Home > Freemasonry, Grand Lodge, Grand Master, masonry > Back (ward?) to the Future

Back (ward?) to the Future

November 6, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Several contentious years of Grand Lodge politics have culminated in an unprecedented (in Connecticut, anyway) upheaval in which the progressive Grand Line officers were voted out and replaced by a new line of elected officers.  The hotly contested elections (reportedly needing four votings to arrive at a majority) ended with the election of two Past Grand Masters and the re-instatement of a former Grand Line officer. The future of the Grand Line officers appointed during the past year is uncertain, as is the standings of the dozen or so Grand Lodge committees.

Edit: At the time of publication, several of the appointed GL officers appear to have resigned, as have several District officers.

In the time-honored tradition of keeping Masonic news as dry as possible, that would almost seem to be the entire story. Indeed, the only thing that would appear to be missing at this point would be a picture of MW Simon LaPlace presenting a gavel to our new Grand Master MW Tom Maxwell as both of them grin into the camera. Unfortunately, that is not the situation.

Leaving aside the rumors of collusion and conspiracy (on all sides) that have strained the patience of Connecticut Masons for the last couple of years, the situation at hand seems to be that a number of members, unsatisfied with the changes (both made and proposed) in Connecticut Masonry, managed to convince enough of their brothers that the changes were damaging to our organization, and that the only remedy would be to remove the current elected officers and to replace them with those who had a different vision.

This, of course, is the purpose of a democratic system, and it’s good to see that Freemasons remembered how it works.  Sometimes the good intentions behind having a “progressive line” in most US states leads to stale, if not undesirable Grand Lodge policies. At a time in which our membership is continuing to decrease and our societal culture moves away from joining groups, the remaining members have often been slow to react or have been unwilling to make changes that would attract or retain new members. In the US, this has led to Grand Masters with little or no vision, or Grand Lodge policies or programs that have little relevance to the needs or desires of the younger members that are joining the ranks. The events last week in Connecticut will hopefully serve as an example to Grand Lodges elsewhere around the US that members of the Craft can – and will – take the necessary steps to get the kind of leadership that they want.

That said, there is something symbolical about the recent overturning of the Grand Line that has many Connecticut Freemasons concerned: Does the election of older Past Grand Masters, who served respectively 18 and 25 years ago, mean that we could not find anyone younger, or more attuned to the needs of the latest generation of Masons? Or does it mean that our vision of Masonry for the state looks more like the 1970s instead of the 2020s, and that our desire for the coming years is actually just a reboot of something from the past?

Personally speaking, I share these concerns. I became a Mason in 2001, just before the DaVinci Code and Nick Cage movies were reigniting an interest in Freemasonry. Back then, many Grand Lodges still did not even have a website, let alone electronic contact information, PDF Trestleboards, or online committee meetings. Connecticut Masons have been fortunate that Grand Lodge officers from the previous several years have been forward-thinking, and willing to adopt new methods. More importantly, some of them have been willing to take on the difficult task of changing the culture of our organization. For example, we have nine Masonic districts in Connecticut, ostensibly to correspond with the train system that was extant in the early 1900s. With nine Grand Lodge officers, we have had a century of a progressive line, one officer from each district, with a new one appointed every nine years from the outgoing Grand Master’s district. The last two years saw a change in the district structure, and with it, a different way of choosing new officers. Changes like this are huge in Masonic terms, and it would be easy to believe that the voting reflects a reactionary attitude from members who object to these and other kinds of alterations (or “innovations,” if you will) in the organization.

A reactionary mindset among the members raises other concerns for the future of our fraternity, mainly that younger or more progressive minded members will no longer desire to work toward improvements, or even to aspire to a Grand Lodge or District position if it means constantly butting heads with the old guard. Ours is a volunteer organization, and most of our members are paid only in the satisfaction of a job well done; feedback in the form of being voted out of office with little or no prior warning would seem to be a disincentive for many of those who would be qualified for those positions.

Again, democracy obviously works — the recent voting was proof of that.  But we should also remember the words of Comte Joseph de Maistre: “Every democracy gets the government that they deserve.” For the sake of Freemasonry in Connecticut, let’s hope that we all have not taken a big step backwards.

 

 

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  1. Huram of Tyre
    November 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I appreciate your review very much. The answers to some of the questions you posit above, though, are mostly not within the answers you allow the reader to choose from. And in the case of open-ended questions, the logical, or intuitive answer is not the truth either.

    The PGM did, in fact hand over the gavel, but chose not to give it to the incoming GM. Instead, he simply left the room, under no escort, and put his jewels on the foyer table. The website, which he controls, remains as before for what is now going on 3 weeks since the new line was known. Perhaps the PGM has walked away from that as well?

    The most important thing to remember here, is that whether you suspect a Brother of ‘conspiracy’ or not, a 6:1 ratio voted for the betterment of the Craft. But the reasons they felt the current regime was unfit to continue (save 2 sitting GL officers) can be better understood if you understand how easy it is to abuse the system. In fact, abusing the system, as a huge majority felt had been done, is so easy that it is a wonder it took this long for a GM to really take advantage of it. Let me ever so briefly explain why the mechanism is at fault more than the Brother who took advantage of the ‘loopholes’.

    In CT, we have a standing rule that we don’t ‘campaign’ for a chair. We let every vote be a complete surprise-even to those voting. Being as we’re all volunteers, we all know it happens in a low breath, but we are careful not to get caught. Worse, though, is as you mentioned in your article the ‘system of entitlement’. If I get in the line, no matter how bad I am, as long as I have no Masonic charges brought up against me, I (and everyone else) can assume I will progress to the next chair. In some jurisdictions I can think of, it is an actual rule that you will.

