I haven’t attended Lodge in quite some time, at least a year and a half. This is quite unusual for someone who devoted his first fifteen years actively participating in Lodge affairs, not just my own, but at the district, zone, and state level. I stopped going when it became blatantly obvious Freemasonry was operating more as a good old boy’s club as opposed to the fraternity it was designed to be, where brotherhood was of paramount importance, not aprons or titles. I still believe in the tenants of Freemasonry, but I no longer find attendance at Lodge to be meaningful or rewarding, be it at my mother Lodge or another. I have been asked by many Brothers, of whom I have the utmost respect, to return to Lodge, but I now find it more burdensome than enjoyable. I actually find Freemasonry to be more interesting over the Internet or through chance encounters than in a Lodge building.
Read: Freemasonry Is Dying
I am relatively well known in Masonic circles thereby becoming somewhat of an icon for those Masons who have abandoned the Craft for other pursuits. In my jurisdiction alone, we have lost over 18,000 members over the last twelve years, averaging an annual decline of approximately 1,500. Year after year we suspend members for non-payment of dues. One must ask, “Why?” Those members I personally know who have dropped out no longer find Lodge meaningful or fun, and fraught with politics and skullduggery. Again, this is not just my Lodge but many others in the area whose membership is shrinking and attendance dwindling. Some of the larger Lodges are so empty, you could play racquetball inside and nobody would know the difference.
It wasn’t always like this though. When I first started going to Lodge in the 90’s, people cared about each other, there were no personal domination issues, and certainly no politics. Masonic education was considered important for success, and our floor work was impeccable. In other words, you wanted to go to Lodge. You didn’t want to miss anything, as it was all meaningful to you. Unfortunately, not so anymore, which is why I am staying away.
Read: Seeing Ghosts in Lodge
I still contend Freemasonry is a beautiful logical concept that is poorly implemented physically. I also suspect this phenomenon is not unique to my jurisdiction, as I have visited many other Lodges. Perhaps the most innovative idea I have seen in recent times is the advent of the “Traditional Observance” Lodge (aka, “TO”) which takes the concept of fraternity much more seriously than regular Lodges and has fun in the process. In other words, they have made it meaningful.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company(M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I disagree with “When I first started going to Lodge in the 90’s, people cared about each other, there were no personal domination issues, and certainly no politics.” – – – Your Lodge was fraught with personal domination issues and politics. All groups, no matter the size or stated objective, has people who are making that happen. I’ve never been a member of a group that wasn’t so and it’s a leadership nightmare to deal with…it’s why there are books & seminars about it.
What I would say is that “first started going” gave Lodge a bright shine. Most Masons burn out in 7 to 10 years. Unless they find a way to change their Masonic experience. I don’t go to Blue Lodge but I’m an officer at the Scottish Rite. I was a major leader for Murat NexGen, but now I rarely participate at the Shrine. Life (for me) and the people around changed.
I still get all of the original aspects of being a Mason. I just don’t find it in “my” Blue Lodge. Mostly because I helped and watched the “sausage get made” and know what happens in the operations and politics of these groups.
Brother Luke – Maybe, but I tend to believe I got caught between two different generations of Masons; the elders with one set of values, and the juniors with today’s values.
Interesting thoughts Brother Tim and Brother Luke. I recently received my 25 year service award and as all anniversaries tend to do, it caused me to do a bit of self reflection. We have similar experiences as I started my journey in Freemasonry in 1990. Over the past couple decades I’ve seen my lodge expand and contract seemingly dependent upon the influence of the officers and the Past Masters. We are fortunate to have the involvement of many mature brothers and we enjoy great fellowship. I can see the “good ole boys” club to varying degrees and as it often relates to a specific topic of interest. But, largely, it’s about doing good work to make new Masons and enjoying the fellowship. What I miss in our lodge is true dedication to scholarly pursuits of Masonic education. I became a Mason to open the door to greater mastery of the esoteric practices of the mind. That may or may not have meaning for you but I can say that it’s pretty much non-existent. So, I enjoy the fellowship and the opportunity to meet new brothers while I continue reading and discussing such things as interest me with the select few who are also motivated like me. I interact with other like minded seekers on the internet as well. I like to think I have the best of both worlds. When I attend lodge, and I do that regularly, I feel good about it and keep my eye open for true seekers. I’m cordial and friendly with the rest but never forget my true path. Thanks so much for your insights and I do wish you both well as we journey the wilderness together on different pathways. I do so look forward to when they cross and you can count on a warm greeting from me.
Thanks for taking the time to express your thoughts my Brother.
I tend to agree with Luke on his point. I believe that the ‘politics’ is pretty much always there in any organization which does not make a concerted effort to eliminate it or plan for such inclinations to be filtered out or sublimated. “When I first started…,” in my experience (though I couldn’t see it until much later), translates to “Those just away from the NE corner aren’t normally privy to the circles within the Lodge where the politics are most prevalent.” By the time I was Master, it was pretty obvious that it was there all along. I was raised 41+ years ago, so more or less the same generational experience.
