One of the bodies I belong to, in my opinion, does it right. At that meeting we always have a dinner beforehand and the Secretary sets out copies of the minutes and any other pertinent material such as financial statements on each table. During the time before the meeting each member has a chance to read through the handouts. Then, during the meeting, without a reading, we vote on approval.
It doesn't always go this way. In my own Blue Lodge — God bless 'em — we still have the ever-present dronin... uh, I mean reading of the minutes at each meeting. To add to the frenzy of excitement this creates we also read every single word of every petition. I remember one night in particular when we had multiple petitions. By the end of the evening I almost had the entire document commited to memory, and would have... had I not fallen asleep.
When I became Senior Warden I sat in the West close enough to the Junior Deacon that we could converse during the meeting. Together we felt we could solve the problems of the world, so solving the problems of the Lodge was a piece of cake.
Every single meeting when the reading of the minutes came up Allen (not his real name, of course) would turn around to me and say, "When I get up there in the East, we're not going to do this." He encouraged me to do it before he got there but I told him I just wanted to get through my year unscathed and would leave it up to him to make the radical change.
Years passed. I went through the East — only scathed a little bit but I survived. Then I moved to that most coveted of all Masonic positions, Past Master, and waited for Allen to take the helm; and take it he did — full of the vigor of his still youthful age and the expectation of the exciting year he had planned.
I was nearly giddy as I went to his first meeting knowing he was about to shake the Masonic world. I sat in great anticipation as Allen opened the meeting. Then, in an instant, my hopes for a better world came crashing down as he turned and said, "Brother Secretary, you will read the minutes..."
I nearly had an out-of-body experience as we droned through the meeting and Allen embraced the usual pomp and circumstance — more pomp than circumstance — of all the meetings and Masters that had come before him.
After the meeting I rushed up to him and asked why he had fallen into the routine he seemed to abhor back in his Junior Deacon days.
His answer sounded a little familiar, "I just want to get through my year unscathed."
Change is difficult, my Brothers, and the penalty for attempting it may be a good sound scathing, which many times starts with the words, "In my day, we did it this way..."