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An Overwhelming Opportunity

ImageFreemasonry in its current form is both an enlightening and an overwhelming opportunity for a man seeking to make himself better.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Well, enlightening is definitely a good thing.  Overwhelming is a double edged sword.

In America today, and possibly all over the globe, you will hear different Grand Lodges say that Freemasonry is hurting for membership.  As a result of this we are seeing an increased watering down or qualified men being corralled like cattle into the ranks of the Craft.  For the most part it is not these individuals’ faults.  They had an interest in Masonry, most likely they knew a guy who was a Mason, got a petition and away they went.   That is the way it is suppose to work.

A few things here are troublesome.  Because of the pull to get more members there are increased one day classes, where a man can become a Mason in one long day instead of the standard process which generally takes about three months.

The one day classes are a blessing and a curse.  In my district I can say that we have gotten a lot of successful one day candidates come through our lodge.  In the past 4 years, every single Worshipful Master has been a one day classer.  There is no lack of commitment from the people who wanted to becoming Freemasons.  This is not the norm.  My argument is that these same folks would have become Freemasons regardless of the existence of the one day class.

I never like to admit it, but I too am a one day class Mason.  It is a decision I have regretted since about the first month after I was raised (which in the one day class really isn’t that special of an experience).  I knew I wanted to be a part of the Masonic family ever since I was young and saw the Shriners take care of a local girl who contracted Spinal Meningitis.  She lost most of her limbs and should have died several times, but the Shriners transported her, gave her care, and now she lives as an inspiration to many people.

When I found out about the one day class I was told I could become a Mason in one day, also a Shriner, and also join the Scottish Rite all in one day.  Being an outsider, and knowing nothing about the fraternity,  I jumped at the chance to take part in this “Man to Mason” journey.  In one day, not only did I join the Masons, but I now had a little red hat, and could put a 32 after my name.  To me that was a sweet deal, even though I had no clue what it all meant.

I assume that I am not unlike a lot of men.  They hear about this one day event and come up with a million reasons why it works for them.  At present my oldest brother is planning on joining in our next one day class despite my heavy suggestion that he resists and comes through traditional.  Yes, the one day class is beneficial for the fraternity because it gets many dues paying members very quickly. Yes, the one day class is beneficial to the candidate because he is immediately made a Mason in one day.  Outside of these benefits, the untold countless negatives sit in the shadows.

I titled this “An Overwhelming Experience” because that is exactly what has happened to me.  While I have every intention of being involved and active in my Masonic career as much as possible, I took on way too much way too fast.  I went from wanting to be a Mason to suddenly being in three separate fraternities.  I had no idea they were all separate when I was joining.  I just assumed, “oh, the masons, they are also Shriners, and you can be a 32nd degree mason too.”

While that is a correct statement, many men who have no experienced blue lodge do not realize they are committing themselves to not just blue lodge dues, (60 dollars for me) but also to Shrine dues (75 bucks) and Scottish Rite dues (100 bucks.)  I pay 235.00 a year to be a member of three organizations that offer me unlimited opportunity to be involved, and I do not participate in two of them.  Yes, I am proud of my membership, and I help out where and when I can, but because I am so heavily active in Blue Lodge with a wife and 3 kids, there is no time for anything else.

To add further, what I have seen from my own experience is an overwhelming lack of Masonic education making these other bodies less Masonic and more routine.  As I have chosen the path in Blue Lodge I have learned the essential principles of Masonry.  I have a deep understanding of the “working tools” and I can tell you exactly how to apply them to your life.   As a Mason, we should all have a basic understand of this.  Most members have no clue what the working tools are.   How is an uneducated member supposed to tell a potential leader of tomorrow anything useful about the Craft?

I fully understand the idea behind bringing as many men to the table as we can, but I also feel it could be the downfall of what once made our fraternity great if we are not careful.  My advice for any new member would be to please use caution and be educated when faced with one day classes.  You are choosing to join the Masons to better yourself and help the community through our actions.  If you are joining for ANY other reason than that then you have been grossly misinformed about the Masons and probably should seek membership in another fraternity.   If you join through a one day special dispensation then please educate yourself and read as much as you can.  Where once you were led from darkness to light it seems anymore you are just pulled from darkness and thrown into a superhighway with no signs of how you got there or where to go.  As with any journey or vacation, Freemasonry should be no different.  Do your homework, research the route, and consult a map (or a Past Master.)

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  1. 7 February 2013 at 10:21 pm

    I identified very much with this posting, as I believe that Masons are made in the Blue Lodge, like my good friend and mentor, James Palow, always tells me. Brothers need not worry about advancing through the degrees with expediency, but rather should embrace the inexhaustible source of Light contained within them. Like a fine wine, not intended to be consumed in a hurry, but scrutinized and enjoyed. If we don’t focus on seeking, receiving and sharing Light, we do the Craft a disservice.

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