This past weekend saw another statewide “Open House” in which lodges across Connecticut were encouraged to open their doors to walk-in visitors who might be interested in the fraternity — and hopefully, interested enough to join. The Grand Lodge provided radio advertising and other promotional materials, and the participating lodges — over four dozen of them — hung out signs and notices directing the public. Southington was typical of the lodges around the state; Friendship No. 33 was open between noon and 4 in the afternoon, and a handful of brothers came down to hang out, drink some coffee, and chew the fat while waiting for visitors to come calling.
Similar programs have taken place in other states, with some reported success — “success” being that in many places people actually did go out of their way to stop in at a local lodge to ask questions. Friendship had two or three people stop by; ironically, none of them from Southington. Several other lodges reported similar results. At the moment, I don’t have any data on how many of those visitors have actually become members, but at the very least, the Committee on Masonic Awareness views this as an opportunity to educate the public.
I had a few errands to run on Saturday, and didn’t make it down to the lodge until about 1:30, and a walk-in had just shown up. I mused on the idea of “walk-in visitors” because the despite the fact that Friendship is situated right in the middle of town — on the town green, in fact — the visitor, like the several others, had driven some distance out of his way to get there. And that’s when the idea came to me.
Friendship Lodge, like many lodges in New England, is situated in the center of town, in a place easily accessible… for farmers on horseback, or for merchants with a trap or carriage, or for those that lived close to the center of town. But as the empty storefronts and lack of businesses can attest, nobody walks around the center of town anymore. This is why the Open House program, like many committee-developed ideas, is doomed to failure: it addresses an issue with a solution that is no longer relevant. It’s time for solutions to our dwindling membership that are more ambitious, and more relevant.
The people aren’t going to come to the lodges, so let’s put the lodges where the people are going: To the shopping malls.
New England is filled with many historic, old lodge buildings. By “historic,” of course, I mean out-dated firetraps with inadequate electrical and plumbing systems, poor accessibility for the older members, and little room for expansion. Oh sure, every other week you hear Chris Hodapp moaning about how some ancient “historic” building is closing, but there’s a reason those buildings have closed: they aren’t as interesting as the modern shopping malls. In an effort to attract and retain shoppers, they have a variety of restaurants catering to every taste, water fountains, gathering places, coffee bars, and pleasant ambient music. Unfortunately, the poor economy has caused a number of the smaller stores in many shopping malls and plazas to close, with few prospects for new renters on the horizon. It’s not unusual to see shuttered storefronts in even the busiest malls. In fact, some malls have even taken to creating fake storefronts to disguise the empty stores inside.
My proposal is that we start closing those old
firetraps “Historic buildings”, and start renting long-term space in the malls. With the number of lodges that we could move, we could surely cut a deal with the mall management companies for low rental fees. We would have more than adequate parking, handicap access, janitorial services, and plenty of three-prong electrical outlets. More importantly, we could have an Open House program pretty much every week, and be assured of having all the pedestrian traffic that we could handle. In fact, we’d probably have to have an Open House Month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, just to accommodate the crowds.
To sweeten this idea, why stop at lodge rooms? Let’s capitalize on the recent spate of Nick Cage movies, Dan Brown books, and History Channel specials by putting a small Masonic bling shop in front. Brothers would no longer have to haunt Ebay or thumb through last year’s Macoy’s catalog looking for rings, Past Master jewels, or auto decals; we could have display racks full of pins, bumper stickers, and coffee mugs. We could run sales flyers for the regular mall shoppers, reminding them to pick up a Square & Compasses ball cap for that special Mason in their lives.
Before you turn up your nose at this idea, consider something else: Who else hangs out at the mall during the weekends? That’s right: teenagers. The dwindling enrollment of our DeMolay and Rainbow chapters could also benefit from having our lodges in the shopping malls; most lodges do not meet on Saturdays, so we could easily use the space for our Masonic youth groups. Parents could drop off the children, do a little shopping, and pick the kids up when the meeting is finished. And once we get the lodges and youth chapters moved over, then we could start looking at those OES chapters.
It seems that I joined the wrong lodge. Or perhaps the Grand Lodge has been holding out on me.
Apparently not satisfied with generously sharing the bank accounts of deposed princes (for a small fee), Nigerian Freemasons have been offering a special deal: Join now, and after your initiation ceremony, you’ll be awarded such things as:
- A Cash Reward of USD $300,000
- A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at USD $120,000
- A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice
- One Month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination.
- One year Golf Membership package
- A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the World
- A total Lifestyle change
- Access to Bohemian Grove
- One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and Top 5 Celebrities in the World.
