Friday, June 20, 2008

Post Feedback

Greetings Brothers. We always encourage your feedback on the posts and we strive to spark earnest discussion and contemplation. Feel free to share your ideas through comments, letters or telepathy...if you have that one figured out.

We Ruffians have a Myspace as well at www.Myspace.com/3Ruffians. There is a good bit of discussion that goes on there that is not readily made available to the rest of our Ruffian community. From time to time I receive an email that I want to share.

Following the post 'All Those Empty Chairs' I found several emails in my inbox in addition to the comments here on the site. I would like to post one of these letters that was sent so you might get an idea the tenor of the issue in question.

Brother Jesse Gross of Stevensville Lodge wrote:


"Dear Brother,

I have just finished reading your article about the lack of attendance, and was especially struck by your comment about brothers looking at their dues cards and smiling. I think one of the main problems the craft has in membership retention is that it doesn't impress its importance on the membership.

For instance, while going through the FC ritual, one is told to study the seven arts and sciences but is given no further direction. Its kind of like being dropped off in the woods with a sandwich and a canteen of water and being told "good luck". A while back I came up with an idea to present the new FC with several books which set up a foundation for each of the arts and sciences, namely "Treatise on Harmony" by Rameau, "Rhetoric" by Aristotle, and "The Elements" by Euclid. The newly passed brother may take them home and let them collect dust on his shelf, but when he glances over at them, he will at least remember the circumstances of how they were received and what they are to him.

More important than any of these books though, I feel that the book "Speculative Masonry" by A. S. Macbride should be issued along with the volume of sacred law to newly raised Master Masons (see my bulletin from a couple days ago). This is a relatively quick and easy read at just over 200 pages, making it much less intimidating than the others I have suggested. The Euclid is huge, and I've merely glanced through it enough to check out the 47th proposition.

As nice an addition of the King James Bible as was given to me, after reading the introductory material regarding masonry, I put it on the shelf next to my other bible, which I got from my parents who between them owned five or six bibles. My point here being is that most people own bibles already and since they have at least some idea what is in there, they tend to take it for granted. Thus Freemasonry has put them through some ritual at a minor expense and offered them nothing new, so there seems to be not much point.

I must confess that I wondered why I had joined freemasonry after my first several meetings were merely a bunch of well dressed gentlemen discussing whether or not to approve the budget and pay bills between opening and closing ritual. My friend who recommended me told one of the officers that he would quit going if that was all there was. Shortly thereafter, we started having educational lectures given at every meeting and it has been a much more enjoyable and purposeful experience.

If the general membership had more of a solid idea what Freemasonry was about and how they could improve themselves in it, I believe attendance would go up and remain constant.

Fraternally,

Bro. Jesse Gross
Stevensville Lodge #28

P.S. Let me know when you get the space ship, it sounds pretty cool."

Many thanks again Brother Gross for allowing me to share your thoughtful letter.
I attended Lodge again tonight for our monthly stated meeting. While our attendance isnt where it should be in my opinion...I am very grateful that those Brothers that I see regularly are just such really great guys. We really have a fun time together. And I am always impressed by the character of these fellows who all seem to go the extra mile for their brothers when they are needed.

Several brothers in our Lodge had been suspended for not paying dues. First and foremost, we agreed to ascertain the reasons for this on an individual basis. In some cases, Brothers might have passed away and our Lodge might not have been notified. In others, reasons of health or financial straits might be the cause.

I was impressed by the immediate charity of the Brothers who would rather pay the dues themselves than see Brothers suspended....especially for reasons unknown. Good stuff guys.

Maybe sometimes its all about Quality over Quantity. Maybe we dont have the most...

But we have some of the Best!

7 comments:

AR85 said...

"Maybe sometimes its all about Quality over Quantity."

This is something that I, as a young MM, have been asking myself. I see a lot of newly initiated and rasied brethren come into the order only to see them dissapear because they had the wrong idea about the craft - maybe they were hoping to find that spaceship as well- my point being... We tend to be panicking about filling up seats in the Lodge...But in the process all we do is dilute the purity of our Lodge's spirit. Im not against having full lodges, seeing my own empty lodge depresses me also. But maybe we just need to look at things at a different perspective. A slightly smaller Lodge would look more full and create opportunities for brothers to create stronger bonds - and that would look much more motivating than a grand one with only 10 people snoring away...

Justa Mason said...

Ruffian Freestyle..

The matter of presenting Bibles has come up amongst some of the younger members. In one of my Lodges, the SW is Jewish. So were many of the active members of his Mother Lodge (he is an affiliate). He received a Christian Bible upon his raising. Why? He still doesn't know.

I told him the best I could figure it out is that someone saw it happen in another Lodge, they liked the idea and instituted it. And since then, It's Always Been Done That Way.

In another of my Lodges, the newest MM is from Turkey and not Christian. The WM instead got him a book of Masonic symbolism. I thought it was appropriate. I can only imagine what would have happened if he had brought up the matter for debate in open Lodge. Someone would have said "That isn't the way we do it in this Lodge."

Freestyle said...

Justa.

It is so ironic to me that many Fundamentalists have issues with what they call the 'religion' of Freemasonry. All the while, they seem to be attempting to force Masonry into a particular religious model...and effectively make it a religion.

That spins my brain around.

I agree with John Robinson, the writer of 'Born in Blood' who stated that Freemasonry simply does not fit the description of a religion. He asserts that, by definition, a religion requires the adherent to submit to a specific doctrine of faith. Freemasonry, on the other hand, allows for its members to bring their own unique beliefs into the Lodge.

I like the idea of giving out the books of symbols. I'm also a fan of 'Morals and Dogma' which provides a good amount of comparative religion and philosophy. Unfortunately, 'Morals and Dogma' has been the subject of far too many misunderstandings and false interpretations.

We are Masonry right? So maybe 'The Way We Do Things' is due for a bit of an overhaul.

2 BOWL CAIN said...

We are Masonry right? So maybe 'The Way We Do Things' is due for a bit of an overhaul.

blasphemy!
lol

Justa Mason said...

Freestyle wrote:
It is so ironic to me that many Fundamentalists have issues with what they call the 'religion' of Freemasonry. All the while, they seem to be attempting to force Masonry into a particular religious model...and effectively make it a religion.

It's not just that, Bro. They want Freemasonry to be their religious model. Because if it isn't, well, then it's into the fiery pit.

I noted something else in Jesse's e-mail:

For instance, while going through the FC ritual, one is told to study the seven arts and sciences but is given no further direction.

And that's as it should be. Freemasonry is a journey of self-improvement .. but the candidate is free to decide how best to proceed on that journey. It's not for Freemasonry to dogmatically explain specifics, the candidate should search on his own, albeit with the help of his individual brothers. We're not a cult that spoon-feeds people. Much like we don't tell him what Holy Book to believe in as he practices the Masonic principle of faith, we don't tell him how he must come to conclusions about the Liberal Arts and Sciences. That's for him to seek out on his own as he travels from East to West.

Justa Mason

Freestyle said...

Amen Justa.

Emeraldi42 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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