That said, the same ‘bad taste’ that Tim experienced was a part of my reason as well for not being active for many years. We have the demands of career and family, and–having been Master before those pressures really kicked in–they became a too-easy excuse for distancing myself. A new interest is just taking root for me, as well as a search for a new Masonic home, many miles away from my home Lodge. Not an easy search, but one, I’m coming to believe, that is worth the effort.
Interestingly (and this definitely injects a huge dose of hope into the discussion of any perception of a downward slide) it’s now the younger initiates…the second “new” generation since I was made a Mason…who are the source of a demand for something more than much of the Craft has become. Brotherhood, self-improvement, and a seeking after ‘deeper meanings’ is making a definite comeback all over the Fraternity. So is esoteric study, which is not really my thing but is a part of the Craft going way back. The ‘TO’ movement is a big part of what we might call a ‘revival’ in the Lodge.
I’ve made this comment before in these exchanges, but WB Andrew Hammer’s “Observing the Craft” is by far the best treatment I’ve seen of the issues and problems, as well as a good many of the solutions. I especially like his take on the concept of the ‘traditional’ part of ‘Traditional Observance:’ that the Lodge today has many things within the common experience it presents to new Brothers that are ‘traditional’ but by no means constructive! Bluntly, there is nothing admirable, per se, about ‘tradition,’ and the reinvigoration of Freemasonry requires more than a return to simple tradition. There’s an essay of his, on this topic, at http://observingthecraft.com/TheConceptofObservance.pdf .
Politics in Masonry is bad enough but corruption at the Grand Lodge destroys the Blue Lodge experience even quicker. It saddens me to see what has happened to Masonry in Arkansas over the past 15 years.
Brother Bill – Thanks for sharing the link. All the Best, Tim
“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them, ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down”.
I believe a comment I got from a pastor friend of mine, vis-a-vis “church hunting,” applies to Lodges too: “If you ever find the ‘perfect church,’ don’t join it. At that point, it will no longer be perfect!”
I agree with Tim myself being a new Mason of three years.
As an 40+ year member; 3 blue lodges, both rites, the shrine and a 7 year widows son, I read your post with great interest. I’m also a pm and past chairman of a forum, i.e. lodge of instruction. No capitals for a reason; I’m a MM. I agree with your observations and also recognize that men make the lodge such that each organization seals it’s own fate.
We do attract some that have an over developed sense of ego, several control freaks, and a gaggle of self righteous preachers… and I too have noticed the decline in true brotherhood being replaced with competitive battles to climb ranks… very sad indeed.
Most of my masonic career was in MA although several of my earlier experiences were in WVA and VA. Today I am marginally active in NH.
I was about to erase this post, but decided to let it go even though I have offered no suggestions for improving the situation.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Brothers.
Thanks Brother for your support and comments.
Brother Bill – It’s bad enough we see such behavior in business, but to see it in Lodge is just wrong. People used to go to Lodge to get away from the politics. Not anymore.
I would disagree with anyone who states “WB Andrew Hammer’s “Observing the Craft” is by far the best treatment I’ve seen of the issues and problems, as well as a good many of the solutions.” This man as well as many other authors are making money by writing books pointing at appendant bodies of masonry as the problem. This could not be further from the truth. I am Master of my lodge and very involved with the Shrine. Our Grand Lodge the last 5 years has hung their hat on people like Andrew Hammer and our membership has declined at a faster rate than ever. Our Annual Communication actually had multiple speakers who professed this in our public session.
My lodge numbers 200 members and regularly has 30 members in attendance. We visit other lodges and have education programs. We try to ignore the problems between Grand lodge and appendant bodies. This is difficult at times and I truly believe is one of the reason for our membership decline. The Kansas Mason newsletter has all the evidence you need from 2010 to 2015. May brotherly love prevail…
i too understand where you are comming from, its sad when some brothers in the craft act like they are generals in their last ditch effort to gain control over others, i am a past master,and enjoyed trying to do what free masonry teaches, i havent been to lodge in about 2 years now, because my home lodge have people there who have strayed away from the great teachings of masonry and no longer do the right thing that started them on the right path of enlightenment to begin with, when a lodge has it set up to have brothers in the same positions for 10 or 20 years, you have lost what you are trying to teach, i too love masonry and enjoy other brothers i have met, over the years, but when you allow people to take over others with titles and they use them for power in and outside the lodge,thats not what freemasonry was set up to be, it still amazes me how sometimes one or a few people can run other people and spoil a lodge, i put years and lots of time into this, i have taken my oaths serious, i have even involved my family with the craft, because its principal teachings i have felt were right i have always said , when its no longer fun i was done, i have even demitted and changed lodges, seen great men treated poorly in lodge never to return again,even had a brother insult the grand master of the state at my installation for worshipful master, then to be pulled aside later and told by this brother, i would sit down and shut up that he run the lodge and i would just sit there and do what i was told by him, well after i was installed as worshipful master, tried to help the community and help the poor, as we are instructed to do, like the food pantry, and he would get his clan to vote it down, because he had the money already earmarked for some of his friends in town, that had been going to them over the years, so after the year as worshipful master, i got the brothers doing some of what it they were supposed to be doing, and we got the grand masters award of excellence, by this time, i had served my year as master, so at the end of the year my blue lodge holds a past masters dinner and presents you with a past masters apron,was invited they had the dinner, and never even acknowledged me or that i was there, and the same brother gave himself an award then took me off the call list for lodge meetings, never to be heard from again, well accept for dues that is,they want money…ok blue lodge no longer fun, but i still miss the real masons who still understand what it means to be a real mason and brother and are doing it for the reasons taught by the craft.am still learning on my masonic path,just not at the blue lodge,have seen many things to numerous to list here,i guess theres politics even
but i understand where you are comming from brother
I wanted to join the Freemasons, but i hardly can not get thru. Its either no lodge in my area.
