Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Connecticut and Rhode Island to merge Grand Lodges

April 1, 2009 1 comment

News item: Connecticut and Rhode Island to merge Grand Lodges

Special to The Hartford Times

Citing a budget shortfall due to a lack of membership and the bad economy, and the resultant inability to fund various programs, the Freemasons of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, and those of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, jointly announced at the Grand Lodge of Connecticut’s Annual Communication their intention to merge into a single entity: The Grand Lodge of Southern New England, A.F. & A.M.

The news was first announced earlier this week at the March 30th Connecticut Grand Lodge Annual Communication in Farmington, and will be officially announced in Rhode Island very shortly.

“It seemed a perfect opportunity,” said William Rogers, spokesperson for the former Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, “Attrition from old age, death, and retirement have reduced our numbers to a quarter of what they were back in the 1950s. Likewise, mergers and lodge closings have reduced our lodges to about two dozen. It’s becoming an administrative nightmare.”

“He’s not kidding,” said Thomas Ludlow, the Grand Master’s representative from Connecticut, “We have fewer lodges and fewer brothers, but we somehow have a growing number of officers and district officers. In business parlance, you might say that our workforce is shrinking, while middle management has become bloated. So, we’ve decided to merge our Grand Lodges and make some long-overdue staffing cuts.”

Ludlow went on to describe the cutbacks: “The first positions to be eliminated will be the District Grand Lecturers and Assistant Grand Lecturers,” he explained, “We’ve outsourced ritual instruction to college students who are making Youtube videos, which we will then embed on the Grand Lodge website. Anyone who wants instruction can just watch the videos.”

Rogers agreed. “You’ll be able to download those videos to an iPod or Zune, your iPhone, or a netbook,” he explained, “and then you can watch as much instruction as you can handle during your free moments. In traffic, in the bathroom, on plane trips – it’s perfect. There won’t be any excuse for people not to be more improved in their ritual workings.”

Other Grand Lodge dignitaries will also be downsized, said Rogers. “Do you know we’ve managed to acquire more District Deputies and Associate Grand Marshals than we have lodges? These guys are tripping over each other, and we can’t find anything more for them to do. It’s time to start consolidating our resources.”

“Same thing with all these Grand Line officers,” agreed Ludlow. “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a couple of Grands or Past Grands. There’s way too many of them nowadays, and we figure that nine or ten guys should be able to cover the two state area more than adequately.” When questioned about how well the two states could be covered by so few Grand Officers, he responded. “Hell, lodges in those big square states out west sometimes don’t see a Grand Officer for years; our lodges have gotten spoiled around here. We simply can’t afford to have District Deputies showing up at every other meeting anymore.”

Both spokespersons noted that rumors about spinning off one of the districts into New York were merely persistent, but unfounded rumors. “Those rumors pop up every few years, usually right after we raise our Grand Lodge dues,” explained Ludlow.

Noting the progressive nature of the plan, interviewers asked about whether other states would follow suit.

“Massachusetts has taken notice, and we’ve already begun talks to include them on the merger, but they’re funny up there. News in Boston doesn’t reach the Berkshires for years, if ever,” explained Ludlow. “Besides, we don’t want to wait too long on this – our two states have been ready to merge for a couple of years now. But when Massachussetts is ready to merge, we’ll already have the infrastructures in place for them. The way we see it, it’s not a question of ‘if‘, but of ‘when‘.”

Do any other states have an interest?

“New Hampshire and Vermont are going to be discussing the topic at their next Annual Meetings,” said Rogers. “We sent some dogsled messengers up to Maine back in December, and we’re hoping to hear back from them by spring, when they get the power lines back up.”

Both Grand Lodges will close for July and August, during which time they will be packing and moving. No word yet on the location of the new Grand Lodge building, but speculation is that it will be one of the old University of Connecticut agricultural buildings. “I can’t confirm this,” said Ludlow,” but it’s definitely one of the possibilities. Obviously we’d like someplace centrally located. Since most of the people living west of the river think that UConn is in Rhode Island anyway, it seems like a good spot; it’s equally inconvenient for everybody.”

Lily work, Social Networks, and Pomegranates

March 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s an interesting question: Are our modern Grand Lodge websites already obsolete?

At a committee meeting that I attended recently, the subject came up that some of our brothers were posting notices of lodge events on Facebook, which causes a problem for those brothers who aren’t connected to any of the dozens of social networking, blog-friending, or instant messaging hosts. The bigger concern, though, was that these events were not being published on the regular lodge web calendars.

