My First Lodge Meeting

After a summer that has passed all too quickly, I received a communication in the mail announcing the first meeting of the lodge since going dark for the summer. I’m assuming that someone dropped the ball as the meeting was set for two days from when I received the mailing.

This was my first real meeting since joining and taking the first degree.

I was quite suprised to see that of seven of us that took the first degree, only three of us were present.

I’m already witnessing the personalities of the lodge and am getting an idea about which ones clash.

Over the Summer I heard that the last “class” that went through the degrees were not required to demonstrate their proficiency in the lodge.

Apparently, the members that were instructing the candidates had both been Past Masters. They were asked how the candidates were doing by the Worshipful Master. They replied that the candidates were doing great and were ready to move on. The WM then said Great! Let’s bring them in and test them out. Well this did not go over well with the past masters (now trainers). They felt that their statement that the candidates were ready should suffice and that their integrity was being questioned. They laid down an ultimatum that if the candidates were tested that they would quit training new members and would leave the new member investigative committee. The Worshipful Master thought it over and decided that he could live with that and honored the word of the trainers. That class was not tested in front of the lodge.

Now I’m not mentioning this for the sake of gossip or criticism. I personally don’t care one way or the other as I will be prepared whether or not I’m asked to show what I’ve learned. For me, the whole point of becoming a Mason is to improve myself and cheating would not benefit me.

The reason that I mention this story is because I know one of the other candidates in my class well and I know he hasn’t studied at all with the exception of two times that we got together with the trainers.

You see, he heard the same story I did and it seems he’s expecting to get a free pass. That pisses me off. I have doubts about his reasons for joining as it seems that he’s a member of at least a dozen different groups and organizations and I worry that this will just be one more “club” for him.

It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t think of the Brotherhood as I do. He showed up for the meeting wearing clothes that were beyond casual. I made a friendly comment about it to him and he replied that he had a jacket (pointing to his dirty windbreaker) while chuckling. He was an active member of the Elks for many years and won’t stop talking about it in the lodge. I feel it’s disrespectful to the Brothers and the lodge to carry on that way. I could give you several examples of this type of behavior and thinking but I won’t.

I know as a Mason I should work to see the good in him, but as a Mason I think I’ll resent him if I bust my butt with my degree work and he skates. Not to be malicious but I really don’t think that people that aren’t willing to put in the effort should be passed.

As much as he’s lazy, he will do at least the bare minimum to pass. I’m OK with that. If he passes as he is now, in my opinion, I can’t respect him as a Mason.

The interesting part of this is that we just installed a new Master for the coming year who is very keen on Masonic education. I am hopeful that this may make my whole tirade above a moot point. What I do worry about for the sake of peace in the lodge is whether he and the Brothers doing the training are going to have a major clash if they feel that we shouldn’t be tested in front of the lodge like the last group and the WM feels strongly that we should.

I honestly feel that at this point it should be a requirement for us to be tested since of the three Entered Aprentices at the meeting, I was the only one that was almost ready to be tested. The guy I mentioned above has studied twice for an hour and the third guy hadn’t studied at all. Maybe the other four have been studying, but they didn’t even show up for the meeting so I think it’s doubtful.

I’m also concerned that if the WM sees that all the others in the group are far from ready that we’ll all get held back for study. I can’t see them holding a degree ceremony just for me.

I understand that there are people out there that are “Joiners” and will join as many groups as possible but I don’t understand that mentality if you aren’t even going to fulfill the basic requirements.

Embarrassment alone would prevent me from showing up completely unprepared and clueless.

The Old vs. the New

After the meeting we enjoyed a meal in the collation room. While there I was chatting with the Secretary of the lodge about putting up a proper website for the lodge. It’s good publicity for anything you want to put on it and it also gives you the ability to set up a mailing list. Considering that we are in the electronic age, I think it only makes sense to begin emailing the communications out in addition to snail mail.

The Secretary informed me that one of the senior members had put up a website. When I asked for the address he couldn’t remember it. I asked if he could send email from it and he said no. This didn’t make much sense to me. When I got home I did a quick search and found nothing. I ended up having to CSI search and finally tracked it down. It is an ugly thing. It is hosted on one of the free sites that put ads all over it and make the address a mile long.

