Why I No Longer Attend Lodge

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 timb001@phmainstreet.com

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Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant who writes commentaries about the times we live in be it in the corporate world, the Masonic world, or our personal lives. His writings are well known on the Internet and are humorous, educational, and at times controversial. You won’t always agree with him, but Tim will definitely get you thinking.

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  1. First time visitor to the site- nice work by the way-
    A comment on the article if you don’t mind;
    I realize when a group of men weigh in on problems, there is a tendency to be rather muscular in the way ideas are expressed. Email itself tends to strip away nuance, often distorting the message received. All that aside, I think the point made is reasonable. Some of us tend to recall how a true mason is generous and thoughtful when judging others and always keeping the lecture in the 3rd Degree in mind.
    But there is a compelling point in the article that made me think the reason may be justified if we think about fatigue. Volunteer fatigue is a phenomena that large organizations have been tracking for some time. Too many requests, for too long- like a drop of water on a stone- eventually it wears a hole into the hardest surface given enough time.
    Most lodge meetings, most masonic events involve solicitation. Over time, this process has become an unintentional constant chorus that blends with the cacophony of solicitation from television, from clerks at checkouts, from our church, schools, hospitals, and a multitude of interest groups old and new.
    What I am suggesting is that there may more than weak character or lack of initiative at play. It might be more productive to think inclusively. How do we address this phenomena for all Brethren?
    I appreciate the opportunity to comment.

  2. Thank you my brother for this well written article. I too, share exactly the same feelings. I feel that it has lost its meaning, or better said it lost its true East. I also feel sadned by the lack of true brotherhood, and simplicity, before a brethren, was a brother before any manly tittle, today it seems that an invisible classification is in place. Also, adding to my sadness, coming from a long Masonic background, that U.S. lodges have an increasing difficulty recognizing masons from other parts of the world; forgetting that masonry was introduced to the new world, not indigenous to it. I firmly believe in our Masonic principles, and I long to see a change in the near future, as “we”, get older and new faces is needed for its survival.

  3. We are fortunate to be thriving at Columbian Lodge in Boston, due to the strong desire among all members be a part of the Masonic community, to attend almost every communication, plus to assist on committees. But as wonderful as an evening at Lodge may be, we are vigilant to keep egos in check, and to listen to all points of view on internal matters. We are also “blessed” with an active, strong, and vocal northeast corner, and a solid line of officers. For us, the Fraternity is very much alive, with several candidates per year knocking on the door, and with many visitors on the sidelines during Lodge and at dinner.

    We are indeed a society where Freemasonry can become an anachronism, but for me, anyway, Lodge is a great time to catch up with old friends and brothers, and to meet new ones. We share laughter, advice and the bond of brotherhood. Not just on the first Thursday of every month, but throughout the year.

  4. was interested in your comments Tim [ & others] after thrice in the chair of King Soloman & a forage through side orders, I find the same old problems arising in the craft in general even here in our wee atoll in the south, I believe we need to use as much tenacity & tolerance for a confusing & changing world as we can – our means of communicating need upgrading [ constantly] but keep our old traditions of ” brotherly love & charity” to the fore – people often ask me “why are you a freemason- is it a cult or something like that? I always answer that it is a very good & proper organization – if it wasn’t I would not be involved with it. – W.B.Geoff Mather – Lodge Rotorua 153

  5. Brother Geoff –
    Thanks for your comments. In the short time since I wrote that article, I have noticed it is getting worse. Good Masons I have known a long time are leaving due to the politics involved. And, of course, membership continues to decline. It’s very sad.
    All the Best,

  6. Yes, membership continues to decline. But only in the US, in England and some other countries, not in Europe, and specially in France. There are many reasons which explain these trends. I think that it’s good to analyse this decline and the opposite in Europe. For example, in the US, a free mason get the 32degree from the 3rd degree in a week end, and in England the 18 degree in a meeting. In France, he has to go through steps: a lodge working from the 4th degree to 14th degree ( Loge of Perfection), a lodge from the 15th degree to the 18th degree (Chapitre, Chapter), a lodge from the 19thdegree to the 30th degree (Aeropage), etc…. At each step, he has to present several papers on masonic subjects before being nominated to go to a higher lodge. The work is intense, with at least one meeting per month. Other reasons can be seen if we go deeper in these trends.

