Friday, September 28, 2007

Old School for the New School - Part 2

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"

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Those are my ten Old School technologies and methods for the New School. I know there are many more. Here are a few to come to mind that I didn't expand on; Past Masters, real candles, summonses, log books, tracing boards, lodge libraries, antique furniture, photographies, etc. The moral of the story is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. However, learn to recognize when something is broke. If you feel something in lodge is not part of the core of masonry and it isn't working, change it. But just because it's old doesn't mean that it isn't working. You should be that certain point within a circle. Look to one side and remember the lodges of old. Look to the other side and envision the lodges of tomorrow. But, always remember you stand in the present and that you must balance the old and the new.


Traveling Man said...


Another excellent post. Please pardon me if I have a difference of opinion.

I am personally against name badges. I think it far better that we assign Brothers to mentor new Brethren and introduce them. And, tell them it's okay to forget someone's name and ask them.

(I just find name badges horribly tacky - but that's just my opinion.)

I would also encourage Worshipful Masters to tell newly admitted Brethren that the Lodge is much different than what they are used to in school. That participation is expected and encouraged. (This should also include a brief lecture on how to speak in Lodge.)

I have personally seen some otherwise shy and retiring Brother "find his voice" in Lodge. This, I believe is one of the many things Masonry has to offer a man - the opportunity to find his voice.


Widow's Son said...

I agree with you, Bro. TM, about how being in a lodge helps you find your voice. Before I became a Mason, I wasn't comfortable speaking in public. Since joining, and serving for a while as education director, I have little hesitancy to speak up most anywhere about most anything.

Widow's Son

Charles Tirrell said...

Brother Traveling Man,

Thank you for your difference of opinion. I enjoy hearing it :)

I understand your aversion to name badges, I also find them tacky, but unfortunately they serve a purpose in some lodges. I like the mentor idea and to specifically make it a point to have them ask if they forget who someone is. Basically, I wasn't so much advocating name badges, as much as a solution to the problem of uncomfortableness that arises from forgetting someones name. There's always more than one way to skin a cat. :)

Brother Widow's Son,

Thanks for your post as well. I also feel as though I gained my voice in lodge. One of the countless gifts our brotherhood has given me. I recently saw that you visited our Grand Jurisdiction. If you're ever visiting again, please drop me a line and I'll make it a point to do some traveling.

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