Worse still, it looks like someone tinkered on it for a couple of hours then gave up and never bothered to go back. It even has pages displayed the say “type your text for the page here” (obviously a template). The site also looks like it hasn’t been updated in a good two years or more. Suffice it to say that it’s useless and ugly. The dillemma now is whether he would be offended and pissed at me if I put up a proper site with a real web domain and all that’s needed to represent the lodge well.

I really don’t want to come off as the young buck that walks in and wants to toss out all the old timers’ work and replace it with “newer and better”, but I do think that people are prone to doing things the same way reglardless of whether or not it’s the best way. It takes new blood to come in with new suggestions and new spirit.

I mentioned my concern to the Secretary. He didn’t seem concerned about it and suggested I speak with the other member about it. My concern there is that if he thinks that the site he put up is just wonderful, would I have to respect that and drop the issue despite the site being impossible to find and pretty embarrassing to look at.

I hope that as you read this it doesn’t sound like I’m just nagging and complaining. I do enjoy the Craft very much and have had overall very good experiences. I think my biggest problem is that I care about the lodge and only want the best for it, whether it be the best efforts from new members or a great image on the internet.

In the mean time, I have arranged a study session with two of the other apprentices this weekend with one of the trainers and will try to encourage them to get caught up in hopes of at least a partial group of us can move on.

This is my fourth post on Freemasonry. Click here to view my fifth.

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1 Response to “My First Lodge Meeting”

  • I have enjoyed your blog brother. I have had a similar experience both with the workings of my lodge and my frustration over the casualness the of the craft. My lodge has your cable tow meet with you once to go over the cipher, then they send you to a lodge of instruction and by the next month your taking your next degree without proving your proficiency. To me I feel that my lodge is more focused on the quantity of Mason it can produce and gives little thought to the quality of education or readiness its gives to members. I will be making my 3rd on the 21st of this month. In truth I am in no way ready. Much like you I will read on the subject only to have to stop for fear of cheating myself out of the experience. I would like very much to continue correspondence with you. In my experience the first steps in changing or improving on a system is to build a team. Plus it would be nice to have a wingman to bounce ideas off.

    Even though I am making my 3rd degree soon, I have not really studied pass the 1st. I have made so many improvements in my life from reflecting on these values and it is my belief I have yet scratched the surface of being an Entered Apprentice. I would like to share something quickly with you for I think it might help.

    I had an expectation of what I thought the craft would be. I believed it to be steeped in formal tradition and housed by scholarly brothers that dedicated years to the study of its symbols. Imagine my disappointment when Master Masons could not even help me with the 1st degree cipher. when my question were met with “your reading to much in to this, there are really no great mysteries here” or my favorite I get a voice mail saying that I missed degree night when it was never communicated to me. Much like you flags started to pop up and I thought about switching lodges after my 3rd.

    Something happened to me as I was reflecting on being an EA. A third of the day should be spent bettering myself, my family and my brothers. In the last months I have updated my moral compass and laid a strong corner stone that I am proud to build on. I have roughly framed out the man, husband and father I wish to be. Daily I commit to growing and maintaining a relationship with my wife and son. I have always loved my wife but I find myself in love with her now. My four year old son has stopped being that noise maker that can destroy a house and my sanity in a matter of seconds to a little man that is learning to express himself in a very new and big world. The best part is that I get to walk with and protect him as he discovers it. I understand now that leaving the lodge for another is not the answer. I have taken an oath and have a responsibility to my brothers. I will for fill that promise I made before God and do some long need maintenance to my home lodge. I will start small and use some ideas I pirated from your blog. Better communication with emails, follow up phone calls and brainstorming groups. I know that every Masons journey is his own and what he decides to invest into it is his own business. I would never push but a minimum knowledge base must be established so when people ask about Masonry they will represent our craft well. Plus I will keep my eye out for like minded people and help them avoid some of the pitfalls I fell in.

    Again I am happy that I stumbled on to your blog hope that we can keep in touch.
    Good health brother,

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