    No biggie, right? Who cares? Well, nobody would care if it weren’t for the fact that each chair has a role, or ‘duty’ to be performed. Think of it in the real world like the VP of A moving to the position of VP of B. Oddly, they learn that role in the lodge by being the leader of it. ‘On the job training’, as it were, except you are the (not so under-cover) boss! We all know the reason for this, and it is a noble one: It gives you experience necessary to be the Master one day. Perfect system, right?

    No. The problems are pretty obvious once you look at it like this.

    There are 2 very important, and very easy to state problems that CT faces along with many others:

    1. The GM has no oversight, accountability, etc.
    2. The “incoming” Mason cannot “campaign” for the Craft to allow them to make the best choice-irregardless of previous chair.

    Oversight:
    In one jurisdiction we might emulate, the actual, not honorary, PGMs form a [loose] committee of oversight for the sitting GM, much like a Board does in the real world. This prevents ‘surprise’ or ‘hidden’ agendas. But the next point also serves to hold a sitting GM to what is right by the Craft as well:

    Campaigning:
    The Traditional Observant Lodge concept believes the solution to this problem, and it is a relevant problem according to your article, is that not unlike any other election, those interested are made known to the voting Craft (Lodge, State, Region, etc.), and then they take the time to let the Craft know why they would be a good fit. They ‘interview’, as it were. The Craft can then ask specific questions, such as “How will you deal with ____?”, and more pertinent to the abuses just seen, ask “If elected, will try to _____?”, thus holding the prospect to their word if they promise not to do things such as we saw, which while a surprise/blindside to the Craft, were of an agenda hidden from their sight until after appointment. That is when the above oversight would have been handy.

    So you can take it one of 2 ways to remedy the problem. You can either allow campaigning, thus educating the Craft, and the prospect, as to what they can each expect-thus ensuring the best candidate is in the best chair.

    Or you can leave well enough alone, with blind voting and grand assumptions of behavior when in office, and provide protective measures for the inevitable abuses by installing a de-facto ‘Board of Directors’ to protect the Craft.

    Either way would protect the Craft, but both would be ideal.

    To simply let things go, and act like they never happened, would be the worst thing to do to the Craft.

    As usual, this is only one Brother’s opinion. It is neither right or wrong, and odds are it’s wrong. But if it gets even one person to think, then it is worth saying. A Brother can do an awful lot of bad with a thought, as we’ve seen. But a Brother can also do a lot of good with a thought.

    Don’t waste yours.

    Like

  2. November 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Huram, thanks for your well-thought out response.

    First off, I don’t know anything about the installation itself, nor about the GL website.

    The issue with campaigning has always been a difficult one, because it’s pretty easy (sadly enough ) to imagine lodges or districts being at odds with each other over an election. A few years ago, one of the reasons floated by our GL for the breakup or redrawing the district lines was that the two more populated districts could potentially overcome the entire state, should they wish to do so.

    Unfortunately, the progressive line model also has problems, as some officers may feel entitled to progress. Or from the perspective of the Craft, an officer that has unpopular or uninspiring ideas can’t be staved off from imposing them.

    Overall, I do think that being able to either be nominated or to propose one’s self several months beforehand is probably the best way to get an idea of how that person will perform, and reduce the opportunity for last minutes surprises.

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  3. November 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Those that quit, walk out in a huff, or stop supporting programs & Lodges are the ones you can easily identify as being a volunteer in a team event for selfish reasons. Once the regime in place that promised you whatever you thought you wanted is voted out, you have to start over from scratch, and selfish volunteers don’t have that kind of fortitude. They are in it for themselves, and not for the Craft.

    A true Brother could care less about the chair they are in, the result of merged Lodges, or the kicking out of Masons unfit to lead by a majority vote. If the only reason you choose to stay is because one or more of your buddies haven’t been taken out of power yet, then you are in Masonry for the wrong reasons, and you are part of the problem-not the solution.

    I see Brothers with a chest full of self-serving pins and medals, and it makes me sad. I talk to Brothers who say “I’ll never merge with another Lodge-I worked too hard to get in this chair!-I’ll be damned if I’ll just hand it to someone else!”, and I’m even more sad.

    The new generation is looking to the older generation for an example of how to be, as role models. When instead they see a bunch of frustrated, gossiping, self-centered old ladies, they wonder what kind of organization could have made them that way, and wonder if what they see is what they really want to become.

    So how are any of these selfish acts, like ‘quitting’ a post to punish the Craft, designed to help? Are they the actions of someone whose biggest concern is the newest Brother, or are these the actions of someone who goes through more medal polish than their own medicine…

    This is not your grandfather’s fraternity any more. We need an attitude adjustment on a grand scale-and FAST.

    Like

  4. Cheif o;er seer / (mmm)
    May 30, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    York rite or the blue lodge;brothers and sisters my understanding runs back 27 ago from my grandfather; to me thy dnt make real masons no more/ most have truly forgotten GOD and seek to act like thy are god with very little knowledge of self pushing homosexual behavior on real Masons and act out like a child playing with noble brethren livelihoods cause thy will never get Wht thy want so try to destroy god god loving righteous Masters tht truly understanding and love god,(

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    • Cheif o;er seer / (mmm)
      May 30, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Thy are the truth meaning why we back in the days met on high heels and low valleys…

      Like

      • Cheif o;er seer / (mmm)
        May 30, 2017 at 12:58 pm

        I mean high hills and low valleys – thy are now driving real brothers out the lodges tht have the real understanding and putting in homosexual; when I was given understanding tht runs from 1700 to 1850 to 1950 homosexuals was not allow in lodges- but today a lot of them are in high places of ranking/ and I will not line up with thm, my grandfather would turn in his resting spot of peace/ chapter 19 – the 10 masonic phrases thy are not on a level ; and truth is thy will never be;(mmm)

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  1. November 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

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