Hope this finds you well.
It’s the 80/20 rule or should I say 15/3…
3 became Ruffians
3 became good craftsmen
9 are still walking (they where told not to come back till they found the first 3)
Freemasonry attracts men of all nations. sect and religion, to foster friendship and good fellowship among like-minded men for the benefit of humankind. The deterioration of the once cohesive, ancient and honorable fraternity started when the members begun to fail in carefully preserving the landmarks of the order and embraced the practices of ordinary organizations whose objective is business and are politically oriented. which totally differ with Freemasonry.
my lodge has some member that go thru the chairs just for the prestige of it ! My WM gave me crap for not having a job and paying my dues
I wish you could come visit my lodge. We have a blast. We go out together, we smoke cigars together, we run charities, travel, visit each other in the hospital, and work hard to be an encouraging, supportive, and enjoyable lodge.
Our active membership is a well integrated group ranging from 20somethings to our elder statesmen, zipping along in their early 80s.
There have been problems in our lodge, and bad habits that could have turned it into a truly boring dusty old bench of a lodge. But we got together and talked about it and made changes to make it better.
I always tell prospective members to shop around before they join our lodge. I let them know there are 5 other lodges meeting in our temple and they should visit them all before committing. Not every lodge is an automatic fit for a candidate. And not every lodge remains a good fit for every member. Lodges are living entities and change over time. Becoming estranged from one’s lodge is not entirely uncommon, though I am happy it’s not something that happens every day.
Fraternity is one of the more important rewards of being a mason. I understand you enjoy the tenets and philosophy of Masonry on your own, but socializing among your brethren is important. Not only for your benefit, but for theirs. Younger Masons need to hear the stories of their older brethren; they need their counsel; they need their mentorship. Your lodge brothers, or those at some lodge, somewhere, will benefit from your stories, from your counsel, and from your leadership.
Some people wonder about the draw of Masonry, speculating with arched eyebrows about the secrets we bequeath behind closed doors. I always tell them the reward of Masonry is simple and enduring: there’s a group of guys who are happy to see me on the first and third Wednesdays.
Where else are you going to get that?
Tim my experience is somewhat the reverse. I was for many years a sales rep traveling much and doing trade shows weekends. It was most convienant to participate in Scottish Rite reunions a weekend in the spring and another on the fall as many as seven degrees in a reunion with 4 major roles and move scenery in between, evrn a little directing. Since retirement 5 years ago I have become active in Blue lodge again and loc forward to being active when qualify forbaward of gold in two years. It seems thar each month there is a new experience: have filled in for several chairs, make sure the robes ate returned to cabinets after second section mm, prepared ameal for stated meeting, ran a social occation, worked on several fund raisers, served as building trustee doing some minor repairs and planning and supervising others, attended grand lodge as represenatibe, attended an outdoor degree, distributed food baskets, assisted the star with their fair booth, investigated several candidates and followed the, through the degrees, visited an out of state lodge and several neighboring lodges. Yes, I don’t always agree with all the decisions politic and other of the lodge, but maybe its because our lodge is a little spicy for an old stodgy like me. However, the lodge is exciting and vibrant and makes me feel that also. I hope you can find a few new candidates for your lodge that will spice it up for you again— maybe look for beards and tats our lodge abounds with them.
It sounds like you have lost something Brother. I’m not sure if you are religious, but ask yourself this. If, you perceived that other members of your church were not the way they were when you first started worshiping, or that your religion no longer had any meaning, would you leave or would you try to find it again.
Greetings from down-under in Logan City next to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
I thoroughly enjoyed your article and the sentiments are heartfelt.
Personalities and politics are two of the human afflictions standing in our way, or perhaps teaching us how to overcome, in our bid for peace and contentment.
Fraternal, or just, plain and simple regards
Wondering if we all need to be going in the same direction to get to the same destination, or perhaps we are already there and do not realize it.