  7. Tim, it is with sadness and disappointment that I must report that I could have written the very same article! The first paragraph alone is a clone of my own thoughts on this subject. I am bound to the tenants of Freemasony by choice and it remains my primary moral compass. The Lodge experience, however, has become burdensome indeed! I enjoy meeting and corresponding with Mason’s around the world via the Internet, but have no interest in attending Lodge, climbing the Grand Lodge latter, or getting a White hat or Red Jacket. Most of the Lodge charity efforts are aimed at keeping the Lodge financially afloat and not an out reach to the community. I have plumbed the depth of Blue Lodge Masonry and have found it seriously lacking. Thank you for voicing what I believe many others have found to be true.

  8. Brother Peter – Thanks for your note. It is indeed sad, the Lodges are like this. They no longer have meaning, just repetition. We should be building a dialog about such things as morality, out communities, and how we can help make the world a better place, but such is not to be.

  9. Tim, as I said in a comment months ago, you really struck a nerve with this post. This has to be one of your longer-lived pieces: still getting comments after so long. I guess the comments in sympathy with your decision to not attend Lodge finally reached a sort of critical mass with me (especially your “but such is not to be,” in your most recent response), and I’m prompted to jump back into the fray. Hope you’ll forgive me, if my comments seem critical.

    What I don’t understand about many of the comments (and, don’t get me wrong, I love all of you like…well…Brothers!) is how so many of you speak about a Lodge as if it were, somehow, something apart from its members. Whether you found that a Lodge did not meet your needs or live up to your expectations when you first become a member, or even if it became something of that sort over time and as a result of changing membership, personalities or times, no Lodge is ever any more or less than the members…all of them…make it. Giving up active membership and saying, “The Lodge did this to me,” or, “The Lodge said that to me,” or “The Lodge treated me this way or that way,” is no better, ultimately, than saying “I decided that the reasons I petitioned and the principles I was taught upon becoming a Mason weren’t worth my time, effort, and energy to pursue in the context of a Lodge.” We promise, as Masons, to work not just for our own improvement but also for the betterment of our fellows. In deciding to ‘fly solo’ (and without even broaching the subject of abandoning the Craft entirely), I believe that “solo” Masons miss a worthy point arising from the allegorical foundation of the Operative Craft: cathedrals were not built by individual Masons, and neither shall ours be!

    I can almost guarantee you that a Lodge in decline–where ‘leaders’ treat membership in a shabby manner and where the principles of the Craft are not taught and actively developed and pursued–does not result from the efforts of a “dedicated” group of Brethren setting out to establish and maintain a mediocre Lodge! Members who assume positions of leadership may allow their narrow agendas and individual power trips to poison their Lodge, but masonically all they have done is to invite other Brethren to engage in an effort to clean up the mess and make the Lodge what it can be instead. In most cases (and that, admittedly, can be a jurisdictional issue…some Grand Lodges seem dedicated to making situations like this worse; not better), the Craft is generally, institutionally ‘spring loaded’ to live up to its principles and to ‘practice what it preaches.’ That, maybe more than any other reason, is why it survives after centuries.

    Virtually everywhere in the U.S., I’m persuaded that Masons who want to practice their Craft in a manner consistent with the basic tenets of the Fraternity, and within the context of a Lodge, can find a way to do so, if it is important enough to them: i.e. somewhere short of merely explaining “Why I no longer attend Lodge.” It is mainly a matter (I will not say “simply,” for it is not a simple process—nor one guaranteed to succeed) of whether Brethren who find their masonic experience less than fulfilling are willing to make the effort to make it otherwise, as opposed to either sitting on the sidelines or at home and bemoaning the condition of the Fraternity.

    Today, Brethren all over the U.S. are steering their Lodges toward a closer observance of the ancient principles of the Craft, and are, in so doing, not infrequently arousing the ire of those whose cozy (though empty) fiefdoms they disturb. It is hard and worthy work. Others are taking advantage of their jurisdictions’ allowance for multiple membership or more traditional practice of demit, to affiliate with other, more suitable Lodges. Still others are establishing new Lodges, with the intention of making and maintaining them as places in which the principles of the Craft are taught, valued and practiced. They are laying down for themselves (and, hopefully, many thousands of Brethren to follow) an ever-growing list of reasons “Why I attend Lodge.”

