A typical Masonic Lodge will meet in a small sparse building which I call a shack. It will be a two room affair – a Lodge room and a dining hall both sporting the barest of essentials. Practicality will over rule lavish luxury. Of course there are exceptions.
Some stately and roomy Lodge buildings can be found in cities where multiple Lodges meet and Concordant Bodies also are tenants. But the number of these more luxurious cousins is a drop in the bucket compared to the large number of suburban and small town Lodges that dot the American countryside.
Rural Lodges don’t have much choice but to be this way. But city and suburban Lodges could afford much better digs if all the Lodges in a 20 mile radius were to meet in one building. Our European Masonic cousins have long found this to be the answer to meeting in surroundings of comfort. You can find many English Masonic buildings where up to twenty Lodges meet.
American Masons are wedded to having their own Lodge building which they share with no one just as the American public is wedded to the automobile which they share with no one. Mass transit may be available but Americans with cars seldom use it. And HOV lanes in Dallas have reduced requirements to just two in a vehicle yet 98% do not take advantage of them. We all have to have our own thing. But in doing so “our thing” becomes too expensive for us to maintain all by ourselves. The result is that many Lodges meet in buildings of somewhat disrepair.
Of course better surroundings could be provided if Lodges were allowed to rent out their building to a wider clientele. But Grand Lodges in their ultimate, know it all wisdom impose so many restrictions on who local Lodges can rent to that no takers can be found. You can’t rent the Masonic Hall to any affair that will serve liquor. That kills most of your wedding reception business. You can’t rent out to women’s Masonry, Co-Masonry or in some cases in Mainstream to Prince Hall Masonry. You can’t rent to any of the so called clandestine Lodges. It is doubtful you would be allowed to rent out your building to the Knights of Columbus, AA or the NRA.
Then there is the issue of participation. Each new Grand Master tries to outdo the other. Each new District Deputy tries to make a name for himself by beating the performance of his predecessor. Each new Master tries to out shine the previous Master. Consequently there are always a host of programs and duties that need to be staffed. Mainstream Masonry also has a plethora of Masonic Awareness/Charitable events which require a boatload of manpower. Masonic Communications become meetings of recruitment. Soon what is expected of a Mason is eating away at all of his free time.
I have decided that I don’t want to do bare bones Masonry anymore. Masonry on the cheap is not for me.
The organization I belong to will have a beautiful, large building with many rooms. The floors will be plush carpet or hardwood. Wall paper and paintings of renowned artists will adorn the walls. I will sit in a large leather chair with a foot rest and a side table beside me. A waiter will bring me a cocktail and my choice of an hors d’oeuvre and an expensive cigar. If I prefer I can sit on the veranda in a rocking chair gazing out at the beautiful view. One room will have a grand piano for those members who know how to play. Another room will have a pool table and game tables. Seven course dinners will be served once per week.
I have no desire to be drafted into manning somebody else’s pet project. Instead of doing all the time I would much rather just be. After all I am a human being not a human doing. I will sit and learn about my organization in its giant library. I will learn the knowledge I want to gain, if not by reading, by viewing presentations in the media room of my organization.
I will attend on the days or nights I have free time and an inclination to do so. My organization will be open for business six days a week but it will make no requirements of me or my attendance other than the dues I pay to belong.
My organization will be there for my edification and pleasure not to work me to death or enlist me in its army.
My organization could be Freemasonry. Then again it could be not.