A friend from Grand Lodge shared your page with me on Facebook and I am grateful to have read it. It is so timely for me at the moment.
As a 42 year member, I’ll have to agree about the decline and attendance. The truth is that if you don’t put anything in Masonry, then you won’t get anything out. There are times when there is a “reason” why a member doesn’t attend lodge; but most just have “excuses”, and, in this fast-paced world, they can be made reasonable.
I am an older Mason. I have been a Master Mason for 38 years. Among other things, I am the first perpetual member of my lodge. I devoted much of my time to my Blue Lodge for the first 8 years or so, then I devoted about 25 years to the Scottish Rite and Shrine.
During those SR and Shrine years, I would attend my Lodge about 10 times per year, but I have not been attending regularly for about 10 years., and not at all for the last 2 years (due to infirmity) Most of the Masons my age have long since also stopped going to lodge or passed to the Celestial Lodge.
When I do go to the Stated Sessions, Degree work or social events of the Lodge, I feel like an outsider. The younger Masons make no effort to greet me, and appear to object to an old man joining their party for a meal or snack or simple conversation.
I have a lot of “institutional knowledge” of Masonry and appendent orders, but I have no opportunity to pass that on the new generation of Masons. That is both my loss and theirs.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to individual prosperity these being faith, hope, and charity are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to hinder these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest steps or degrees of the duties of men and citizens? The mere politician, equally with the religiously reverent, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.
Let this simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the most elementary of instruments of investigation for truth in courts of wisdom and justice? Let us with caution indulge the hypothesis that morality can be maintained without a strong reliance through faith in the teachings of faith virtue and value. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that individual understanding to a national moral code can prevail in exclusion of religious principle to a missed apprehension of the real nature of the Christian faith.
May sound dumb or funny but I agree with all of you. If I may make a suggestion, when brothers are raised they immediately join either the York Rite or Scottish Rite; instead of going through the officer’s line or even memorizing the lectures, so you can truly and fully understand and comprehend the ritual. I say it singular because all three together is one ritual with the finale being a Shakespeare play. I think this contributes to what the former brother said about being burnt out after ten years.
Warmest fraternal greetings WB Tim. I agree. In some Lodges I have likewise noted that factions exits. If one faction sponsors a candidate the other faction “black balls” and visa versa. This factions are very noticeable during fellowship. Candidates remain candidates not only for a year but years sometimes over 4 years. This is not the kind of masonry I knew and learned to love 36 years ago.
A great point, Roger, though I’d observe that we all have to choose which hills to fight upon; a battle for change, at a given point in our lives, doesn’t always fit into the plan. Strategic retreats are sometimes justifiable, even when they deprive the group of an individual who’d be of great value to the whole. A sad reality.
Well a quick note for all to think about, I was told many years ago by a 60+ year MASTER MASON who was over 90 years old, HERB MASON my Friend OUR MASONIC FRATERNITY is made up of BROTHERS and Fellows YOU MUST LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND DECIDE FOR YOURSELF WHICH ONE YOU ARE. GOD BLESS Y’ALL
“..I got caught between two different generations of Masons; the elders with one set of values, and the juniors with today’s values.” – Fraternal greetings, brother Tim, from a far away country – the Philippines! Well, like you, I have been not-so-active in my lodge for the past four(4) years now. I fully agree with your observation that in most Masonic lodges, there are two different generations of Masons, with two different sets of values too. I suppose that this is inevitable. For as they say, nothing is as constant as change. I thought to myself then that, to preserve the Harmony of the lodge, which is ‘paramount’ to our beloved fraternity, it’s time and it’s best that i just keep my 18 years in FM in my ‘memory bank’. In the meantime, I pray that the members of my blue lodge, especially the “juniors with today’s values”, be enlightened by the GAOTU as they go about administering the lodge’s affairs & coming in fellowship with other MMs withersoever dispersed. Perhaps then & only then will they become aware of, and appreciate, the vast contribution & sacrifices of those MMs who have gone before them.