  10. Freemasonry is like everything else, you only get out what you put in. It is not for selfish motivated individuals.

  11. I too no longer attend Lodge.

    Not because I have lost my desire to be a part of a wonderful fraternity, for I have been in the Craft since 1981. Due to the nature of my employment I was transferred many times across Canada and as such have affiliated with several Lodges in several jurisdictions.

    Over the course of the years I have seen good, bad and diverse in the Craft, but the one constant that I have witnessed is the lack of willingness on the part of the “‘old guard’ in the Lodge to welcome, let alone accept any kind of change. Despite the fact that in their younger days these individuals were the men that motivated the lodge and were often the wind beneath the wings of those lodges or districts.

    Then to many of them became the Secretary of the lodge and became bitter, sour and entrenched in their ways. They eventually refused to allow anything new and refreshing to happen in “their lodge”. I have witnessed repeatedly over the past three decades Lodges work themselves to death moving candidates through degrees, just to see nearly every one young member quit in frustration, leaving the lodge barely able to fill the chase on a meeting night.

    As important as these men think they are to the life of their lodge, they and their old supporters fail to recognize that they are the real problem.

    As cancer slowly builds in a persons body, gradually sucking the life out of the living, so too does the cancer of “Thats the we have always done it here”, “You can change things all you want, when I’m no longer here,” “You’re not from here and you don’t really have as say”, are a few examples of the poisoned attitudes that are destroying the Craft all over the world.

    I have worked the lodge level, as a member and a Master. I have worked at the Grand Lodge level, and I have travelled to lodges all across my vast country and visited lodges in several American States and in Europe. As such I have seen and experienced many ways the Craft is practiced differently and sometimes better than where I belonged.

    But sadly the OLD GUARD who have never visited outside of their jurisdiction, remain convinced that their way and only their way is the only way and they would sooner shut the Lodge down than let younger, newer inquisitive members take their rightful place in the history of these dying lodges and carry them into the future.

  12. I think you should resign from Masonry. I read how concerned you are about what it isn’t doing for you and nothing of what you’re doing for it. Your cynicism and criticisms are exactly why I go all the time.

    My lodge like many, is facing issues with lack of attendance and negligence in paying dues. Those that attend and keep their dues up are why I go. I enjoy their company and fellowship. More than that, they are the Brothers who will work for the craft. I would rather attend a lodge with barely enough people to open than to beg the absent ones to step up.

    I know one of my Brothers who claims the lodge gets too “political.” I don’t value his assessment because he’s never there! Many of them are at risk of suspension this year for dues. Frankly, if they don’t catch them up, i would be relieved to suspend them. They do nothing for the lodge anyway and by not paying their dues, they injure the lodge because we have to pay their per capita shorting our funds all the more. I say if you’re not going to support the lodge, don’t be a detriment to it.

    If you’re not happy with your lodge, work to make it better or find one that’s a better fit. Don’t publicly whine about what’s wrong with it. You only become part of the problem.

  13. Brother Daniel – Thank you for your note. I’ve been actively involved in Freemasonry for nearly 20 years having sat as Master twice and Secretary for many years. When people no longer find Lodge of value or stimulating, that is becomes administratively repetitious, or too political, they leave. I have seen this much too often, particularly among young men who thirst for Masonic knowledge but find nothing beyond their catechisms. When they find themselves working in kitchens and performing unending fund raisers, their interests wane. I don’t know about your jurisdiction, but I have seen this too often in mind, and many fine men desert the fraternity for other endeavors.
    All the Best,
    Tim Bryce

  14. Hi,
    There was a time when the Roman Catholic Church outlawed Freemasonry, which gave meaning to masons what they were about! But when Freemasons and Jesuits joined ranks in America, the rot set in.


    Tupper Saussy, wrote a shocking book titled, Rulers of Evil. It was published in 2001. It’s about the Jesuits. It’s about their influence on the founding of the United States.

