Cheap Brotherhood

rebuttal to "Have We Cheapened Our Fraternity?" By: R.W Mohamad Yatim; Living Stones Magazine, October 2014

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Aaron Gardner, 32°, MPS

There was an article in Living Stones magazine this past October that asked a very interesting question. Have we cheapened our Fraternity? The article goes through an entire spiel of what initiation fees and dues cost in various lodges during different time periods.  Right Worshipful Brother Yatim insists his article is not a call to increase dues. However, it is a call to brothers who are able to reach into their pockets and help provide more than what the dues are capable. I am in agreement with RW Brother Yatim that the Fraternity is much more than showing up and paying yearly dues at an ultra low price. It is a requirement for a lodge to effectively manage their budget. I have even written about a lodge budget myself for the Midnight Freemasons. 

I however, cannot get over the fact that he seemingly attacked lodges that typically cater toward the Blue Collar workers. Most of these men show up to their lodges with out suit and tie. They have a suit and tie ready for the one instance they may use them in the year, however, the usual attire for a brother in these lodges are jeans and a button up.  Honestly, some of these brothers show up in work clothes. He further asks if we are supposed to portray the “Cream of the Crop”, the first class citizens of our society are within this Fraternity, how would visitors or a potential candidate see our Fraternity with these individuals in the lodge?  I believe the real question is: Are we making judgments on a brother who works hard all day, comes to lodge before seeing his family and dedicates the only time he has to the Craft; to better his community, his friends, family and himself? 

Have we really cheapened the Fraternity to the point of worrying more about the money than the cause? My brothers, Freemasonry is having a hard time finding the funds to support our many programs. It could be because our retention is low, our dues are lower than what our ancestors paid based of their salary, or, it could be because we continue to live in the glory days. Honestly, I believe it is a combination of it all.  What should we do in order to fix it? Brothers, there are books upon books, articles and podcasts dedicated to fixing our problems as a Fraternity. Our problem is not JUST that we don’t charge enough, it’s not JUST our retention numbers, and it’s not JUST that we are living in the old days. Brothers,  it is that we won’t do anything about it. Our Grand Lodges have pushed out plan after plan, strangling some jurisdictions control. Some Grand Lodges have issued a “Big Government” ideology that tells the lodge verbatim what they will and will not do.

 Is it a control thing? Is possible, but I don’t think it started out as such. I believe the Grand Lodges that are issuing out these laws, originally had no choice because our subordinate lodges failed to do what they were supposed to.  Some were too lazy to keep up with their own bylaws, adopting the “Grand Lodge Basic”.  I have even seen lodges give up their individual rights to vote in Grand Lodge to the Worshipful Master of the Lodge.  It wasn’t because the Worshipful Master was the only vote that mattered in Grand Lodge, it was simply because the members of the Lodge didn’t want to stay in session to hear the issues being brought forth to Grand Lodge. It is not “at the will of the Worshipful Master”. The Worshipful Master’s vote represents the majority of his Lodge.

Brothers, we can point the finger and say what and who is to blame, but that will never solve the issue. It has been expressed and debated multiple times in various forums the reasons we are in this predicament of decline.  It is time to stop talking about it, and do something about it. In my presentation “Man in the Mirror” I ask the commonly referred joke “How many Master Masons does it take to change a light bulb?”  Usually you hear the answers from the crowd, “Three” or “I don’t know…” It’s not a trick question. The answer is One. All it takes is a Master Mason to see the problem, address it and fix it. It all starts with that man in the mirror, The Change you want to see. 

Allow the individual Lodges to determine what is best for their lodge and community. If it means the lodge turns to Tuxedos and higher dues, as long as it works for that lodge to stay alive. If the lodge is mostly blue collar, there is nothing wrong with a brother wearing jeans and a polo to regular scheduled meetings. We are the cream of the crop, brethren. It isn’t about how we look on the outside, but how we conduct business on the inside. From the inside we can change our image, which will change the world. We, my brethren,  are the ones that must step up and say what is right for our lodge. With our participation and discussion with each other inside lodge, we can determine what is right, what is wrong, what works and what doesn’t. Once we do that, retention will not be the issue, appearance will not be the issue, the dues will not be the issue and we will soon realize the glory days are not behind us, but, right in front. 


Bro. Aaron Gardner, an American Soldier who just recently transitioned into the Reserves after 8 years serving the Active Duty Army. He dedicates the majority of his free time to Freemasonry with his constant studies, writing and traveling from lodge to lodge to learn as much as he can regarding Freemasonry. He likes to relate his everyday life to the Craft and anything he finds he wants to spread to the world. It is his passion to study people, religion, history and Freemasonry. When he isn't working as a Soldier he is dedicating his time to the amazing and supportive Emily, writing about Freemasonry and writing his very own novel. His blog page is Celestial Brotherhood.

1 comment:

  1. interesting article, dues are essential to the running of a lodge as you say, and also enable the lodge to contribute to charitable causes, I would though say here in the UK (England) if we join more than one lodge we have to pay grand lodge fees as well as lodge fees for every lodge we join.

    however having to pay a grand lodge fee for every lodge one joins does I believe deter brethren from joining more than one lodge which is resulting in Lodges handing in their warrants.

    where fees are concerned I think the Scottish Model is by far the best one Grand lodge fee a year no matter how many lodges your in, and all that's left to pay is the lodge fees this makes it cheaper and encourages brethren to join and keep other lodges short of members active and open.


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