Freemasonry hasn’t changed, We have by not educating our EA’s
Evidently I hit a nerve yesterday with this article. We had over 14,000 hits on the first day. In addition to the comments herein, I received several e-mails regarding this subject:
Brother L.S. in Tampa Bay, Florida wrote…
“I haven’t been back to Lodge since December of last year. I lost my son to a heart attack and nary a word from the lodge. You know my history with the Blue lodges and they’re all the same. So disappointed. I’ve looked to myself and although I’m far from perfect I am good man with a good heart. I see this with the influence I’ve had with my Niece and getting her to value herself before her so called friends. I am a Master Mason and this is not Freemasonry or who we are! Great post by the way. Loved it”
Brother C.D. in Lexington, Kentucky wrote…
“If you are ever in or around Lexington, Ky, it would be an honor to have you attend our Lodge. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. We have experienced an influx of new and engaged members and have experienced an 87% retention rate of those members who have been admitted in the last four years. This is due, primarily, to the expansive education program that our lodge has implemented. (See http://www.thecraftsman.org/ for details) as well as a renewed commitment to return to those tenets and practices that make Freemasonry noble and exemplary. We are moving away from boring, politically entrenched business meetings and focus on fellowship, conviviality, education and ritual. We have even dusted off long and almost forgotten practices such as festive boards and chambers of reflection, which sadly began to disappear from Masonry soon after the Morgan affair. The problems and issues you highlight in the well composed article you posted are unfortunately far too prevalent in American Freemasonry, but I want you to know that there are a handful of Lodges out there that are making the effort. It is our hope that by putting these practices into place, other Lodges will take notice and begin to make the necessary changes to re-engage and reinvigorate the members who share the same frustrations as you. Nonetheless, Brother Tim, you are a great American and a good and worthy Brother. If you are ever in my neck of the woods, I would love to sit with you on the sidelines and share with you the wondrous and exciting things happening at our Lodge.”
Brother J.W. of South Carolina wrote…
“Well put Tim, I know I’m feeling a bit lost after moving from Florida to South Carolina. I visited only one lodge here and felt very much like an outsider.”
Brother C.M. of Ballymena, United Kingdom wrote…
“A lot of valid points in this article, thanks for the thoughts brother.”
Brother D.M. of Ohio wrote…
“I’ve just read your post on why you don’t attend lodge and wanted to send a note about it. I feel similarly, but haven’t posted my reasons for not attending lodge on my own blog, or publicly out if concern for my lodge brothers. I don’t disagree with your actions in any way, but my tradition is hurting and the members are largely well intentioned, and I don’t want to add to their burden with my own criticism. I don’t believe they are trying to destroy the craft. They just don’t see the trend line.
I stopped attending lodge because lodge attendance is not an expression of freemasonry for me. I love freemasonry. Lodge attendance appears to have nothing to do with freemasonry though. I’ll agree with you, T.O. seems to have some promise. I hope it is not too late.
Lately I am recognizing that freemasonry may not be just a beautiful system that I personally enjoy geeking out on, or that gives my life so much meaning and purpose. Freemasonry may be the hope of our world. So much hatred, confusion, anger, violence in a word, darkness. I remain convinced that freemasonry could be the salvation of our world, with its ability to cross borders, religious, race, political. That lodge life does not contribute to what may be our greatest opportunity to spread brotherly love, knowledge, peace, is extremely frustrating to those of us who can see how important this is.
Sorry for ranting. I feel your post is courageous and timely and wanted to share my agreement with it. We, collectively, have gone off track. Lodge administration should be the tiniest part of Masonic life. While I am not attending lodge right now (I do pay dues), I study and practice freemasonry daily and hold out hope for the future of our great system.”
Brother D.H. of Logan City, Queensland, Australia wrote…
“I thoroughly enjoyed your article and the sentiments are heartfelt. Personalities and politics are two of the human afflictions standing in our way, or perhaps teaching us how to overcome, in our bid for peace and contentment.”
Brother M.S. of Washington, DC wrote…
“I enjoyed your article. It is one we all have pondered. I see what makes lodge interesting to you. I guess my question is what are you doing to make it interesting to both yourself and the brothers who are leaving? It is a question I ask myself as well, and so I guess the question becomes, ‘what can we do to stem the tide, make a difference as it where?'”
Brother F.M. of Connecticut wrote…
“I agree with you on most of your article. The good old boy’s club….yea, a bunch of guys clammoring to be Grand Master or a clique. Masonry is more than that. I am SW of Annawon Lodge #115 in CT. Next year, if elected, I will be Master. There is a shift in Freemasonry. I am revitalizing my lodge with social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) to get the young folks in and to try and keep them. I have been very active in my lodge and I understand your sentiments. After many years of Masonic labor you are tired. In our hall there are pictures of all the Masters of the lodge. Some were Master two or 3 times. It is cyclic. You have to keep up the faith and enchant and educate the young Entered Apprentices. Push them towards the officers line because that’s where the lessons are taught. I hope to have a resurgence in my year because I am enthusiastic about Freemasonry. I also hope that you participate in lodge activities because participation is vital. Participation is what will keep the craft alive.”
Brother B.D. of Morgantown, Indiana wrote…
“I dropped out after 20 years. I agree with your views.”
Brother T.P. of London, United Kingdom wrote…
“Having read with interest on social media your reasons for not going to lodge, I must say that I have had a similar experience. It would be nice to be able to again attend a Masonic meeting but not under these circumstances. Like yourself, I have put a lot into my mother lodge and not expecting reward at least I expected the Brethren to follow the basic code of our fraternity, but even this was for most of them not possible. I still don’t understand it quite, we are good men trying to better ourselves, and there we have Brethren that surpass our time in the order by some years and rank and medal collections…but even though we have this common goal, we seem to be working not together separately but separately separately. Sorry, I needed to let this out. Glad that you lend me your ear.”
