MASONIC Digest Friday, 12 Jan 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 2 Today's Topics: Re: How public shoul

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MASONIC Digest Friday, 12 Jan 1990 Volume 2 : Issue 2 Today's Topics: Re: How public should we be about Masonry? (2 msg) Re: Toasts and Pledges Re: Local announcements. Send all submissions and requests to (From enet: DECWRL::"") MASONIC digest is moderated. Please remember: THIS IS A PUBLIC FORUM - YOU MUST ASSUME THAT MOST READERS ARE NON-MASONS. Please include a relevant subject line, and cover one topic per message. If you require anonymity, say so at the top of your message (and give a nom-de-net). All contributions remain the property (Copyright 1990), and responsibility of the authors, and may not be diseminated beyond the list without their express permission. My own comments remain mine (Copyright 1990 Peter Trei), and represent only my views at the time of posting - not neccesarily those of my employer, or of any Grand Lodge. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Fri, 5 Jan 90 15:43:02 -0500 From: steven Gatton Subject: Re: How public should we be about Freemasonry? Your note on visibility of the Fraternity is well-written. We have been our worst enemies on that score. There are very few public processions or even participation in parades, except by some Knights Templar commanderies. It's my understanding that some Grand jurisdictions prohibit some forms of notice of Blue Lodge membership. If that is indeed the case, it is unfortunate. ˝PT- chunk of msg seems to be missing here| incorporate any suggestions that other Lodges might be using. PT, if you would rather that they be mailed to me directly, my address is for e-mail. Use your own discretion as to the form that you would like the request to be. Thanks. Steve Gatton, Secy. Wood County #112, F&AM of Ohio ˝PT- In most areas, you are not permitted to display your membership certificate in your place of business - it's regarded as a blatant attempt to use Masonry to swing business your way, which is very much looked down upon. (I keep a small refrigerator magnet in the shape of the Square and Compasses on my filing cabinet.) In the US, it is not at all unusual for Masons to wear rings, belt buckles, lapel pins, etc. Car emblems are also common. (If you search diligently you can find the most amazing collection of kitsch with the S&C.) Scotland is the only other place I know of where open display of Masonic symbols seems common - in most areas people are far more discrete about it. Steve - if you can send me your msg in full, I'll repost it.| ------------------------------ Date: Mon, 8 Jan 90 11:34:22 EST From: inmet! Subject: Re: The Hiding of the Craft Ah, a subject near to my thoughts of late; I've been pondering the issue of the Craft's gradual dwindling quite a bit over the past couple of months. Those easily bored should be warned that this is a bit of a ramble... Re: "It's only for Jews": Before I get into the main body of my article, I just want to comment on this. This would almost be funny if it weren't so annoying: there are a *lot* of stereotypes floating around about the Craft, and almost none of them are true. When I started in, several of my friends from Brandeis University (about 60% Jewish) said, "Why are you joining them? I thought that the Masons were just a bunch of WASPs..." Re: The Dwindling Influx of "young" Masons: I quite sympathize with Peter's noting that, at 32, he is relatively young. At 24, I am, as far as I know, the youngest Mason I have yet encountered, and it is something hard to not be conscious of. It seems like our lodge loses a brother better than every other month, and the influx seems rather smaller than this. I haven't yet researched the question, but it seems to me that the Fraternity is getting quite a bit older as times passes -- the turn-of-the-century pictures up in our lodge appear to have an average age of about 45, compared to something quite a bit higher today. Is this, in fact, a general thing? Has anyone researched the numbers here? There are, I'm sure, a vast number of factors influencing this, but I think that Peter has hit two of the central ones. First of all, we seem to be living in an increasingly spectator-oriented society. It is *very* easy to just pass one's entire life without ever taking any charge of it. Masonry is implicitly at odds with this; from the moment one joins, one is aware of the ... well, I hesitate to use the phrase "peer pressure", due to its connotations, but that is largely what it is ... to work within the Fraternity. One is constantly encouraged to help out and be active, and I fear that that simply isn't all that chic nowadays... Secondly, but even more importantly, is the "privacy" issue. The only reason that I eventually got up the nerve to ask to join was that Steve Mesnick has always been *quite* open about his being a Mason, and quite proud of it. He was, frankly, the only lead I knew of into the Fraternity. Now that I'm in it, I've discovered just how many people I know are brethren, but it really wasn't at *all* clear before. So I'd say that there is a key problem here: people simply don't *know* about Masonry. Having been rather curious along these lines for several years, I had *some* idea of what Masonry is about, but most people don't even have that much. I've found that people asking about my lapel pin aren't asking for more details about the Craft; rather, most of them have never even *heard* of it. Let's boil this down: I think that the Fraternity has a tendency to assume that it is much better known than it is. Yes, most people have heard of the Masons. As far as most of them know, it's just one of those weird groups with a sticker on the "Welcome" sign at the entrance to town, like the Elks or the Rotarians. And that's *all* they know about it. There isn't even enough there to excite intellectual curiosity, much less enough to inspire a person to track down the group, find a member, learn enough to discover that you have to ask to get in, and do so. What to do about this problem? Just as Peter said, *don't* be too secretive about the Craft. When people ask questions, answer them, in plain English. You can describe 90% of what Masonry is about without violating any secrets. And, while you can't ask people to join, you *can* interest them. If you know someone who would do well in the Craft, make sure that