Connecticut Freemasons were surprised this week by the actions of their new Grand Master, Most Worshipful Gary William Robert Arseneau, a brother who had previously been known for his temperate character and his prudent decisions.
MW Bro. Arseneau used his first few days as Grand Master to issue the typical pronouncements and proclamations, but then followed up with several decrees which seem completely out of character with the progressive way that Freemasonry has generally been practiced here in the Nutmeg State.
The first pronouncement was so out of character that a number of people initially thought that he was joking, but further investigation prompted him — or rather, his office — to forward this email to the districts:
“While in the past it may have been up to the individual to choose how to wear their Masonic ring, it is the decision of the Grand Master that Freemasons under the Grand Lodge of Connecticut should only wear their rings with the points turned inward, i.e., pointing toward their wrist. This is no different than the rules and regulations pertaining to the wearing of one’s aprons or jewels in public. Members with the points described in any other fashion will now be considered as subversive, and will be liable to be reprimanded, suspended, or expelled.”
Further communications were just as surprising, both for their content, and for their unusual bluntness in laguage.
On Ritual Seminars:
“Due to the costs involved with hosting the various ritual seminars around the state, the Grand Lodge Committee on Masonic Education will mail DVD copies of the various National Geographic and History Channel specials to new lodge officers so that they can study on their own time.”
On Officer Training:
“The Grand Lodge can not be expected to fund the coffee and donuts for a few dozen half-awake officers that show up a couple of times a year.”
On the Grand Lodge website:
“We have been wasting money on this website for years. It is my plan to scrap the entire thing, sell off the servers, and move everything over to Facebook and Google Documents. They’re free, the uptime is better, and if there are any problems, then the members can complain to Facebook or Google for support.”
But the most surprising communication had to do with something that most Freemasons around the state had considered to be a dead issue: The Grand Lodge of Southern New England.
“Because of the large amount of the funds expended in the legal process of finalizing the details, and in the physical construction and remodeling of the building, and because the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations reneged on the arrangement for a merger between their respective Grand Lodges without due and timely notice, it is the decision of the Grand Master that we seek to recover those financial damages in a court of law. ”
Anonymous sources close to the Grand Master have reported that MW Bro. Arseneau had been especially upset with the merger cancellation several years ago because he, himself, had done a large part of the background work. While so far unsubstantiated, he was reported to have said “They only have, what, like two dozen lodges? I say that we sue the hell out of them, and then when they run out of money, we’ll just move in a take over anyway. Then, nobody will left to object to our keeping the ‘A’ in the ‘AF & AM’.”
The word is that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts will be watching the developments closely, and may offer to buy the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island outright as part of their new public awareness campaign. Connecticut brothers familiar with the workings of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge have hinted that while it would actually serve little purpose, Massachusetts Grand Lodge officers had been “miffed” that they had not thought of the merger idea themselves several years ago, and see the opportunity as a way to turn the Connecticut failure into their own public image success.
In the meantime, Masons around Connecticut are still reeling from the number of new rules and regulations, and many foresee that lodge meetings for the remainder of the month will need to focus on getting the word out to the Craft.