Brother J.W. of New York City wrote…
“I feel the same way you do. My son and I have not been to Lodge in almost three years. My wife got sick (Cancer) on top of M/S. Not one person from
my Lodge has called or stopped by to see if we needed anything or a hand but they sure reach out for Dues and money for the Brotherhood fund. I
even went to Lodge and said something, well no help, I know how you feel but nobody cares it seems. It’s all about them. Thanks
for saying something and speaking out. Again thank you. All these years We felt we were alone feeling this way.”
I thank all of you for the courtesy and your comments. After reading these e-mails, two things come to mind: First, I suspect we no longer understand the concept of “Brotherhood.” We are not a philanthropy, even though we support many charities, but a fraternity, meaning “Brotherhood.” Unfortunately, we have trouble treating each other as Brothers, and more as pawns in a power game, much like what is found in business. Second, I believe we think too small. We no longer think big in terms of the impact our fraternity can have on the world. I have always believed we should be the “models of morality,” living exaqmples for others to emulate. Unfortunately, under our current modus operandi we are missing the brass ring.
Keep the Faith!
All the Best,
I agree completely. I was an 8 year member, two times master and active in all the York Rite bodies. I served as secretary in Chapter, did three news letters and was an officer in Chapter, Council and Commandery. I wound up demitting because of the fallout following a politically incorrect joke I sent in a text message to several people- only one of which was a Mason. Several brothers from my Lodge and another Lodge that met in our temple were going to drop out of line and go elsewhere. I decided to fall on my sword rather than tear up the Lodges officers. It’s been over a year now and I have no desire to return to being an active Mason. As you can imagine, I have LOTS of spare time now.
Yep, I’ve seen that a few times.
Freemasonry in some parts of the USA, as well as the Shrine, is dying simply because their principles are old fashion, out dated and, with regret I must say, without the meaning of Masonic life. Compare with the Freemason lodges I have been in overseas, the Lodges in the US became more like a group of older retired Rotary or Lions club members coming once a month together at 6PM in the lodge and finish their work at 9PM? Lodges in Europe for example start at 8PM – going to work and after work they have their dinner. The Lodge closed its doors at 11PM – every week!!!
This is what you call this the Freemason fraternity? A Brotherhood – Blow some life in your lodges dear Brethren !!! – Come up with something new! – Try to get some younger people in your rows. Start work at 7 or 8PM so that the working younger class having the opportunity to come to the Lodge AFTER work.
Times are changing. A few months ago I was witness (for the FIRST TIME in my life) that a colored person was not accepted in a local Lodge. Where are we?? Civil war is over!! I haven’t seen this since the Apartheid in South Africa. I have visited 119 countries in this / our wonderful World and can tell you that this was a shocking experience to see that a “free Men with a good reputation” was denied based on the color of his skin. Where and what is the meaning of Freemasonry in this beautiful country?
I am a past master and member of a Prince Hall lodge in the UK, and we have great meetings that most of our members say they enjoy. This may be because we are a small lodge probably at best no more than a dozen active members at a time, this means that every brother has a role to play at the meeting. However I am hearing more and more from brothers that have returned to the US that they cannot find a lodge that they are comfortable in due to the politics and personality cults that they find. In the meantime we will continue to find new brothers and teach them what Masonry is in the hope that some of these brothers will find a lodge and start to get the brothers back to practicing Masonry as it should be.
Indeed you did strike a nerve, Tim. Let’s see if I can parlay an old quote and a current cliché into a single point.
Mary Kay Ash (yep, the pink Cadillac lady) remarked that “There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
We’re reminded at every turn these days, from bumper stickers to charitable solicitations, of Gandhi’s observation that it’s necessary to “Be the change that you wish to see.”
A Lodge is not a self-existent entity. It’s made up of individual members: Masons who, theoretically, have a certain sense of what a Lodge should be. Some get it wrong and, as leaders, take the Lodge down a wrong path, while others help their Lodges prosper and become magnets for the Craft. Examples of both of those are evident in the thread that Tim began.
Some Masons spend their careers constructing worthy personal Temples and stand ready to share their trestle-boards with their Fellows. Others wait for their Brethren to toil in the quarries and on the scaffolding, so they may live in whatever structure results: some happy and grateful for the opportunity to do so; others content only to complain about comforts and amenities missing from an ill-planned and badly executed building. Again, both sorts are evident in the conversation.
The only certainty, if we or a loved one requests it, is that someday one Brother will lay an evergreen sprig on our chests and another will tuck the edges of a white lambskin around us. At that point, how we used the working tools we were given (all of us the same ones, but different in the hands of different craftsmen) will be a matter only for the memory of our Brethren. Each of us will have built his own memorial and written his own epitaph, and not a word or an action may be added or taken away.
It is only now, as active workmen with a common interest in the institution, that we can impact the life and the future of the Craft. Complaining about it and belaboring past wrongs and current shortcomings won’t get it done, and neither will praying for miraculous change or counting upon transformation wrought by the toil of others.