    Tupper was a brilliant researcher, among his other talents. While making his case in the book, he lets the reader know when the points of reference are circumstantial. Tupper was a man who knew how to assess degrees of evidence.

    One of most shocking facts about the highly controversial book was its publication by HarperCollins, a major house. That feat was somehow accomplished by agent Peter Fleming. Peter did what no other agent could have done. He pulled off a magic trick for the ages.

    I’m sure, once the book was in print; the people at Harper looked at each other and said,

    “What did we just do? How did this happen? Peter Fleming must have hypnotized us!”

    I offer a group of quotes from the book (transcribed at truthcontrol.com), without comment. The quotes are meant to attract your interest, so you’ll find a copy of Rulers of Evil and read it. These statements involve the Jesuits, the Knights Templar, the Vatican, the Freemasons:

    “During the night of December 16, 1773, a gang of Indians climbed aboard certain ships in Boston harbor, ripped open three hundred forty-two of the East India Company’s tea chests and threw overboard their contents, valued at $90,000. Well, they looked like Indians, and witnesses thought they were Indians, but the big open secret was that they were Freemasons in disguise. Perhaps the most succinct statement on the subject appears in respected Masonic historian Arthur Edward Waite’s New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry:

    ‘The Boston Tea Party was entirely Masonic, carried out by members of the St. Johns Lodge during an adjourned meeting’.”

    “The East India Company was a major subsidizer of the Jesuit mission to Beijing. The Jesuits, in turn, interceded with oriental monarchs to secure lucrative commercial favors for the company, including monopolies on tea, spices, saltpeter (for explosives), silks, and the world’s opium trade. Indeed … the company appears to owe its very existence to the Society of Jesus [the Jesuits].”

    “Freemasonry was the natural, the reasonable, the only intelligent way for the Roman Catholic Church to control (a) the ongoing affront of Protestantism, (b) the increase in ‘divine right’ kings heading their own national churches independent of Vatican control, and (c) the incredible explosion of international mercantilism. Like the aquatic creature whose mouth resembles a comfortable resting place to its prey, the [Masonic] Lodges were a sagacious recycling of the old Templar infrastructure into a dynamic spiritual and economic brotherhood that gave Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, and anyone else an opportunity to build a better life outside Roman Catholicism, yet still under the Church’s superintending eye.”

    “Of the 2,500,000 enumerated inhabitants in 1787 America, the Roman Catholic population consisted of no more than 16,000 in Maryland, 7,000 in Pennsylvania, 1,500 in New York, and 200 in Virginia. Once the Constitution was in place, a steady influx of European immigrants transformed Roman Catholicism from America’s smallest to largest religious denomination. By 1850 the higher powers at Rome could view the United States as a viable tributary, if not another papal state.”

    “The highest master of a [Masonic] Lodge received commandments from an ‘Unknown Superior,’ a Superior whose will the master’s whole struggle up the degrees had trained him to obey without question. What the masters never realized was that this mysterious personage, as we shall examine in more detail later, was in fact none other than the Black Pope [the head of the Jesuits].”

    “Then, as an addendum to its closing statements, the Council [of Trent, 1545-1563] recommended that the Jesuits ‘should be given price of place over members of other orders as preachers and professors.’ It was at Trent that the Roman Catholic Church began marching to the beat of the Black Papacy [the Jesuits].”

    “Fascism may be an ugly word to many, but its stately emblem is apparently offensive to no one. The emblem of fascism, a pair of them, commands the wall above and behind the speaker’s rostrum in the Chamber of the [US] House of Representatives. They’re called fasces, and I can think of no reason for them to be there other than to declare the fascistic nature of American republican democracy.”

    “A fasces is a Roman device. Actually, it originated with the ancient Etruscans, from whom the earliest Romans derived their religious jurisprudence nearly three thousand years ago. It’s an axe-head whose handle is a bundle of rods tightly strapped together by a red sinew. It symbolizes the ordering of priestly functions into a single infallible sovereign, an autocrat who could require life and limb of his subjects. If the fasces is entwined with laurel, like the pair on the House [of Representatives] wall, it signifies Caesarean military power. The Romans called this infallible sovereign Pontifex Maximus, ‘Supreme Bridgebuilder’.”

