Isn't This Wonderful?
by G.L. Dryfoos
Fri May 9 16:17:10 EDT 2003: I just received a flyer from
the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, asking me to recruit for an upcoming
state-wide degree-o-rama of One Day Classes. Here are some excerpts:
Your Grand Lodge is counting on all Massachusetts
Masons to contact their relatives, friends and neighbors who would be
This is their opportunity to become a member of your
Lodge in one day! This is your opportunity to have them
join you in your lodge!
All this can become a reality on Saturday, November 1,
2003, in any one of five locations, where special degree teams
will perform the work.[...]
For this class only, candidates will not be required
to memorize any obligation or ritual.
In this busy world, this class of candidates is
designed for for those men who feel they do not have the time for memory
work or to attend multiple meetings over a period of three months. This
is the time for them to join.
On Saturday, November 1, 2003, candidates will begin
receiving the Entered Apprentice, First Degree at 8:00am in the morning
and finish with the Master Masons [sic], Third Degree when the
program closes, no later than 3:30pm in the afternoon. There is no
other qualification to membership other than signing the by-laws of his
Lodge. He is not required to attend Lodges of Instruction. [emphasis added]
Candidates who join Lodges though the traditional
method are required to comply with memorization and to attend Lodge of
Isn't that Just Wonderful???
None of that pesky learning the ritual. Who needs to actually learn
the lessons of Masonry, as long as you have that nifty little lapel pin,
right, Brother? And who needs to memorize those long boring
"obligations", which detail the promises a new Mason makes to himself
and to his lodge, and to his brother Masons across the face of the
globe? Who needs that stuff as long as the grand lodge will be getting
those dues checks? Remember, these are "busy men" after all, men who
are apparently too important to be held to all of the usual
And, really, this is just what Masonry needs, isn't it, to become a
stronger more meaningful force in its members lives? And through them
to bring its once-revolutionary ideals of brotherhood, and respect for
freedom of thought and diversity of belief to a world that needs those
ideals more desperately every day? Ideals? Lessons? Solemn individual
initiations? Unnecessary relics, apparently, of an outdated idea that a
Mason should understand what he's joined and what he's promised. If
these "busy men" are too busy to learn their candidates' work, when are
they going to find time for meetings and committee work? Who cares?
How long before the Grand Lodge is just throwing handfuls of
square-and-compasses lapel pins from a Mardi Gras balcony or a
Tournament of Roses float?
In some countries the application process is a serious thing, and if
a Mason proves unworthy of his lodge's trust and respect, that member's
original sponsor can be questioned or reprimanded: after all he vouched
for the man in the first place. I hear regularly from new Masons in
Europe and Latin-America who may wait a year or more between degrees.
These eager apprentices are assigned to do research and write papers,
then present them to their lodge, defend them and answer questions about
them. Can you imagine any grand lodge in the US putting in that kind of
requirement? And yet these dedicated Masons love the work, and respect
their lodges for having such high standards for them. They hold their
Masonic member in high regard because they have had to earn it.
And their brother know that it actually means something to be a Mason,
that one has shown some dedication to the Craft and some determination
to pursue a difficult goal.
What difficulty or determination or perseverance does membership in a
US lodge indicate? In fact, nowadays, what knowledge of Masonry at all
does it signify?
The authority to make a Mason in a single day is called "making a
Mason 'at sight'" and it is the ancient traditional extraordinary power
of every Grand Master. Indeed it was formerly used only in
extraordinary circumstances: perhaps to reward a great national
hero or civic leader, or to complete the Masonic advancement of a
terminally-ill applicant. For instance, in 1967, the Grand Master of
Florida made Mason at Sight Wally Shirra Jr, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts.
Making a Mason at Sight is supposed to be an extremely rare thing, an
honor. But it is precisely that "extraordinary" power that Grand Lodges
use when they violate every other provision of their own constitutions
by holding these One Day Classes.
I'm wondering if the other grand lodges around the world even
KNOW what our American lodges are up to with these One Day
Classes? Do they have any idea that the Masonic world is being flooded
by these Mass-produced McMasons? Do the other grand lodges care?
Should they care? Should they respond? Will they? I suppose we'll
find out eventually.
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A Page About Freemasonry is http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/