MASONIC Digest Friday, 26 Jan 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 4
Educating line officers.
Formality in English (Carribean) Lodges.
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Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1990
From: Peter Trei (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is a short issue to hold us over until next week, when I
hope to post the responses for Tom Albrecht's message. So far I've
received only two for publication, not counting my own. I hope to find
some more come Monday.
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 90 09:06:03 -0500
From: steven Gatton
Subj: Educating line officers.
Our Lodge is currently assembling for general distribution to its
membership a pamphlet containing the By-Laws, Standing Resolutions,
and committee assignments and duties. The idea behind this is to
ensure that the brethren, particularly new members and new officers,
can get an idea of how our Lodge is governed and how the parts are
supposed to function. I know that other Lodges put out something of
this nature (perhaps signing for or on the ByLaws as part of the
degreework at some point).
If your Lodge is doing some of the sort, I would like to hear how
it is arranged, anything especially effective, etc., that you use.
Either post your reponse to this newsletter, or if long send to me at
The specific problem that we are having that this effort is
attempting to handle is the placing of new members in line offices
before they really know how the Lodge functions on a local level.
From my own experience, I was only SD, SW, and then WM because of line
drop-outs, and sitting as a PM before I had been in Lodge 4 years!
(Note to junior officers- Try to resist large line jumps unless it is
absolutely necessary. You may get your PM apron or watch or whatever
faster, but you'll a better year and more enjoyment if you go through
the right way.) Any suggestions on how your Lodges are dealing with
this problem, I'm all ears.
Steve Gatton, Secy
Wood Co. 112 F&AM Ohio
˝PT: I have a couple of books which treat this topic in a general
way. I'll get the authors and publishing data if anyone's interested;
my books are at home and I want to get this out before the weekend.
1. "Our Stations and Places", by a PDDGM in NY, deals mainly
with the ritualistic and formal aspects of the offices. The
author's a bit of a stuffed shirt, but otherwise good.
2. "The Worshipful Master's Companion." I *think* this is from
California. It leans much more towards the administrative aspects
of running a lodge - how to run a business meeting, etc.
Both these books are in print - at least the shop in the NY GL
Your lodge's idea of a guide to how the lodge is run is a good one -
I could certainly use one myself! This year I entered the line as Senior
Steward, and have been bumped up to Senior Deacon.|
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 90 21:23 EST
Subject: Formality in English Lodges
I have never attended an English lodge outside of the Carribean,
so I am not really qualified to speak about English masonry in
England, but I can tell you that in the Carribean the craft is not at
all as upper class an affair as you may think it to be. In fact, my
experience is that Masonry was the great leveler of social class in an
area of the world where social class is, otherwise extremely important
and much more structured than here in the good old US of A. My
brethern included the governor's lawyer, the chief of police, a number
of territorial senators, policemen, firemen, street cleaners,
merchants, bartenders and even a university professor (me!). At lodge
there were no class distinctions and you would see very wealthy
professional men defer appropriately to sanitation employees who held
the chairs. As I mentioned in my last posting, dinners after meetings
were the height of brotherly love and companionship.
I did visit other lodges in places like Tortola (British Virgin
Islands) and St. Kitts and found the mixed social makeup of these
lodges to be a heterogeneous as ours on St. Thomas. Dress at a number
of these lodges was even more formal. All members wore tuxedos and
The thing that impressed me most was the complete absence of any
form of racism in these lodges. To understand why I was so impressed,
you must understand that Carribean islands tend to be incredibly race
conscious, even more than they are class conscious. The U.S. Virgin
Islands is downright racist with the majority Blacks (85%) often
making it difficult for the white population to get anything done with
government or the court system. There is not a whole lot of social
mingling between blacks and whites ("continentals", as we were called)
on the island. One way to get elected to the territorial legislature
was to appeal to Black racism and this was very effective. I found
this atmosphere of racial distrust and hatred totally absent the
moment I stepped into my lodge and it is a testimony to the craft that
such an atmosphere could exist it the midst of what was going on
around it. I sorely miss this feeling now that I am in North Carolina
where our Blue Lodges and Scottish Rite consistories are lily white
and I have been told, in private, that a Black person could never
survive a vote for membership. This, of course, gets us back to the
existence of Prince Hall masonry and makes me suspicious of Grand
Lodges which refuse to communicate with it.
Finally, to wind up a long winded posting, I think I should point
out that English Blue Lodges use York Rite ritual which is very
different from the Scottish Rite ritual used in most continental US
Blue Lodges. Since this is an open forum and ritual IS one of the few
secret things about our organization, suffice it to say that the
ritual is simpler, but with language that is so rich that it boarders
on the poetic. I hope that all of the brothers on this mail list will
someday have the pleasure of attending an English lodge.
˝PT - I've never seen an English lodge at work, though I hope to do so
on my next trip to Britain (I went to school and university there, long
before I became involved in the Craft.)
Speaking of the richness of the language in the ritual - have you
ever seen a New York State lodge at work? My mother lodge is there,
and when I moved to Massachusetts one of the things I immediately
noticed is how "streamlined" the ritual here seems to be in
comparison to NY.
I find the social leveling of Freemasonry one of it's most
enjoyable aspects. I get to befriend many people whom I would I would
*never* meet socially otherwise. It's broadened my horizons, and
caused me to become much more aware of the local community than I was
(If it were'nt for the fact that most of my books are still in
(63!) cartons in the garage, I'd quote Kipling's "The Mother Lodge"
here, which addresses this topic.)
The lack of racism in the Carribean lodges is very encouraging -
even here in "liberal" Massachusetts black Masons in regular lodges
are pretty unusual. I hope and believe this situation will improve
End of MASONIC Digest