they know what it's about; given that knowledge, odds are that they will eventually ask, if it's appropriate for them. No, we don't want to open the floodgates, and go screaming to the public, "Come join our Club!". But we should be aware of those who would prosper in the Fraternity, and we should make sure that the public knows what we're about. The only way that we will ever have a hope of quelling the extraordinary misconceptions about the Craft is by having the truths out in the plain light of day, so far as is practical without violating those things that are truly secret. As I discovered with another group a while back, saying, "we won't tell anyone about ourselves, so that they don't think that we're some sort of Secret Society," is totally self-defeating. Let's not find ourselves guilty of that same mistake... -- Justin du Coeur AKA Bro. Mark Waks, Ocean Lodge, MA The Periodically Long-Winded ˝PT - The youngest initiate I've met was two weeks past his 21st birthday at his first degree. In New York, there is serious consideration of dropping the age limit to 18 to get young men before they develop other commitments. (I am against this myself.) As for the average age, I've read many statements that it's increased considerably over the last 20-30 years, but I don't know by how much. Our fraternity accepts no one below 21, men of any age above that, and membership is generally life-long, so we're bound to be a somewhat older group. I always astonishes me when I find how many people have never heard of Freemasonry, and have no notion how important is has been in American history. The Shriners manage to get a lot more publicity. Perhaps we should look at what they do (a note to non-Masons: The Shrine is an independent organization, but only accepts Masons as members). You have a very good point that we tend to assume we're better known than we actually are. I sometimes think the only thing that could improve the situation is a good scandal. :-) As for being a group like the Elks or Rotarians, I've often toyed with the idea of writing a book about fraternal/sororital organizations. My working title is "Signs on the edge of town."| ------------------------------ From: Subject: Loyal toast To: Here's another twist on the issue of the loyal toast: I lived and worked on the island of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. During that time I was a member and held chairs in Harmonic Lodge No. 356, United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of England. In fact, I am still an overseas member of this lodge. Now, the United States purchased what was then the Danish West Indies from Denmark in 1914 and these islands are now an unincorporated territory of the United States. The islands were never a British colony. What we have here is an American territory where the Grand Lodge of England has jurisdiction. An interesting sidelight to this is that the island of St. Croix (also part of the USVI) comes under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico. The reason for this interesting phenomenon is that about 150 years ago the Grand Lodge of Denmark refused to admit free Blacks and Jews and St. Thomas Masons felt this was unmasonic. As a result they petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a charter and were granted same. As a result of this, the Crown Prince of Denmark, who was then GM of the GL of Denmark, got his dad to forbid the lodge to initiate new members and for over thirty years the lodge held on to life by its fingernails. I'm not sure what prompted the recinding of the command. At any rate, at the dinner after every meeting (English Masons being much more formal than American Masons; in fact lodge meetings were the only times I ever wore coat and tie and one of the few occasions that I wore socks while on St. Thomas) we toasted the following people in the following order: 1. Her Majesty, the Queen 2. The President of the United States 3. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England 4. The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico 5. The Grand Masters of the Grand Lodges of the United States And while we are on the subject of toasts, and since dinners were done outside of open lodge and in the presence of non-Masons, I can also relate the very warm tradition of the Tyler's Toast. Before winding up the evening the Master calls for the Tyler's Toast and which point the Tyler rises and, swings his cup in a broad circle calling for a toast to "Masons dispersed all over the world". In essence, we toasted all Masons and recognized the civil authority under which our Grand Lodge existed and the authority under which we lived. This is well within the traditions of the craft and our obligations as good citizens. Len Bliss Snow Lodge, No. 363 Boone, NC ˝PT- Len, thanks for swinging this topic back to Masonry. As for English Masons being more formal than the US - to what extent is this actually true? I've got this funny feeling that English Masonry may tend to be more "upper class" than it is in the US. At Wilder, we don't have a strict dress code on the sidelines (we're not going to turn people away), though a coat and tie are expected and most common. Officers wear suits at business meetings, and tuxedos with white gloves at degree work meetings. I change in my office before going to lodge, and my co-workers do a bit of a double take when they see me on the way out of the office in my tux instead of my usual jeans. (I'm Senior Deacon now).| ------------------------------ Date: Mon, 8 Jan 90 10:51:31 EST From: inmet! Subject: Re: Local Announcements I would say that regular local announcements probably aren't appropriate here. There's too much potential for them to clog the group, and they really aren't all that necessary, since those concerned should be able to find out the information readily, if they are interested. In other words, I'd say that the Lodge of Instruction announcement is probably not well-suited to this forum. On the other hand, "getting the news out" announcements may not be a bad thing, even if local. I'd give it this guideline: if it's news that people wouldn't know about, and wouldn't know to ask about, then it's probably reasonable to post to the masons' digest... -- Justin du Coeur ˝PT- This is pretty close to my feelings| ------------------------------ End of MASONIC Digest *********************


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