    “No building can rightly be called a capitol unless it’s a temple of Jupiter, the great father-god of Rome who ruled heaven with his thunderbolts and nourished the earth with his fertilizing rains. If it was a capitolium, it belonged to Jupiter and his priests. Jupiter’s mascot was the eagle, which the founding fathers [of the United States] made their mascot as well.”

    “Consider: the land known today as the District of Columbia bore the name ‘Rome’ in 1663 property records; and the branch of the Potomac River that bordered ‘Rome’ on the south was called ‘Tiber.’ This information was reported in the 1902 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Daniel Carroll. The article, specifically declaring itself ‘of interest to Catholics’ in the 1902 edition, was deleted from the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967).”

    (Source Jon Rappoport Sep 2017

    Google: The RED Mass and The BLUE Mass.
    See how the Vatican rules America from the bottom to the top.
    How many PROTESTANTS are on the Supreme Court?
    6 Roman Catholics and 3 Jews.
    The original Jesuits were Marrano Jews!

    Tim, that is the reason why you have lost your vitality for Freemasonry!
    Like a vampire, the Jesuits have drained the life blood out of Freemasonry!

  15. Well as I travel through MY LIFE AS A MASON I have learned many things but one thing remains no matter how you write about it, make statements, tell all about your history or travels, wear your ring pins or other items, YOU CAN BE THE PROBLEM OR THE ANSWER. A BROTHER OR A FELLOW. YOU determine what YOU will do. MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

  16. Wor. Tim, thank you for this post. I was very active in the Craft for the first 12 years of my membership. I have been fortunate to serve as WM in my blue lodge for 3 years and as EHP for my Royal Arch Chapter for two years. From 2003 through 2013 I truly loved the Fraternity. When our blue lodge moved to a different town, we suffered some attrition in membership, which was understandable, but regrettable. Sadly, the reasons most members no longer came to lodge in our new home were due to hyperbole, innuendo and just inertia. At a period when we were most vulnerable, our core membership abandoned us, leaving mostly younger, less experienced Masons to carry on. While we have labored to preserve the lodge and to protect and grow our finances we have been unable to add a single member to our lodge since 2013 and we are lucky to have 10 members show up for a meeting. I expect that before too long we will, like many lodges have to merge to avoid Grand Lodge receivership. Moreover, in the blue lodges and the York Rite there has been a marked contraction of leadership and cronyism that “runs the show”, e.g., determines who becomes DDGM, DDGHP, Grand officers and the like. We no longer have dinners at lodge or in the York Rite bodies, which subtracts a significant degree of fraternity from monthly meetings. So, our monthly meetings are business meetings with the occasional degree in the York Rite. It’s fallen a long way from the halcyon days that were comparatively much more rewarding. I am contemplating whether or not I should accept a nomination to become IM in Council and/or EC in Commandery. The proverbial bloom is off the rose and the Fraternity is but a shadow of it’s former self. Sure, the core group of decision makers who have gravity at the district and Grand Lodge level endure, accumulating their various aprons and jewels in the process…but honestly I’m leaning toward stepping out of line as I cannot with integrity remain part of this charade. I have vast respect for many men who have labored long in the quarries and who continue to represent the best characteristics of craft Masonry. Perhaps if I have an epiphany I’ll decide to put my mettle to the Trestleboard and persevere. Thank you for the opportunity to express my experiences.

  17. Wor. Ned – Many thanks for your comments. Yes, we are also seeing a substantial decline here in Florida. A couple of reasons come to mind; first, changing times in society, morality and entertainment (this includes competition with other fraternal organizations); second, Freemasonry is becoming a club rife with politics, not fraternity, and; Third, lack of leadership from Grand Lodge. Instead of talking about this problem openly, we tend to pretend it doesn’t exist and that everything will work out in the end. It won’t until we have an honest dialog about all of this.

  18. Great article! I became very disinterested in Blue Lodge so I went for the 32nd and then to Shriners, read esoterics looking for the answer and never really found a true die hard brotherhood. I was cheated financially by one bro. and constantly asked for free work by another. Finally, I stopped paying all dues Blue, SR and Shriners. I feel like whatever FAM once was, it is no longer. At least in Hawaii. Although I still and will always donate to Shriners Hospital in Honolulu.

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