Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This and That

Degrees in my district this month were postponed/rescheduled due to official visits, so I'm still waiting for a date for my Entered Apprentice degree.

I visited my lodge during their open house this past weekend, and had the pleasure of meeting a few brothers, including the District Deputy Grand Master. They didn't have many visitors that day because their ad didn't make it into the local paper in time, and the Grand Lodge didn't buy any advertising on local radio (I've still never heard any of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge radio ads), but from what I heard that afternoon it sounds like there's a lot of young blood entering the fraternity, and starting to make some changes for the better.

I spent much of Sunday and Monday driving around central Maine, and I was struck by how many lodges have signs near town borders with the square and compass, lodge name, and meeting times. I don't know how old the signs are, but I got the impression that there are a lot more Masonic lodges per capita in Maine, with one in just about every town I drove through, compared to western Massachusetts where there might be one lodge per half dozen towns or more. Other fraternal and service organizations seem to be active, too. In one town I saw signs and/or buildings for a Masonic lodge, an Oddfellows lodge, an American Legion post, the Lions club, a Grange, and even a Rebekah lodge.

While in Maine I had dinner with my second cousin, and learned that her father was a Mason, both her parents were in OES, and that she had been a Rainbow girl.

The things we learn about people after they pass away! I dearly wish I had gotten know my grand-uncle before he passed away about 7 years ago. I only met him a few times when I was a shy, quiet kid, and so of course I hadn't developed many of the interests I would come to pursue as an adult. A few years ago I learned that he played banjo (one relatively recent pursuit of mine which I would have explored a lot earlier in life if I had had any idea where to look for information) and now I find that he was a Mason.

I'm a little surprised that he wouldn't have answered the questions that his brother (my grandfather, who was interested in joining but never did) had. I know that men tended to be more secretive about the goings-on of the lodge during the first half of the last century, but as brothers go I always had the impression that he and grampa were fairly close.

My visit to the lodge on Saturday has me more eager than ever to get started, but at the same time I have subdued my passions to the point where I am not speculating nearly as much about what my experience will be like.

All things in good time.


Mark said...

From a brother in Central Florida:

First of all, congratulations on your upcoming initiation. It is a big step, and an important one; good for you.

It is good that you can be patient enough to just wait till it happens. The reality is, to a very large extent, no one could tell you anything anyway: no one can tell you how you will respond to the initiatory experience. That is, in some ways, the ultimate secret of Freemasonry--not secret because no one tells you, but because in principle no one can tell you.

I just stumbled upon your blog today. I look forward to reading your back entries and to looking in on your progress now and again.

Concerning the discrepancy between the number of lodges in Maine and Western Massachusetts: I can't put my hands on my Pantagraph at the moment ("List of Lodges--Masonic") to verify this, but let's say it's so. This might be a result of the way the Morgan incident worked out. The Anti-Masonic episode of 1826-1845 resulted in the closing of many, many lodges; the entire Grand Lodge of Vermont just shut down altogether, as I understand it. (See the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon for their excellent on-line historical articles.) The effect of the Anti-Masonic episode was felt more in some places than others; it was centered in New York State, and the farther away one was from that location, the less the effect. It may be that Maine was far enough away not to be too much affected. Or, it might be something else altogether.

Do continue to let us know about your progress in Masonry. Be well.

Mark said...

From that brother in Central Florida:

Just to confirm your impression, there are lots of younger brothers coming into the fraternity down here, too. About three weeks ago we raised 7 new Master Masons; one was in his 40s, the rest in their 20s and 30s.

About the issue of people not talking about Masonry in an earlier generation, that was so very unfortunate. I recently published an article in the journal of the Florida Lodge of Research on this topic; a slightly updated version is on my website. (Go to, then go to the "Free Downloads" page; under the heading "Raising Public Awareness About Freemasonry," see "Tell Your Family About Your Masonry.") Basically, we not only can tell our people about our Masonry, but we really should.

It is probably the case in Massachusetts as it is in Florida: we do not share the signs of recognition, by which we can make ourselves known to other Masons, nor do we give details of the initiation ceremonies, nor do we share the details of debates in the lodge. Aside from that, you are welcome to share your feelings about Freemasonry, and general comments about what it is, with those who inquire. Be well.

radcliffe said...

My Grandfather too was a mason and never spoke of it. I agree brothers were much more reticent about openly speaking about lodge.