Does Vanity Trump Tradition?

by Midnight Freemasons Guest Contributor
Bro. Ryan C. Mercer

On Monday evening April 18, 1938 a group of twenty Master Masons met in the Speedway Christian
Church for the purpose of organizing a Masonic Club. On June 8, 1939 Speedway Lodge No. 729 was constituted. This is my Lodge. The Lodge I grew up 2 blocks from, the Lodge my father was a member of DeMolay as a child. The Lodge I petitioned and was raised in a decade ago.

Let me set the stage, we are in Speedway, IN just a few blocks from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which celebrated it's 100th running of the Indy 500 shortly after I wrote this. Well my Brothers, some months ago lodge #500 merged with another and my Lodge was informed we could change our number if we so desired. I cringed, I cringed and panicked. Why would we want to change our number for the sake of vanity? Surely this would never happen! Right? Who would want such a thing?!

I'm in the minority. The last I heard in official Lodge communication is that we will be changing from Speedway #729 to Speedway #500 later this year when the GL has their annual meeting. 77 years of history down the toilet for the sake of vanity. Thousands of Brothers who were raised at Speedway #729, who's Bibles and aprons say #729, some who are multi-generational members of #729, plaques and photos that say #729, a charter that will need to be amended or reissued as per the GL's bylaws, obituaries-newspaper clippings-social media posts that all speak of #729, all made irrelevant for the sake of vanity. "...But Brother Mercer, it would be cool if we were Lodge #500 in Speedway where the Indy 500 is!". I see why my Brothers are excited, it's a novelty and fun but it casts 77 years of tradition to the side for what essentially is the Lodge equivalent of a vanity plate.

Brothers, this saddens me. This saddens me deeply. If you ever are in a similar situation of giving up tradition for vanity, please spend time reflecting on the situation before taking a side. Tradition sometimes, needs changing to stay relevant with an ever-evolving society but sometimes it's ok to leave things they way they've been.


Bro. Ryan Carl Mercer 32° knew he'd be a Freemason just 12 days before his 13th birthday after seeing men that had never met his father show up for his father's Masonic funeral. The caring and love those Brothers showed lit a fire that would drive him to ultimately be raised a Master Mason seven years later in the fall of 2005 at Speedway Masonic Lodge No. 729, a lodge where his father spent his youth in DeMolay. In January 2015 he joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis in search of yet more light and is also proudly a member of the Masonic Society. His non-Masonic musings can be found at

1 comment:

  1. The same thing can happen when two lodges merge. Usually they'll keep the lodge name, but assume the lower number. Even when they don't, you have the members of the "old" lodge that have years of memorabilia from the now defunct lodge. We have one member of a lodge that merged with us decades ago that often names the old lodge during proceedings (granted, he's in his 90s).

    There are a traditions in a lodge that make a difference. Being concerned about the number or even the name is just being nostalgic.