MASONIC Digest Friday, 12 Jan 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 2
Re: How public should we be about Masonry? (2 msg)
Re: Toasts and Pledges
Re: Local announcements.
Send all submissions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. (From
enet: DECWRL::"email@example.com") MASONIC digest is moderated.
Please remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM - YOU MUST ASSUME THAT MOST
READERS ARE NON-MASONS. Please include a relevant subject line, and
cover one topic per message. If you require anonymity, say so at the
top of your message (and give a nom-de-net). All contributions remain
the property (Copyright 1990), and responsibility of the authors, and
may not be diseminated beyond the list without their express
permission. My own comments remain mine (Copyright 1990 Peter Trei),
and represent only my views at the time of posting - not neccesarily
those of my employer, or of any Grand Lodge.
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 90 15:43:02 -0500
From: steven Gatton
Subject: Re: How public should we be about Freemasonry?
Your note on visibility of the Fraternity is well-written. We
have been our worst enemies on that score. There are very few public
processions or even participation in parades, except by some Knights
It's my understanding that some Grand jurisdictions prohibit some
forms of notice of Blue Lodge membership. If that is indeed the case,
it is unfortunate.
˝PT- chunk of msg seems to be missing here|
incorporate any suggestions that other Lodges might be using. PT, if
you would rather that they be mailed to me directly, my address is
firstname.lastname@example.org for e-mail. Use your own discretion as to the
form that you would like the request to be. Thanks.
Steve Gatton, Secy.
Wood County #112, F&AM of Ohio
˝PT- In most areas, you are not permitted to display your membership
certificate in your place of business - it's regarded as a blatant
attempt to use Masonry to swing business your way, which is very much
looked down upon. (I keep a small refrigerator magnet in the shape of
the Square and Compasses on my filing cabinet.) In the US, it is not
at all unusual for Masons to wear rings, belt buckles, lapel pins,
etc. Car emblems are also common. (If you search diligently you can
find the most amazing collection of kitsch with the S&C.) Scotland is
the only other place I know of where open display of Masonic symbols
seems common - in most areas people are far more discrete about it.
Steve - if you can send me your msg in full, I'll repost it.|
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 90 11:34:22 EST
Subject: Re: The Hiding of the Craft
Ah, a subject near to my thoughts of late; I've been pondering
the issue of the Craft's gradual dwindling quite a bit over the past
couple of months. Those easily bored should be warned that this is a
bit of a ramble...
Re: "It's only for Jews":
Before I get into the main body of my article, I just want to
comment on this. This would almost be funny if it weren't so annoying:
there are a *lot* of stereotypes floating around about the Craft, and
almost none of them are true. When I started in, several of my friends
from Brandeis University (about 60% Jewish) said, "Why are you joining
them? I thought that the Masons were just a bunch of WASPs..."
Re: The Dwindling Influx of "young" Masons:
I quite sympathize with Peter's noting that, at 32, he is
relatively young. At 24, I am, as far as I know, the youngest Mason I
have yet encountered, and it is something hard to not be conscious of.
It seems like our lodge loses a brother better than every other month,
and the influx seems rather smaller than this. I haven't yet
researched the question, but it seems to me that the Fraternity is
getting quite a bit older as times passes -- the turn-of-the-century
pictures up in our lodge appear to have an average age of about 45,
compared to something quite a bit higher today. Is this, in fact, a
general thing? Has anyone researched the numbers here?
There are, I'm sure, a vast number of factors influencing this,
but I think that Peter has hit two of the central ones. First of all,
we seem to be living in an increasingly spectator-oriented society. It
is *very* easy to just pass one's entire life without ever taking any
charge of it. Masonry is implicitly at odds with this; from the moment
one joins, one is aware of the ... well, I hesitate to use the phrase
"peer pressure", due to its connotations, but that is largely what it
is ... to work within the Fraternity. One is constantly encouraged to
help out and be active, and I fear that that simply isn't all that
Secondly, but even more importantly, is the "privacy" issue. The
only reason that I eventually got up the nerve to ask to join was that
Steve Mesnick has always been *quite* open about his being a Mason,
and quite proud of it. He was, frankly, the only lead I knew of into
the Fraternity. Now that I'm in it, I've discovered just how many
people I know are brethren, but it really wasn't at *all* clear
before. So I'd say that there is a key problem here: people simply
don't *know* about Masonry. Having been rather curious along these
lines for several years, I had *some* idea of what Masonry is about,
but most people don't even have that much. I've found that people
asking about my lapel pin aren't asking for more details about the
Craft; rather, most of them have never even *heard* of it.
Let's boil this down: I think that the Fraternity has a tendency
to assume that it is much better known than it is. Yes, most people
have heard of the Masons. As far as most of them know, it's just one
of those weird groups with a sticker on the "Welcome" sign at the
entrance to town, like the Elks or the Rotarians. And that's *all*
they know about it. There isn't even enough there to excite
intellectual curiosity, much less enough to inspire a person to track
down the group, find a member, learn enough to discover that you have
to ask to get in, and do so.
