while web Masonry hums!
Look for more of the same. Today people value convenience and the ability to pop in and out just as quickly as a virtue. This is not your grandfather’s world. A 9 to 5 world no longer exists. Because of that Freemasonry will follow wherever technology goes. Already the rising stars in Freemasonry are the Masonic techies!
GS – So then, this leads me to wonder about the elephant in the room – membership has always been this invisible/silent specter for all moralities of the craft. Given your experience in both the Prince Hall world and mainstream world, do you see this is a universal issue between all branches?
FM – Yes, it is a universal issue in all branches of Freemasonry and I place the blame squarely upon Grand Lodges. Membership is the life blood of any organization and the way we replace ourselves. Without new blood we wither and die.
GS – Why do you think that is?
FM – Look at the answer above in the future of Masonry. Grand Lodges are still trying to operate in the modus operandi of yesteryear. They are all still driving model T cars. They can’t understand why people would rather text than write hand written letters. And that has been the problem from the start with Grand Lodges. When the world wide web first exploded across America they refused to participate in it and some even banned their members from becoming involved in it Masonically. It was like pulling teeth to get GLs to create a web page. A masonic forum, where Freemasonry was openly discussed, was considered heresy.
And now, as we are changing even more in our methods of communication, Grand Lodges have failed to come along. They are always lagging one step behind.
If we could find a Grand Lodge that would sell its building and operate out of a movie [theater] one to up to four times per year, with a live broadcast only available to you through your computer by a password protected (tyled) site, we might be getting somewhere. If, on a smaller scale, local Lodges could hold all their meetings in the same manner, then perhaps we would be on top of technology promoting it, instead of lagging behind, discouraging it.
If you can sit home and go to church from the favorite room in your house you ought to be able to do the same with Freemasonry. Personal meetings would then be confined to social affairs like BBQ’s, banquets and taverns.
GS – But, do you think that would change the tone of the lodge experience, or even masonry itself?
FM – While touting E-Degrees and all that modern technology brings us, I’m still old school enough to think that degrees should be done “in the flesh.” And you would want to do banquets and celebrations likewise. But other than that I think that Masonic Lodges meet too often and I compare them to the all news networks on TV. These networks, if they have no new news to report, have to make up the news just to keep broadcasting.
Masonic Lodges that meet often have to make up things to do in order to have their meeting. They do a very bad job at that. Many hurt their cause rather than help it.
My ideal Lodge would meet quarterly and gather for celebrations, trips and banquets as scheduled. Those four Lodge meetings might have a degree; always have a dinner and often a guest speaker. In my mind it is better to do a bang up job once in a while rather than a mediocre job more often.
Does that change the tone of Freemasonry? You bet. It gets rid of boring business meetings where you decide how many rolls of toilet paper to order with bad coffee and stale donuts afterwards. Business can be done online and by an Executive Committee with a quick Lodge sanction.
GS – Over the years, there has been drum beats for everything from a Masonic Congress, a national Grand Lodge, lifting territorial jurisdiction restrictions, break away Masonic lodges and even start-up Grand Lodges. Why do you think they have had only limited success, if any at all?
FM – If an organization is to exist across territorial bounds, if it is to be a movement open to everybody, everywhere, who meet certain basic qualifications, then it must have structure, it must be able to govern itself. Without structure there [would be] chaos.
My problem is that the structure that Freemasonry has chosen for the United States is woefully inadequate. This is no longer 1776. Our nation today has evolved into a centralized federal government of immense power. It long ago gave up the Articles of Confederation and evolved into a Constitutional federalized Republic. But Freemasonry has remained stuck in the 1700s.
This does not suit our modern mobile society. Today, unlike the 1700s, you could grow up in New York, go to college in Illinois, get your first big job in Texas, a promotion in California and then retire to Florida. And everywhere you go Freemasonry would be different. Sometimes radically different. Take it from someone who has experienced this first-hand, both in Northern and Southern Freemasonry.
We have 51 little fiefdoms with 51 variations of American Freemasonry. THERE IS NO AMERICAN IDENTITY TO FREEMASONRY IN THE UNITED STATES. And that’s a shame. People today don’t think of themselves as New Yorkers or Nebraskans or Arizonians. They think of themselves as Americans. But Freemasonry prohibits the adaptation of that concept to the Craft.
GS – So what do you think would remedy that?
FM – For awhile I was for a National Grand Lodge. But some wise Brothers pointed out that if states Grand Lodges are screwed up, think about the politics and control a National Grand Lodge would do. Also Prince Hall tried a National Grand Lodge and it didn’t last.
I am now of the opinion that there needs to be a national Masonic Constitution. This would not interfere with the sovereignty of each state Grand Lodge but would bind each one to some basic, general cornerstones. That would provide a national identity for the Craft in the United States and would eliminate the corruption of Freemasonry that can happen when separate entities remain apart for an extended period of time.
GS – What do you mean by corruption? Do you mean in a tangible way, as in a literal systemic corruption or in an intangible way such as in its ethos of corruption?
FM– No, [I mean] a corruption that alters and changes things. Like the English language as it is spoken.
Contrast the way English is spoken in England, America and Australia. It all started out the same, but separation over time introduced idiosyncrasies and a flavor that distinguished each version from the other. And that is really because they were apart for such a long time.
Now take 51 Grand Lodges and leave them to their own devices, totally separate and apart for a long period of time and you end up with 51 versions of Freemasonry. That’s corrupted Freemasonry. It would not be unexpected within the world, that is English Freemasonry or Australian Freemasonry, to be different. But, within the same country?