All they need is $300 initiation fee, and in seven days, you can be driving your BMW to Oprah’s house to have lunch with the Bills (Gates and Clinton), and then you’re off to a round at Pebble Beach.
Well, not at first. They go on to say:
Once you make the Payment and after filling and submitting the Registration Form,you are then invited to the Freemason Lodge where you undergo the Initiation Ceremony.
Seven days after the Initiation Ceremony, you are then Invited to an Awarding Ceremony where you are rewarded with USD $300,000
This Money is to enable you change your Lifestyle and your standards of Living so as to match with that of the Club Members.
This is important, because Freemasons certainly can’t be seen hanging around with anyone that isn’t up to their standards. I’m sure I’m at the wrong lodge, because I have to park my Chevy pickup next to a Ford pickup, a Toyota Prius, and a few other cars that cost considerably less than $120,000.
Wait, what’s that? I missed the deadline?
DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION IS: 30thAugust, 2013.
NB: After the Expiry of the Deadline above, FREEMASON and ILLUMINATI Membership Registration will close indefinitely in the above countries.
Dang! I hate it when that happens.
For those of you who might be able to get your bank cheque off by tomorrow, you can see more information below.
Reddit is a news aggregate site, similar to Digg or Stumble. Users submit news items and articles of interest, and readers vote on the quality, timeliness, and usefulness of the item. As the site has grown over the last five or six years, users have added sub-groups, so people interested in certain topics can find items more easily. There are now several thousand interest groups, ranging from art, to cooking, exercise, investing, home remodeling, coin collecting, bicycling, and yes, even Freemasonry. I know this because I happen to be a mod on the Reddit Freemasonry group, along with another one of your blogging friends, The Millennial Freemason.
/r/freemasonry, as the group is known, has been growing steadily for the last couple of years, with now well over 2,000 members. Since the Reddit user demographic tends to be late teens to 30s, the members are mainly younger (i.e., newer) Masons, most of whom are enjoying the opportunity to ask questions and trade ideas with Freemasons in other jurisdictions.
The other day, after I had been writing about how great Masonry is in Connecticut, and how progressive the Grand Lodge was with regard to online communication, one of the members asked if our Grand Master would consider doing an AMA. The next thing we knew, we had it set up.
An AMA is an online Reddit interview, in which a person of interest agrees to stay online for a few hours, answering questions from random users, mainly, but not always, about the topic at hand. While there have been several Freemasons who have volunteered for these on the subgroup /r/iama, MW Simon will be the first Grand Master — and apparently the highest ranking Mason ever — to sit in for one.
For some reason, I’m sure that this won’t stop the various conspiracy nuts from asserting that “Yeah, he might be a Grand Master, but he’s still not a high-enough ranking Mason to know the *real*truth about the Illuminati — Zeta-Reticulan — NWO conspiracy.”
If any Freemasons are reading this, please stop by and join in the fun. If non-Masons are reading this, please stop by and ask questions or offer up comments.
Be there and be square!
Edit: Here’s the link to the AMA.
Like a lot of my fellow Masons, there are times when I get really busy with work, family stuff, work, personal health care, work, projects around the house, and work. In the last few years, I have often missed lodge meetings because I’m working until 7 or 8 pm, or because I’ve needed to do something with the kids, or because some other matter has cropped up that I can’t take care of at any other time. I’m sure that this happens to other brothers, too.
That’s why I’m thrilled by Maso-Net, the new program that will be introduced by RW Simon LaPlace, the incoming Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, that will allow busy Masons to attend their lodge meetings virtually, at their own convenience. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, which he is expected to announce at his installation as Grand Master during next week’s Grand Lodge Annual Communication, so I’ll just mention some of the highlights of the program.
While there have been online Masonic communities of Masons since the before the internet was available to the general public, they have generally taken the form of text-based message boards. Maso-Net will be completely different in that it will allow lodge members to actually see, and in some cases, attend a lodge meeting in real time. To accomplish this, Mason-Net will have several components. One will be a Skype-like interface that will connect members directly to a lodge. Participating lodges will be outfitted with a large screen TV on the North wall of the lodge room, with a corresponding webcam positioned in the Northwest and Southwest corners. Maso-Net Members will sign in and be presented with a view of the lodge room that includes the Master’s chair, and the screen will allow the other members to see who has signed in. Maso-Net members, though their own webcams hooked up to their computers, be able to attend the meeting and follow along with the proceedings without missing any of the details. Amplified speakers near the TV screen will allow them to speak during meetings as if they were in attendance.
