Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rough Ashlar No. 20: A Radical Approach to Lodge

I'm going to keep this short and sweet, because that's exactly what the goal is. Again and again one hears an old line, both of complaint and inquiry about the character of Lodge meetings. No, I'm not talking about the ideological differences between Liberal and UGLE style Masonry, nor about differing approaches such esoteric vs. rational.

People complain that lodge meetings can be tedious and that this leads or may be perceived as potentially leading to the loss of (especially younger) members. This is followed usually by much hand wringing and head shaking, because that is a revered Masonic tradition, as the down-heartened mason wonders what can be done to liven things up. 

Well, there is one simple solution which could easily be implemented. Gut the minutes and secretary's reports. In fact, gut any and all reports. Strip them from the meeting. Period. Today, everyone has access to email, and if they choose not to deal with email, they can call upon some family member to assist. There is simply no excuse. If you can't deal with email, then the only lodge meeting you should be attending meets in the eternal east. 

All these reports can be sent in advance to members with the understanding that if they want to discuss any matter within them, they can, by providing advance notice by way of an email response to that message - provided the subject is weighty enough, have a total of five minutes in the comment period. In the case of fairly bureaucratic matters, the comments and suggestions can be passed to all by email as well. With that time freed up, there are no end of more beneficial and stimulating discussions that may be had. 

There is in fact, no reason that the form and structure of regular meetings cannot be modified or streamlined. The details of the meeting are not defined by anyone's landmarks. They are for the most part the confluence of constitutional regulations and old usage or tradition. In most cases, the regulations require that some means of handling issues related to correspondence and business be accommodated but there should be a fair bit of latitude for how that is done.

You see, the more I think about it, the more I begin to believe that Freemasonry is shrinking, not just because it has lost touch with society, although it unquestionably has, but perhaps even more because habitual practice has made it quite simply, as boring as hell. There may be a few shining examples of lodges which are dynamic, but by and large they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Freemasonry is in fact boring itself to death. There is absolutely no excuse for that. Do something about it!

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