In a highly mobile society all you are doing is confusing people. And you end up with innovations like no Blacks allowed, Christian only, the Grand Master is God, cowboy hats and jeans, one year Grand Master terms, three year Grand Master terms, voting in Grand Lodge, no voting in Grand Lodge, a Grand Lodge line, no Grand Lodge line, an appointed Grand Master, five Landmarks, nine Landmarks, 13 Landmarks, no Landmarks at all and on and on and on.
Given enough time and you can find a Masonic Grand Lodge in the USA that is no longer Masonic.
GS – On that somber note, let’s talk about something more tangible. I always like ask what, or who, was your greatest Masonic influence? Who do you look up to in the Masonic world?
FM – There is no doubt in my mind that I owe an enormous debt to Stephen Dafoe.
Dafoe nurtured my writing and taught me how to do it right. He gave me a column in his magazines The Fourth Part of A Circle and Masonic Magazine. He encouraged me to keep at it and when I botched it up he showed me how it would read better.
Dafoe was instrumental in providing an all expenses paid trip to Alberta in 2005 for both me and my wife where I got the royal tour and the chance to address Alberta Lodges with two papers I had written. And a special thank you is due John Hayes who also joined Dafoe in welcoming me to Alberta and who was kind enough to board me and my wife at his house. There is nobody that did more to mentor me than Stephen Dafoe and I am eternally grateful.
And then there is also the encouragement and home for my writings provided me by David Lettelier. David was the one who offered me the post of Executive Director of Phoenixmasonry and I have grown immensely with Lettelier at my side.
GS – You mentioned writing in two places, in addition to the Beehive column, where you have written Masonic articles? Where else have you or do you now write?
FM – I started out by writing posts on Masonic forums in the 90s. When Theron Dunn and I went head to head those posts could be lengthy. That developed into articles for those sites. After Theron died my main antagonist became Grayson Mayfield. It was at this point that Stephen Dafoe took me under his wing and invited me to write articles for “The Fourth Part Of A Circle” and “Masonic Magazine.” After forming my own Blog “The Beehive” I merged it with Freemason Information. I also guest wrote at some other popular Masonic blogs. Then I began writing for Phoenixmasonry. Today I still write for The Beehive but I also write for my Grand Lodge publication “The Texas Prince Hall Freemason” where I am Associate Editor.” And I write for the Phylaxis Magazine where I help with editing and where I hold the office of Visual Archives Director. In March of 2014 I delivered a major paper to the annual session of the Phylaxis Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They presented me, as they do with anyone who delivers a paper, the award of the cup of knowledge.
I write in and for other fields of endeavor, owning some other websites, but as I like to keep the different aspects of what I do separate from one another, those shall remain in the dark here.
GS – It might be good to touch on one last thing about you and your Masonic journey, and that is your conversion to Catholicism. How difficult is it to be a Catholic Mason today?
FM – Well first of all for all those judgmental Catholics out there, I was not a Catholic who joined Freemasonry. I was a Mason who joined Catholicism. And I had two close Catholic Brothers in my Lodge who were by my side every step of the way. And my Priest, Father Jack, thought Freemasonry was great. At my first confession he said there is nothing bad about Freemasonry. Come into the church with full sacramental rights. You are most welcome.
The problem is that Father Jack isn’t in every Parish and I don’t always get the same approval. So I don’t push the subject. I don’t avoid it but I don’t go out of my way to mention it either. My conscience is my guide.
There is much acceptance of Freemasonry within the Catholic Church even though its official position is otherwise. It is going to be a long term re-education project. But I don’t intend to miss out on either world because some people have got their facts all wrong.
GS – Since you brought it up, your conversion to the Catholic Church, what was it that led you to that conversion?
FM – A number of things led me to become Catholic. Since my wife has always been a Catholic, I was exposed to it all the time.
After worshiping as a Protestant for many years I came to realize that they were worshiping the Bible. For a Protestant everything is about scripture and scripture answers every question and solves every problem.
I would rather worship Jesus, so I converted to Catholicism.
We often talk about the mysteries of Freemasonry. Well, there are also the mysteries of Catholicism. In practice Catholicism can be quite mystical. Protestantism tries to explain the unexplainable with reason and logic. It is a church of the Word. Catholics have the mystical experience of the Eucharist. It is a church of the Sacraments. The ritualism and pomp and circumstance of Catholicism remind me of Freemasonry.
Given all that it still was a difficult leap to make. What pushed me over the top was this story.
I cannot tell you why, but when I was still a Protestant I began going to a Catholic healing services in a neighboring town in Massachusetts. After communion we would approach the front where there were groups of three – a Priest, a nun and a deacon or lay leader. They would surround you and after asking you what problems you had. They would lay hands on you praying – faster and faster, ending in a great crescendo. Many would collapse on the floor in what we call being slain by the Spirit. I never was.
A friend of mine, we worked together and I brought him into the Lodge, was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer and given six months to live. He was a non practicing Catholic. I recommended he go to one of these healing services. He went, but I could not go with him as I had to work. I asked him how it went and he said well I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, especially the fainting part. So I was surprised when he said he was going into Boston for a healing service led by a Priest who had just come in from Ireland. His report back was quite different this time. He said you won’t believe it, but I passed out for 20 minutes.
Within a month he had to go back to the doctor for a progress examination. His liver and pancreatic tumors were all gone. What was, he had been told, a 98% chance of dying within 6 moths now was a complete cure. That was 15 years ago. My friend is still alive.