RW LaPlace initially conceived of this as a way to reach out to older brothers who were unable to attend because of health reasons, but the idea quickly gained ground among the Grand Lodge technorati who, accustomed to live webcam meetings, saw this as a way to keep existing brothers involved. As a Maso-Net member, a brother could work late, and take a dinner break to attend lodge. Users with smartphones (apps for iPhones and Android phones running ICS or better are already being developed) will even be able to attend while on the road, although they will probably need at least a good 3G data connection.
A real advantage to Maso-Net meetings is that a WM will no longer have to worry about a last-minute cancellation on a degree night. A brother assigned to a particular lecture will no longer have to cancel if he’s away on business; the Master of a lodge would even be able to open if he’s out of town. Imagine an older brother delivering the working tools lecture to his grandson from the comfort of his own home — in Florida! Or imagine a District Deputy being able to attend a different lodge meeting every night of the week, and not spending a fortune on gas and car expenses. This aspect of the program is certainly a way that the Craft can take advantage of new technologies.
Another interesting component to Maso-Net that RW LaPlace is expected to announce will be the ability to sit in on lodge meetings at any time of the day or night by the use of streaming technologies. Participating lodges will begin recording their meetings and using broadband connections, begin uploading those meetings to the cloud. Maso-Net members will then be able to find a lodge meeting and replay it. Members will be able to pause the recorded meeting for a break, or even better, skip through the boring parts.
Still unannounced is just where the video recordings will be stored. The Grand Lodge of Connecticut has its own servers, but as more lodges join the network the data storage itself would become unmanageable, to say nothing of the capacity for streaming a number of different meetings back to the members. Early reports have suggested Youtube, perhaps a dedicated channel as the perfect storage & replay solution. Obviously, the concern was raised that anybody could view a lodge meeting on Youtube, however, the counterpoint was raised that any non-Mason who viewed one lodge meeting was unlikely to make it a habit of viewing many more. I suspect that talks are underway with Google about the possibility of a private Youtube channel. Another advantage of this would be the ability to upload sections of various degree ceremonies in order for lodges to watch them for the purposes if ritual instruction.
There are other aspects of Maso-Net that will be made public after RW LaPlace takes office. About a dozen lodges will be part of the initial phase, and RW LaPlace will probably announce which ones have been selected after his installation, with more participating every month. Brothers interested in signing up to be a Maso-Net member are encouraged to talk to their District Deputy, who should have the contact information.
As a busy Mason who has been having a hard time getting to lodge meetings lately, I’m happy to see that Connecticut is on the forefront of bringing Freemasonry into the 21st century. Kudos to soon-to-be MW Simon LaPlace, and best wishes for an exciting year in office.
Not sure what jurisdiction this is, but they seem pretty “regular” to me.
Well, it’s about time that some of the Freemasons came to their senses, and we should all be thankful that Florida has the temerity to lead the way. I’m talking, of course, about the recent edict by the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida who is evicting anyone from the Craft who are not right-thinking, God-fearing Freemasons.
The Masonic online discussion world has been all a-Twitter over this, so there’s no need for me to go over the details, but the essentials (from the Grand Master’s Edict page) are these:
The question has arisen if certain religious practices are compatible with Freemasonry, primarily Paganism, Wiccan and Odinism, and secondarily Agnosticism and Gnosticism.
He then natters on about some legal stuff, and writes:
I. CONCERNING GOD AND RELIGION
“A Mason is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral law; and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious libertine.”……….
And then finishes up with the important part:
Therefore, as Grand Master, it is my Ruling and Decision that none of the above mentioned beliefs and/or practices are compatible with Freemasonry since they do not believe or practice one or more of the prerequisites to be a candidate for Masonry listed above.
Further, any member of the Craft that professes to be a member of one of the groups mentioned above shall tender his resignation or suffer himself to a Trial Commission whose final outcome will be expulsion since there is no provision to allow anything contrary to the Ancient Landmarks.
Furthermore, Freemasonry prohibits the change of any of the Ancient Landmarks, and its members admit that it is not in power of any man, or body of men, to make innovations in the body of Masonry.
It’s about time that somebody took a stand to kick out those trouble-making types who can’t commit to a real religion, and who pick some made-up theology in order to join the fraternity. My only beef is that MWGM Jorge Aladro hasn’t gone far enough.
