My Reply to Bro. Klaus
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 08:56:55 -0400
From: Gary L Dryfoos <dryfoo@MIT.EDU>
To: John Klaus <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: MY experience with One-Day Classes
dear Bro. Klaus,
Thank you for this excellent and detailed look at how the ODCs are
being handled in Iowa.
While I am glad to know that participation rates and other measures
are showing success by the usual measures, that is not the core of my
objection to the ODCs — in fact, I would say that "success"
disguises the real objection, which is the quality of personal
initiation that the candidates don't receive.
The following analogy is not kind, but it makes the point clearly: if
I rifle through a hundred wallets and pull out one hundred credit cards,
surely my measure of "success" should not be whether the victims never
notice that their cards are missing, and so do not cancel them.
When we bring in an auditorium full of candidates at one time, just
by doing so we have denied them something important and central to
Masonry. We have taken something away from them: the opportunity to
enter upon and meet Masonry in its traditional ancient, original form.
Whether they are aware of or upset by their loss is not the question.
Is our measure of success really going to be "well, we didn't get caught
that time!" ??
My lodge recently had a vote on amending our by-laws to prohibit
participation in the ODCs. The amendment was rejected, at least partly
I believe, because our Worshipful Master reminded us that we had a One
Day Candidate present, and that we ought not do or say anything to make
him feel inferior. It is not the One Day Mason who is inferior, it is
we the body of Masonry that presents a second-rate experience
as bona fide Masonry, we are the ones who make ourselves
inferior. The candidate is as sincere and well-meaning as any who ever
arrive at our door. If we swindle him and get away with it, that's not
his fault, it's ours. Retention rates, activity, opinion polls, none of
these measure the rightness of what we are doing, they paper it
I do appreciate that your GL has a mentoring program that educates
the new Masons, looks after them during their proficiency studies and
even makes sure they get to meetings. GREAT IDEA! And it would be a
good idea to have such a thing in EVERY LODGE in EVERY GRAND LODGE. Oh
wait, we're already supposed to, aren't we? That's what the candidate's
SPONSOR is supposed to do. If we have let the role of sponsor
deteriorate to the mere formality of someone to sign the candidates
application, then adding the new position of mentor is a possible
solution. Of course in 15 or 20 or 30 years, when the mentor position
has likewise become a formality, we'll need to come up with another
title and another position: "guide"? "senior craftsman"? Of course
originally the craft had perfectly good words for this arrangement:
"master" and "apprentice". But if we don't want to polish up any of the
old arrangements, we can keep adding new ones ad infinitum.
However that goes, your current practice of mentoring makes sense and
really should be a model, under any name, new or old. But suppose a
grand lodge adopted a thoroughgoing mentoring program by itself, without
the ODCs? Wouldn't that still have all the same good effects you've
listed? Now let's take another step: in most jurisdictions outside the
USA, Entered Apprentices are consided fully-participating members of
their own lodges and all business meetings are held on the First Degree.
That used to be the practice here, as well, until a 19th Century
national Masonic conference changed it. Massachusetts has just changed
back to the old practice, and although the lodges aren't really used to
it yet, it opens up a lot of possibilities. For instance, instead of
ODCs, a candidate who fears that Masonry will take "too much time" can
join in the traditional individual way and be a member of his lodge that
very night. He can come to all the meetings, and he could even have a
mentor to bring him to meetings and help him learn his proficiency
In short, simply adding your admirable mentoring program and removing
the requirement that only MMs can be members of the lodge would have
nearly all of your benefits of the ODC but without the drawbacks. It's
a much simpler solution, and is more honest and fair to the
As architects we're getting a little carried away: we've demolished
the entire outside stairs, front porch and doorway, when all Masonry
needs is a new window.
Thanks again for writing, and I hope things work out well for the
Grand Lodge of Iowa.
sincerely and fraternally,
Up to "One-Day Class" main page
All the way UP to A Page About Freemasonry main
A Page About Freemasonry is http://web.mit.edu/dryfoo/Masonry/