GS – That’s an amazing story. I always feel in awe over mystical experiences like that. Before we wrap up, is there any other important piece to the Fred Milliken story that needs to be put on the record?
FM – I can’t leave this interview without mentioning how I became Squire Bentley.
When I first started out on the Internet I used Squire as a pseudonym because I feared censorship by my Grand Lodge. Today I no longer have that fear and have dropped the Squire camouflage in most applications.
I was invited by the Fellowship Players a Masonic drama club from Fellowship Lodge in Bridgewater, MA, to try the part of Squire Bentley in the Carl Claudy play A Rose Upon The Altar. That is a very emotional part and was a challenge I was up for. I can especially remember two performances. The first was before the local Knights of Columbus and their wives. And the second was before a delegation of visiting Masons and their wives from England. That performance was open to the public and members of my family came. Performing in this play was one of my passions in Freemasonry.
And right beside me as I write these words is my Squire Bentley lantern, a present from Stephen Dafoe.
Fred, as always, my respect and appreciation to you for your wisdom and time. I can say, every time I speak or listen to you, I learn something new – both about the fraternity and about you. You can read more from Fred “Squire Bently” Milliken at the Bee Hive.
Editor’s note – Fred has since stepped down and retired from the position of Executive Director at Phoenix Masonry and no longer occupies that position saying of it “It was a great moment in my life and I would not want to ignore it or sweep it under the rug”
– The written instruments used to govern and shape America.
NOTE: You may want to “bookmark” this column and pass the web address on to others, particularly young people.
I have many pamphlets describing the country’s governing documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, but I wanted something more comprehensive where I could quickly access the various documents by computer. What follows is a listing of the documents which shaped our nation. In addition to governing documents, the list includes treaties, acts, and landmark Supreme Court rulings. The Magna Carta and Mayflower Compact are included as they greatly influenced our need for government. I did not include presidential farewell addresses or speeches, except for the Gettysburg Address.
It is hoped this will become an important research repository for you. For each document, I am including background information as provided by Wikipedia as well as the actual text of the document itself. I hope you find it useful.
If you think political fighting is bad now, you don’t know your history. BRYCE ON POLITICS
As members of the 21st century, we tend to believe the political discourse of this country has reached new heights. The sad reality though is we pale in comparison to our predecessors. For example, the parallels between the Obama era and that of Jefferson is actually quite remarkable. To illustrate, I recently completed Jon Meachum’s book, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” (2012) and read about the presidential election of 1800 pitting Jefferson against his old friend, John Adams (the second President). Like Washington before him, Adams had been a Federalist. Jefferson, on the other hand was a Democrat-Republican (the origin of the Democratic Party as we know it today).
By 1800 there were already sharp ideological differences between the parties. Whereas the Federalists sought a strong federal government patterned after the British monarchy, Jeffersonian Democrats were more in favor of states rights and upholding the rights of the common man. The Federalists controlled New England, while the Democrats controlled the South. The disparity between the two parties is essentially no different than the Democrats and Republicans of today. Interestingly, Jefferson won New York which ultimately broke the log-jam (and edging out Aaron Burr).
Both parties controlled different newspapers, thereby providing a vehicle to attack each other and communicate their positions to the public. This was long an accepted form of communication until 1798; as the country approached the election of 1800 where it became apparent the Democrat-Republicans were gaining momentum, the Alien & Sedition Acts were passed by the Federalist controlled Congress, and signed into law by Federalist John Adams. The Sedition Act prohibited criticisms of the government and was viewed as a serious threat to the First Amendment by Jefferson and Madison who fought to overturn it.
The Federalists also tried to pack the courts. There is no clearer example of this than Adams picking his Secretary of State, John Marshall, to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Interestingly, even though Marshall didn’t share Jefferson’s views, he was a cousin and administered the oath of office to Jefferson. The Federalists also passed the Midnight Judges Act which made sweeping changes to the judiciary before the Democrat-Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches.
The discourse in Congress was much louder and violent than what we are familiar with today. To illustrate, in a Congressional debate in 1798, Democratic-Republican Congressman Matthew Lyon implied that Connecticut Federalists, including Roger Griswold, were corrupt. Hearing this, Griswold called Lyon a coward on the Senate floor. Lyon responded by spitting in Griswold’s face. Following this, a motion to expel Lyon from the Senate failed. Two weeks later, Griswold charged across the Senate floor and began striking Lyon with a heavy wooden cane about his head. Lyon retrieved hot tongs from a nearby fire pit and defended himself. However, Griswold was able to disarm him. The two exchanged blows briefly until they were finally broken up. This was not the first or last time, Congressmen would physically fight on the floor of the Capitol, but it gives you an idea of the heated passion of the day. Despite today’s political hyperbole, I am not aware of an incident in recent memory involving fisticuffs on the floor of the House or Senate.
Such incendiary oratory has actually been with us for a long time. For example, consider the debates over issues such as the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Jackson’s dismantling of the National Bank, and just about every other argument leading up to the Civil War. All were just as inflammatory as the discourse of today, maybe more so.
I just wonder what effect television has had on Congressional arguments. I cannot help but believe it has somehow calmed the passions of the speakers. Without it, I can well imagine some rather loud and visceral arguments, with maybe some canes and tongs thrown in for good measure. Hmm…sounds like a good angle for reality TV doesn’t it?
Keep the Faith!
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There’s no avoiding it, regardless of the type or size of company.
BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT
When we join a new company, we’re all hoping for a fresh start and clean slate. The last thing we want is to get embroiled in political intrigue, regardless of how petty it might seem. Most of us just want to do our work and move along with our lives. Even if this were so, which is rarely the case, we must still deal with “political correctness” as defined by society; we have to recognize certain protocols in our mannerisms, language, and conduct. So, even before we get started in a new job, we have to recognize there is going to be some form of politics, like it or not. I remember visiting a manufacturing company in the Midwest where a Vice President proudly said to me, “You’ll like this place Tim, there’s no politics here whatsoever.” And I think he firmly believed it too. In reality, they had more cutthroat politics than I had ever seen before.
Whether you are a new employee or a visiting consultant, one of the first things you have to determine about a company is its pecking order. An organization chart makes a convenient road map in this regards, but it doesn’t truly define the power structure in a company. For example, a weak manager may actually draw his strength from a powerful assistant. Nonetheless, it is important to identify the fiefdoms of the company, who the key players are, and who the allies and adversaries are. Without such knowledge, you will inevitably trip into some political dispute or become an unwitting pawn in a power play. The best advice in the early going is to simply keep your eyes and ears open, and your mouth shut.
Aside from the power players in an organization, the three most common types of political animals you will encounter are the Suckup, the Radical, and the Saboteur. The Suckup (aka “Brown Noser”) essentially has no spine and is the perennial “Yes Man” to the boss. The boss says “Jump” and the Suckup says, “How High?” But the Suckup has a political agenda of his own which typically is an advancement through the assistance of the boss. He therefore bends over backwards to please the boss at the expense of losing the respect of his coworkers.
The Radical represents “the bull in the China shop” or “loose cannon” and is best known for revolting against the status quo, not quietly but loudly, and is not afraid of stepping on a few toes along the way. In many ways he is like Sherman’s march to the sea. Perhaps his mission is correct, and perhaps it isn’t. Regardless, this type of person has a slim chance of succeeding as his detractors will work overtime to undermine him. When dealing with such a person you basically have two choices: either join him and hope for the best, or get the heck out of his way so that you are not run over.
The Saboteur is perhaps the most viscous of the three and can probably best be characterized as the “conniving weasel” or “backstabber” who schemes to make the lives of others miserable. He is driven by petty jealousy and wants desperately to be seen as a power broker in his institution. Since he has no real life of his own, the Saboteur gets his jollies by undermining anybody that garners more attention than he does. Whereas the Suckup and the Radical can be dealt with politically, the Saboteur is a pest that must be exterminated.
Office politics is about loyalty and trust. At some point, you will be asked to choose sides and this to me is what makes office politics ugly. I might understand this in government politics, but not in a company where we are all suppose to be on the same team. Politics is an inherent part of the corporate culture; some companies deplore it, others thrive on it. I guess it’s a matter of whether a company values the concept of teamwork or rugged individualism. I have found there is much less politics in companies promoting the former versus the latter. Either way, my advice to anyone joining a new company, be it a corporation or nonprofit organization, is actually quite simple: “En Garde!”
Keep the Faith!
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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News with Dave and Lance” with hosts Lance Tormey & Mike Bastinelli (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.
Brothers – this article is from my consulting practice but I fear we run into such situations now and then in Lodge. Hope you enjoy it. – TB
During our lifetime, we inevitably run into some rather unsavory characters who will wrong, cheat or defraud us. Maybe even worse are people who survive not because they are industrious, but because they are intuitively political. They are commonly referred to as “Suck-Ups,” “Brown Nosers,” “Ass Kissers,” “Yes Men,” and these are some of the kinder descriptors. We’ve seen such people in school, on the playing fields, at work, our places of worship, in our neighborhoods, as well as the volunteer nonprofit organizations we participate in. They’re everywhere and instead of earning their way through life like the rest of us, they’ve learned to develop alliances with those in a position to assist them in their career.
To illustrate, when I was in college years ago I took a class in English Composition. Each week we had to produce articles which would be reviewed by the instructor and the class. The professor was a nice guy who enjoyed a cigar and would smoke one at the head of the class as we reviewed our papers, and in the process it became his icon. You have to remember this was at a time when smoking was allowed indoors, including college campuses. It was a tough class as the professor demanded more and more from us and became sharper in his criticisms of our work which, in hindsight, improved the quality of our compositions. However, we had one classmate who was experiencing difficulties keeping up with the pace and output of the class. One autumn day, as the class began, the instructor lit up his cigar as had become his custom. Suddenly, our struggling classmate produced a cigar and lit it shortly after the instructor began smoking his own. This caught everyone by surprise, including the professor. It was all rather obvious he was trying to develop a connection with the instructor. As the semester went on, he went out of his way to help the professor anyway he could, including laughing at his jokes, and lighting his cigars. He thought he had developed quite a rapport with the professor, but his bubble was burst when the instructor surprised everyone by allowing the class to grade each other for the semester. Most of the class received fair grades, either “A’s” or “B’s” which everyone accepted. The “Suck Up” got an “F.”
Not all “Suck-Ups” receive such poetic justice. Many graduate through the ranks simply by hanging on the coattails of their superiors and live by the mantra, “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.” Such people have a tendency of creating problems with morale, particularly if they are rewarded for something they did not deserve.