This struck me as strange, because Grand Lodge of Connecticut has a fantastic web site, with hosting space for each lodge (each with their own domain), plus a web forum , and (and this is the important part) an easily updatable calendar that can be used as an event search tool. For example, as  District Grand Lecturer, I like to visit lodges that are having degree work. Going to the Grand Lodge calendar allows me to search on, say, EA degrees, only in District 5. This presents me with a list of the lodges doing an EA degree anytime in the next few months.

At least, that’s what I would see, if the lodge bothered to update their calendar.

I’ve written before that the reason I started blogging was that when I was Master back in 2006 I wanted an easy way to announce events, and at the time the then-new GL web site was pretty much hosed. Events were lost, half the people didn’t know how to use the controls, and the few lodges that cared enough to dress up their site a bit from the cookie-cutter template were constantly frustrated by frequent updates which would wipe out their changes or enhancements.

Fortunately that aggravation is long past; the website is much easier to use, and good features and enhancements have been added over the last few years. Changing your lodge home page is painless, and you can add lodge forums, photos, newsletters, etc. You know, just like a real organization should have.

Which brings me back to the subject at hand: Why would lodges – that is, lodge officers – with their own website and calendar functions turn to Facebook (or any of the other social networking sites) in order to pass along information?

I wouldn’t bring this up if I didn’t already have an opinion, of course.

I think it’s simply a matter of convenience and available technology. Web sites are so last century.

Yes, Joomla and Drupal and their various plug-ins have made large sites much easier to set up and maintain. The problem, though, is that you still have to actually make a point to go visit them.  While you might forget to visit a website to check for updates, there’s almost no danger of missing information on a social network, unless you overlooked it because of the sheer number of other updates you might be getting.

Facebook (for example) – especially with the Twitter application – allows you to customize the flow of information so that what you’re interested in comes to you, via your cell phone. Or your Crackberry. Or your email inbox. I can well understand the appeal, especially to those who pretty much live in front of their PCs; it’s definitely easy to send off an email or event notice to your named group, mention a few key details, and follow up with a little bit of chatter; the notices will have links to the events, and anyone getting automatic updates can immediately click the link (should they so desire) or forward the event to their online calendar.

By those standards, I feel like a moss-backed old turtle when I use my cell phone to send an SMS to my update my Google calendar, or to make a blog post via sending a multi-media message to my blogger address.

I understand the concern about lodge members – and not to be stereotypical, but it’s generally the younger members – Tweeting and Facebooking event details and updates. It inadvertently bypasses those who don’t live or work in front of a PC all day, or those who don’t care to immerse themselves in the Web 2.0 media stream. Entire events can be brainstormed and planned online in a matter of a couple of days without any need to meet in person. While it’s great for moving things along, the movers and shakers need to make sure that they aren’t neglecting the older members who have barely managed those wireless telephone thingies that all the kids have nowadays.

Interestingly, I’ve had exactly this conversation in the past, but in the context of static websites and emails being too “high tech” for the older members. Tempus fugit, eh?

Another concern that arose about the social networking sites seems to be the idea that it decentralizes the information, so that a) pretty much anybody (Masons or not) can see it, and b) the people who need to be informed – or at least, who think they need to be informed – might not get the information.

The validity of the first point seems a bit over-stressed, what with Dummies books, Idiots guides, dozens of personal blogs, and an almost weekly mention of the secret inner workings on the cable tv channels. Most Masons hip enough to be using Facebook are probably savvy enough to know what they should or should not be writing for public consumption anyway.

But the second point illustrates the constant tug of war between those who understand the need for some kind of central repository for information, and those who tend to adopt new tools,  techniques, and strategies when the need arises.

Obviously, having some central facility for knowledge and information is important to the success of an organization. In fact, I’d say it was inherent in the term itself. People who are in positions in which they are responsible for organizing and overseeing other people or projects really do need some way to get the information easily.

The problem with the “keep it in the house” attitude is that the structure itself often becomes more important than the contents and accessibility. Everybody involved in some way wants to have input on what kinds of and how much data should be stored, who can access the data, and how it should be managed. Then, add in those people who can’t or won’t figure out how to use the existing tools, and you have a situation in which only a few people will actually be using the tools on a regular basis. Eventually, the tools sit unused because they have limited usefulness.