For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to Tom Hanks, Nicholas Cage, or any of those TV specials that have come up in the last five years, the Freemasons have very few actual requirements for joining. You must be a man, of lawful age, of good character, with a belief in a Supreme Creator. Some jurisdictions change the qualifications slightly, but those are the basics. Florida, apparently, has gotten tired of non-religious posers who are trying to sneak into the fraternity by claiming to be believers in completely fictitious, made-up religions like Paganism. Personally, I can’t imagine anything good coming from allowing such trouble makers into the Craft. If a real religion isn’t good enough for those people — or as is more likely the case, those people aren’t good enough for a real religion — then they are obviously rebels who will end up causing nothing but trouble for those around them.
My only concern is that Florida is about 240 years too late. Reading through my Masonic history books, I see that quite a large number of Freemasons from that time were also posers who claimed to belong to some movement called Deism. You can tell that Deism isn’t a real religion because they don’t have any churches. But even at that, listen to what those guys believed:
Deism holds that God does not intervene with the functioning of the natural world in any way, allowing it to run according to the laws of nature that he configured when he created all things. God is thus conceived to be wholly transcendent and never immanent. For Deists, human beings can only know God via reason and the observation of nature, but not by revelation or supernatural manifestations (such as miracles) – phenomena which Deists regard with caution if not skepticism. See the section Features of deism, following. Deism does not ascribe any specific qualities to a deity beyond non-intervention. Deism is related to naturalism because it credits the formation of life and the universe to a higher power, using only natural processes. Deism may also include a spiritual element, involving experiences of God and nature.
So, let’s see: No churches, no bible or holy book, and a God that makes stuff and then wanders off to
God who know where. Those guys from back in the late 1700s obviously were not members of a real religion, either. Too bad MWGM Alandro wasn’t around to kick them out of the fraternity, before they got themselves up to no good.
If you’re interested in reading more about this:
Just in time for the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, too.
From The Telegraph (UK) comes the headline:
Its ‘secret’ handshakes and elaborate rituals have long been a mystery to outsiders, but the world of freemasonry is opening up by selling membership Gift Packs for people to give their loved ones for Christmas.
The Masonic Christmas Gift Pack costs £80 and includes a tour of the local Masonic Lodge, an invitation to meetings with masons, and – subject to approval by the local Lodge – a year’s membership to the group.
The British Federation of Co-Freemasonry described the pack, which is available until the end of December, as “truly a life-changing gift”.
Since I know that some brothers will be scandalized by the very idea, let me take a responsible opposing viewpoint on this.
Ignoring that this particular article is about Co-Masons in England (which we already know are not recognized by “mainstream” UGLE-recognized orders), maybe “holiday gift-packages” are just one more membership drive idea that we’ve been leading up to for the last few years.
Wait, “membership drive”? Freemasons don’t have membership drives; that’s almost as bad as recruiting… which we also don’t do.
In the US, there are already wide-spread and well-financed public relation campaigns to “raise awareness” about the fraternity. This includes things like the MasoniChip and various state-sponsored Child ID programs, advertising on radio, billboards, and producing very nice tie-in videos featuring Ben Franklin, Uncle George, etc., and sponsoring state-wide “open house” visiting hours, during which the lodge building is open to the public, with brothers on hand to act as tour guides.
We already have bumper stickers (and billboards) with “2B1, Ask1,” and various other slogans. We have taken very opportunity to reach out to the public, whether it’s through popular books (the Dummies and Idiot’s Guides are still popular selling items ), movies (From Hell, National Treasure, DaVinci Code), and television (History Channel, etc., specials on “Secrets of the Freemasons Exposed!”)
In many areas, the buildings are old, not well-maintained, and the membership can’t afford to renovate them. Once a month it seems that Chris Hodapp is bemoaning some beautiful old temple that is being sold or torn down because they can’t survive on the 38 active members that still show up. Shriners (who are now airing commercials looking for support for their excellent childrens hospitals) have long dropped the requirement that members need to be either a Knight Templar or a 32º Scottish Rite Mason, and are now open to Master Masons – and sometimes on the internet there surfaces rumors that they would like to open their doors to non-Masons.
We’ve seen 1-day degrees (“Mister to Master” or “Blue Lightning” festivals), and most of the Craft are exhorted to keep a few petitions with them in their car or briefcase so they always have one on hand to pass along.
So, a year’s gift membership to be a Freemason? I’ve had gift memberships to book clubs, wine clubs, record clubs, baked good clubs, and jelly of the month clubs. In light of what I’ve spelled out above (and other things that I might have missed), someone needs to explain just what’s so bad about a gift membership to one of the best “clubs” in the world.
The Millennial Freemason has another take on this, if you don’t like mine.