In reality, you cannot blame the “Suck-Up” for his/her actions as the fault truly lies at the feet of the superior who allows or even encourages such conduct. In my college example, my professor gave the “Suck-Up” just enough rope to hang himself. Had he not taken the tactic he did, the professor would have lost the respect of the class and would surely have been reported to the ombudsman. Unfortunately, this story is now the exception as opposed to the rule in a lot of organizations where “Suck-Ups” graduate through the ranks faster than more industrious people, probably because a political machine of “Suck-Ups” has been established and only promote from within their own party. There is only three things you can do under such a frustrating scenario, either learn to become a “Suck-Up” yourself, stand and fight the establishment, which you will inevitably lose, or pick up your marbles and find a new game.
I do not have the time or tolerance for “Suck-Ups” or their superiors. They are detrimental to any organization, for profit or otherwise. By promoting only the same like-minded incompetent nincompoops, they accomplish nothing more than perpetuating their madness. As for me, I’ll take my marbles elsewhere.
Keep the Faith!
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“Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.”
– Bro. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) US humorist and author (1835-1910) Polar Star Lodge No. 79 A.F.& A.M., Missouri, USA
“History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we made today.”
– Bro. Henry Ford US automobile industrialist (1863-1947) Palestine Lodge No. 357 F.& A.M., Michigan, USA
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
– Bro. Benjamin Franklin US author, diplomat, inventor, politician, & printer (1706-1790) St. John’s Lodge of Philadelphia, USA
“Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves.”
– Bro. Rudyard Kipling British (Indian-born) author (1865-1936) Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 782. E.C., Lahore, India
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”
– Bro. Will Rogers US humorist and showman (1879-1935) Claremore Lodge No. 53 A.F.& A.M., Oklahoma, USA
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails Daring Greatly so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
– Bro. Theodore Roosevelt 26th President of the United States Matinecock Lodge No. 806 F.& A.M., Oyster Bay, NY, USA (entitled, “Daring Greatly”)
“I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.”
– Bro. John Wayne US movie actor and director (1907-1979) Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56 F.& A.M., Arizona, USA
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
– Bro. Oscar Wilde Irish dramatist, novelist and poet (1854-1900) Apollo University Lodge No. 357, Oxford, UK
QUOTATIONS FROM FAMOUS MASONS REGARDING BUSINESS
“Serve the classes, live with the masses. Serve the masses, live with the classes.”
– Bro. John Jacob Astor American Capitalist Holland Lodge No. 8 F.& A.M., NY, USA
“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.”
“The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
“There is one rule for industrialists and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.”
– Bro. Henry Ford Pioneer Automobile Manufacturer Palestine Lodge No. 357 F.& A.M., Detroit, MI, USA
“I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt.”
– Bro. & Dr. Charles Mayo Cofounder, the Mayo Clinic Rochester Lodge No. 21 A.F.& A.M., Rochester, MN, USA
“I will have no man work for me who has not the capacity to become a partner.”
“The surest way for an executive to kill himself is to refuse to learn how, and when, and to whom to delegate work.”
– Bro. James C. Penny JC Penny Founder Wasatch Lodge No. 1 F.& A.M., Salt Lake City, UT, USA
“It all comes back to the basics. Serve customers the best-tasting food at a good value in a clean, comfortable restaurant, and they’ll keep coming back.”
– Bro. Dave Thomas Wendys Restaurants Sol. D. Bayless Lodge No 359 F.& A.M., Ft. Wayne, IN, USA
“Don’t be misled into believing that somehow the world owes you a living. The boy who believes that his parents, or the government, or any one else owes him his livelihood and that he can collect it without labor will wake up one day and find himself working for another boy who did not have that belief and, therefore, earned the right to have others work for him.”
“Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people.”
– Bro. David Sarnoff Father of television Strict Observance Lodge No. 94 F.& A.M., New York City, USA
“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.”
– Bro. Steve Wozniak Cofounder Apple Computer Charity Lodge No. 362 F.& A.M., Campbell, CA, USA
QUOTATIONS FROM FAMOUS MASONS REGARDING SPORTS
“Sport must be amateur or it is not sport. Sports played professionally are entertainment.”
– Bro. Avery Brundage President, International Olympic Committee North Shore Lodge No. 937 A.F.& A.M., Chicago, IL, USA
“The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money and that’s it, not for the love of it, the excitement of it, the thrill of it.”
– Bro. Ty Cobb Baseball Great Royston Lodge No. 426 F.& A.M., Detroit, MI, USA
“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”
– Bro. Jack Dempsey Boxing Champion Kenwood Lodge No. 800 A.F.& A.M., Chicago, IL, USA
“I don’t like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the pitcher.”
– Bro. Rogers Hornsby Baseball Great Beacon Lodge No. 3 A.F.& A.M., St. Louis, MO, USA
“Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals.”
– Bro. & Dr. James Naismith Inventor of Basketball Roswell Lee Lodge A.F.& A.M., Springfield, MA, USA
“I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone’s golf game: it’s called an eraser.”
– Bro. Arnold Palmer Golf Legend Loyalhanna Lodge No. 275 F.& A.M., Latrobe, PA, USA
“I don’t like the subtle infiltration of ‘something for nothing’ philosophies into the very hearthstone of the American family. I believe that ‘Thou shalt earn the bread by the sweat of thy face’ was a benediction and not a penalty. Work is the zest of life; there is joy in its pursuit.”
– Bro. Branch Rickey Baseball Legend Tuscan Lodge No. 360 A.F.& A.M., St. Louis, MO, USA
“I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.”
– Bro. Sugar Ray Robinson Boxing Champion Joppa Lodge No. 55 PHA, New York, NY, USA
QUOTATIONS FROM FAMOUS MASONS REGARDING POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
“I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents.”