There will always be pioneers and early adopters, people who will use new tools, or perhaps invent new uses for old ones. Such people drive the forces of innovation that allow us to progress as a society, whether it be to profit from more productivity with the same amount of work, or to have more leisure time, allowing us more opportunity for rest and refreshment. The early adopters also help to weed out those tools that aren’t useful, thereby saving the rest of us from wasting large amounts of time and energy.

Early adopters, however, often forget that not only are some people lagging behind a little bit, but that there a lot of people who aren’t even in the same race. Our lodge has at least one Past Master who insists that we send out postcards for major events so that people can hang them on the refrigerator as a reminder, and he is not amused to hear that newer appliances are connected to the internet so that one’s Google calendar can push the reminders to the door at the appropriate time.

I once told him the joke about Java once being something you’d find in your coffee mug instead of your cell phone.

He didn’t get it.

I’m not suggesting that the more static websites are no longer relevant, of course. We will always have a need for safe repositories for the archives of our Craft, and that includes a place to keep handy and useful information. I know that more US states over the last few years have taken the time and resources to create very impressive websites, although from what I can see, most of them are still merely online pamphlets explaining a bit about Freemasonry, and giving a few phone numbers and contact details. A good example is the site of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts: they have a beautiful Flash-driven website that offers some announcements and contact information, along with information about the fraternity; but there is no way to find anything about the lodges themselves, let alone a local calendar, unless that lodge (or a well-meaning member) bothered to put up their own web page.

Indeed, a few minutes of searching on the GL Massachusetts site shows that most of the lodges themselves don’t even have their own web pages, and those that do are a mishmash of 1990s style Geocities pages to more modern, media-laden websites. A perusal of the web sites of other Grand Lodges around the US shows that this is rather typical; I’ve seen a lot of Geocities and AOL personal pages hosting lodge websites, and while I admit that it seems I’m bit of a cyber-elitist, the more distressing part is that if my random surfing is any indication, the vast majority of lodges in the US don’t even have a website. In contrast, GL Connecticut gives web space to each lodge with a hosted dot org domain name, and the calendar for each lodge is tied in to the Grand Master’s calendar, so that once an event is entered, it can be searched from any other lodge calendar. Each lodge website is built on a Joomla template, allowing (if the lodge can find somebody to help them) plug-ins for picture albums, forums, and other little applications.

I can imagine some brothers from a few of the less tech-blessed jurisdictions wondering why anybody would resort to some outside service, considering what we have for web tools. We’re probably just spoiled up here.

With two-thirds of our population using broadband internet connections, and the merging of SMS/text messages into most of the social networking and micro-blogging services, it’s probably unreasonable to expect connected and tech-savvy Masons not to use them for communication, especially since they are probably already using these features for communicating with family, non-Mason friends, and work mates. As one of those aforementioned connected Masons, myself, I readily admit that I like the idea of being able to jump in and out of a conversation that might take place over several days. I find that the more I use Facebook, the more I enjoy the variety of features, and over the last six months or so, I’ve been using it more and often, to where I’m checking it several times a day. At least half of my contacts are Masons from around the globe, most of whom I know from the various web groups to which I subscribe, but I’m discovering more family members and old friends every month.

Ironically, despite the subject of this article, very few of my own lodge brothers use Facebook. They’re probably too busy with their personal WoW and Counterstrike servers.

As to the issue of some brothers using Facebook instead of their lodge websites, I think that first of all, any brothers that are taking advantage of new technologies to keep in touch should be applauded for their ingenuity. That said, perhaps those same brothers, being more tech savvy, should actually be the ones in charge of keeping the lodge websites updated, since they are already spending at least some time passing around event details; five minutes to access the calendar really shouldn’t be much of a stretch.

And that said, despite the fact that we probably have one of the best Grand Lodge websites in the US, maybe we need to look at some enhancements to make it even more accessible and usable for the technorati, and eventually for everyone else in the future. For example, RSS readers are now ubiquitous – not only are there a dozen popular readers for your browser, you can find them built into some email clients and Firefox browser extensions. Perhaps web calendar updates could be aggregated and syndicated for subscribers. Better, could the calendar updates be emailed to a subscriber list? Masons interested in the events in particular lodges could subscribe to the calendar updates, which could (perhaps) be filtered for event type.

