Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What is the Metric of Success?

This last Saturday, during our open house, my lodge received 7 new applications for membership. These were men who had each been interested in Freemasonry for some time and saw the open house as an opportunity to learn more without perhaps feeling the same level of commitment or scrutiny as you might by calling or e-mailing a lodge out of the blue.

These were not random schmoes who saw an "open house" sign, wandered in off the street and decided to submit an application as a lark.

I was not involved in any of my lodges' previous open houses except as a visitor last fall, but I know this most recent batch of petitions surpasses any past results on a purely numeric basis.

Was it a success? After some lengthy conversations with several Brothers yesterday I don't think we can claim success unless we follow through with these new candidates if and when they join, taking the initiative and responsibility to show them the ropes and get them engaged and sticking around.

As evidenced by my current predicament, my lodge's officer line could use a little bit of shoring up, but what we don't want to do is continue the trend of viewing all newly raised Brothers as warm bodies to stuff into officers' chairs (unless that's what they're into.) What a few Brothers and I want is to restore the aspect of fellowship at our lodge by getting members together for occasions other than
  1. Rehearsals
  2. Dinners/Stated Meetings
  3. Degrees
Maybe even getting Brothers together outside the lodge, which doesn't happen much right now in any organized fashion.

At the same time, I want to work the problem from the other end and find a way to soften the disappointment of newly-raised, esoterically-oriented Brothers who aren't going to find the mystical order of philosopher-Jedis they may be expecting based on their internet research. There has to be a way to do it without totally discouraging them.

As I experience all of these different facets of Freemasonry, the mystery that fascinates me most right now is what keeps men coming back to do this? Why do Officers sacrifice one night a week to practice ritual, even if they're not interested in (or maybe haven't even heard of) Pike, Mackey, et al? Why do old-timers show up to watch degrees they've seen dozens, even hundreds of times before? Why do some men take on the huge time and energy commitment of serving as a District Deputy Grand Master, even after all of the time and energy they devoted to their year in the East?

If you asked a dozen Brothers you would get a dozen different answers, and yet there is a common thread in there, somewhere.

Secrets, indeed.

2 comments:

Justa Mason said...

A.C., you penned:
I want to work the problem from the other end and find a way to soften the disappointment of newly-raised, esoterically-oriented Brothers who aren't going to find the mystical order of philosopher-Jedis they may be expecting based on their internet research.

The way to solve the problem to tell these guys during the investigation stage .. if not sooner .. that isn't what they'll find in Freemasonry.
Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the W.M. having them give presentations on matters they find of Masonic interest. It's no different than anyone else.

Why do some men take on the huge time and energy commitment of serving as a District Deputy Grand Master, even after all of the time and energy they devoted to their year in the East?

Because the Grand Master is an ex-DeMolay Advisor and you feel obligated when he asks to do a job you really don't want? Or was that just me?

Oh, and congrats on your petitioners. I hope they all have stable work and home lives, enabling them to be active in the Lodge. One Lodge I know has six E.As. A F.C. Degree is coming and it has no candidates available. Out of six.

Justa

Tim said...

-The power of the World always works in circles,
and everything tries to be round....
The Sky is round,
and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball,
and so are the stars.
The wind, in its greatest power, whirls.
Birds make their nest in circles for theirs is
the same religion as ours....
Even the seasons form
a great circle in their changing,
and always come back
again to where they were.
The life of a man is a circle
from childhood to childhood,
and so it is in everything
where power moves. Black Elk

Masonry has seen its journey around the circle several times over. I suspect that it is beginning to creep back up towards the pinnacle. I really do think that one has to take the good with the bad as many Lodges fight for survival. It has appeared that many Grand Lodges have made entry and passage through easier and easier because the coffers were emptying at an ever increasing pace and something had to be done! It may not be want we would like but it has kept the Fraternity alive and it has brought in such as yourself who aspires for more than what empty ritual may provide. I understand your quandary well. My hope is that those reciting ritual come to know the meaning and less the hum of rote memorization.