Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Would You Do As Grandmaster #8

This week's Guest Editorial Essay is written by one of the most respected Masonic Bloggers on the Internet. Masonic Traveler not only operates a blog but also a Masonic Information Site and a Radio Podcast Program with Brother Dean Kennedy from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
From the mundane to the deepest thought, from the everyday workings to the most in depth esoteric thought Masonic Traveler blog has it all including some beautiful artwork some of which the author has created himself. To view The Masonic Traveler Blog click here
Masonic Information is just chock full of all that you were afraid to ask and wanted to know. You can access that site by clicking Freemason Information.
But the Pièce de résistance is Masonic Central, the radio podcast. Here we go from the written word to the spoken, from the visual to - "Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears." From Stephen Dafoe to Brent Morris, Tom Jackson, Bob Davis, Chris Hodapp and other notables, this radio program has booked some of the most well known Masonic men of letters and knowledge and experience. If you have not had the pleasure of listening to this show click on Masonic Central.
Today Masonic Traveler answers the question put to him. As you can see he is neither a traditionalist or a reformer - he is both and a more thoughtful insight would be hard to find.
You are Grand Master of an American jurisdiction which has just changed its by-laws to give the Grand Master a five year term. As the first GM to serve five years what proposals, policies and changes would you make to insure the survival of your jurisdiction and promote healthy growth?

Neglectfully, I have been late in responding to Br. Fred’s offer to post my reply to his question of “If I were elected Grand Master…” on the Beehive. I have to admit that it is a daunting question that have had a hard time to formulate an answer to, but to wit I will endeavor to do as best I can on this eve before the holiday.

Taking the helm of such a massive ship, as is the California Grand Lodge, I would first endeavor to take in as much as I could with such a large membership. From the ports of San Diego to the tall Trees of Eureka, Masonic lodges dot the state from top to bottom and side to side, with an almost inconceivable member role, the Masonic lodge membership is as diversified as the state is. Both rural farmer and urban executive practice the gentle craft and span an age gap from 18 to 100. Needless to say, it is diverse.

Even with extending the term of service from 1 year to 5 years would not be conceivable to meet every brothers need, but then that should not be the mandate. The Lodge and Grand Lodge system are intact and function well, and I would not dare to reorient a machine already operating in balance. I would, however, endeavor to leverage into place certain elements to augment our present state. Each of these ideas is just that, ideas, and would undoubtedly require a sizable amount of expenditure of both time and money.

Increased communication to membership and public:

In this notion, I envision a class of inspectors that are regional representatives to attend and participate in the communities of their region. This would include Chamber of Commerce meetings, Community Councils, and other diversified meetings where the community interest is at stake. Further, to be a part of and participate with other Fraternal and social networks (including Rotary, Elks, American Legion, etc.) including mixed discipline Freemasonry and other esoteric groups. The idea behind this being to broaden the reach of the fraternity to groups not generally associated to our Society.

Increase of Masonic Education to include publication and dissertation:

Promote internal publication and thought by sponsoring leadership programs, religious tolerance and diversity discussions, and philosophical debate. This is not in a manner to preach but to raise awareness of the membership to these aspects of life that each in part contribute to our whole. Part of this would be an increase in Masonic education generated by the contemporary field of discussion. This would be communicated out to the membership electronically (via the web) and by mail outs in a greater frequency than every quarter. The reasoning is that with increased activity would come increased interest and the more and diverse programs open to Masons the more and increased participation that they will receive.

Broader programs to expand the public perception:

This item would include more open houses, public lectures, and other symposia. The goal and purpose of these are to put into the public mind the broad reach of Masonic ideology and its interest. This dove tails with the 2nd point to broaden education. If we want to me Masons we need to work on the foundation of society, to build it up so that it retains strength as is it carries the weight of time upon it. These programs would include co-sponsorships by lodges and area lodges (regions) and would serve to tie us again into the community. They could be as simple as allowing groups to make use of our lodge rooms or social halls at no charge or at minimal cost, or outright sponsorship to events that fit set criteria. this measure re-opens the lodge room to the public as a place of community rather than as a place of dark windows and selective hours of operation.