But what about information flow in the other direction? The answer might be already available in the form of microblogging : There are a dozen well-known microblogging platforms (such as Twitter or Jaiku ), most of which will accept input from PCs, IM clients, or cell phones/SMS. Installing a Twitter application on a lodge website would allow any of the members to post not only event details, but comments about the event, and even pictures. It might be difficult to figure out how to capture a Tweet and put it into usable for in order to make a direct calendar update, but it might not be a good idea anyway, as you would need to control access to prevent adverts and spam.

Certainly there are a lot of options here, and there’s much to think about. I’m sure that our GrandLodge IT guys will enjoy having a word with me at our upcoming Grand Lodge Annual Communication at the end of the month. If any readers have something to add, please feel free to leave a comment so I can pass it along to them.

The medium is the messed edge

November 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Another blogger comes out of the closet this week. In real life, the mono-nymed Radcliffe happens to be one of my best friends, and has been writing The Metaphysical Freemason for the last year or so. For reasons as yet unexplained, he decided to cast off the cloak of anonymity with the anagrammatically titled post “Edman named.” As it turns out, Radcliffe is really WB Dave Edman, Past Master of Friendship Lodge (voted “Best Lodge in Conn” by 33% of Connecticut bloggers). WB Dave joins the surprisingly small number of blogging brothers who publish under their real names, and I welcome him to the club.

Being an inveterate attention seeker and egomaniac, I fail to understand the hesitation which many of my brothers seem to have over such public disclosure – at least, under normal circumstances. I do understand that some brothers feel the need to publish anonymously, though. In the UK and other parts of Europe, Freemasons have come under scrutiny because of accusations of nepotism and favoritism in government and business dealings; and let’s not forget that Freemasons were actively persecuted in WWII. In the US, some Masons in the Bible Belt might be hesitant to announce their memberships because their neighbors, co-workers, or employers might belong to a congregation that looks askance at the Order, which conceivably could impact one’s job security.Some brothers are just new to Masonry and are shy and unsure of what they can write, for rear of ridicule from less their expressive brethren. And, unfortunately, some Masons even fear reprisals from their own, as last year’s events in West Virginia have showcased.

But these are exceptions. To me, the surprising thing is that 2/3 of the 100+ bloggers that I’ve counted choose to do so under a nom-de-plume. Bro.  Radcliffe Dave writes something that echoes sentiments that I’ve seen elsewhere:

“[…] does it matter what a persons name is, does it cause less credibility or more, when one is attempting to move ideas. I would generally suppose that while of potentially little harm it probably causes even less good.”

The essential question that Dave – and others –  poses is this: “What difference does my name make? What does it matter who I am? Why can’t you just evaluate what I’m saying on its own merits?” And on some level this is a perfectly valid issue: The truth – or at least, what one believes is true – really should take priority over who is reporting it. The value of an opinion offered should not change depending upon who is opining.

At one time in our society,  you might have seen advertisements like “Try Doc Johnson’s Vit-A-Tonic. It adds pep to your step!” in magazines and newspapers. Those were simpler times, though. Marketing experts have long since realized the importance of adding some amount of authority to the context of the message in order to create a degree of  verisimilitude in order to increase the attractiveness of the product. My grandmother would buy almost anything endorsed by Robert Young, the actor who played Doctor Marcus Welby, MD on a show of the same name.

But now, in our post-modern, self-aware society, the discriminating among us demand more than the patina of realism; we want actual authority in order to give meaning within the context. And while the desire for meaning within context is a mark of critical thinking, do we sometimes discount the validity of facts or opinions when they are divorced from the context? I would say that we do, especially in the internet world – but that we do so not without reason. The speed in which various internet hoaxes are passed around by the unaware is amazing, and the tenacity of these hoaxes (or rather, the belief in them) rival the faith that some people have in religion.

Don’t believe me? How many times in the last decade (yes, it’s been at least that long) have you seen emails promising money, free meals, or prizes (from a merger of Microsoft, AOL, Outback, and Disney, apparently) based on your propensity to forward it to as many people as possible. And almost every such email contains the phrase “I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s worth a try, isn’t it?” Newer versions, ironically, even contain such “authority” phrases as “My sister in law is an attorney, and she says it’s legal” or “My accountant says that this is binding” or now, the ultimate in authority:  “I saw this on, so it must be true.”