“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
– Bro. Winston S. Churchill Former Prime Minister of Great Britain Rosemary Lodge 2851 and Studholme Lodge No. 1591, UK
“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself…”
“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.”
– Bro. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) Writer Polar Star Lodge No. 79 A.F.& A.M., St. Louis, MO, USA
“As long as there are only three to four people on the floor, the country is in good hands. It’s only when you have 50 to 60 in the Senate that you want to be concerned.”
“If you’re hanging around with nothing to do and the zoo is closed, come over to the Senate. You’ll get the same kind of feeling and you won’t have to pay.”
– Bro. Bob Dole Former U.S. Senator & Presidential Candidate Russell Lodge No. 177 A.F.& A.M., Kansas, USA
“If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have.”
– Bro. Gerald R. Ford 38th President of the United States Malta Lodge No. 465 F.& A.M., Grand Rapids, MI, USA
“History has to judge every man who served. I don’t know how they’re going to treat me. I may be the worst S.O.B. that ever came down the pike. But I won’t lose any sleep over it. I just like to be remembered as an honest person who tried.”
– Bro. Barry Goldwater Former U.S. Senator & Presidential Candidate Arizona Lodge No. 2 F.& A.M., Phoenix, AZ, USA
“I will not deny that there are men in the district better qualified than I to go to Congress, but gentlemen, these men are not in the race.”
– Bro. Sam Rayburn Former Speaker of the House Constantine Lodge No. 13 A.F.& A.M., Bonham, TX, USA
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
– Bro. Will Rogers Humorist Claremore Lodge No. 53 A.F.& A.M, Oklahoma, USA (renamed Will Rogers Lodge No. 53 in 1979)
“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
– Bro. Franklin D. Roosevelt 32nd President of the United States Holland Lodge No. 8 F.& A.M., New York, NY, USA
“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty’.”
– Bro. Theodore Roosevelt 26th President of the United States Matinecock Lodge No. 806 F.& A.M., Oyster Bay, NY, USA
“A politician is a man who understands government and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a politician who’s been dead ten or fifteen years.”
– Bro. Harry S. Truman 33rd President of the United States Belton Lodge No. 450 A.F.& A.M., MO, USA
“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”
– Bro. Voltaire Writer Lodge of the Nine Sisters (Lodge Les Neuf Soeurs), Paris, France
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:
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The topic comes from a link picked up in a message board on the ever swirling definition of Regularity between Masonic bodies. Setting aside the idea of Territorial Exclusivity prevalent in the U.S., the message board linked to an interesting inclusion to a Wikipedia entry on the European question of recognition and the 11 defined Ancient landmarks that makes Masonry Freemasonry. Simple called “The Aims and Relationships of the Craft Freemasonry” this document is the Magna Carta, if you will, of who, how, and when, a body is recognized and the trump to why English Masonry (UGLE and its Home lodges of Ireland and Scotland) is the arbiter of what is, or what isn’t recognized Masonry.
What I find most interesting is that there is no mention of the “Antient” Landmarks as such that most are familiar with from Anderson (that rang from 11-25 depending on the source which you can read on Paul Bessel’s site). Some states have NO codification of any these past landmarks, rather deferring, it would seem, to the document below as their institutional operating parameters.
These are more Corporate Landmarks, in that they spell out what the essence of regular Grand Lodge Freemasonry is, saying at the end of the document that “The three Grand Lodges are convinced that it is only by this rigid adherence to this policy that Freemasonry has survived the constantly changing doctrines of the outside world, and are compelled to place on record their complete disapproval of any action which may tend to permit the slightest departure from the basic principles of Freemasonry.” and that if any deviation were to take place “that [they] cannot maintain a claim to be following the Antient Landmarks of the Order, and must ultimately face disintegration.”
It’s a pretty extreme position, and probably true, just as adding any new ingredients to a particular recipe changes it into a new one. It is impossible to make a singular change to a thing and see it as the same as it was before the revision.
With that in mind, I’m struck by the idea that the document then places some very interesting caps onto the fraternity dictating what exactly IT is and what IT isn’t, despite what the ritual implies, or what it imparts.
The most notable point in the document is that the institution is essentially a thoroughly Christian institution as indicated by paragraph 4. I say this as it instructs to place the Bible into such a position of prominence above (read in-place) of all others which excludes entirely other faiths. On its own merit, this isn’t bad, but does it does not take into account the faiths of other members, whether in majority or minority of a lodge.
What does this mean? At a surface brush it leaves open the question of oaths and obligations of those who are not of that particular faith. Would the oath sworn by a Christian hand upon a Koran be the same as an oath taken upon the bible? Or, in a less inflammatory tone, would the oath of a Jewish brother taken on the Holy Bible be held to breast as close as an oath taken on the Tanakh, the Hebrew holy writing, called the Old Testament in the Christian church. But, taken a step further, does it truly permit a lodge of mixed faith brothers to exist, putting each members on equal footing, or does it place deference towards the Christian faith at the sake of any others?
Paragraph 3 does seem to address this in stating that the condition of being a Freemason is predicated upon the belief in a Supreme Being, with no declaration of which Supreme Being, but does this square with the idea that the Holy Bible as the Volume of the Sacred Law that MUST be on the alter? Does that very book dictate the order as being exclusively a Christian body? Could, in light of the requirement of books on the alter, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, or other non-Christian truly become a Freemason under the United Grand Lodge of England or its Home Lodges of Ireland or Scotland?