For those who haven’t the time or the inclination for the effort, that’s okay; you’re no less my Brother for that, nor I, hopefully, any less yours. But for those who can muster the energy and whose hands still remember their skill, I’d offer another quote: “Get ‘er done!”
we enter upon freemasonry quietly of our own freewill and accord. getting out from it, we must do the same – quietly and of our freewill and accord. we don’t need your reasons for leaving.
Lots of emotional turmoil spoken in all those comments Tim. All seem to have something pertinent to say but many speak contrary to each others views. So, I don’t know how to respond adequately, not being privy to what MASONRY is all about. I had no idea that you had stopped attending but your reasons sound VERY valid. God Bless !!!
As the daughter of a Past Master ( 1976) and very active in Masons dad I know what it was like during my childhood… It wasn’t just going to meetings.. It including building our lodge together and going camping and having family times etc. etc… The Masons involved in our lodge were the most awesome men in my life.. I spent tons of time at our lodge and was allowed to wield a hammer etc when building it… This was an experience I loved… They were involved in our Rainbow as far as helping us with fund raisers etc. Many of them were also involved with OES etc in one way or another… They all worked together to support everyone and everything… They had tons of dinners and such that gave us even more closeness and camaraderie… I don’t know what has happened since I grew up and left home many years ago… No one here where I live seem to recognize the lodge which is confusing to me.. It says to me that that the connection between lodges here in my area is not anywhere near as strong as it was back in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s etc… This is so very sad to read these comments… And if any of our lodge members are seeing this I am disappointed it the fact that the expectation of our 2 rainbow girls attending their stuff in order to get them to pay attention to the girls for the things they need is out of hand… These girls and building our Rainbow is a major priority to me and others on our Rainbow board etc… My feeling is that everyone connected with Masons etc. need to be supportive for our girls so we have a great chapter and girls that want to be involved through majority.. This is what Masons were when I was growing up… It doesn’t happen anymore which makes me wonder how long my grand daughter will stay involved… I don’t know how you all can fix it but it only takes one to get it started…. Thank you for letting me post this…
Brother D.T. of Yorkshire, United Kingdom wrote…
“Here in Yorkshire our lodges are very strong but we do things the old york way much against UGLE directives. My own lodge does workings which are never seen anywhere else as a consequence we have lots of members and visitors. I do however find fees are getting too high which is turning some areas of freemasonry back to as it was a rich mans organisation. If ever in Uk or more accurately Yorkshire drop us a line least we can have a beer and visit a lodge somewhere.”
Brother B.B. of Queensland, Australia wrote…
“There are a number of Grand Lodges ‘Down Under’ – some are stronger than others. They are the United Grand Lodge of Queensland (UGLQ) State of Queensland, the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the ACT (Australian Capital Territory (similar to your Washington DC), the Grand Lodge of South Australia and the Northern Territory, the Grand Lodge of Victoria, the Grand Lodge of Tasmania and finally the Grand Lodge of Western Australia. The Grand Lodge of NSW and the ACT and the Grand Lodge of Victoria are by far the biggest (as a good proportion of the Australian population are in Sydney, Melbourne and regional NSW and Victoria. The total population of Australia is 23 million and Queensland’s population is only 4 million. There approximately 7,500 Freemasons in Queensland. Australian house prices are among the dearest in the world with the Sydney average being $A One million and in Brisbane approx. $A500,000. our cost of living is quite high and there is an unemployment rate of approx. 6%.
Like you Americans, we Aussies have to have a motor vehicle owing to expensive and infrequent public transport. The other allied fraternal organization – the RAOB the Royal Antedeluvian Order of Buffaloes is almost extinct. The UGLQ has numerous country Lodge buildings in various states of disrepair and will have to centralise to remain effective. Queensland is a very large state with some rural brethren travelling 4 to 5 hours to attend Lodge meetings. The boom years were immediately following WW1 and WWW2 when the returned servicemen joined their local Lodge for companionship. Sadly, most have now passed away, however until a few years ago, these same brethren held the Craft back owing to their attitudes of ‘we have always done it this way’ and especially in Grand Lodge ‘Jobs for mates’.”
An S.K. of Ontario, Canada wrote…
“I read your article and found it quite interesting, I was the most active Mason in my area, never went to the east, but wrote and gave many lectures, was out 7 days a week on Masonry. Must tell you that my wife, daughters are Freemasons (England). My son and son-in-law are Masons. I got sick and stopped going, but not one call or email from anyone, made me think that what you do is for yourself and not for those around you. I am the editor of paper that goes out to many Masons, I am the secretary of a Grand Lodge committee, I attend when I wish and am very involved in after bodies that I enjoy. Masonry spends time trying to get new members and forgets about existing brethren.”