Yet, the messages which some people would claim have merit even without a context, have certainly been created with some context; context that enhances the impact of the message itself. If I wrote an article about my concerns over publishing something critical of my Grand Lodge (Connecticut, one of the more progressive and forward-thinking states), it would not have the same impact as (for example) an author from West Virginia, knowing that some members of the Craft have been expelled for speaking their mind, and that their Grand Lodge has been actively seeking the authors of an anonymously written blog chronicling the issues involving the Past Grand Master Haas. Indeed, the words of both articles may be the same, but the knowledge of the environment of the authors impacts the sense of meaning that the reader develops.

I’m not suggesting that my brothers in self-imposed anonymity suddenly announce their names; they obviously have their own reasons, and I would never suggest that their reasons are not valid – at least, to them. But I do encourage anyone who can, to write freely about Masonry; to write about their experiences, their beliefs, and their education. In our post-modern times we have opened up our lodges so that non-Masons can see what goes on, in hopes of encouraging some of them to join our ranks. Maybe, by being more open amongst ourselves, we can encourage those of us in the ranks to help mentor and educate each other, as well as those who have chosen to follow similar paths.

Masonic Parochialism

October 21, 2008 2 comments

For several years now I’ve gone to Grand Lodge sessions, and each time I’m amazed that a majority of the people attending get there just a few minutes early, and then leave as soon as the gavel bangs the meeting closed. Okay, I’ve never been much of a fan of sitting in meetings, especially meetings in which other people do the talking. In fact, I can imagine that for a lot of people, Grand Lodge sounds like this:

“Blah blah blah… declare the session open … blah blah blah… welcome to the two hundred and mumblety mumbleth annual… blah blah blah… welcome the Past Grand … blah blah blah… presentation by Masonicare… blah blah blah… elections for the next year… blah blah blah… the proposed budget includes … blah blah blah… lack of membership… blah blah blah… new programs will include… blah blah blah… show our appreciation to … blah blah blah… results of the voting… blah blah blah… congratulations to … blah blah blah… please inform the Grand Tyler… blah blah blah… Thank you all for coming.” BANG

Even though it ended a half hour earlier than anyone had expected, some people zoomed out of there so quickly that I thought we were serving free donuts in the lobby.

I don’t get that. For me, the best part about Grand Lodge is the hour before and the hour after the actual meeting; this is the time to get together with people that you don’t normally see every month, to renew old acquaintances, and to hear about what’s happening in other lodges and in other parts of the state. There are not a lot of ways that the Grand Lodge can communicate ideas about its various programs until after they are instituted – which, to my way of thinking – is usually to late. People on various committees who talk about new ideas with the Craft are in a position to get input. The flip side, of course, is that the Craft – that’s you and me – manages to have some input at the planning stage. And, this is the opportunity to meet those junior Grand Lodge officers who are going to be leading the Craft one day.

Additionally, I get to see other District Grand Lecturers so that we can complain discuss the issues in our districts. I have also found that there are a number of old-timers who are full of ideas and opinions – but good ones – and I enjoy talking to them and getting some feedback. And truth be told, I also enjoy listening to the latest gossip news about various lodges and officers and the people I’ve met.

In current business parlance, this is known as “networking.” Now, networking has developed a bad rep, mainly because people imagine a room full of insurance brokers and used car salesmen who are trying to get you to buy something that you don’t want. But consider: we explain to our Fellowcrafts that the pillars representing  Strength and Establishment are adorned with net work because it represents “unity.” And truly, how can we have unity – that is, a cohesive Craft – if members on one end of the state don’t know (or don’t care) what is happening at the other end?

When talking with a few other brothers after the meeting, it came up that very few people had – according to the poll on the Grand Lodge website – visited lodges outside of Connecticut. That led another wag to note that most Masons don’t even visit other lodges inside Connecticut.

Brothers – what’s up with that?

Before a member is even raised, we are talking to him about visiting other lodges. “Wait until you’re a Master Mason,” we love to tell them. “You’ll go to all those other lodges and see how other people do things,” we explain. It’s as if other lodges are foreign countries. In fact, part of our degree ceremonies here in Connecticut do allude to traveling in foreign parts, and how that is one of the benefits of being a Master Mason.

So why do so few of us actually take advantage of that privilege?

Sure, sometimes there is a time factor. Many of us barely make time for our own lodges, even when we know what the schedule will be. Members with a family – or a life – are already juggling evenings off. In my own family, my daughter has music lessons, Girl Scouts, and tutoring, my wife has church meetings, and I have a few non-Masonic duties each month, and I imagine that many families are not much different.

Yet I’m still amazed at the number of masons that I talk to who have never – as in, you know, never – visited another lodge. Others have gone once or twice, but “not in years,” or only for some special program. Simple curiosity isn’t enough to get somebody out of the house and into another lodge once or twice a year?