Albert Mackey‘s Landmarks, recorded in 1835, say nothing of which Holy Book, saying rather in Landmark 21 “A “Book of the Law” is indispensable in every Lodge” but not saying in the list what that book of Law is. Pounds Landmarks say too A “book of the law” as an indispensable part of the lodge” but does not indicate which book. Mackey, in an expanded look says: I say advisedly, a Book of the Law, because it is not absolutely required that everywhere the Old and New Testaments shall be used. The “Book of the Law” is that volume which, by the religion of the country, is believed to contain the revealed will of the Grand Architect of the universe. Hence, in all Lodges in Christian countries, the Book of the Law is composed of the Old and New Testaments; in a country where Judaism was the prevailing faith, the Old Testament alone would be sufficient; and in Mohammedan countries, and among Mohammedan Masons the Koran might be substituted. Masonry does not attempt to interfere with the peculiar religious faith of its disciples, except so far as relates to the belief in the existence of God, and what necessarily results from that belief. The |”|Book of the Law|”| is to the speculative Mason his spiritual Trestle-board; without this he cannot labor; whatever he believes to be the revealed will of the Grand Architect constitutes for him this spiritual Trestle|-|board, and must ever be before him in his hours of speculative labor, to be the rule and guide of his conduct The Landmark, therefore, requires that a |”|Book of the Law,|”| a religious code of some kind, purporting to be an exemplar of the revealed will of God, shall form in essential part of the furniture of every Lodge. -From The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon
Anderson’s Constitution speaks to the obeying of the “Moral Law” but offers no leaning towards what that means. Used in context, one could debate its meaning as coming from a religious implication stemming form the Bible or a Humanist one based on the work of John Locke.
American Masonry has this same prohibition as the Holy Bible is the undisputed Volume of Sacred Law upon every alter in every lodge, with some states allowing for shared space with other books, usually at the will and pleasure of its membership to allow its use.
Another aspect of the document is the prohibition of Masonry taking a position “to express any opinion on questions of foreign or domestic policy either at home or abroad, and it will not allow its name to be associated with any action, however humanitarian it may appear to be, which infringes its unalterable policy of standing aloof from every question affecting the relations between one government and another, or between political parties, or questions as to rival theories of government.”
While this alleviates the shift of balance, it also preserves the harmony of the membership from leaning the fraternity in any particular way. In some respects, this seems characteristic of the first prohibition, making the fraternity a predominantly Christian body to ensure its cultural heritage which worked in an era of Christian dominance. Peace and harmony of the lodge being the principal aim of the Landmarks. the difference in these two very definite points is that in the column of no politics it makes no declaration as to which political party it drapes onto its alter in the manner it does with religion.
The full document of The Aims and Relationships of the Craft Freemasonry as crafted by the Masonic High Council the Mother High Council in 1939 has some other interesting aspects that dictate regularity, and make for an interesting consideration as to the shape and composition of Masonry in the 21st Century now. The MW Pro Grand Master-Most Hon. Marquess of Northampton Iain Ross Bryce, TD, DL presented a speech in 2007 on the subject and reaffirmed the importance of the document to European Masonry and the role of the UGLE in recognizing them, which lends itself even more to the authority, within Masonic circles, of the High Councils Document.
The full points of the document:
1. The MHC has deemed it desirable to set forth in precise form the aims of Freemasonry as consistently practiced under its Jurisdiction and since the premier Grand Assembly it come into being as an organized body at York in 1705, and also to define the principles governing its relations with those other Grand Lodges with which it is in fraternal accord.
2. In view of the distortion by some so called world Masonic powers, and the deviation from the core values principles and aims of Ancient Craft Freemasonry, it is once again considered necessary to emphasize certain fundamental principles of the Fraternity.
3. The first condition of admission into, and membership of, the Order of Freemasons is a belief in a Supreme Being. This is essential and admits of no compromise.
4. The Bible, referred to by Freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, is always open in the Lodges. Every Candidate is required to take his obligation on that book or on the Volume, which is held by his particular creed to impart sanctity to an oath or promise taken upon it.
5. Everyone who enters Freemasonry is, at the outset, strictly forbidden to countenance any act which may have a tendency to subvert the peace and good order of society; he must pay due obedience to the law of any state in which he resides or which may afford him protection, and he must never be remiss in the allegiance due to the Sovereign of his native land.
6. While English Freemasonry thus inculcates in each of its members the duties of loyalty and citizenship, it reserves to the individual the right to hold his own opinion with regard to public affairs. But neither in any Lodge, nor at any time in his capacity as a Freemason, is he permitted to discuss or to advance his views on theological or political questions.
7. The MHC will always consistently refused to express any opinion on questions of foreign or domestic policy either at home or abroad, and it will not allow its name to be associated with any action, however humanitarian it may appear to be, which infringes its unalterable policy of standing aloof from every question affecting the relations between one government and another, or between political parties, or questions as to rival theories of government.
8. The MHC is aware that there do exist Bodies, styling themselves Freemasons, which do not adhere to these principles, and while that attitude exists the Regular Grand Lodge of England refuses absolutely to have any relations with such Bodies, or to regard them as Freemasons.
9. A Regular Grand Lodge is a Sovereign and independent Body practising Freemasonry only within the four Degrees and their complement within the limits defined by the Grand Assembly at York 1705 as pure Antient Masonry. It does not recognize or admit the existence of any superior Masonic authority, however styled.