Make each of the above “Best in Class”:

Given that California is such a large state it needs to operate all of the above as a “Best in Class” operation. What that means is that it requires time, energy, effort, and money to sufficiently research and implement these items. No doubt that will cause some to recoil, but higher dues and higher per-capitas to facilitate it. This Fraternity is worth paying more for, and so instead of a one time pay requirement, augment it to allow dues to be broken into monthly, quarterly, twice yearly, or annual to make them as flexible to the consumer (the member) as possible.

The focus of my tenure would be to build programs that would produce results long after my departure and improve the common perception of the membership. One year is so often seen as to short a time for one man to implement anything for a group that meets monthly, so there must be the component of increased time to get to it all. Further, without funding, then no program is possible and very little advancement can be made that relies exclusively on the shoulders of men who are working pro-bono. This is not to belittle the efforts of every man in the past who has dedicated himself tirelessly to one program or another. In the reality we live in today none of us can dedicate 30-40 hours weekly to organize, research, or implement programs like these, and as Master builders, we should know the benefits of paying the wages of quality work. We must not be afraid to loosen the purse strings and invest in our future.

In short, this is what my dream of a 5 year term as Grand Master would be. Is it a reality to be manifested, who can say? It is fun to entertain the idea and I appreciate Br. Fred for giving me the bully pulpit on the Beehive to commit the ideas into words.


Gingerman said...

As one asked to write an essay on this subject, I have to say that I left out something that each of us has touched on, but not looked at closely. I won't get too chummy with it now, because of space.

That subject is "Why?"

Everything we do should be moderated by this question. The larger answer is that if brotherly love is to prevale, we need each and every one of us. This includes the people we haven't seen, and maybe don't want to see, in years. People we don't even know.

If we aren't to just be the "He-Man Woman-Haters Club," like in the Little Rascals, we need to realize, by which is meant make real, our commitment to brotherly love, embracing all, especially those with whom we disagree, as Bro. Pike said.

As Grand Master for five years, or five minutes, my job would be to move imediately to bring back our missing brethren, find out who is in need, and make our fraternity return to mutual service and benefit: educational, spiritual, and even mundane.

Frederic L. Milliken said...

I agree but separation occurs sometimes, I think, becasue of the rigidity of Lodges and Grand Lodges.

You want to hold a Las Vegas night to raise a little money. OH NO, we can't have that. Freemasonry cannot be identified with gambling.

You want to set up a bar and serve alcohol in the Dining Hall area. OH NO, alcohol is evil, don't you know that?

You know who is the largest Fraternal organization in the USA? Not Freemasonry. It used to be.

It's The Knights of Columbus. Ask them about alcohol and gambling.

And before one points out that its not all about alcohol and gambling which I am not trying to make it, let me add that its also about ecumenism.

We refuse to even talk to other Obediences and other Fraternal forms never mind breaking bread together. Some GLs have prohibitions against renting Lodges to other Obediences.

What harm is there in renting my Lodge building to Co-Masonry? It helps pay the rent. And what harm is there in holding a joint charitable event with a Woman's Lodge?

And have you ever attended a Knight-Mason breakfast or dinner?

We think we are so special that we don't want to talk to anybody else. I think we are MASONIC SNOBS!

2 BOWL CAIN said...

do you mean like this:
"members of the GLofNY may not visit Lodges of the GlofDC nor hold Masonic intercourse with members of the GLodDC, nor permit them to visit tyled NY Lodges"

In America, Land of the Free,
Home of the Brave........

Magus Masonica said...

What should a GM do?
Simple, disband the GL system.
Sell the Grand Lodge building and spread the profits through the lodges in the state. Make individual lodges responsible for their own survival.

Abolish any state Masonic code.

What works will work, what dosent the market will clear out.

Free market, deregulation!