This is the continuation of the article I posted yesterday focusing on what "Old School" technology and methods are employed in a masonic lodge that work. In the previous post I listed five items of importance of masonry. This items were ritual, dues cards, scholarship, mouth-to-ear learning, and pen and paper. In this post the second half of this list.
I do find the second half of these two part posts to be more difficult than the first. Most of the items that freely come to mind I put into the first post and I have to struggle to find the latter half that I wish to include. However, I do enjoy the road less traveled. For the second half, I need to search and analyze, focus and think, observe and contemplate. Truly a masonic endeavor :)
With no further ado, items six through ten of "Old School for the New School"
- Ballot Box - It's a simple system for balloting. There is a box with two sides. One side is filled with uncast votes represented by white balls for yes and black balls for no. The other side is where the vote is cast. Quick and simple. No paper ballots. Voting without a trace. No hanging chads. This is a system that has worked well for centuries and will work well into the future. Although there are problems with the one vote and dismiss system, it is a proven method to keep harmony in the lodge by allowing any brother to vote no and keep a problematic new member from being excepted.
- Budget - Budgets seem old fashion in todays world of internet banking, ATMs and credit cards, but this is a wonderful planning tool. By laying out the financial year of a lodge, the organization of the year must also be planned. There are many lodges that don't utilize this tool and should. Budgets are forward-thinking items and should be used to help the Master, Wardens and brothers plan a successful year. The tool can also streamline a stated communication, because budgeted items may not require a vote. Old School productivity at its best.
- Visitor Book - Recently, I filled in as Junior Warden for the lodge that hosted the Master Mason degree where I was raised (I was raised at a Blue Lodge Council Meeting in 2000). I hadn't returned to that lodge since I was raised, because its geographically distant and I don't know many of the brothers there. When I recently visited, I went to sign their guest book. After signing it, I opened the book up to Oct 30th, 2000 and there was my name with the initials FC next to it. In that moment the breadth of my masonic journey washed over me. I was instantly aware of how far I had come and how far I still have to travel. It was quite a humbling experience. The visitors book is an important tool for recording benchmarks and realizing your place in time.
- Name Badges - Badges! We DO need some stinking badges! I know that lodge brothers should know each other on sight, but it doesn't always happen that way. This is especially true of new brothers and visitors. When I joined my lodge, I didn't know a single person. For the first year, I relied on name badges to learn who everyone was. The lodge should be a welcome place for its brothers. However, being uncomfortable because you don't know someone's name is quite unwelcoming.
- Speech- (This may sound like #4, but it is a quite different.) The oldest communication known to man, speech. We can have all the letters, trestleboards, calendars, emails, websites, IMs, notes, etc, but without using speech as a primary tool of communication, all is lost. Digital communication is a great, but meaning is lost in it. Masters need to talk to their officers. Officers need to talk the brethren. Brothers need to talk to non-masons. Disagreements and arguments often arise because brothers don't talk to each other. A brother may feel slighted because the Master did not personally contact him or a brother may be angered because he was not told about an important event. The 30 minutes before and after a stated communication is often far more important than the time spent within lodge, because brothers can freely talk. Most of the arguments I have seen arise in the lodge is because a brother didn't convey his thoughts and feelings or a brother did not listen to another's needs.