A) A Regular Grand Lodge has sole Jurisdiction over the Craft Freemasonry including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch, and confers the degrees of: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason and employ the ceremony of the Board of Installed Masters in which the Worshipful Master of a Lodge is installed and invested, it confer the; Mark Man/Mason degree on Master Masons in a regular craft lodge of Master Masons lowered to the Fellow Craft degree.
B) The degrees controlled by the Grand Royal Arch Chapter are: Royal Ark Mariners, Excellent Mason and Most Excellent Master, Royal Arch, including the Ceremony of the Veils and inner workings of Royal Arch Freemasonry as practiced in the Crypt of York Minster.
10. The MHC will refused to participate in Conferences with so-called International Associations claiming to represent Freemasonry, which admit to membership Bodies failing to conform strictly to the principles upon which the MHC is founded. The Grand Lodge does not admit any such claim, nor can its views be represented by any such Association.
11. There is no secret with regard to any of the basic principles of Freemasonry, some of which have been stated above. The MHC will always consider the recognition of those Grand Lodges, which profess and practise, and can show that they have consistently professed and practised, those established and unaltered principles, but in no circumstances will it enter into discussion with a view to any new or varied interpretation of them. They must be accepted and practised wholeheartedly and in their entirety by those who desire to be recognised as Freemasons by the Regular Grand Lodge.
How do you read them and how do you see them relating to your jurisdiction practice of Freemasonry? Do you see Freemasonry as principally a Christian organization?
The following outlook of Freemasonry was shared with me with much trepidation and concern over its reaction. Permission to publish it was granted if the author could remain Anonymous.
I’ve heard these same words from others in recent months, and it struck me that they were not isolated or merely dissident voices in the wilderness — rather that they were a real malaise that is overtaking the once previously engaged. Disenchantment, disenfranchisement, disappointment, no matter what bucket you quantify it into, I am hearing about these feelings more and more.
Always looking for the silver lining, this would be a good jump off point to explore the sentiment as we proceed to get at its roots. Do you share this same feeling?
Disillusionment with Freemasonry
After serving the fraternity for over ten years now, I’ve stopped to look back as to what I accomplished and how Freemasonry has changed. I’ve been through the chairs and served my Lodge faithfully, participating in several work parties, fund raisers, and other events. I’ve been found proficient in degree work and recognized for work in Masonic Education. I have also participated in several district and state level functions. Thanks to the Internet, I have corresponded with Masons from around the world, listening to their problems as well as their advice. Whenever a Brother asked for help, whether near or far, I leant a helping hand. My Masonic knowledge and experience led me into a position where I was frequently consulted for advice and leadership. It also led me into petty politics where I was confronted by those jealous of my notoriety and stubbornly undermined any effort to upgrade the Lodge and fraternity. I now look back and ask, “Did I make a difference? Is the fraternity or Lodge better off than when I was first initiated?”
I have slowly come to the realization that the answer is “No.”
I think the reason for this is because I suffered from a false perception of what Freemasonry was all about. As I entered the fraternity, I was under the impression that a True Mason was a man of character, integrity, honor, who possessed an intellectual curiosity about life, a person whose word is his bond. In other words, I perceived Masons as the bedrock of society.
Unfortunately, this is not what I discovered. I have traveled around quite a bit and met many Masons, most of whom are not of this stereotype. In fact, I would estimate less than 1% of our total membership can be characterized in this manner. And therein is where the bubble burst for me.
With the exception of those Brothers attempting to establish Traditional Observance (TO) Lodges, I have learned the vast majority of Masons are not serious people. They are more concerned with slapping backs as opposed to doing anything of substance. A lot of Masons will scratch and claw just to get their next apron or title. I tend to believe this is because they never did anything noteworthy in their professional careers and crave attention. In other words, they are trying to build their self-esteem at the cost of their Lodge, a sort of “While Nero fiddled Rome burned” phenomenon. I guess this is why I find it amusing to hear conspiracy theorists try to warn the public of how Freemasonry is trying to dominate the world. Too funny.
The fraternity is dying and nobody is doing anything about it, least of all at the Grand Lodge level. Freemasonry is an institution who stubbornly clings to the past and resists any attempts to change and modernize. It’s decaying before our eyes.
Disillusionment comes when expectations are not met, when beliefs are not realized. Disillusionment leads to frustration which often leads to anger. At some point though, you have to deal with it. As I see it, there are only a few options available:
Stay and passively accept the status quo — representing total surrender.
Stay and continue to try and change the system internally — impossible due to the political stranglehold Grand Lodges hold over the fraternity.
Take a leave of absence — whereby the problems will still be waiting for you when you return.
Resign and start a new strain of Freemasonry — which is very tempting but difficult to do on a large scale.
Resign, lick your wounds and move along with your life.
This last option, unfortunately, is what many men opt to do as opposed to fighting the powers that be.
Consider for example our free-falling decline in membership. Aside from death and transfers, think about those members suspended for nonpayment of dues which in some grand jurisdictions is on the rise. One cannot help but ask why this is occurring. Because of the economy? Perhaps. More likely they are not getting anything meaningful out of Freemasonry. Even when Grand Masters offer amnesty programs to encourage members to return to the flock, very few do.
Those men who would normally take an active role in Masonry are being driven away in droves due to complacency, apathy, and politics, three ugly words that unfortunately characterize Freemasonry today and causes disillusionment.
Freemasonry has become more of a philanthropy than a fraternity, a political playhouse as opposed to a true brotherhood. It is sad to see a once noble institution crumble before our eyes into an irrelevant institution.