The underlying attitude that puzzles me – actually, that bothers me – is that too often I get the impression that many members forget that we are all part of a larger organization. I understand that some members feel very strongly connected to their own lodge, and that could possibly be a reason that they do not have much interest in the lodges around them. But still, why bother even mentioning “the ability to travel” if you are not going to avail yourself of the opportunity?

For that matter, why not simply remain a Fellowcraft?

… through ignorance…

July 21, 2008 Leave a comment

“[. . . ] and neither are you to suffer your zeal for the institute to lead you into arguments with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it.”

From Cectic – The Comic

First, I want to thank my hosts Greg Stewart and Dean Kennedy of Masonic Central for having me as a guest. It was fun, and while I may be modest most of the time, how could I resist when such charming brothers ask not once, but several times for the pleasure of my company?

Second, I imagine that my brothers in Connecticut want to thank Greg and Dean for waiting until July, so that they don’t have to listen to me ask “Didja hear my podcast? Huh? Didja? How was it? Was it good? Didja like it? Huh? Didja?” for the rest of the summer. I’m sure that everyone around me hopes that my over-inflated ego will have returned to normal by the time that meetings start again in September.

That said, based on some of the comments and emails that I’ve received, I thought I should take a moment to clarify some of my comments on certain topics, while I still have my dues card.

There are dozens of masoniphobic web boards, ranging from those run by religious fundamentalists who believe that Freemasons worship some demon, or at least, some entity that is not the One True God© that they, themselves believe in. Other boards are run by people who believe that Freemasons either run, or inexplicably who are the bottom rung on the Illuminati/New World Order hierarchy. I say “inexplicably” because most of the time they keep referencing some mythical “high ranking Freemasons.” A few even espouse theories that Masons are somehow connectied with aliens or NASA or are involved in the moon landing hoax. Sometimes you can even see some intermingling of ideologies, which in itself presents some ironic humor. I’ve declined to point out these boards, mainly because it’s pretty easy to find them if you search on terms such as “Freemason Conspiracy” and “Freemason Demon Worship.”

I used to argue with masoniphobes, but I’ve given up. They don’t want to believe me; their minds are already made up, and they are going to nit-pick every bit of evidence that I try to give them to prove their ideas wrong, if not outright ridiculous. They are going to twist words, pull quotes from Pike and Mackey and Hall out of context. They are going to point to the Washington Monument and to the occult Masonic symbols on the back of the one-dollar bill. To those of such a mind, there is no argument. Seriously, if you’re not willing to entertain other concepts, then what you’re doing is not arguing, it’s simply name-calling.

In the US and in some other areas, Freemasons are cautioned after they are initiated not to let themselves get dragged into arguments with masoniphobes. Masoniphobes everywhere are reading this and thinking “Ah ha! That’s because the new Mason hasn’t been completely indoctinated into the cult.”

Feh! Indoctrination is so last century. The truth is, we wait until they become Master Masons and then give them the mind control implants. It’s much easier, it takes less time, and our Zeta Reticulan  overlords protectors have a huge supply of them – enough for everybody in the US and UK, in fact.

Yes, that’s right. A few years ago I got tired of arguing, so I decided to take another tactic. Since the masoniphobes are accustomed to a certain amount of pushback, I’ve decided to throw them off-balance; applying a metaphorical judo, if you will. For the last year or so, I’ve been telling them “You think we’re part of the Illuminati? Hell, that’s the least of what we are! You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

You’d be surprised at how well this actually works. In fact, the results point out some sociologically interesting things.

A number of times in the last few years I’ve had discussions with people who are convinced that Masons are part of some kind of global political conspiracy. My approach is now to agree with them, and then point out just how deeply ingrained we are in the various financial and political hierarchies around the globe. The responses I get are almost paradoxical: at first, they express something like “Ah hah! I knew it all along!” but as I describe the depth and breadth of the conspiracy, surpassing even their own accusations, they get confused and sometimes nervous. They tell me that I’m making it up, that Masons can’t possibly be as deeply into it as I claim.

How fascinating. I overpower their belief systems by feeding back into it, which causes them to go back and re-examine their original claims. It’s almost as if they have a certain capacity for belief that can not be stretched.

Now, I’m not sure if this counts as “not arguing.” But can anyone blame me for not resisting the subversiveness of this approach?

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