What to do about this problem? Just as Peter said, *don't* be too
secretive about the Craft. When people ask questions, answer them, in
plain English. You can describe 90% of what Masonry is about without
violating any secrets. And, while you can't ask people to join, you
*can* interest them. If you know someone who would do well in the
Craft, make sure that they know what it's about; given that knowledge,
odds are that they will eventually ask, if it's appropriate for them.
No, we don't want to open the floodgates, and go screaming to the
public, "Come join our Club!". But we should be aware of those who
would prosper in the Fraternity, and we should make sure that the
public knows what we're about. The only way that we will ever have a
hope of quelling the extraordinary misconceptions about the Craft is
by having the truths out in the plain light of day, so far as is
practical without violating those things that are truly secret. As I
discovered with another group a while back, saying, "we won't tell
anyone about ourselves, so that they don't think that we're some sort
of Secret Society," is totally self-defeating. Let's not find
ourselves guilty of that same mistake...
-- Justin du Coeur
AKA Bro. Mark Waks, Ocean Lodge, MA
The Periodically Long-Winded
˝PT - The youngest initiate I've met was two weeks past his 21st
birthday at his first degree. In New York, there is serious
consideration of dropping the age limit to 18 to get young men before
they develop other commitments. (I am against this myself.) As for the
average age, I've read many statements that it's increased
considerably over the last 20-30 years, but I don't know by how much.
Our fraternity accepts no one below 21, men of any age above that, and
membership is generally life-long, so we're bound to be a somewhat
I always astonishes me when I find how many people have never
heard of Freemasonry, and have no notion how important is has been in
American history. The Shriners manage to get a lot more publicity.
Perhaps we should look at what they do (a note to non-Masons: The
Shrine is an independent organization, but only accepts Masons as
You have a very good point that we tend to assume we're better
known than we actually are. I sometimes think the only thing that
could improve the situation is a good scandal. :-)
As for being a group like the Elks or Rotarians, I've often toyed
with the idea of writing a book about fraternal/sororital
organizations. My working title is "Signs on the edge of town."|
Subject: Loyal toast
Here's another twist on the issue of the loyal toast:
I lived and worked on the island of St. Thomas in the United
States Virgin Islands. During that time I was a member and held
chairs in Harmonic Lodge No. 356, United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free
and Accepted Masons of England. In fact, I am still an overseas
member of this lodge. Now, the United States purchased what was then
the Danish West Indies from Denmark in 1914 and these islands are now
an unincorporated territory of the United States. The islands were
never a British colony. What we have here is an American territory
where the Grand Lodge of England has jurisdiction. An interesting
sidelight to this is that the island of St. Croix (also part of the
USVI) comes under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico.
The reason for this interesting phenomenon is that about 150
years ago the Grand Lodge of Denmark refused to admit free Blacks and
Jews and St. Thomas Masons felt this was unmasonic. As a result they
petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a charter and were granted
same. As a result of this, the Crown Prince of Denmark, who was then
GM of the GL of Denmark, got his dad to forbid the lodge to initiate
new members and for over thirty years the lodge held on to life by its
fingernails. I'm not sure what prompted the recinding of the command.
At any rate, at the dinner after every meeting (English Masons
being much more formal than American Masons; in fact lodge meetings
were the only times I ever wore coat and tie and one of the few
occasions that I wore socks while on St. Thomas) we toasted the
following people in the following order:
1. Her Majesty, the Queen
2. The President of the United States
3. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England
4. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico
5. The Grand Masters of the Grand Lodges of the United States
And while we are on the subject of toasts, and since dinners were
done outside of open lodge and in the presence of non-Masons, I can
also relate the very warm tradition of the Tyler's Toast. Before
winding up the evening the Master calls for the Tyler's Toast and
which point the Tyler rises and, swings his cup in a broad circle
calling for a toast to "Masons dispersed all over the world".
In essence, we toasted all Masons and recognized the civil
authority under which our Grand Lodge existed and the authority under
which we lived. This is well within the traditions of the craft and
our obligations as good citizens.
Snow Lodge, No. 363
˝PT- Len, thanks for swinging this topic back to Masonry. As for
English Masons being more formal than the US - to what extent is this
actually true? I've got this funny feeling that English Masonry may
tend to be more "upper class" than it is in the US. At Wilder, we
don't have a strict dress code on the sidelines (we're not going to
turn people away), though a coat and tie are expected and most common.
Officers wear suits at business meetings, and tuxedos with white
gloves at degree work meetings. I change in my office before going to
lodge, and my co-workers do a bit of a double take when they see me on
the way out of the office in my tux instead of my usual jeans. (I'm
Senior Deacon now).|
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 90 10:51:31 EST
Subject: Re: Local Announcements
I would say that regular local announcements probably aren't
appropriate here. There's too much potential for them to clog the
group, and they really aren't all that necessary, since those
concerned should be able to find out the information readily, if they
are interested. In other words, I'd say that the Lodge of Instruction
announcement is probably not well-suited to this forum.
On the other hand, "getting the news out" announcements may not
be a bad thing, even if local. I'd give it this guideline: if it's
news that people wouldn't know about, and wouldn't know to ask about,
then it's probably reasonable to post to the masons' digest...
-- Justin du Coeur
˝PT- This is pretty close to my feelings|
End of MASONIC Digest