Related article –
A TRUE LOSS for the BROTHERHOOD and for YOU. As everyone knows there are two sides to every story and there may be more, but This story has a terrible message and it appears that a mistake was made by posting an improper message the next move was by MASONIC BROTHERS who need a refresher course on going to a BROTHER to WHISPER WORDS OF WISDOM & ENCOURAGEMENT IN TO HIS EAR. MY BROTHER IT APPEARS THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN to FALL ON YOUR SWORD and it has CUT DEEP I TRULY HOPE THAT YOU WILL FIND A TRUE BROTHER TO WALK WITH YOU THROUGH THIS HUMAN MISTAKE because there has ONLY BEEN ONE PERFECT and we didn’t get chosen for that. So as I am on saying a prayer tonight I will ask that the GREAT ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE will give you PEACE and JOY and know that you are a Dedicated Brother who now has BROTHER MASONS MISSING HIM AND IN TURN i hope you are MISSING THEM. GOD BLESS YOU BROTHER.
Brother Herb –
Many thanks for taking the time to write. I am fine with my decision and still meet regularly with some Brothers. However, the real tragedy is the state of our fraternity where we keep losing members year after year. Obviously we are not offering a venue of interest to new people as well as older Brothers who have stopped coming for the reasons I mentioned.
I am a junior deacon in my lodge. We have a brother whose is in his 40s whose father just passed away. Since his dad’s death 12 weeks ago, he has grown more and more belligerent and confrontational during degree rehearsal. He yells as people, he snaps his fingers at them if they miss a step or mess up a line of ritual. He slammed a door in my face because I tyled it without knocking and called another brother an idiot under his breath. He inherited his father’s house and luxury car which he is selling so he’ll have a small fortune. I hate political correctness with a passion, but this guy grosses me out to no end, uses racial slurs, condescends to everyone. After he slammed the door in my face, i emailed the master to tell him what had been going on. I didn’t use his name, but since our lodge is small, he’ll figure it out in 2 seconds. I want to step down from my officer role. I have no desire to work a 10 hour day, drive an 45 min to go to lodge for rehearsal and deal with this idiot. He’s been in the lodge since his 20s. He thinks masonry is way more important than it actually is and it’s sad because that’s all he has in his life. He’s not married. He hasn’t worked in 2 years. He’s lost and a toxic person. Tomorrow I am having a talk with the master. I will finish our current degree work and then I am stepping down. I am thinking of writing an anonymous letter to my state’s grand lodge to let them know that they’ll never keep, successful educated people if these lowlife jerkoffs treat people like garbage because their life sucks. So, masonry was a nice experience for 3 years, but i am out of the line and MIGHT stay on as a regular brother attending lodge once in a while. Or i might deaffiliate. Still thinking that through. You’d rethink all your involvement if someone you hardly know screamed f–k you and slammed a huge door in your face almost catching your head in it. Anyways…. i posted here so some od the gung-ho brothers out there who champion masonry like religious zealots know that crap like this does happen in “true and perfect ” lodges.
Can’t say that I’ve ever attended a “true and perfect” Lodge: only ones populated by men with the faults and frailties that plague us all and which we all fight, at one point in our lives or another” to control. “Vices and superfluities of life,” right? We all have to make our own decisions about what motivates us to continue or quit, when we have negative experiences; just like we all did regarding our original move to join.
AnonBro, your experience is pretty extreme. That being the case, I’m sure you’ve put forth more than an appropriate amount of effort to find out what’s going on in your Brother’s life to make him behave that way (because that’s what Brothers do when there’s a falling out in the family) and also that you’ve exhausted all reasonable avenues before feeling you need to leave. You don’t say that you have, but, after all, that would be the approach consistent with the commitment we make to our Brothers coming in the door.
That being the case, (and your Master not showing any appreciation for your effort or making a move to correct the offending Brother) you’d be in a situation in which there might not be much choice but to leave, although your Lodge will obviously be losing a dedicated member. An anonymous letter to your Grand Lodge seems just the right move to fill them in on exactly where the problem lies. I can just about guarantee you that they’ll understand completely!
Brother Anon –
I understand your frustration, but please do not take it to the Grand Lodge yet as this could open Pandora’s Box. Work through your WM who should offer “wise counsel” to the Brother in question. I know the type of whom you speak. They have no life other than the Lodge, meaning they are small people desperately seeking recognition. If the Lodge officers cannot talk to him, than bring it up in a Stated Communications and mention him as “Brother X”. Good luck.
YES We have members who are totally about them self. A lot of our lodges suffer due to their ME and I ATTITUDE his father may have been the only structure that he understood and his mental control he may be suffering from his loss, it appears that some direction from senior members of the lodge including the W M need to initiated. This BROTHER (fellow) may need to be relieved as director of education (the only person permitted to instruct during practice) or be ask to step away from his chair for a while. Peace and Harmony always being our STRENGTH. PLEASE CONTINUE TO BE A STRONG MASONIC BROTHER even when others appear to let YOU and the BROTHERHOOD DOWN. GOD BLESS YOU.