[Square & Compasses]

Less than impressed with 1DC

From: "Rassbach, Scott" <scottrassbach@charter.net>
To: <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2005 14:52:10 -0500
Subject: 1Day Amendment


I took part in my first one day class this past weekend. I was less than impressed. I took part, because I believe that if it was to be done, it should be done in the best possible manner, and that I could contribute to that.

While I feel my part was well done, I was not impressed, either with the degrees, nor the way they were worked. To my mind, it was far, far too impersonal. I feel bad for the men who've gone through it, because they've been cheated. So have their lodges.

To that end, I would like to propose the amendment to the bylaws of our lodge along the lines of your amendment. However, 2(b) gives me pause:

(b) To be eligible to sign the By-Laws of {THIS LODGE} as a member, the brother must have personally received each of the three degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason in the traditional manner, not including any one-day class or other mass initiation by exemplar.

Now, I've met some very good brothers who've gone through the 1 day class, and I would be proud to have them in my lodge. I also don't think that because a Mason's brothers railroaded him into the one day class, he should be punished for it. Perhaps a line about suitable proficiency could make sense. I'd like some advice on that issue, the wording of it.

Or, I may strike that provision, and our lodge will continue to recognize masons made by the grand lodge in whatever manner they chose to make them.

Your advice is solicited and appreciated.


Scott M. Rassbach, Master Mason
Senior Deacon Columbus #75, Member Union #32
Grand Lodge of Wisconsin, F&AM

Dear Bro. Rassbach,

Thanks for writing. I think your motive for participating in a recent 1DC is an admirable one, and I can only commend your committment to the Craft in doing so, despite your reservations. And I particularly appreciate your observations as an eyewitness to a 1DC.

When you say that the candidates have been cheated, I think you have put your finger directly on the most important issue. Whatever changes and evolutions Freemasonry has been through, it has always been based on a system of personal initiation, in which every brother has been brought through the ceremonies, experienced them for himself as a central actor, not as a side-line viewer. Today, in our teevee-soaked culture, the chances for personal experience of the extraordinary, the unknown, the personal, are being watered-down and replaced by the passive, the fake-interactive, the vicarious.

Masonry has the opportunity to say "here is the real, the actual, your authentic personal experience of initiation and instruction with you as participant" -- something that few things in modern culture can offer; not teevee, nor movies, nor the internet, not even a stage play. And what do the grand lodges do? They want to erase that distinction, Masonry's one big advantage, and attempt to blend in with the insipid.

Again and again I'm accused of devaluing the 1DC Masons. I'm not the one devaluing them; the grand lodges have already done that! They've taken the unique irreducible man and treated him like a mass-produced donut.

Now regarding the section 2(b) of the model amendment, there was some discussion about that idea when it was being drafted. My thought was that if a 1DC Mason came to my lodge, and I had the opportunity as Master, I'd get my officers ready and schedule a series of "exemplifications", practice degrees, for the benefit of both the affiliating brother and the education and practice of the officers. This combats two bad trends: first the 1DC Mason finally has his chance to experience the degrees "from the inside" so to speak, and second, the profusion of 1DCs could make it harder for a lodge to get actual candidates of their own, which means that the line officers wouldn't be getting the rehearsal and education they should as they move up the line.

If you combine those exemplifications with the proficiency recitations, the lodge could have three fine evenings out of it: the lodge does a "practice" conferral on the would-be affiliate and immediately at the conclusion of each degree the affiliate presents the proficiency recitation for that degree. Now that is a way to bring a new affiliate into tht lodge!

Section 2(b) would give your lodge the opportunity and excuse to do that. It would show that you were serious about offering all the true benefits of Masonry to every brother, and were willing to put in the extra work to do so. Or you might decide that section is not for your lodge, and strike it out. But please make sure the lodge considers its good points before you do.

Whatever your lodge decides, I hope there's a good debate about the 1DCs and the Amendment. Don't let anyone tell you that you're the one insulting or demeaning the 1DC Masons! That's what happened in my lodge: there was a 1DC member there and a lot of the brothers just didn't want to "hurt his feelings". Speak to that point: the Amendment isn't belittling the candidate; the grand lodges are. The grand lodges are selling him steak but delivering hamburger. You're trying to stop them.

Best wishes and let me know how things progress.

sincerely and fraternally,

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